I’m Paolo Ciuccarelli, founder and scientific director of Density Design Research Lab at Politecnico di Milano where we develop interfaces and experiences around data.
How would you define Transparency?
Transparency to me is the foundation of a kind of a new revolution where the users, let’s say, will be empowered towards their relationship with data, but what I think is that this is just the first step of a longer journey where you need transparency and awareness, but much more than that, you need to put people in control of data in order to give them the power to create their own values.
What are the last trends related to Data Transparency?
I think that my perspective on the new trends in data transparency, maybe it’s more a hope than a perception so, what I hope is that design, as a discipline, will be really engaged in this new challenges because I think essentially is a matter of meaning, a matter of building something that is meaningful for someone and this is something that I think cannot be done without involving design into the practice and the challenges. So that’s my hope for a possible trend in data transparency.
I hope that design, as a discipline, will be really engaged in this new challenges because is a matter of meaning, a matter of building something that is meaningful for someone and this is something that I think cannot be done without involving design into the practice and the challenges.
What do you think could be the most significant challenges and developments in the field of personal data transparency online?
Well actually I think that the most challenging thing would be to make not only data, but the processes around data transparent because we are familiar with some known transparent processes around data, but this were the traditional processes on data statistics and so on. But now we are in different things, different processes, like algorithms, machine learning, deep learning and all these things. And that’s much more difficult to make it visible and to make it understandable by non-experts. And I think this will be the challenge of the future, moving transparency from data to processes around data and that’s I think that’s difficult, but I think again that design will have to be a role in that.
Do companies really care about data transparency? ¿And users?
I do think that companies care about it and care about transparency if they don’t, they will be forced to care. So, it’s inevitable and what is more difficult is to make people, users, care about it in a good way. So maybe they care because they are scared, but that’s something that I think is not good. It’s a kind of a transition. When they will be more aware? And that’s again connected to transparency. Maybe we can create a new form of care that is something that is related to value creation and not just caring because I’m scared and that’s the actual situation I think.
Which are your current projects involving data privacy and transparency?
Actually, we have been involved in a couple of projects so far around transparency and that is connected to DTL and some of the grants that have been granted to some researchers. So, we worked on Recon and we actually are working as a part of an initiative that is around Facebook and tracking the behaviour of the stream in Facebook and that’s also something that is very relevant for news especially. But now I think the most interesting project or initiative we are involved in is around making visible the behaviour of neural networks algorithms. In that specific case is not for non-experts, is making visible these things to people that do that. It seems strange, but there are some unknown grey areas, also for experts, and that’s what we are trying to use visualization and design as something that can help people making sense of all these things they are developing. And that’s I think the most interesting challenge we are facing so far.
What do you think of the data transparency lab?
To me the Data Transparency Lab is a kind of a transformative experience and that’s how I feel it. Because it was three years ago, the first time I’ve been involved in this, all this discussion was really a revelation, so I was not really aware of the size of the issues and the magnitude of the transformation that are connected to data transparency. So, to me was a transformative experience and I think that this is how normally people feel. I mean, when you are here, when you are part of this initiative you feel that something is changing, and I think this is the most important value that is brought by DTL.
Well, all the panels I chair, in all my speeches, I really want to use this last opportunity to claim and to advocate for a deeper involvement of design as a competence and as a discipline in this field, because I really do believe that we can do something great together. We need domain experts because they know what the context of the data is, but we also need someone that is able to transform these raw materials into something meaningful and that’s the domain of design. And the sooner we do things together, the better I think will be for all the field.