Architecture is everything about the spaces around us. We understand it; it’s visual and familiar. Digital spaces are anything but. As this article from Fast Company says, the digital is often binary in its decisions, which we as humans can’t compute. We love the interdisciplinary nature of this exhibition and lab at the Tate. By forcing the unknown into known spaces, we can understand a space usually so obscured.
As we move around in online spaces, it can be difficult to keep track of how visible our actions and our conversations are to other people – and to the corporations that mine our data for profit. Because all of your online interactions happen through the same set of devices, it can be hard to keep track of when your communication is actually public.
But a new exhibition at the Tate Modern museum in London uses a simple metaphor to explain the sliding scale of privacy on different online platforms in a way everyone can understand: architecture.
For instance, the most public forums on the internet, like Twitter, resemble public squares, where crowds of people gather. Posts such as tweets are searchable and tied to your identity forever (unless you delete them), making them the most extreme form of public interaction online. But there are also semi-public places, like Facebook or Instagram, which require you to log in to access them. The exhibition argues that using Facebook is like chatting with a friend while sitting on a park bench—it might feel private, but there’s a definitely chance that someone could overhear you, and you may even run into someone you know (Facebook does provide a large amount of privacy settings so you can decide who exactly sees what you post, though many people don’t bother with them). While walking through the Tate’s space, the differences between how these types of platforms work becomes more visceral because you can actually sit on a park bench while learning about Facebook’s privacy.