Through TCA LAB Alternative Dialogues initiative, The Common Affairs has selected four promising projects to support in their production. One of the selected participants is Gwendolyne Röttger, a designer whose project Journey to Digital Literacy explores our relationship to online information and the consequences of interacting with it. Read more about it in the interview below.
Can you tell us who you are, and what are you currently doing?
My name is Gwendolyne Röttger, I graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven (NL) with a Bachelor of Arts in the department of Man & Communication (Media & Culture). I am currently working as a freelance designer based in Paris. Next to that I also participate in the publication of a bilingual magazine «Nichons-nous dans l’Internet», (which can be translated to «abreast of the internet»).
What drew you to apply to The Common Affairs Open Call?
My work focuses on issues revolving around digital space and its implication in cultural and societal changes. Through critical questioning, I aim to propose alternative narratives in order to foster discussions and incite a broader audience to take interest in current matters such as digital wildfires, political use of technology, censorship… As I am trying to propose alternative interactive ways of looking at and accessing media, The Common Affairs’ Open call “Alternate Dialogues” seemed to have a similar goal of both questioning traditional media and including the creative field in the journalistic process.
Information has become democratized, as everybody’s opinion has become accessible, valuable and disintermediated since the content can travel unfiltered without being revised by an editor. This also allows lies, misconceptions and threats to travel and spread like wildfires uncontrollably blurring the line between reality and fiction.
What is your project about?
Journey to Digital Literacy explores our relationship to online information and the consequences of interacting with it. Through a multiple choice narrative visualizing our everyday online decision making process, the book acts as a self diagnostic tool. The actor/reader, away from the keyboard, is encouraged to consciously make decisions about the different data they encounters on their digital journey. Throughout the book, those decisions will have consequences which may bring them closer to achieving digital literacy or which will lead them to failure. The project aims to disturb the reader’s automated relationship with digital information and make them aware of their responsibility as mediums for the information’s credibility and visibility.
Why did you choose this particular subject / approach? What is the urgency in it for you?
The web revolutionised the way we interact with information. Our role has shifted from passively accessing content to everybody becoming actors as content creators. Information has become democratized, as everybody’s opinion has become accessible, valuable and disintermediated since the content can travel unfiltered without being revised by an editor. This also allows lies, misconceptions and threats to travel and spread like wildfires uncontrollably blurring the line between reality and fiction. I believe in a utopian responsible interaction with information online and in order to achieve such digital literacy the book tries to offer access to a safe space, away from the keyboard, where users can discover what happens if this information leaves the digital realm.
Imagine with us: do you see the possibility of incorporating this project into a journalistic context? What kind of value will the work bring to the news organization and its broad public audience?
Though Journey to Digital Literacy has already been printed, I believe it needs feedback to be an effective tool. In order to get this feedback the book needs to be reprinted and distributed. I would be interested in investigating how the tool can be used and perceived in different contexts by different people which could lead to an evolution and refinement in the content of the book. More than a reflection on a specific news item, this project explores the way this news is both perceived and distributed online which is the space in which, nowadays, most people get access to and seek out information. To work and evolve, the tool needs to be used by a variety of people and generate discussion.