Algorithmic Design as Political Commentary

Behind the scenes of this project: Intentional Algorithmic Design

For the Influence Industry Project, Tactical Tech's design team set out to highlighting fractured and alternating online experiences through a design system that gives a nod to online segmentation and targeting.

Readers, learners and explorers of The Influence Industry Project will notice the ever-changing images and graphics throughout this site. What may at first look like a bug causing inconsistencies through permanent adaptation is in fact a subtle yet purposeful commentary on data-driven political engagement, communication and campaigning.

As this project's learning modules and resources try to convey, digital and data-driven political engagement by parties, candidates and campaigns is constantly shifting, adapting, optimising and seeking to better shape itself to appeal to its target – the voter. The results are thousands of targeted and optimised political ads on social media, bespoke email outreach campaigns with alternating subject lines, as well as phone and texting campaigns with customised scripts adjusted to the audience. Ultimately, the goal for campaigns is to tailor their engagements so each voter receives a bespoke experience.

This also means that political engagement is increasingly difficult to track, reproduce and create a shared experience across the voting public. Continued fracturing of the political experience — driven heavily by the technologies and data-driven strategies covered by The Influence Industry Project — in the name of targeted outreach is a central part of how big data and digital technologies are shaping political processes across democracies worldwide.

Uniquely Generated Images

By implementing code based on the free and open-source p5.js JavaScript library and an assortment of open license images, visitors to this project will never have the same visual experience twice, as each image is uniquely generated by an algorithm that never repeats its output. While not implementing targeting or direct segmentation of visitors, this design choice aims to convey the sense of shifting political communication and a technology-driven experience.

Stylised image of digital election campaigningStylised image of digital election campaigningStylised image of digital election campaigningStylised image of digital election campaigningSample images created programmatically by the image generator.

Many thanks to Tactical Tech's design and products team, particularly to Yiorgos Bagakis, for this coding and design intervention.

A sketch on a background image, mostly in  color and with various shapes