The Unofficial Archive

Opaque information by Lorenzo Gerbi

Opaque information

Starting from my previous research on the concept of information overload, I narrowed my focus considering those specific pieces of information that for their complexity, length, language and layout cause a feeling of anxiety and therefore a loss of control in the information processing by the user. Among those information pieces we find contracts, agreements, terms of service, tax forms, ballot papers and all similar documents whose language and information structure seem not to be designed for an user to clearly understand their content. The category of information pieces I decided to work on with my design project is terms of service since I think that “I have read and agree to the terms and conditions” is the biggest lie on Internet. One of the main reason of the lack of the transparency of these documents is related to their dynamism: they change multiple times every year, with major changes or just few lines added or removed, without noticing or making the user agree again to the new conditions. My design proposal, Tracking Terms, is a platform that helps users to visualize and browse terms of service easily and to keep track of the constant changes of all the terms they agreed to, comparing previous versions, contextualizing changes in the text, sending personal feedback to the companies, even regarding an opt-out option, since they are not giving users this possibility. It could become a control tool for the users to push companies to change the way terms of service are conceived nowadays.

Lorenzo Gerbi