Investigation 2 - Creative Project

Forgotten Objects

tl;dr: Design a hybrid ritual for data loss (the forgetting or dispossessing of digital memories) supported with one or more tangible (physical/digital) objects

Due: Thursday, Feb 28

Submit Documentation: Gallery Pool - Forgotten Objects

Image Credit: [ZOE1998SB](

Image Credit: ZOE1998SB.


Due Date Deliverable Details
Thursday, Feb 21 Proposal Create a proposal for your creative project (200 words + illustrations) and share on the Gallery
Tuesday, Feb 26 Project Develop a rough cut to discuss during desk crits
Thursday, Feb 28 Project Present your prototype in class.
Thursday, Feb 28, midnight Documentation Deliver documentation of your creative project

Brief and Goals

Taking cues from Corina Sas and Steve Wittaker’s paper “Design for Forgetting: Disposing of Digital Possessions After a Breakup” and their call to ‘radical action’ on digital possessions, you’re going to consider how to crafting symbolic objects embodied in tangible artifacts that can support forgetting.

Brief: Design a hybrid ritual for data loss (the forgetting or dispossessing of digital memories) supported with one or more tangible (physical/digital) objects

The goal of this exercise is to consider a blending of physical and digital practices and memories: you’re going to design a physical practice connected to digital information. First, find a compelling context where people might want to forget. It could be a record of an embarrassing encounter, a moment of personal pain or grief (romantic breakups, etc), a traumatic experience or an undesirable legacy (teenage years) that’s been documented in some way online or even the corruption/destruction of data (hard drive loss, etc.). Identify and specify what information might be available and the sources. Draw analogs to practices of divestment as Sas has in later work: ‘Designing personal grief rituals’ and ‘Design for Rituals of Letting Go’ (see figure.) Develop an understanding of how a physical practice might be connected to digital information. Then design a tangible tool (or a series of tools) that help support this ritual, help someone forget that content and overcome the memory of it. Envision and prototype that experience and how the ritual is performed too. Remember: You can and should treat forgetting broadly and you should consider both sides of the equation (the benefits of forgetting the experience and its downsides). Ask: what are the benefits and risks? what happens when you forget both in the short- and in the long-term? Are there any (potential) unintended consequences and what are they? What might it mean if you no longer have a record of that experience or what might happen if your social network is notified or aware that you’ve divested yourself of the memory? etc.

You should develop at least one prototype that demonstrates your ideas for how you can support forgetting digital memories and possessions. The proposal should consider how data and digital information will be used in forgetting scenario and how this device would be used to divest oneself of a memory.

The possibilities are wide and varied. But you should:

  • Make - i.e. test your ideas and give them a form.
  • Research - i.e. uncover theory, ideas, and precedent projects that inform your approach.
  • Gather - i.e. find inspirational resources from speculative designs, design fiction, science fiction, etc..
  • Experiment - e.g. don’t just prototype the device and interactions but simulate/construct the data it might produce or use;
  • Document - e.g. test your ideas on yourself or others, how do you or others experience and encounter the device, what are your reactions and responses, document how you respond to it, what values it offer, and why it might matter to you or others.

Unusual approaches, left-of-center thinking and impracticality is encouraged!

Note: Hardware, technologies and other resources can be requested.

From Sas, Whittaker & Zimmerman. 2016. [Design for Rituals of Letting Go]( An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact.

From Sas, Whittaker & Zimmerman. 2016. Design for Rituals of Letting Go: An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact.

Learning Objectives

This exercise is designed to develop knowledge relating to forgetting and digital technology, as well as, explore the ways in which forgetting (or aspects of letting go) can potentially be supported with new hybrid interactions through connected, ubiquitous and pervasive computing. As part of this exercise, you will:

  • Develop your domain understanding of forgetting and memory;

  • Investigate existing technologies which can, could and are being used to help support forgetting, digital divertment and/or rituals of ‘letting go

  • Imagine how new hybrid practices (blended physical digital rituals) might be able to help divest and dispossess digital memory;

  • Speculate on potential approaches and interactions for forgetting with hybrid objects from the practical to the outlandish (strongly encouraged);

  • Develop a hands-on exploration that begins to tease-out the broader considerations, issues and requirements in designing for forgetting (social, cultural, personal, implications etc.)

  • Work collaboratively in an applied investigation to tease-out the broader considerations, issues and requirements in building memory-technologies for forgetting.


  • You must work with computational processes.
  • It must result in a physical/tangible thing.
  • You must work collaboratively.


  • A 1-2 minute video. Create a short (1-2 minute) video illustrating how the device would be used and how the hybrid ritual takes place. This should illustrate the intended scenarios, interactions, and how it helps dispossess digital content, etc.

  • A physical prototype of one hyrbid ‘tool’ to support forgetting. You can take any approach to preparing this tangible manifestation that you feel is appropriate. This should be of reasonable fidelity to give form your your proposal, but will reflect your skills with prototyping interactive systems. This could include:
  • A detailed speculative design. This covers:
    • situating the design for the project (context, scenarios, cases, etc.),
    • the goals and rationale for the approach
    • articulating informed position that integrates theory of memory and forgetting, research in the area, and precedent projects
    • low-fi and high-fi design materials (mockups, concept videos, diagrams, experience maps, sketches, etc.)
    • other collateral to support the design (a user manual, webpage, flyer, advertisment, etc.) as needed
  • A digital presentation of your design work (10 minutes maximum)
    • Prepare a digital presentation and take part in a crit.
    • Showcase/demo your prototype during this time
    • Pose open questions and highlight challenges or failures encountered.

Final deliverables to be presented at the Crit/Review

Final Documentation Requirements:

Include a write up of the following:

  • Conceptual Design: Describe your vision. What is the driving idea behind your design? What kind of solution are you trying to create and why? How does it support deletion/digital divestment? What are your goals and motivations? How would it work in practice? etc.

  • Prototype: Describe your experience/working prototype: What did you create, how, etc.? What tools and technologies were involved? Include appropriate content and illustration (e.g. a concept video, a video of the device in operation, diagrams, code, etc.)

  • Precedents: Describe theory, concepts, and research you have performed. Describe the prior work, ideas and projects that influenced your design. What work informed this idea.

  • Process: Describe how you arrived out the outcome. What iterations, refinements, design decisions and changes were made?

  • Open Questions and Challenges: What questions remain to be addressed or questions about memory did this exploration raise for you. What are the things we should pay attention to/discuss in class for future explorations?

  • Reflection: Reflect on making this project. What did you learn? What would you do differently? Did you get where you wanted to? If not, why not? What do you need to get there, etc?

  • Attribution and References: Reference any sources or materials used in the documentation or composition.

Each of these sections should be no more than 200 words max. and well illustrated (images, videos, etc.)

For the Project Info’s goal description: it must be tweetable - summarise your outcome in no more than 140 characters