Beginning in the second half of the 1970s, the world witnessed the birth and affirmation of so-called Big Tech – the five largest companies that operate in the field of information technology, which are also known today as “GAFAM” (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft). In the roughly 50 years since then, these companies have been able to build empires of intellectual property of technologies and systems – primarily through acquisitions of other companies both small and large, which allowed them to center technological innovations within their walls. “The GAFAM Empire”, a project developed by DensityDesign Lab and Tactical Tech, collects the information of more than 1,000 acquisitions made by these companies, in order to look back on the history of the industry through the limited data publicly available on the web. The information visualizes a landscape of acquisitions to identify common interests, which are then broken down into a deep analysis of GAFAM’s history. The project visualizes the data in different shapes and through different focuses, allowing the reader to understand a complex system of relationships that is constantly evolving and that is redefining the concepts of competition and monopoly.
DensityDesign Research Lab, Politecnico di Milano Our research revolves around information visualization, tackling the design challenges arising from the visual exploration and communication of social and cultural phenomena. We develop research through a data-mediated approach, using data as an artifact to be constructed, represented, and critiqued through visualization and coding. Our research revolves mainly, but not exclusively, around the digital: from inquiries on digital technologies to the development of open-source tools that support research and design. Alongside our research efforts, teaching activities in Politecnico di Milano help us form new practitioners and designers that tackle data-mediated design problems.
Team Andrea Benedetti, Ángeles Briones, Luca Draisci, Tommaso Elli
Tactical Tech We work with an international audience of engaged citizens and civil society actors to investigate and mitigate the evolving impact of technologies on society. Our work has gone through a number of phases since the organization was founded in 2003, but the core principle hasn't changed: we examine how issues arise in different contexts, explore what responses are needed and find strategies and tactics to work with and around them in a sustainable way. Our work can be most easily categorized by the two main audience groups we work with: the first is a much broader audience, grown from the increased public awareness around these issues and the demand for public education around online privacy and autonomy in a data-driven world. Through projects like The Glass Room and the Data Detox Kit, we find creative and accessible formats to demystify technology and give people actionable, sustainable changes to make in their own digital lives. The second audience group are made up of civil society actors, such as journalists, other NGOs, or human rights defenders, who we work with to create safer, more robust and more informed practices with regard to their use of digital technologies. Projects such as Exposing the Invisible help empower people to use digital investigations to uncover truth or corruption. Similarly, our work on Data and Politics provides a unique contribution to understanding how the misuse of data is impacting democracies around the world.
Team Marek Tuszynski, Laurent Dellere, Patrick Harvey, Emily Harding; Initial work on this project has been conducted with Basile Simon