The Deep Web evokes images of an underworld that cannot bear the light of day. Yet this hidden realm contains an estimated 96% of all the content to be found circulating online. The first international Crypto Design Challenge shout out to artists, designers, researchers and visionaries to dive in and create new images of the Deep Web.
Data leaks such as the Panama Papers and sensational press coverage on cybercriminals operating in a virtual legal vacuum maintain a dramatic image of online encrypted channels as a lawless cove, populated by bandits, predators and pirates. However, the Deep Web is so much more than an online black market, teeming with scandals and illegal activity. In fact, an estimated 96% of all the content online is not accessible through search engines, including encrypted databases, secret wikis and information that has not been indexed.
This realm also empowered many citizens during the Arab Spring, providing encrypted communication channels to coordinate protest movements. Indeed, it harbors important communication tools for human rights NGOs, political dissidents, activists, and every other user who – for any reason whatsoever – wishes not to be tracked, stalked, and spied on. It is one of the remaining bastions of individual privacy, against corporate and governmental snooping and data mining, a place where anyone can remain anonymous.
Three years after the Snowden revelations, it is safe to conclude that the focus on surveillance and individual privacy has not lead to a thriving debate on the infrastructure, imagination and accessibility to information on the web. Public outrage about privacy and data leaks has failed to spark the collective imagination.
So You Want to Be a Deep Web Designer?
The iceberg metaphor affects popular understanding of the Deep Web, as the inaccessible dangers of the murky “underwater” world. We invite you to go diving into the deep and explore how these hidden infrastructures could be empowering, hospitable, and inspiring. This Crypto Design Challenge is a shout out to artists, designers, researchers and visionaries to create new images of the Deep Web.
The Crypto Design Challenge was initiated by MOTI, Museum of the Image in Breda in 2015. This year’s edition is organised in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures and the Citizen Data Lab, both based at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries.