NSAphorism (Datumz & Deities)

ns screencap
ns screencap
ns screencap
ns screencap
Wireframe for final prototype
ns wireframe


Today, Americans live in a country that is deeply contradictory because its engagement with individual freedom and government surveillance have become incompatible ideas. The former rests heavily on the social contract (Bill of Rights), but the latter is publicly promoted as a necessary measure of protection and civil service. Despite the US government's given reasons, the revelations of whistleblowers have shown that the US government has adopted surveillance methods that essentially turns the status of its own people into potential criminals - nullifying the government's view that we are entitled to our own privacy. In summer of 2013, a Forbes article and Reddit post leaked one surveillance method that involves targeting "suspicious" words on the internet - a list of seven hundred out of an unknown total figure. With those assets in hand I created NSAphorism; an application that constructs a new idiom that combines government domestic surveillance with the folk wisdom of a society. A user with this application may also choose to be an agent of surveillance disruption.

"The [future] era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities."
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1970


The prototype was developed for exhibition, and it will be published live shortly.

Project Info

  • Materials: UX, JavaScript, Facebook/Twitter API
  • Exhibited at the MFADT 2014 Thesis Exhibition.
  • Part of the thesis project: Datumz & Deities.
  • Thesis advisors: Colleen Macklin, Barbara Morris