The Division of Domestic Data was a speculative design and civic media project by Thomas Lodato that explored the nature of digital property and social connectivity in the context of divorce, through information design.
When filing for divorce in Fulton County (Atlanta, Georgia, USA), an Automatic Domestic Standing Order goes into effect for “all cases which are filed in the Family Division of the Superior Court of Fulton County and remains in effect as long as the case is pending.” The Automatic Domestic Standing Order of Fulton County primarily serves the purpose of maintaining any and all current domestic responsibilities. Maintenance of responsibilities means preventing either party listed in a divorce case from certain actions related to shared property, children, or benefits.
The purpose of the the Division of Domestic Data project was to explore, through design, how the regulations governing shared property and services in a divorce would apply to digital property and services.
While this question could be answered in a very direct way, the project explores the way digital objects—files, folders, profiles, servers, queries, and so on—might become expressive of the local, state, or federal rules around the contractual obligations of marriage and the litigious implications of dividing property during divorce.
Focusing primarily on the mundane and bureaucratic aspects of divorce, the primary outcome of the projects as an icon set that focused on the various states of digital property, services, and systems that allow for disconnecting, disentangling, or dissolving relational assets. One subgroup consists of icon badges that reflect the current state of files, images, and collections to be disassociated. Another subgroup accounts for services and systems that mediate disassociation, such as escrow servers or property disclosure algorithms.
More extensive documentation on the project can be found on Thomas Lodato’s website, at http://thomaslodato.info/projects/division-of-domestic-data/.
Carl DiSalvo, Tom Jenkins, and Thomas Lodato. 2016. Designing Speculative Civics. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’16). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 4979-4990. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858505