Word, Sentence, Paragraph (Attempt #3)

After mulling over what my first project would be, and thinking about my learning objectives and outcomes, I found that my current framing of my thesis wasn’t exactly what I was wanting to explore. I touched on human nature with misinformation, but we already know why people fall for marketing ploys and other ‘manipulations’.

I revisited my interest in ‘the future of genetic engineering’ and realised that what I wanted to question is that was also not properly articulated. I didn’t want to test if the speculative scenarios I create could be real. I have no way of testing that. What I wanted to do was test people’s responses, be they emotional or [verbal?] to the fictions I create. Also, I want my explorations to have a basis in our present reality. An example of a precedent for this is Black Mirror. The episodes may be set in the future, but they have a strong impact because of their reliability since the theme for episodes is grounded in the current world, for example, rating people.

My project ideas for the topic of ‘manipulation’ also show tendencies towards the ‘future’. Are we heading towards a future where people will no longer know how to communicate directly with a human because society has been manipulated into believing it needs an app for that (Happn).

So, here is another attempt. I am now approaching my topic word/sentence/paragraph as something that will definitely change seeing as it has done so 3 times in the past 3 days.


Progressing issues about human interaction today as hypothetical situations in the near future to comment on them and spark insightful conversations.

The average consumer doesn’t think much about the products and technologies that are researched and developed for them. They only start becoming aware once they have become a common part of life. Yet so many of these products have shaped the way humans live and interact with each other and their environment, case in point, social media. It makes contacting people easier but has impacted our ability to communicate with those around us. I want to comment on relevant situations of today by progressing them as hypothetical situations set in the near future. Humans are fighting against issues like racism and sexism today, could ‘geneism’ become the next dividing factor between society, especially if race were to disappear? What if direct contact with another human being is rendered completely unnecessary—perhaps a waste of time? Testing these scenarios and peoples’ responses to them should spark valuable conversations about the decisions and stands we take in our present time.


Refining the topic and Abstract

Discussing the topic ideas in class helped to clarify what the thesis topic would be focused around. What helped was to step away from the confines of ‘misleading nutritional advice’ and ‘overuse of technology’ to an umbrella idea of ‘misinformation’. The difficult part to tackle would be the fact that the reason people fall for the misinformation is because people are inherently ‘lazy’ or hardwired [note: instant gratification] to take the easy, more appealing route to something we want or need.

Useful examples that were brought up: Fake news, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop (uses status/authority as actress) surpasses misinformation by being potentially harmful, snake oil salesman (history, 1800?), chinese medicine and ayurveda (has a basis but is construed e.g. acupuncture vs armadillo scales), ‘Sauna belts’ and ‘The Jiggle Machine’, fit bits, silver colloid ‘papa smurf’.

These examples and misinformation can also clearly be linked to advertising, marketing and branding. The question brought up was how can graphic design help to convince people to make informed decisions? Will I shock people into realisation? Design a system or an app (ironic) to follow to find out if a product or new trend is quack [note: snope].

This brings me to my abstract. Here’s a start.


Using design and sarcasm to explore marketing tactics and discourage buying into misinformation.

Frauds, conmen, and false news have been around for centuries. In the era of the Internet and globalisation, they are more likely to be quickly found out. Yet misinformation is still widespread through marketing or biased scientific research. People buying into this can be attributed to the fact that human brains prioritise instant gratification over long term goals, so if there is an easier route to achieve something, who wouldn’t take it? The problem is that misinformation isn’t always harmless, in fact there are many examples in the past and present that show the ill-effects of it.

It is most obvious when looking at the food industry; drink companies promoting ‘hydration’ and ‘natural’ orange juice with plenty of sugar and expiration dates promoting unnecessary food wastage, are a couple of examples. Even the technology industry markets devices and softwares as boons to human lifestyle despite research showing otherwise. How can consumers be made aware of this, or how can it become easier to find misinformation? Can a system be developed to overcome the need for instant gratification? There are plenty of people that already do this, writers and researchers have developed websites that ‘bust’ trending fake news and products. Some do this through simple articles, some through parody, and some create humorous videos. My [note: first person?] aim is to use design tools to increase peoples’ awareness of their ‘weak link’ (instant gratification) and how it’s capitalized on, to encourage them to make more informed decisions. I plan to do this by creating my own false marketing, and parodying others.

Thesis topics (word, sentence, paragraph)

  • Misinformation
  • Biased and misleading reporting and marketing of food and health advice adversely affect people’s lives.

Young adults should care, parents should care, anyone who’s responsible for groceries should care. why? Because ill-informed choices can affect the long-term health of people and their loved ones.

The problem is that a lot of misinformation and manipulation takes place when it comes to people’s food choices without them even realising or knowing. Low-fat foods were touted as good for you, but now we know that the fat is replaced with excess sweeteners. Supermarket aisles are laid out in a way that forces you to walk through all the processed and packaged foods, keeping whole foods, dairy and frozen foods around the edges. Coca-cola encourages exercise and funds research to imply that what you eat isn’t as important as long as you exercise enough. Companies utilise people’s desire for convenience, utilising people’s perceived lack of time.

I want to create more informed consumers, ensuring people actually make healthy decisions when they believe they’re making them.

  • Also:
  • Could this include addressing root cause, which is people’s perceived lack of time?


  • Perception
  • The way we often use technology is numbing our sense of perception.

Young adults need to care, as they are the ones that are impacted the most, and the decisions they make regarding this will impact generations to come.

The problem is that the way many different technologies (e.g. smartphones, laptops, video streaming) are often used, negatively impacts our relationships, our health, our time management and overall quality of life. The reason being, we become out of touch with people around us and with our own bodies. You can’t accurately tell how hungry or full you are while watching Netflix. Young children feel neglected, like their parents are on the phone ‘all the time’, whereas mothers miss out on vital communication with their babies when browsing their phones while breastfeeding. Children can no longer be ‘bored’ when given screens as distractions, missing out on creative development. Don’t learn how to cure their own boredom.

I want to create systems that help reduce excess use of technology and that increase people’s awareness of their surroundings, their relationships, and themselves.


  • Bioethics
  • Upcoming advancements in genetic engineering and other powerful technologies may be misused and lead to unethical norms.

Young adults and teenagers need to care as these technologies could become a part of their everyday lives, or they may become major policymakers.

The problem is that people are not aware of biotechnological developments and therefore may inadvertently let unethical situations become the norm. Technologies like genetically modifying human embryos are embroiled in controversy. They can lead to unethical policies being made. For example, genetically modified crops have patents surrounding them that force poorer farmers to pay royalties they can’t afford.

I want to present the ethical discourse in an accessible way to young adults to encourage them to think critically about the technologies and the impact they may have.

  • Also:
  • How else can I practically engage with this topic without talking about policies?