Community-Accountable Design


Reclaiming data through popular education

Last fall, we worked with Our Data Bodies to design a facilitation guide for people who want to transform their communities through popular education about our digital data. The Digital Defence Playbook gets people to think about ways tech affects their communities rather than trying to teach people the intricacies of how it works.  In each activity in the book, the intent is to start conversations to help reshape the narratives around digital safety and security in racialized, poor, and immigrant communities.

The book also looks at the impacts of digital insecurity and lack of privacy of people who are systematically oppressed and how these groups are at risk. Our Data Bodies hopes that this playbook will not only educate but build strength by returning the power back into the community.

Sketches of multiple approaches of community and technology

The chosen concept combined two preliminary concepts. In the first, data is visualized in a stream, suggesting that its flow can be directed as a community if we assert our agency. The other focuses on affected people, neighbourhoods, communities. For this approach, we were inspired by contoured line drawings, as it shows continuous connectivity to each other, and that digital defence as a community creates stronger practices than individualistic approaches.

Two design concepts that showcase data

ODB loved the sentiments of both concepts, so we combined these two approaches by adding people in the community at the top of the layout and having the data stream connecting and flowing toward the community members.

Photo: Spread of Table of contents
Table of Contents
Photo: Spread on left Additional Partners, Our Funders, and Acknowledgements. On the right, “Entering into the Data Body” divider page with a data flowing out.
Divider Page Spread
Photo: Two page spread, on the left, worksheet of “What’s in Your Wallet” on right Page of Activity: Are you Sharing? I might be.
Spread of Worksheet and Activity page

We’re excited about the impact this guide will have the digital justice realm, and we’ve learned a lot from this project that we are excited to apply. The completed book debuted at the first ever NY Tech Zine Fair in November 2018 and generated a lot of interest.

The Digital Defence Playbook: Community Power Tools for Reclaiming Data is also available in Spanish! Read more and download/purchase at

Photo: Front cover of the Digital Defence Playbook: Community Power Tools for Reclaiming Data. Illustration of data, arrows, lines, clouds, flowing upward towards 3 community members holding a sign that says “Our Data Bodies.”
Front cover