Equipped with a tiny computer, microphone and powerful wireless antenna, the Transparency Grenade captures network traffic and audio at the site and securely and anonymously streams it to a dedicated server where it is mined for information. User names, hostnames, IP addresses, unencrypted email fragments, web pages, images and voice extracted from this data and then presented on an online, public map, shown at the location of the detonation.
The volatility of information in networked, digital contexts frames a precedent for clamouring (and often unrealistic) attempts to contain it. This increasingly influences how we use networks and think about the right to information itself; today we see the fear of the leak actively exploited by law makers to afford organisations greater opacity and thus control..
This anxiety, this 'network insecurity', impacts not just upon the freedom of speech but the felt instinct to speak at all. It would now seem letting public know what's going on inside a publicly funded organisation is somehow to do 'wrong' -Bradley Manning a sacrificial lamb to that effect..
Meanwhile, civil servants and publicly-owned companies continue to make decisions behind guarded doors that impact the lives of many, often leaving us feeling powerless to effect change, both in and out of a democratic context.
The Transparency Grenade seeks to capture these important tensions in an iconic, hand-held package while simultaneously opening up a conversation about just how much implicit trust we place in network infrastructure; infrastructure that reaches ever more deeply into our lives.