How can we close the wealth divide in the digital age?
Told across two interactive chapters, "Social Mobility in the Digital Age" is a research project exploring widening wealth gaps and the impact of near-future technologies on the economic prospects for the world’s poor and middle class.
2021 - 2022
This project looks deeply at social mobility in the 2000s and the new paradigms that have emerged - the gig economy, the sharing economy, cryptocurrency, blockchain.
It’s a complex and interconnected series of topics - which made it an exciting design challenge. We worked to communicate this ambitious research through engaging storytelling experiences, drawing the reader into the data with a "spoonful of sugar".
We created two unique experiences.
The first chapter provides the basis for understanding how social mobility has eroded over time. We wanted to convey a sense of 20th century design - graininess, classic fonts, board game metaphors and illustration styles.
Instead of being reassuring however, these tropes are ominous like the macroeconomic forces that threaten to crush us at any moment.
Game of life
The key experience in Chapter 1 is the “Game of Life'' - a programmatic animation that is never the same twice.
We designed this playable simulation to show how your circumstances of birth dictate your economic potential. As you scroll, the game runs an algorithm based on research data, generating a unique “life” that unfolds on the fly.
Into the future
The second chapter explores the digital revolution in progress around us. We wanted to communicate a sense of humanity meeting machines; that eerie feeling called “the uncanny valley” where our digital selves are mapped to real life.
We wanted to evoke an exciting but potentially scary future coming slowly into focus but not yet fully revealed.
To find this style, we used LiDAR 3D scans of real world people and objects. The models, which were rendered as point clouds, create an effect that’s ephemeral and half-formed, like ghosts from the future.
Many of the LiDAR models were scanned specifically for the story, including all the human models.
The “Social Mobility in the Digital Age” project encourages readers to consider their role in shaping a more equitable future, sparking conversations about technology and economic inequality.
The project saw significant social sharing and has generated wide interest in a complex topic far beyond the reach of a scholarly article or economic report.