Social Mobility in the Digital Age

  • 2023

  • Digital
    Web Design and Development

Designed By:

Commissioned By:

L'Atelier BNP Paribas

Designed In:

New Zealand

Told across two interactive chapters, “Social Mobility in the Digital Age” is a research project that explores the causes of widening wealth gaps and the impact of near-future technologies on the economic prospects for the world’s poor and middle class.

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  • This project promised to look at social mobility in the digital age and the future economies that have emerged - the gig economy, the sharing economy, cryptocurrency, blockchain, etc. It’s a complex, interconnected series of topics - which made it an exciting challenge to create a design which could communicate this far-reaching research as engaging storytelling experiences.

  • 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 the 20th Century - the grain, the fonts, the game metaphors and illustration styles. But make it somewhat ominous like the vast macroeconomic forces that move around us. The second chapter explores the digital revolution in progress. We wanted to communicate a sense of humanity meeting machines; that eerie feeling called “the uncanny valley” where our digital selves are ever more closely mapped to real life.

  • The project encourages users to consider their role in shaping a more equitable future, sparking conversations about social mobility, technology, and economic inequality. “Social Mobility in the Digital Age” saw significant social sharing and has generated wide interest in a complex topic far beyond the reach of a scholarly article or economic report.

  • The key experience in Chapter 1 is a programmatic animation that is never the same twice, a playable “Game of Life''. We designed this simulation to show how the chances of birth and life events impact an individual’s economic potential. As the reader scrolls, the game runs an algorithm based on research data, generating a unique “life” that unfolds on the fly. In Chapter 2, 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.