Digital Life Decoded Pop-Ups

“Digital Life Decoded,” is a series of user-research informed programs designed to empower the NCSU community to make informed decisions about their online identities and digital security.


The current technological and political landscapes have re-ignited conversations and concerns around digital security, privacy, and media literacy. It is becoming increasingly difficult for individuals to ascertain meaning and credibility in the resources they access online, and to understand and manage their digital privacy risks. To build a foundation for meaningful, innovative, and sustainable programs that support the development of broad-based technological, media, and data literacies, a cross-departmental team of NCSU Librarians investigated what digital privacy means to students through user research and short-form pop-up programs.

Branded as “Digital Life Decoded,” this project is grounded in substantial user research done in the spring of 2017 that identified three specific issues that students were concerned about: hacking of personal information, consent for use of information, and understanding how their information would be shared. Findings from the user research informed the content and design of short form pop-up programming.

The following pop-ups occurred during March 2017:

Predictive World: Participants explore psycho-demographics profiles generated from public Facebook profile and likes through the Predictive World and Apply Magic Sauce websites. This is an example of the ways that advertisers, researchers and others use our data to understand and predict our online (and possibly offline) preferences and behaviors.

Terms of Service Trivia: Terms of Service (TOS) are long and intentionally hard to read. Participants will read a TOS for 30 seconds (something most of us have NEVER done). And answer quick questions like, “Who owns your data” and, “Do they share your personal information?”

Password Puzzle: Test the strength of passwords and learn how long it would take a computer to crack. We cannot reliably tell you the perfect formula for an uncrackable password, but we can offer some tips for securing your online accounts.

How We Did It

Digital Life Decoded was informed by two rounds of user research: a broad survey seeking student input on topics of interest and a series of three focus groups that took a deep dive into topics of interest.