The Ethical Dilemma Café opened up its doors on the first floor of Ravensbourne University at MozFest, in 2014. Brought to you by BBC Research & Development, University of Lancaster and MozFest, we opened a cafe where the currency of choice was your data.

Made up of a series of installations designed to "show physical work in progress and completed prototypes, before entering the café, visitors were confronted with a notice. warning them that by crossing an arbitrary boundary they were giving away all of their personal data to the 'café', and potentially malevolent 3rd parties. The language used was deliberately obscure and in direct contradiction to the wholesome premise of the café, un-clearly stating that the management held rights to all information exchanged within the space.

In exchange for allowing us to liberate personal data, we offered smoothies and popcorn, and decorated the space with a physical wiki suspended from string. As one visitor put it, "Popcorn and Juice with strings?" Jasmine Cox and Ian Forrester BBC BLOG 2014

Welcome Warning Ethical Dilemma Cafe poster at the entrance to the cafe

The Cafe was a workshop, a hack space, and a gathering of folks who wanted to question the accessibility of our personal preferences online to big tech. It was also for those who wanted to highlight the constant dilemma we face every day online around sharing, giving away, and requesting control of who we are online, i.e. our data.

How will we address the dilemmas facing us today?

In 2014 we worried about hidden microphones, secret cameras and toys with prying eyes. We asked for off buttons, clearer privacy terms and control over our own data. But what has changed since then? Are our worries still valid? What are the new areas of concern? Or are we just more accepting a relinquishing of control?

The Ethical Dilemma Cafe will be opening for two days at the Feel Good Club in Manchester and this year, the Cafe will show you how your data is reflecting your identity in the digital world. The Cafe will also explore how measurement, categorisation, and labeling of humans by machines determines the barriers and privilege you experience. It will prompt you to question if the established metrics are measuring the right things, at an appropriate granularity and how their influence touches your online and offline experiences.

You will have the opportunity to let your personal data take you on a journey through a space full of wonder and intrigue, where you will uncover the power of data and algorithms and how they shape your world…whether you’re aware of it or not. But nothing in this world is for free, the dilemma you face is your willingness to cross the threshold and be complicit in the interpretation of how your data defines you and your community, in perpetuity.

In exchange for real coffee, we will prime local participants with two questions: What has changed around our agency with our data, and the transparency of our digital identities? Are our worries from 2014 still valid?

Through emergent installations, talks and workshops we will build a highly connected cafe with elements of a future which might surprise, delight and change the way you think about the internet of today.

Join us on April 26-27th, Manchester, UK

We welcome you all to join us, whether just for a coffee or to spend the day. We have started compiling out sessions on the MozFest plaza,where you can also register to join us in Manchester.

The Ethical Dilemma cafe is built in three zones:

☕The Cafe is where you can hangout, drink complimentary coffee, and explore installations designed to show you how your online data materializes as your online persona, one you might not recognise.

🎨 The Gallery is where we host short conversations and discussions through a series of curated topics designed to raise the issues we face online today, the barriers that obstruct alternative data infrastructures, and highlight the privilege many of us experience, whether through location, race or language.

🧰The Workshop is where you will find a series of mini workshops where we rebuild and regain control of our data, our online experience and our digital ID.

Let your data take you on a journey, learn how your data defines you and glean a perspective you might not have seen before. If your data was making the decisions what direction will it take you in? Would it take you to Manchester?

MozFest is part art, tech and society convening, part maker festival, and the premiere gathering for activists in diverse global movements fighting for a more humane digital world. To learn more, visit

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