Oh, the Places Your Data Will Go!

Turns out, to way more places than you’d probably like!

This post is part of a series of zines that Free Radicals presented at Tiny Tech Zines on August 11, 2019. To see other zines in the series, click HERE.


An innocent selfie gets uploaded to Instagram and goes on a journey that’s a bit more than she bargained for…

Follow our selfie on a journey through facial recognition algorithms, the corporate and state data sharing environment, and more, oh my! All in spectacular rhyming fashion.

To learn more about real-life examples and critical data frameworks, click the links under select pages to access more resources about different aspects of the data sharing environment. You can also scroll to the bottom and browse the footnotes that share the same links. 

If you want your own hard copy of the zine (and to support the USPS!) you can get one at our webshop:

Purchase hard-copy zine of Oh the Places Your Data Will Go!


Oh, The Places Your Data Will Go!

A drawing of a Polaroid selfie of a person with shoulder length black hair and a bow in their hair. The Polaroid is personified with arms and legs, standing on top of a pile of other selfies. The selfie on top of the pile has one hand on its left hip, and the other arm is up, giving a thumbs-up. The text reads: "Congratulations! You are the one! After filters and angles, Your photo shoot’s done!"

A drawing with the selfie of the person with shoulder-length black hair on the left, standing on a path that winds around to the right side of the screen. To the left of the path a little further up is a file folder marked "storage", with a group of other selfies behind it. Next to it on the right is a building marked "hard drive". There is a tumbleweed passing through on the bottom of the picture. The text reads, "But where is a perfect selfie to go? To storage or hard drive, To stash or to stow?"

The selfie of the person with shoulder-length black hair stands behind the "storage" sign with other photos, of well-known memes such as the big brain meme and a random picture of a duck. The femme selfie looks a little confused. The text reads "No! You say, Because here you’ll be stuck Between seven memes And a weird-looking duck."

A drawing of a Polaroid selfie of a person with shoulder-length black hair, with arms and legs, heading down a path towards what looks like an amusement park. There is a gate through which a ferris wheel and a rollercoaster are seen. The femme selfie's facial expression looks excited. The text reads: "And just as you leave, On the horizon you see A sparkling place Which you head towards with glee"

A drawing of a polaroid selfie of a person with shoulder length black hair, with arms and legs, walking down a path titled "terms and conditions." The path leads towards a dotted line and a gate labeled "Instant Gram", with a figure waiting at the dotted line with a big pen. The text reads, "Waltz right this way It’s Free Ninety Nine! Just sign your name here On the black dotted line"

A drawing of the same Polaroid selfie of a person walking along a path towards a dotted line with an x. Past the dotted line is an open gate. There is a figure wearing a suit and a hat covering its eyes seemingly ushering the selfie down the path. The text reads, "Oh what’s this, you say? Just terms and conditions To enter this land, We’ll need your permissions"

p 10: learn more

A drawing of the a Polaroid figure with arms and legs stepping onto a rollercoaster ride, with a figure in a suit and hat helping it on the ride. There is a ferris wheel in the distance, and on the right side there is a wall of gears and levers. The text reads, "We’ll take it from here, Don’t you worry a bit Our systems work hard To make you a hit!"

A drawing of four selfie Polaroid figures with arms and legs, riding a rollercoaster down into a cloud that is bursting with heart, comment, mail, and emoji symbols. The text reads, "Just enjoy the ride, Look at all your new friends! They’ll shower you with likes, Comments, views, and DMs."

A drawing of the same Polaroid selfie with arms and legs in a rollercoaster cart. The cart on a rollercoaster track, that looks like a conveyor belt. The track leads to the right, where giant claws are picking up other selfies out of their carts. The operator is standing next to a currently inactive claw that is labeled "Data Cleaning inc." The text reads, "With us you’ll go places Up and down, side to side Whatever happens, remember - It’s part of the ride!"

A drawing of a number of polaroid selfies, drawn with arms and legs, being carried across the globe by giant claws with wings, to a building labeled "Data Cleaning Inc." The text reads, "You’ll zip cross country, You’ll be part of a crew! Even places where labor laws Are fewer than few"

p 19: learn more

A drawing depicting personified Polaroid selfies with arms and legs being pulled down from giant claws and either sent into the trash or being sent into a building labeled "Data Cleaning Inc." There are workers on the ground pulling the selfies off of the claws. The text reads, "There they get rid of The ones they don’t need, But a special few - They let THEM proceed"

p 21: learn more

A drawing depicting four personified Polaroid selfies with arms or legs, hooked through the top and lined up in a line. There is a person sitting on a chair with a pair of large scissors in their hand, at the right side of the drawing. Presumably, each selfie is being sent down the line to be clipped with the scissors. The selfies look scared. The text reads, "Oh, your path isn’t over This isn’t the end Your destiny’s bigger Than what you intend"

A drawing split into two sides. On the left side is a personified Polaroid selfie, with arms in the air and legs dangling, a scared look on its face. The selfie is being held up and examined by a bald person with glue and scissors. The text on the left side of the screen reads, "Because dear selfie, You’ve got something we want! Those manicured eyebrows, That smile that you flaunt". On the right side of the screen is a closeup of the selfie being held up by the figure. The selfie's features are being digitally analyzed. The text reads, "Once your data is scrubbed, You’ll be polished up good. All the measurements added, You’ll look just like you should."

A drawing split into two sides. The left side shows a pile of Polaroid selfies being sucked into a machine. The text reads, "All of your faces Make our machines go". The right side shows these machines spitting out the selfies as various items such as video cameras and keys. Stacks of money are traveling down the last conveyor belt into a bag labeled with the money sign. The text reads, "And with thousands of you How the money will flow!"

p 26: learn more

A drawing split on two sides. On the left side is a group of personified Polaroid selfies stuck behind a transparent glass of a machine, as an operator puts their ear to the glass. The text reads, "What do they make? I'm glad that you asked!" The right side shows the operator opening the glass door to let the same Polaroid of the person with shoulder-length hair out. The operator gestures towards an ominous-looking group of figures that resemble frogs. The text reads, "Join my friends over here I'll show you real fast!"

A drawing divided into two sides. The left side shows a conveyor belt with two keys on it. Behind the conveyor belt stands two greedy-looking figures holding up money bags and one figure holding up a key. The personified Polaroid selfie stands between them, watching this all happen. The text reads, "Here's a fun gizmo That unlocks your phone!" The right side of the drawing shows a figure holding up a tablet with a camera attached on the left side. The tablet shows a picture of the figure's face. The camera says, "cha-ching!" The text reads "A password's not needed When the right person's shown."

p 31: learn more

A figure wearing a suit with their eyes covered by a hat holds two photos of people's faces labeled "Jim" and "Sue". In between the figure's arms is a floating, strange creature that basically looks like a worm with big eyes at the top of its head, planted in a box. There are two more of these creatures on a conveyor belt at the bottom. On the right, figures in a truck are picking up bags of money, and one of the figures grabs one of the creatures by the neck. The creature looks scared. The same personified selfie with arms and legs looks on from the side. The text reads, "Or this wonderful widget That knows Jim from Sue Before your friends tag you Before it’s even on view."

p 32: learn more

A drawing is split into two sides. On the left side is a group of ominous figures that look like frogs with sunglasses and with hats reading "LAPD" "Tacoma PD" "Merced PD" and "Baltimore PD" . In front of them stands a figure who is holding a video camera that says, "HA!" on it. The personified Polaroid selfie looks up at the camera with a bewildered look. Two more video cameras are shown along a conveyor belt at the bottom. On the right side, the operator figure holds up a box with a person's face in it behind bars, with the word "confirmed" at the bottom of the bars. Out of the box flows a long string of photos, marked "Criminal", held on one side by one of the frogs with sunglasses. The text on the left reads, "Our most popular item Is the Ha! Caughtcha! Cam". The text on the right reads, "If you're on someone's watch list You'll end up in the slam"

p 34: learn more | p 35: learn more

A drawing split into two frames. In the left frame there is an operator figure pointing to a board labeled "SUCCESS" with photos of people behind bars. The operator is holding a video camera that says, "HA!" A group of figures, holding money bags and facing away, have "LAPD" on the backs of their shirts. On the right is a board labeled "Incriminating footage" with a diagram of a person marked "guilty". The operator figure is pointing to the board. On the left, the text reads, "At allies this helps us Arrest trouble makers" and on the right it reads, "What did those people do" Oh, they're photo takers"

p 36: learn more

A drawing depicting a personified Polaroid selfie, looking displeased, with an operator figure patting the selfie on the side and pointing behind their back at a building labeled "Prison" that is fenced off with barbed wire, with a watch tower in the back. A line of people are filing into the building. The text reads, "Don’t worry young selfie, I can tell you’ll be fine! But somebody’s got to Keep the bad ones in line. Just don’t look too hard At those folks over there We promise our system’s Unbiased and fair."

p 39: learn more

A drawing of the operature figure showing the personified selfie a zoomed out view of the whole operation - from the amusement park rollercoaster to the claws to the hooks to the money machines and conveyor belts. The text reads, "What was that you just said? Do you disagree? Oh, friend, you made this happen! It’s your fault, you see?"

A drawing of the operature figure showing the personified selfie a zoomed out view of the whole operation - from the amusement park rollercoaster to the claws to the hooks to the money machines and conveyor belts. The text reads, "What was that you just said? Do you disagree? Oh, friend, you made this happen! It’s your fault, you see?"

A drawing that first depicts a bubble of text from a character off-screen that says, "Hey, that’s not true! There is a way out! Help us take down the system, Don’t just sit there and pout!" The personified selfie is still sitting on the ground, with it's mouth open wide. The operator is standing in front of a board with data and graphs, and says, "No - don’t listen to them! There’s crime all around. You’ll only be safe With our machines on the ground."

A drawing with two frames. On the left, a Polaroid selfie steps out of its 2-dimensional frame and points to the operator. In the right frame, three dark-skinned folks also stand above their Polaroids and face the operator. The text reads, "Safe, you say, But who’s safe from what? If you’re black or brown, It’s not so clear-cut."

A drawing with two frames. In the left frame. a person with lighter hair helps the person who has been a selfie this whole time, with the shoulder-length black hair with the bow in their hair, out of their Polaroid frame. On the right, three people hold up a wrench that is holding up a megaphone. The text reads, "So join us in making A world that’s more just No machines, no surveillance, Abolition or bust!"

The light-haired person with long hair holds hands with the person with shoulder-length black hair, and shows them a scene. It shows people holding up picket signs, talking to each other, and writing letters. This whole scene is in a bubble coming out of a book that someone sitting in a chair is writing. The text reads, "First, look around you You’ll find people fighting And organizing and winning And history writing!"

The person with long lighter hair shows the main character person with shoulder-length black hair a zoomed out view of the United States, with San Francisco, Oakland, and Somerville highlighted. The text reads, "The cities of Oakland, San Francisco, and Somerville Banned facial recognition, And with your help, more will!"

p 52: learn more

A drawing showing a group of people protesting with signs that read "Alto a los drones para LAPD", "no drones for LAPD", and "no LAPD drones". To their right, three people have torn a machine in half. The light haired person is showing the black-haired person this scene. The text reads, "In Los Angeles, the coalition Stop LAPD Spying Dismantles the programs Of police lying and prying."

p 54: learn more

A drawing with two frames. In the left frame, the two figures (light and black hair) are holding scissors and a megaphone and standing in front of a group of people with picket signs and scissors. The sign reads "no tech for ICE". In the right frame, a figure that is presumably Jeff Bezos and an ICE agent hold a ribbon with a money sign, with scissors under the ribbon. The text reads, "If being out on the streets Is where your strength lies Join the protesters demanding Amazon and ICE cut their ties"

p 57: learn more

The person with lighter hair and the person with darker hair walk holding hands through a scene strewn with books, social media posts, picket signs, and tools. The text reads, "So enough talking, persuading, And research and reading Get moving! Take action Through working and leading"

A drawing depicting a group of people holding up a big wrench, a big hammer, and a large net, going to catch a claw with wings. The text reads, "I’m here when you’re ready The whole community too When we come together There’s nothing we can’t do!"

A blue screen with a drawing of the main character of the comic, the person with shoulder-length black hair. Under the drawing is text that reads, "Data Seuss is a project of Free Radicals created out of the hivemind of Alexis Takahashi, Chrystal Li, and Sophie Wang. Free Radicals is an activist collective dedicated to creating a more socially just, equitable, and accountable science. To learn more go to FREERADS.ORG!" Under the text are the Twitter and Instagram handles for the organization, both "FREERADSORG".



Alexis Takahashi (aka ATAK) is a multiracial organizer who loves plants, sushi, and disrupting capitalism. Her personal superpowers are cat whispering and laying in trees.

Sophie Wang (aka shuf) is a big nerd and small zine gremlin who challenges our taken-for-granted assumptions about western science through comics and zines. She draws (heh) from her background in Science and Technology Studies and her many years making art of widely varying quality. You can follow her at @wangshuf.

Chrystal Li is a former environmental/ocean science major who now does design and creative coding for a living. She spends her free time drawing, questioning everything, and appeasing her cat, Hiccup.