With digitalization, Terms of Service (ToS) and its supporting policies have become everyday touchpoints people pass by without properly engaging with. On the surface, this looks like a usability problem and hence could be solved through UX design, resulting in a growing research body to make it more engageable, readable, and comprehensible by experimenting with the UX of ToS such as through structure, hierarchy, and visuals.
This research project takes a reflective and transformative alternative route by zooming in and out and moving around ToS through ongoing and experimental speculative readings of it to reveal what it is and what it could be. The first reading – ToStopography – looks at ToS research landscape and the blank spaces to situate the research. The second reading – Programmatic Time Travel – looks at design history to understand what ToS is. By making an association between ToS in digitalization and ornament in early industrialization, PTT proposes a program around aesthetics of relating rather than a program of usability. The third reading – ToSsphere – looks at the social life of ToS to reveal that ToS is not a single document but is part of a social ecosystem of policies and legal frameworks distributed across corporations and continents.