Blackmirror Brainstorming

Difficulty Level:

Design Phase:

Method Overview

Blackmirror brainstorming helps us guard against the negative effects of our goals by giving us a clear understanding of how our product could be misused. The outcome of this exercise is to more clearly define our anti-goals.

Framework of ethics used


Method Intentions:

Get Started

Participants: Groups of 3–4 people (eg. designers)

Materials Needed: Blackmirror Brainstorming Template, ideas

The exercise breaks down into four sections: the brainstorm, quotes, plot points, and the poster.

  1. brainstorm: write down some of your ideas for what might go wrong. Here are a few areas to help frame your activity: Economic Issues: could we enable bad faith actors to prey on vulnerable groups? Politics: could a corrupt government could use this info to identify and target dissidents? Social Issues: could our product reinforce already-present societal divides?
  2. quotes : quotes people in the episode might say. It can also be things people say about the episode after watching it.
  3. Plot Points: Plot points are helpful in describing how this bad situation comes to pass. They’re the substance of the story. Consider these four as a starting point:
    • The characters: who’s going to be affected
    • The setup: the well-intended idea
    • The problem: how the well-intended idea goes wrong
    • TThe effect: how the idea going wrong affects people
  4. The poster : commuincate the big idea to your group.

Further Reading

Joshua Mauldin. 2018. Black Mirror brainstorms — a product design exercise.