UYC Update #6

This past Wednesday we presented our three design candidates in class – a texting service, an app, and a “selfie” photo project. We received a lot of feedback on our project designs that we discussed during a Thursday meeting with Maria.
Our selfie photo project received great feedback during the class presentation and seems like a popular idea among students as well. However, after talking to Maria, we discussed the concerns regarding privacy and retribution. The concern was that students who show their face on these campaigns may be targeted by school officials or security officers for their participation. She noted that while there is still a possibility that students will be singled out by officers  when using an app recording events in real time, student and teacher witnesses to the action mitigate the risk to a degree. Mainly, there was also a concern about not being able to monitor an Instagram account for inappropriate material.
So in this case, we decided that an app would probably be best for the purposes of this project. However, instead of just an input/output app that tells stories, the app should have fun and appealing aspects like social networking integration. Students should be able to communicate within the app, send texts, upload videos, chat, and tell stories as well. Based off of this platform, social media campaigns can possibly branch out. UYC can utilize their main instagram/twitter/facebook account and mobilize students to use hashtags for certain surveys, go out and explore surveillance, photo-document police presence, etc. Therefore, the app platform would be a good networking platform for students to communicate with each other and also tell their stories to the outside world.
The design of the app will include several functions. There will definitely be pages regarding UYC information, contact and community events. Also, the app will have information telling students what their rights are and how to counter police abuse.
The core of the app will include photo sharing, story submissions, inter-member communication and various ways to view the submissions. Instead of all the submissions falling under individual student accounts, the students should rather submit their stories and picture to the app, and then UYC can comb through submissions and post them at a central location viewable to everyone in the app. Therefore, all the photo submissions and stories will fall under those “uploaded” by UYC and not individual students. Likewise, important media campaign photos will be gathered by UYC and can be uploaded through a centralized instagram/twitter account (perhaps this can eliminate some of the retribution). Whenever there are hashtag campaigns, students can use individual submissions and then tag them for UYC to post.
Inside the app will also be a function where students can connect with other students from the same or different schools. Students can learn about what goes on in other school systems and even make friends. The app can also even have a chatroom function with a live feed. Another possibility is adding a function where students create their own discussion logs or advice panels to gather peer input (for example, asking for advice on something that happened in school and what to do). The social networking component would probably be an important aspect of the usability aspect of this app.
Overall, instead of being just an app for information, this UYC app can possibly act as a platform for further social media campaigns. By drawing students in and connecting them with others, the app will allow UYC broader influence among students and mobilize them to participate in UYC activities and campaigns, rather than just 1 selfie campaign on instagram.
UYC are having their monthly meeting today (07th April), and Maria will present the design candidates to UYC members for their feedback. We will be discussing this, as well as class feedback on our first iteration during our weekly meeting on Thursday, which will feed into our second iteration of the app next week. At present, our app draws inspiration from NYCLU’s Stop and Frisk Watch app, and a multimedia app called Com-Phone Story Maker that brings together photo/video/text elements to tell a story.
– Dan, Elizabeth, and Nushelle