My name is Maggie Hughes and I’m a senior at Wellesley College! I’m from Virginia where I bounced between the southeast and the northwest, and I’m now majoring in political science with a design minor.
For the past two years, I’ve UROPed with Social Machines at the Media Lab. The group “seeks to enable human-machine collaborations that enhance our ability to listen, learn and engage across communities.” This has manifested in tools such as The Electome that mapped and analyzed the conversations around the 2016 election on Twitter and looked at how they developed and changed over time. This project acted as a springboard to my thesis that maps and analyzes the Twitter users’ response to mass shootings over time by looking at how clusters of conversation form as well as the content of those conversations.
I hope to pursue community organizing and human-machine collaboration and tool building in this course and after school. I am deeply interested in creating platforms for communities to share their successes and reveal and emerge their strengths, and I hope to pursue this mission in this course!
Over the summer, I lived in Roxbury and began to develop a relationship with the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) and Project Hope. DSNI’s mission is to “empower Dudley residents to organize, plan for, create and control a vibrant, diverse and high-quality neighborhood in collaboration with community partners.” We originally began working with DSNI to translate a method mothers in my community used in Virginia to Boston communities, a form of overcoming the preventative cost of childcare through networks. This happens naturally, but we wondered if technology could contribute or scale this model. However, after speaking with mothers and families from these groups, the concept has evolved radically.
The families I spoke to shifted from DSNI to Project Hope and Empath. After working and speaking with many mothers from these groups, they did not express interest in networks to overcome the preventative cost of childcare. However, they deeply cared about their community and sharing information within that community. For instance, all of the women I’ve spoken to had found solutions to many obstacles within their lives. They had been settled for some time, and they expressed interest in telling their stories and sharing their solutions with younger mothers in their community. This is the point we are at now, however I imagine that anything we produce could look radically different than what I expect, and speaking with a different age of mothers would have different results.
As I explained in my diagram, I hope to engage with the community through these partners to collaboratively build tools with them with heavy iteration. Hopefully, the final product will be passive and amplify the community’s strengths rather than act as an intervention. In this course, I hope to learn how to build passive systems rather than the intervening ones.
In this course, I hope to learn how to better engage with the community, promote trust, and collaborate in a more positive way. I hope to better learn how to constructively and holistically collaborate with a community that was not mine originally without contributing to or perpetuating the white savior narrative. I hope that through much iteration and deep collaboration, we can find a system that compliments the community.