Co-Design Video Interview Exercise

Earlier in our course, students were given the task of interviewing each other using different types of media. These types of media were collected using mobile devices, both feature phones and smart phones, and the media included video, audio, and pictures. Students were instructed to interview fellow students with question related to collaborative design, such as “What is co-design?” and “What is the most important component of co-design?” I was able to interview Jenny Larios Berlin, who is working on a co-design documentary project with Iquilinos Boricuas en Acción in Boston’s South End. Also, I worked with Sujata Singhal on this blog, who is working with me on the Respect in Reporting co-design project with Press Pass TV. Content for both Jenny and Sujata’s interviews can be found below.

Jenny’s Audio Interview on The Most Important Component of Co-Design can be found here:

Jenny Audio Interview

It was an interesting experience having Rogelio ask me what co-design is and what the most important aspect of co-design is in a public place.  It made me feel like I was on one of those late-night show hunts for susceptible pedestrians…I liked being put on the spot like that.  I suddenly was forced to talk about co-design and felt nervous even though I had just been editing and reading our final paper on co-design for hours.  I would actually like to go do a series of interviews on the street and ask others if they know what this process is…I think it could be really interesting to see what the average person’s perspective is.

Sujata’s audio interview can be found below:

Sujata Audio Interview

Respect in Reporting Co-Design, Final Project Presentation

On the last day of the Civic Media Co-Design Studio course, all of the different teams and projects had the opportunity to present their work. In our case, we presented on the overall co-design process working with Press Pass TV on the Respect in Reporting Campaign. The presentation was comprised of many different sections and provided an overview of the project for newcomers. We modeled our presentation after the Co-design Manual, which is one of the outcomes of our course, and the major sections included: Project overview, The Process of Co-design, Securing a Community Partner, Doing Design Work Together, Testing Ideas Together, Passing the Torch, Fail Hard Redux, and Growth, Learning, and Success .  The full presentation can be seen here.

Co-Design/PPTV Fail Hard Session: Barriers to Success

On March 16, the Civic Media Co-Design Studio conducted a “Fail Hard” session for all projects. This Fail Hard session was essentially a brainstorming session where people proposed possible scenarios of failure for each project. Each project was given a space within the course for feedback on potential “fails,” which consisted of individuals writing their fail scenarios on sticky notes and placing them on a dry-erase white board. Once scenarios were written down and placed on the white-board, the brainstorming focus would immediately shift to another group. When all groups were finished, they broke into caucuses and discussed how to sort their fails into areas and categories. This sorting process could potentially guide focus to specific aspects of the design process, and consequently, encourage simpler creation of solutions.

I have included a photograph of the “cloud of stickies” for the Respect in Reporting Campaign, and also a bulleted list of fails and a Word Cloud Map of fails by frequency of themes.

*NOTE: The list provided is hypothetical and is intended as an educational resource.

Co Team Management Fails:

Planning Fails:

  • Scheduling issues.
  • Scheduling.
  • Goals too diffuse.
  • Fail to find a specific project to complete.
  • Focus of campaign too broadly defined.
  • Badly planned campaign strategy and timeline.
  • Scattered, no focus.
  • Too many tasks, lack of ability to prioritize.

Teamwork Fails:

  • Workload not equally distributed.
  • Lack of consistent communication among participants.
  • Group doesn’t collaborate.
  • Balancing responsibilities.
  • Bogged down coordinating 4 team members.
  • Lack of division of tasks.
  • Roles not clear.
  • Too many hands on board, very little accomplished, and too much dialogue.
  • Difficulty managing small team and Press Pass TV team.
  • Not enough internal constructive criticism.
  • Team dynamics fail.

Respect in Reporting Campaign Fails

Participation Fails:

  • How to better bring in community participants.
  • Lack of participation.
  • Co-Design only extends to generating content instead of strategy.
  • No Latinos participate.
  • No youth on strategy team.
  • Privileged grad students overshadows and hi-jack project from youth.
  • Not reaching the represented communities well enough.
  • Local community has no interest to the project.
  • Cannot attract enough volunteers.
  • Ignored by the youth that is is trying to help.

Political Fails:

  • Results in Slacktivism and Clicktivism.
  • Spur riots, gang violence, and death.
  • Replications of social inequality in governing process.
  • Small voice in relation to big corporate interests.
  • Campaigning has the opposite effect.
  • Fox news attacks project.
  • By taking too few actions, Press Pass TV becomes a watchdog that makes media production so hard and academic that it is disregarded.
  • Criticized by other movements for unengaged approach instead of direct action.

Design Skills Fails:

  • Crappy graphic design.
  • Workshops are boring and don’t stimulate creativity.
  • Minimal coding experience.

Community Partner Fails:

  • PPTV can’t decide what they want.
  • Press Pass TV loses all funding.
  • Partner wants you to just fix their website.
  • Press Pass TV loses power…again.
  • Miscommunication on deliverables.
  • Local partners (PPTV) has no interest to the project.

Usability Fails:

  • Students prefer something else.
  • Cannot find the right tools for the project.
  • Digital inequality.
  • By promoting the campaign, media biases are made into jokes like other promoted topics of social advocacy.

Impact Interests Fails:

  • Reporters don’t sign up.
  • News agents don’t want to participate.
  • No one goes to website.
  • Campaign has no effect.
  • No outreach done for workshops.
  • Mass media has no interest to report the event.

Poor Impact Fails:

  • Campaign fails to make impact.
  • Rhetorically sound, yet inconsistent in outcome and practice.
  • Project dies, yet grad students benefit from citations, publications, and conferences.
  • Social media have little response to action.
  • Does not find life on its own.
  • How to measure impact.

Memorandum of Understanding Fails:

  • Legal battle regarding News Jack.

Co-Design Project Proposal: Respect in Reporting with Press Pass TV

Project Description:
        As part of the Civic Media Collaborative Design Studio at MIT, a group of students have partnered with Press Pass TV in order to support the Respect in Reporting (RIP) Campaign. The Civic Media Codesign Studio at MIT takes a collaborative design approach, where many forms of knowledge and experience are equally consulted in order to create projects that suit the needs of any given community. The community partner that we will be working with is Press Pass TV, a non-profit organization that “engages youth in advocacy journalism to tell the stories of communities working for change” ( The project of focus will be the Respect in Reporting Campaign, which aims to address common misreporting in mainstream media, particularly related to youth and disenfranchised communities. An example misreporting includes the recurring and overwhelming portrayal of disenfranchised groups and/or communities as “criminal,” instead of focusing on their positive dimensions. The Respect in Reporting Campaign will largely emphasize raising awareness surrounding common misreporting in mainstream media, but direct action in re-shaping public discourse through the strategic use of tools and technologies will also be central. The RIP Campaign draws its inspiration from the Drop the I-word Campaign, which was led by undocumented youth as a means to alter public discourse and incentivize people to stop using the word “illegal” to refer to undocumented immigrants. In similar fashion, the Respect in Reporting Campaign aims to alter how disenfranchised and underrepresented communities are reported upon, and consequently, how they are perceived and discussed in public discourse. Guiding these efforts is a multi-tiered approach, which includes a website, online tools, storytelling workshops, media production, and community and media outreach. A more in depth breakdown of our project proposal can be found in the following sections.
People Involved: 
Press Pass TV: Cara Lisa Berg Powers (Director), staff, and youth and adult community members.
Co-Design Studio Group: Sumona Chakravarty, Sujata Singhal, Song Shi, Rogelio Lopez and Dan Schultz.
Campaign Goals: 
  •  To raise the clout of Press Pass TV as an expert on issues surrounding misreporting of issues, particularly related to racially and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.
  •   To raise awareness around biased reporting and the misuse of words, such as ‘illegal’, to describe those who do not have citizenship to those communities.  Such practices have a dehumanizing effect on individuals and perpetuate structural injustices. While this project was on the table before our team from MIT came on board, it is still in a nascent and developmental stage.
Deliverable 1: The first deliverable that Cara hopes to get off the ground is a website.  This website will have several purposes:
1.         To provide a place in which the stories of those who have suffered from the misuse of the word can tell their stories.
2.         To show visuals of quotes from a wide variety of supporters (elaborated further down).
3.         To provide a toolkit of strategies for community activists who may want to start a similar campaign.
4.         To ask for people, particularly journalists, to take the pledge to show Respect in Reporting.
In order to get this content, we need to do the following activities:
  • Before website launch we need to get supporters on board.  As described by Cara, there are three levels of supporters: organizational partners (i.e. institutions such as Harvard or MIT and non-profits such as ARC and Free Press), media partners and community activists.
  •  Once support from groups mentioned in the previous activity become coming in, then we will start capturing stories of mothers who have lost children to violence and other youth in the community who have been the victim of violence and mis-reporting to make small videos that can be put on the website
  • Get earned media from other outlets such as Colorlines and MotherJones (PressPassTV has a board member in common with MotherJones and may be able to get an early sign on from them).  Cara also has a friend of a friend who is a producer at MSNBC.
Deliverable 2: The second deliverable would be around building awareness of Respect in Reporting at the grassroots level with community members, particularly those affected by disrespectful reporting but also other community members who may not be aware of these issues.
Potential activities/strategies to promote this deliverable include:
  • Build videos through storytelling workshops.
  • Workshops on letter writing and/or letter-writing parties.
The activities of the aforementioned deliverables will also benefit each other in the following ways:
  • Doing workshops will draw people to the website.
  • Blog about the outreach and community activities – this is a good way to build legitimacy and accountability.
  • Using the website to crowdsource direct action (kind of like – we will probably need some time-lines and how we are using the website to target people and groups.

Press Pass TV Co-Design Group

Yesterday the group working with Press Pass TV on Respect in Reporting got together to talk planning and logistics on our part. Our group consists of 5 people: Sujata, Sumona, Song, Dan, and Rogelio. Our first task was to create a collective resume of all of our strengths/skills/qualities in order to understand what we are each bringing to the table. Our group created a Google Group for this project as a means of having a central location with all documents and communication. We have a great mix of different skills sets that I am sure will come in handy during the semester. The skills varied from blogging experience, community organizing/outreach, quantitative data methods, video creation, to strong prose writing. Furthermore, we were also able to divide our project into different roles that will be needed, such as: a research team assigned to document the co-design process with video and audio, and a team to work on the booki project on a weekly basis. At the end of our meeting, we came up with key objectives/goals. Another post will follow this one that includes our meeting notes.

Youth Empowerment Through Media

I am hoping to work with youth from the greater Boston area. I am interested in many intersecting issues, such as educational access and youth empowerment, and I have worked with low-income youth in the Los Angeles. If possible, I would like to continue working with youth from low-income backgrounds. The community-based organization that I would like to work with is Press Pass TV. I have worked with Press Pass TV in the past during the development of AAGO, the citizen youth mobile application being developed with the Center for Civic Media. I really admire Press Pass TV’s emphasis on critical media practice and youth empowerment.