Infiltrated: A site hoping to increase awareness and discussion on cases of infiltration within organizations in the United States.
SoMove and Codesign Team: It was a great experience throughout the semester, working with each group. Preview our website here! We hope to launch it sometime in Summer 2014.
(Update from Apr 19)
The class brought up many important points during our discussion after our presentation. Our designs are still at an early stage, as we are still working through the main goal of our project and figuring out what the final product will be – whether it is a place for the community to share their infiltration stories or is it a place for SoMove to control and post stories they feel should be broadcast? (We are hoping to end with a good combination of both.)
Here are some main points that were brought up during class, as well as our take on them and how we will think about these points in the future:
(April 13th Update)
Around spring break, we came up with some ideas on how to format information on a website. We decided to focus on gathering stories from people and organizations that have been infiltrated, and the decision now had to be made on how to best visualize all these stories. Here is a presentation with updates on our project’s current standing, and towards the end are some sketches of design ideas we had. One is text based and another is video/media based – but the one that our collaborator, SoMove, liked the best is the map visualization.
Sort of thinking along the lines of GoogleMaps, Richard and I thought we could have a map background and pinpoints on the map of where sources of infiltration happened – and when the user clicked on one of these points, a story or new web page would pop up, describing the occurrence. (We don’t want to focus on a “GoogleMap” format though – we want a map visualization, but do not necessarily want to be tied to Google – we want our own identity.)
The benefits of having a map visualization: 1) It would allow us to organize stories by location, and maybe even extent of infiltration. 2) We can easily see that many occurrences are happening within a certain area. 3) It’s more visual and interactive for the user – always a plus!
Next on the agenda is coming up with different designs for a map-visualization, and figuring out the structure of the website.
This past week we continued to heavily discuss what kind of content to include on our website. Puck provided us documents with specific events of infiltration – these are the stories we thought we would focus on towards the beginning of CoDesign. However, after looking at the different personas of users and our timeline, we decided we wanted to make the interface more interactive than a display of information.
We’d like people to be able to submit their own stories online, and we want to be able to display those stories in an accessible way. We are thinking of having people tag their stories with certain key words that will allow us to categorize events by date, location, target group, infiltrator, and so on. Also, stories do not have to be just text based – people can submit audio files, videos, or other forms of media as well.
We are currently finalizing a timeline for all of our plans and completing our proposal and working agreement. Next on the todo list is coming up with creative layouts for the interactive site, and then hopefully choosing the best elements to stick with.
This week, we met with our organization again to present the persona’s we had created after class last week. Our organization’s lead contact Puck had some input and we defined assignments to find people who would be in the persona categories of “activist,” “affected,” “general user”. Lot of ideas related to the design of the site were shared in the meeting. Puck had questions surrounding what specific kinds of CoDesign users there might be in the process as well as the possibility of making a booth for recording/page for recording. We decided that if possible, we want the site to be interactive, and not just a display of stories. For affected users, it would be best if there were ways for people to share their own stories alongside those we’ve already posted, and for activists, it would be great to have a plan of where to go next and who to contact, instead of just a list of other organizations and sites.
We also started drafting the working agreement. We will work this week before class to work on a final draft of the MOU. We will be working to come up with contract, goals and what is generally expected to be the outcome of this project. We will focus on how to use the budget, defining a manageable scope; and waiting for print information. We will need this to figure out how to design the site and capture stories and recorded info. The SoMove tour starts mid-april. In our planned meeting this week is we hope to get some feedback on our user stories and also some input on the working agreement. We will continuously work on the working agreement through this week.
Last weekend’s Discotech event in Cambridge was a very productive day for us. We shared our project amongst a fairly diverse group of people and people responded very well. There were a lot of conversations around COINTELPRO to situate the project historically as well as conversations about more recent cases of infiltrations such as the exploits and of FBI Informant Brandon Darby (Scott Crow, an activist who was very close to Brandon is one of our first stories in the Infiltrated project). The hands-on workshop, creating a comprehensive timeline a TimelineJS visualization of the COINTELPRO infiltrations, allowed us to connect with people interested in data visualizations, including faculty from the program of Information Design and Visualization at Northeastern University who are interested in grounding information design and visualization courses with projects that have a social dimension such as the SoMove: Infiltrated project.
SoMove is network of independent oral historians, multimedia producers, journalists, storytellers, artists and activists working together to collect digital oral histories, share resources and some content with each other, and tour to present their work.
SoMove works with activists and community groups to document ways people creatively change their lives, neighborhoods and the world. Such stories push back against and reframe conventional ideas and oppressive narratives that derive from colonialism and are used to justify inequality.
Infiltrated, our project, is an ambitious multimedia project and online searchable database that tells the national story of government infiltration and surveillance of activist groups and communities targeted by the state since 2001. To do that we’ll be collecting and compiling government records (using the Freedom of Information Act) as well as first-person accounts. The challenge is to to build the multimedia platform, a hub/clearing house to share these stories. At launch there will be possibly two accounts of infiltration of activist groups each one with audio and their corresponding FOIA file —this will be the initial cohort to base the platform design around. Another goal is to have the platform be self-sustainable and also scalable as more stories and documentation are added to the website.
We had a preliminary discussion on methodology of design. Based on the information we have from our conversation with Puck, the team will produce a series of wireframes to iterate and discuss on the next meeting. It is possible that this exercise can be conducted at the Discotech event.