Philadelphia School App

Keeping track of financial one’s status has been a practice many people have developed overtime, leading to a strong account structure, especially with the assistance of todays’ mobile banking apps. My app design thrives off of this idea to correlate with the financial status of the public schools here in Philadelphia. The basis of this app design is to connect eligible donors directly to the school they insist on donating to. Giving the users a track record of how the school is making out with things like supplies, teachers, and other essential needs a school should have. Social interaction will be a big part of the design of this app, as it is of high important to have a discussion board on the interface available to the community. Opening up a discussion board between principals, teachers, nurses, and the public will create a stronger relationship between everyone, and schools will be able to attain better assistance from third party investors. Those with the intention to making the status of public schools better will find that this app is the perfect platform to do it on.

Due to the mobility of this app, users will be able to read up on public schools in Philadelphia and be informed on the status of the school in real-time. History shows that people find the ability to read and write on the go, has attributed to the liking of mobile technologies. “Mobiles are widely used in multi- or transmedia, multisite, collective experiences, evident in the implication of mobiles in games, art, locative media, and even digital storytelling, This is a potentially rich development in reading—and, down the track, the history of the book,” (Goggin 2012). As civilization advances, the mobility of apps have become something of a societal norm. If an app does not offer what many of the mobile technologies gives to users today, then it will be tough for the app to prosper and remain relevant.

My app design will highlight the interactions between users on the platform by having users vote on the greatest discussion boards. The threads with the highest votes will make the headline for review by school officials. One of the most important features is to connect parents of the students directly to schools their children attend. “To ensure their children’s happiness and safety in the present and to help them succeed in the future, parents such as the Weltons, Nelsons, Richters, and Dykstras schedule their growing children’s leisure time with many empowering activities of personal enrichment,” (Clark 2013). Due to bettering their child’s status, parents will want to stay engaged on the platform my app will provide them.

When it comes to privacy, it’s always best to not show your entire hand, as studies show that this can lead to the downfall of ones’ status. Privacy is a form of protection, and no one likes to get into a financial situation completely unprotected. For this reason my app design will only require certain amount of information and practically be cookie-free. Each time you login, the app you will be required to input your information manually in order to access the platform. You won’t be asked to link your credit card account to make payments easier, and the app will keep your personal information completely confidential.

As an app that is geared towards bettering the school system, it will remain being a strong platform if it could be shared along-side with Facebook. We live in a society where people enjoy sharing information about themselves on a digital network. By coexisting with a platform like Facebook, my app will be able to live in the social network with a stronger presence than if it was independent. Linking the two social platforms will also create a state of reform in its structure. Alice Markwick’s research on the theory of social surveillance, stating that it encompasses using social media sites to broadcast information, survey content created by others, and regulating one’s own content based on perceptions of the audience (Marwick 2012). Utilizing this concept of the social surveillance theory, my app will have the assistance from its users to help keep the interactions on the app civil. Apps can easily turn into a battleground for modern-day trolls, straying away from the apps original intentions. The last thing I want to see is the app being misused due to no social surveillance.

Accessing the app will be pretty simple and along the same line as many other apps. Requiring only for you the user, to set up your account with your email, username, and password. Once you confirm your account through validating it with the confirmation email, you will have access to much of what is available on the platform’s interface. You will be able to see a list of schools all around Philadelphia, its financial status indicated by a red, yellow, or green icon; and also after clicking on the discussion board tab, you will have access to either a general discussion, or if selected a specific school’s discussion. Giving users to access this app will further the communication between the community and public schooling system. “Research has demonstrated that the mobile plays a role in facilitating rural-urban links and remittances in the developing world,” (Donner 2008). Connecting the community to public schools in Philadelphia will position the education system to get better, giving the children a chance to do well in the future.

Work cited

Goggin, Gerard and Hamilton, Caroline. (2012). “Reading After the Phone: E-reader and mobile media,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. p. 102-119

Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everydaylife. London: Routledge. Chapter 5, p. 89-103.

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393.

Donner, Jonathan. (2008). “Shrinking Fourth World?” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 29-42

Design and Theory – ZHughes

One may say the importance in designing the prototypes of these technologies for uses in aiding social justice is not only the intention to help in the “fight”, but to also to make sure that these prototypes are designed with the proper mobility and social properties in mind. And also any possible privacy and accessibility complications should be addressed if possible. My technology prototype is an app that acts as an information hub while also featuring some recruiting and social aspects with the proposed Indeed or LinkedIn inclusion. This app is designed only for smartphones. It attempts to address the underrepresentation of minorities in leadership roles in education through two components. The first is providing a channel for awareness by pushing information about prominent black admins, and their contributions to their respective universities. The second component allows for action following awareness by providing information on job openings in these moderately high to high ranking admin positions, specifically at more racially diverse universities. Addressing underrepresentation is important because, while what one sees at an institution regarding diversity shouldn’t determine their success or their pursuit of helping to set the stage for the next generation that follows, seeing someone who is alike in a position of deciding power is sure to bare positive results.

 

Regarding social interactions and the mobility of this app; there is much to be discussed. First, we must understand mobility. By using Kakihara and Sorensen’s Expanding the ‘Mobility’, we look to understand how one breaks down mobility. Mobility is more than just actual travel of people from one place to the next. It’s more so the way we interact with each other socially (2001, p. 33) The three types of mobility are spatial, temporal, and contextual. Spatial mobility involves the movement of objects, symbols and space. Each carry its own importance. The movement of objects can be defined as the movement of people and the objects attached to people. For instance, the Sony Walkman; (2001, pg. 34) it is mobile in its design. It is designed to be a part of one who is in constant movement. Being that my technology is an app designed for smartphones,  it will live inside of the ultimate modern mobile object and thus takes advantage of this. Then, there is the movement of symbols; “Global satellite television networks, for example broadcast visual images and sound enabling billions of people to receive news almost simultaneously. Likewise, the internet has become a place where an immense amount of information, sound, and images travel beyond national borders.” (2001, pg. 34) To an extent my application takes advantage of movement of symbols as it lives in a space where everyone with the app, through the internet is “pushed” the information about the minority admin. With the movement of space, Kakihara and Sorensen speak of existing in a virtual space between people. I do not think my app takes advantage of this in its design. This is because this is an automated information hub pushing information to whomever has the application, and providing opportunities to find job openings, but it does not allows those to directly communicate with these admins they read about or with other people who are also reading about these people via the app. The next type of mobility is temporal mobility.

 

Temporal mobility regards time. “Efforts to invent new technologies and introduce them into existing work settings are motivated to a large extent by the desire to accelerate the pace of work and save time” (2001, pg. 34) Tech is being designed to help perform work and at a more desirable rate and save us time in doing so. My app does not engage this at all. My app prototype aside from possible job recruiting isn’t time sensitive. One has the information pushed to them or they can actively search for the information inside the hub. The third type of mobility is contextual. Contextual mobility regards the context in which objects interact. “…not only enables people to asynchronously connect with others in distant areas, it also transforms the contextual constraints amongst those interacting” (2001, pg. 35). My app does not engage here either. This is because my object does not really involve the interaction of people of distant areas as much as it involves the movement of information through objects and symbols. All in all my app design engages with mobility in a very limited but still possibly effective way.

 

Regarding social interaction, my design does not engage very much. It does not operate through a social network even though it does request the opportunity to work with other networks that are social.  In its core design it’s not social media. Using Lee Humphrey’s Connection, Coordinating, Cataloguing we understand that mobile interactions with these social media are based on people communicating with people through these media (2012, pg. 495). My app is information based and not interaction based. You do not know who else has the app; at least not directly using the app.

 

While there aren’t any main concerns regarding privacy, there are concerns regarding accessibility with my app. However, lets first look at privacy the main concerns of privacy in technology is information and surveillance. Using Alice E. Marwick’s The Public Domain: Social Surveillance in Everyday Life we come to understand that people reveal and conceal personal information when making connections with other people, and also that the information is digital and thus is can be replicated, searched, disseminated, and accessed easily. (2012, pgs. 378, 381 [referenced Boyd, 2010] ). Although there is a possible privacy concern regarding sensitive information with LinkedIn and Indeed collaborations, that concern would be with the design of those social networks, not the design of the app. My app’s design does not require the input of any sensitive information. One way to address this possible privacy hiccup would be to provide a warning stating that you may be posting sensitive information in the databases with the network that my app is collaborating with.

 

There are definitely some accessibility concerns with my design. My app is designed for smartphones only; and so anyone who either cannot afford a smartphone or has trouble looking at screens will struggle with this app. It is also information pushed by the internet, so anyone who lives in an area that struggles with internet connections,  albeit from a internet provider or cell phone service provider, will struggle using this app as well. Gerard Goggin’s Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in everyday life details accessibility with mobile phones. Goggin speaks specifically on disability and cell phone use. This includes those who are blind, deaf, or color blind along with other disabilities. He also speaks on how in designing to fix one accessibility issue you may alienate another. Smartphones have some features that help to fix the accessibility issues regarding the screen issues that could accompany my app design flaw. However, my app can not tend to the accessibility issue regarding the price of smartphones, and the possible inconsistencies of internet access. These will have to stand as accessibility flaws.

 

Work Cited:

 

-Humphreys, Lee. (2012). Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks. Retrieved 2015, March, 29 From https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/humphreys-lee_connecting-coordinating-cataloguing.pdf

-Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. Retrieved 2015, March 29 From https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/kakihara-and-sorensen_mobility.pdf

 

-Marwick, Alice E. (2012). Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.  Surveillance & Society. Retrieved 2015, March, 29 From https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/marwick_the-public-domain.pdf

 

-Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. Retrieved 2015, March, 29 From https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/goggin-gerard-cell-phone-culture_ch-5.pdf

How Social Interaction Can Digitally Alter Development

Social interaction in Third World countries is limited on many levels for many reasons. The inability to access social media outlets has limited the progress and open communication in the country, as well as the ability to reach outside sources to conduct business or have personal contact. The limited mobility access and use of mobility technologies has definitely created a gap in media and communication. The lack of smartphone access is a social injustice, which is why my application, techUPindia, has been designed and created. The theory behind the creation of this social justice smartphone application is geared toward people in developed countries, like the United States, to help make a change for the economy in India for the better. The sole purpose of this smartphone application is to bridge the digital divide between India and developed countries and ultimately erase it altogether. In an effort to expand and connect the techUPindia idea, the social interaction will initially be a hindrance because the citizens of India are not able to benefit from the application directly. The 21st century has opened a floodgate of advanced media technological alternatives and is now one of the primary sources of communication and the receipt of information.

The future of India is dependent upon the youth in this region. Lynn Schofield Clark says it best: “Digital and mobile media both potentially solve and potentially exacerbate many dilemmas of contemporary family life (2013). The culture of young people, although different many countries, share similar interactions, reactions, activities and goals, which are aligned between them and their families. The digital divide can be diminished if the youth were included in the techUPindia concept. Unfortunately, mobility is limited which restricts access to technologies in general, and the state of their economy and employment is at a lower level than most countries. The goals, dreams, ideas and thoughts are the same, though. So, the question stands: how can we bridge the gap through this technological divide? Start with family. As much as we may not want to admit, even in our own country your economic status will have a lot to do with how well you communicate and access social outlets. In many undeveloped countries the entire family plays a major role in the economic status, which links directly to the mobility and social interaction of techUPindia.

The design concept to introduce the social just smartphone app will allow India to take advantage of mobility but still limit the social interaction. The main reason for the limited social interaction is due to the lack of technological, but more specifically, smartphone access. The families in this region are unable to directly benefit but the awareness being brought to the region will elevate their savvy mobility digital divide. Developing countries like India are behind in developmental progress, which great affects the family life and their economy. As we try to understand mobility and social interaction and how it relates to the theory and design of the techUPindia application, it relates to the concept of mobility in a few ways. As a spatial mobility concept, it is immediate and very much a part of social interaction – because India is so limited in their social interaction and movement through digital means, spatial mobility is a great concept due to the human geographical movement that techUPindia offers by raising awareness. This ultimately drives conversation and furthermore builds donations from the applications users and supporters to create more access that will not only strengthen the country, but the advance the millennials in the family units who are the future – these are the steps that increase progress in securing skill sets, creating more employment opportunities, and broadening global communication processes.

Bridging the digital divide with the smartphone application is essential and will be successful only if developed countries “focus on rural India via the Digital India Initiative, which will be bought into fruition via electronic deliver by 2018” along with creating awareness for plenty of other initiatives and organizations pushing for the end of the digital divide (ET Bureau, 2015). The design of techUPindia does not support temporal mobility. The concept says it best: “In this sense, the increasing temporal mobilization of human interaction is simultaneously creating new opportunities and constraints for the ecology of social life (Kakihara and Sorenson, 2001).

When the design and theory of techUPindia is analyzed from a spatial and temporal view, there is limited social interaction due to the geography, work environment, constraints and lack of information and communication technologies. From a contextual mobility viewpoint, the design behind the techUPindia is right in line with Suchman’s argument in Kakihara and Sorenson’s essay, where she notes that “the coherences of situation action is tied in essential way not to individual predispositions for conventional rules but to local interactions contingent on the actor’s particular circumstances (2001). The context and social interaction in the digital mobility world is important to consider with techUPindia, and it is an extreme possibility that more awareness with those countries that could make a difference to take steps to diminish the digital divide once and for all in India.

Works Cited

Clark, Lynn Schofield. (2013) The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age. London: Oxford University Press. Chapter 9.

ET Bureau (2015). Bridging digital divide, with focus on rural India: Ravi Shankar Prasad, Economic Times. Retrieved from http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2015-02-05/news/58838257_1_digital-india-digital-literacy-rs-sharma

“Internet.org App Now Available in India (2015). Internet.org by Facebook. Retrieved from http://internet.org/press/internet-dot-org-app-now-available-in-India

Kakihara, M & Sorensen, C. (2001). Expanding the Mobility Concept. December 2001/Vol 22, No. 3)

The Theory and Design of My App

The application that I want to design is intended to promote food justice, more specifically to allow the group of low-income people to eat fresh and nutritive food more often, thereby improving the health of American people. On the other hand, reducing the food waste problem in grocery stores. So the app allows users to buy promotional food directly from their nearby grocery stores with a cheaper price. For grocery stores, the app helps them to dispose the intraday perishable fresh products instead of tossing them away. In this essay, I’d like to talk about the mobility, social interaction, privacy and accessibility concerns in my deign.

One of the main concerns of a smartphone app is its mobility. Masao Kakihara and Carsten Sorensen defined mobility is “a transformation of our social lives combining new and old technologies” (2001, p33) Because of the app is a mobile phone based app, I believe that a smartphone is the most typical mobile item in people’s lives. The mobile phone technology couldn’t be addressed as a new technology nowadays. However, a smartphone based app could be a new technology. Like Kakihara and Sorensen defined mobility, the app I designed combined new and old technologies and transformed people’s social lives. It allows more people to live in health and saved food at the same time.

The app also provides users a connection with social interaction. First of all, again, the app is running on a smartphone, and has to be work with social media network, anything related to network equals directly related to thousands of other network users. Online interactions have less limitation than offline interactions, thereby the online interactions promotes social interaction happens. Like Lee Humphreys claimed in the article “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks” that “mobile interactions with social networks are those social interactions centered on connecting or communing with people through mobile media” (2012, p.495). My app users could leave comments and rate under each grocery stores, new customers would know the advantages and disadvantages according to the higher credibility customer’s comments. Also users can link and share any promotion information page to their friends on different contact apps.

In addition to privacy concerns, in the case of the app has to use with network and GPS function, the privacy concerns could be a serious problem for this app. people might have the part of concerns about the app that it will acquire users location and credit card information in order to buying online. New users have to create a username and password to access the app, and later on the credit card information to make the payment, user also are welcome to use their other social account to log on, such as Facebook and Twitter, etc. Thus, the app will be able to get more customers information. In the article “The Public Domain: Social Surveillance in Everyday Life”, author Alice E. Marwick mentioned that “Most social media users are less concerned with government or corporations watching their online activities than key members of their extended social network, such as bosses or parents” (Marwick and boyd 2011, p379). True, I agree with what Marwick’s point, so when I designed this app, even though there could be users information disclosed to company, social surveillance problem doesn’t exist in this app. In order to avoid the social surveillance, I didn’t design the “friends” function, users are not allowed to friend each other and trace people they are connected to through the app. on the one hand it is because of the privacy concerns; on the other hand, I don’t think it is necessary to set up a “friends” function on a saving money shopping app. An ordinary people wouldn’t be interested in which grocery stores their friends went and what promotion their friends involved in.

The app will be download for free and could run on both IOS and Android system, also has website to allowed non-smartphone users to access. But there is still accessibility limitation of the app, the app only works with smartphone users and computer users, even though these are two huge groups of people but there are still exceptions. About the accessibility of the function of the app, I believe it is easy accessible. “It is common practice for Websites that have separate desktop and mobile versions to detect and redirect mobile visitors to the desktop site to the mobile site (and visa versa). This is good practice- it makes the mobile visitor aware the existence of a mobile site, but visitors needs to be given a choice” (Soederquist 2012). My app does have both desktop and mobile version which enables users to choose their favorite. Soederquist also argued that “As a best- practice accessibility-enhance website, the content should usually short and to the point” (2012). When using the app, for each product listed on the app will first contains the price and left quantities and for “more detail” link will show users nutrition the food contains. There wouldn’t be many confusing information and images to show.

All in all, it is an easy accessible smartphone app helps address the food justice issue in the society. It benefits both customers and grocery stores. It has inevitable privacy problem, but it is in the acceptable range. The app contains online social interaction but not like some social communicate app has social surveillance issue.

Work Cited

Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.

Humphreys, Lee. (2012). “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56:4, 494-510

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393

Soederquist. (2012). “Why mobile Web accessibility matters- best practices to make your mobile site accessible” from mobiForge

App interaction

In the article “Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept,” Kakihara and Sorensen show concern that the term mobility is too broad. To oppose this they break mobility down into specific categories, spatial, temporal, and contextual. My application will be spatially convenient because the phone (which the app will be primarily used on) as an object is small and easily mobile. The app will be linked to the open global media spheres as a way for the information to freely flow. The app will be temporally mobile in that it will deal with structural time because parents will be getting real time updated information. It will also incorporate interpretive time because the information can be viewed whenever most convenient for the user. The app can also be used either monochronicity, with full attention on the app, and polychronicity, while multitasking (p.34). This is an important aspect because the apps target demographics are busy parents, so it needs to be conveniently accessed while multitasking as well as during interpretive time.

My application will be part of using cell phones in a new useful way. Today people depend on phones in a new way. Cell phones are now not only for interpersonal communication, they are converged with technology that gives access to the Internet, access to GPS, and text messaging. Now specified applications are designed to make it easy to check bank accounts, look up information, or buy necessities with the tap of a button. Societal wants and technology have an interesting relationship. Simmel describes it as “Fashion is a form of imitation and so of social equalization, but, paradoxically, in changing incessantly it differentiates one time from another and one social stratum from another”(1957). This meaning that what society sees as fashionable effects peoples use and wants of technology on a two way level. The use of this app can be easily described in terms of Katzs and Aakhus’ apparatgesit theory. The theory says “norms regarding technology use are continuously being modified, often quite creatively, by users within social environments to serve expressive interests (Katz and Aakhus, 2002)” (Katz et al., 2008, p. 369). With new technologies, come new uses for them and vice versa. These technologies help us navigate everyday life and have now become the societal norm.

My app will connect people by giving access to information that relates to them, drawing a social relationship. The app will coordinate physical meeting places for activities and educational resources. There will not be much cataloging within the app to keep people from feeling monitored. Humphreys “Connecting, Coordinating, and Cataloguing” describes these different degrees of social interaction as it relates to technology (p.500). Telling that technologies affect our relationships dealing differently with personal closeness, physical space, and information catalogued.

One reason why the app will not catalogue is to dispute surveillance concerns. I want the information to spread to many that can use it. I do not want information about these people collected, which could give malware or viruses as well as government data mining.

The application will go with Foucaults idea of power. He tells “Power is a network of relations, constantly in tension, in activity, rather than a privilege that one might possess; the one should take as its model a perpetual battle, rather than a contract regulating a transaction or the conquest of territory. In short, this power is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the privilege, acquired or preserved, of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positions– an effect that is manifested and sometimes extended by the position of those who are dominated” (Discipline and Punish, p. 174). The application will establish this by making information available to many. It will distribute power in the hands of the people that are most likely disadvantaged financially and educationally.

The app will also not have a personal profile; it will be focused on the information and programs rather than self-presentation. This is to keep from “social surveillance clouding the use of the app. Marwick describes this concept in his book Social Surveillance. He tells “Social surveillance is the ongoing eavesdropping, investigation, gossip and inquiry that constitutes information gathering by people about their peers, made salient by the social digitization normalized by social media. It encompasses using social media sites to broadcast information, survey content created by others, and regulating one’s own content based on perceptions of the audience” (p. 382). Many current social media accounts cause people to carefully pick and choose what information about themselves they would like to display. I do not want people to fear or attempt to use “Social surveillance” while taking advantage of the app that I am creating; this is why there will be no association with a profile to the account. This is to encourage the app to be used to simply gain helpful information.

The application will be presented with easily identified graphics, as well as large print, in an attempt to keep less able-bodied individuals. Goggin explains the importance of this way of thinking while designing an app on page 92 of his book saying “certain sorts of imagined users and use, with particular sorts of ‘normal’ (or rather ‘normalized’) bodies and abilities. Typically people with disabilities do not fit into these categories of normal…and are often not seen either as fitting the ideas of public markets that such normal bodies support” (p. 92). Therefore I will try to make my application easily accessed by people with bad eyesight or colorblind individuals.

Foucaults, Micheal. “Discipline and Punish”

Gazzard, Alison. (2011). “Location, location, location: collecting space and place in mobile media.” Convergence. 17(4): p. 405-417

Goggin, Gerard. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everydaylife. London: Routledge. Chapter 5, p. 89-103.

Goggin, Gerard and Hamilton, Caroline. (2012). “Reading After the Phone: E-reader and mobile media,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. p. 102-119

Humphreys, Lee. (2012). “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56:4, 494-510

Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393.

Snyder, Sharon L. and David T. Mitchel. (2001). “Re-engaging the Body: Disability studies and the resistance to embodiment.” Public Culture 13(3): 367-389.

Simmel, Georg. (1957). Fashion as a Social Relationship.

Eliminating Food Deserts Theory and Design

Mobile device usage has become ubiquitous for people of all social classes. From cell phones to tablets, you’d be hard pressed to find someone living in America without access to some sort of information and communication device (ICT). Because of their ubiquity ICT’s have fundamentally changed the way all people interact with each other. By their very nature these devices enhance the mobile aspect of communication, allowing people to communicate regardless of location or circumstance. It is this mobility that can allow for people to not only communicate, but to collaborate in ways that were not possible in the pre-digital age. It is my aim with my community garden app to use the social and mobile aspects of ICTs to help individuals form larger collaborative groups in order to help communities with poor access to healthy food options free themselves from the confines of the food deserts they are currently living in.

Spatial mobility can classically be described as a person’s or objects’ ability to travel through geographic space. But as Kakihara and Sorensen note, symbols and information can also relate to spatial mobility, as symbols and information can be received by a large number of people far away from the senders geographic location thanks to ICTs. The example they give is that of global satellite television networks, where billions of people can receive news simultaneously on a global scale. This idea plays heavily into my app concept because users from across the globe will be able to share ideas and data when using the app. For example, say a user in Philadelphia wants to know how to go about starting a personal vegetable garden on a small plot in their back yard. They will be able to access information libraries built by other users in an open source manner and find out the best crops to grow in the mid Atlantic climate. They will also be able to ask users on the in app forum how to best sow their crops, when to plant, and when to harvest. Basically any information they need can be shared with them by any user within the apps network. Perhaps a user in New York with an already successful garden will have suggestions for which particular strain of tomato grows best in the Mid Atlantic climate and can share that information with the Philadelphia user, even though both users are complete strangers separated by hundreds of miles of landmass. This communication would not be possible without the spatial aspect of mobility covered in the Kakihara and Sorensen piece.

Obviously these features of the app not only incorporate mobility but also social interaction. The social interactions previously described in the last paragraph explore what Humphreys describes as the concepts of inner and outer space. Inner space can be described as the intimacy or familiarity of the users interacting with each other. When a user makes their first post on the in app forum they will most likely be communicating with complete and total strangers, but as they post more and interact with other app users they will develop a more intimate inner space that will affect the way in which they communicate. The concept of outer space is described as being the physical closeness of the users. Through the app, users will be able to share thoughts and ideas with with other users of varying proximity, leading to a wide range of differing outer spatial communications. For example a user will be able to locate other users within their geographic area and might choose to coordinate in the physical realm by planning a small community garden in their area. Another possibility is that they might chose to ride share to the closest health food store (which they can find with the in app store locator) thus further closing their outer space.

Since users will be able to search for other users in their area, privacy concerns will have to be taken into account. Users will not be asked for any personal information, and can opt out of having their phone’s location services utilized by the app. Of course this would limit the functionality of the app, but users would still be able to use all of the functions that do not rely on the app knowing their location. By eliminating the ability to personally identify anyone, the app will protect against both surveillance and “sousveillance” by both the app maker and the app users.

This brings us to the app’s accessibility. First and foremost the app should be available to everyone for free as it is primarily targeted to lower income areas. Secondly, the app will need to be able to run on older mobile phones so that it is accessible to those who may not have the financial ability to purchase the newest technology. To accomplish this the app will have to be very simple and perhaps even built off of an HTML code base, so that even the oldest of modern mobile phones could at least run it in their internet browsers. This also has the added benefit of being able to be accessed from any computer with an internet connection.

Works cited:

Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin

Humphreys, Lee. (2012). “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society.

Mapping and Social Interaction in a Social Justice Context

My concept is a location-based application that would allow users to locate gender-neutral facilities around them, be aware of potentially problematic binary-gendered imagery and language near them, and communicate with other users of the app to help navigate space. The app is intended to be of use for trans* and non-gender conforming individuals in particular, though others may use the app. Understanding how the app aims to further social justice requires an understanding of both how digital maps function in relation to their user/contributors and how social interactions are mediated in a mobile media context.

Maps have begun to reflect what is important to the contributors of the map in addition to geography. In the case of Mapidoo, the map itself is dependent on how much information has been added by users. Places where more information has been added will have more content and that content is “determined by the people contributing to the map’s characteristics” (Gazzard, 2011, p. 416). What is “important” or worthy of inclusion is determined by contributing users rather than a central authority.

John Pickles describes mapping as an “interpretative act”(Pickles, 2004, p. 43). A map “conveys not merely the facts but also and always the author’s intention” (Pickles, 2004, p. 43). In the case of my application concept the intention is to provide trans* and non gender conforming people with a way navigate spaces that, due to the assignment of binary-gender roles in these places, may be difficult.

Marc Augé presents “place” as having the requirements of being “relational, historical, and concerned with identity” (Agué, 1995, p. 77) . Places that do not meet this criteria, “‘airports and railway stations, hotel chains, leisure parks, large retail outlets’ and so on” are then “non-places” (Marc Agué 1995, as cited in Gazzard, 2011, p. 408). Gazzard (2011, p. 408) describes Foursquare as allowing non-places to be made into places by users who give places “an identity” through “recognition”. 

In a similar way, the app would turn seeming non-places such as restrooms and dressing rooms into places by recognizing them as places trans* and gender non-conforming people can more safely move. Though the app is designed to start out with a database of already identified places, users would be able to add locations. The users are then part of the mapping process. In a world that most often erases trans* identities, users of the app are asserting their existence. They are both adding to and using a tool to help navigate potentially problematic spaces and leaving behind a “cultural artefact [sic]” that reveals a number of things (Gazzard, 2011, p. 417). The app’s map would tell us that not only do the users exist, they find it important to locate and map things like gender neutral bathrooms. It tells us that there is a need for this. It becomes evidence of their struggle.

In addition to the function of the app a tool for navigating space the app would also strive to further its goal (positively altering the experience of potentially problematic spaces) by providing the possibility for social interaction. Humphreys (2012, p. 495) states that “mobile interactions with social networks can often occur in public and therefore also shape the one’s experience of public space”. This is in accordance with the social aim of the app. Humphreys (2012, p. 501) describes three ways that communication is practiced: “connecting, coordinating, and cataloging”. These must be taken into account when considering how social interactions in the app could function.

Coordinating deals with “physical distance from others” (Humphreys, 2012, p. 501). In the case of my app the use is determined by physical location, so users having interactions would potentially be somewhat physically close to one and other. Each location in the app would allow users the opportunity to comment in a space designated for that location. Therefore the user must be in the location to comment or have been in the location and commented recently. 

Connecting deals with “social distance from others” (Humphreys, 2012, p. 501). The app aims to allow users to decrease social distance, this is to say, “strengthen and maintain social connections” (p. 502). The app would allow people of varying social distances to connect and form a support network where the ultimate goal is create a supportive community that can positively alter the user’s responses to and experience of potentially problematic places. Users could share both positive and negative experiences with an audience which would be more likely to understand them.

Cataloging deals with “informational distance from others” (Humphreys, 2012, p. 501). Cataloging most commonly involves the way that “social networks catalogue socio-spatial information about the users” (p. 504). The intention of the app is to minimize information collected about users.   

In order to balance allowing social interaction while reducing information gathered the app would allow users to use the map function without logging in, but require a log-in for social interaction.

On social media, users “self-monitor their online actions” in order to control what others know about them (Marwick, 2012, p. 379). This may extend to trans* identities. Users may not be open in other aspects social media use. There should therefore be no required connection between the app and other social media such as “log in through Facebook” type options which have become popular.

Despite my intention to keep the app separated from social networks that directly identify users, it is true that “increased use of Facebook correlates to stronger, more supportive relational ties” (Ellsion, Steinfield, and Lampe, 2011 as cited in Marwick, 2012, p. 391). This is part of the aim of the app, but Facebook’s need for users to identify themselves as real people is contradictory to the goal of protecting privacy. Instead the goal is that the in-app social function could have similar results for itself.

It goes without saying that the app would not “aggregate and collect personal data” in the way Facebook does (Marwick, 2012, p. 379). The app would collect as little data about users as possible and that data would never be used purposes beyond the immediate function of the app.

In terms of accessibility, the app would adhere as strongly as possible to Soederquist’s (2012) guidelines. The color scheme would be chosen with appropriate levels of contrast in mind. All images in the app would have “alt attributes” in order to make the app as compliant as possible with screen readers (Soederquist, 2012). If at all possible the app would be developed using JQuery Mobile as Soederquist (2012) suggests. The app would also be extensively tested to ensure compliance with accessibility features.

All of these functions and considerations are intended to further the goal of app as a tool for social justice.

The map function of the app is intended to function as tool, but also due to its potential to include user-generated locations it becomes a record. Looking at what is tagged and what is written there could tell us about what obstacles trans* and gender non-conforming people face in a specific location. It could tell us where there is a lack of gender-neutral facilities, where people have have had good or bad experiences. It could provide a base of information from which we could draw to make navigating space easier for trans* and gender non-conforming people.

The social aspect of the app connects people who are most likely physically relatively close, but may be of varying social distance. These people could form a localized virtual support system. By being able to exchange experiences users could strengthen social ties and feel that they have an understanding audience with which to share.

The collection of information about users in this process should be minimized to maintain maximum privacy and a sense safety for users. As always the app the should be designed to accommodate accessibility tools to the highest extent possible. If the app is not accessible to everyone then it is by definition in contradiction with its social justice aim. Social justice must include everyone. Equality does not have caveats.

Works Cited

Auge´ M (1995) Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso.

Humphreys, Lee. (2012). “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56:4, 494-510

Gazzard, Alison. (2011). “Location, location, location: collecting space and place in mobile media.” Convergence. 17(4): p. 405-417

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393

Pickles J (2004) A History of Spaces: Cartographic Reason, Mapping and the Geo-Coded World. London: Routledge.

Soederquist. (2012). “Why mobile Web accessibility matters- best practices to make your mobile site accessible” from mobiForge.