Buycott’s Approach to Social Justice Design

Buycott is an app that allows you to become educated on which causes you fund when buying food. The application uses the camera interface of a mobile device to scan the barcode of an item. Then the parent company of the item is searched in the database to cross-check with ethical principles, outlined as campaigns, in which the user is for. As the debate whether companies should be legally made to label GMO’s continues Buycott is an app that places the power into the user’s hands instead of relying on government changes to policy to catch up with the times. Additionally, the campaign aspect allows users to support causes they believe in such. If a user for instance supports LGBT rights and is aligned with that campaign a simple scan of a product will provide information if the parent company of that product is aligned with the users principles. Below is a video that allows you to see exactly how Buycott works.

The interesting thing about Buycott in terms of this class is in its User-Created Design that is a leading example of sustainability in a project. The Light and Luckin reading states that, “the critical question in all this is where is information to come from if it is to be relevant and usable to local populations and where is the support to come from if information is to become knowledge? Are information only projects sustainable? Or is the step to knowledge vital for sustainability? (2008, p. 25). The design team of Buycott acknowledges the challenges of its application idea. If the application fails to have information about a product in its database it cannot accurately inform the user. To combat this the application effectively changes the user from a passive user to an active user. If a product is not found in the database the application will ask for the user to identify the product by name, brand name, and company name effectively adding it into large database. The developers even call on users to help them build the database on their “about” section in the website. “..We need your help maintaining and improving the integrity of the data. New users can ass unknown products they scan, and also contribute contact and background information for existing companies or vote on the accuracy of information that’s already been added” (Buycott, 2014). According to Light and Luckin, this is a very Amarya Sen view of approaching social justice and design. In which the application “requires us to enable people to engage in the activities necessary to achieve what they want, rather than to give them what they want” (2008, p. 9).

In an effort to enable users through its design, Buycott successfully fives power to citizens. This power is found in the ability to choose to buy products that align with the user’s ethics, giving them the power to go against organizations they see as unjust. Foucault believed that power should be present in fluid and in mundane day-to-day activities that make up human life, in Buycotts case being a consumer (Marwick 2012, pg 382).What is interesting is through this idea of giving power to society to conveniently check and add information in regards to the social alignment of products Buycott allows individuals to have speak against companies that do not grant social justice. The application allows for access of information in effort to use this knowledge to help disabled persons. In the case of the” Boycott Goodwill Industries” Campaign, the campaign aims to boycott Goodwill until the company changes their policies from paying disabled employees sub-minimum wages. This is indeed a form of “dismantling the oppressive power relations of disability in our societies,” attempting to wash away the view of the disabled as others ( Goggin, p. 102).

Buycott. (2014, January 1) Retrieved March8, 2015 from https.//www.buycott.com/

Goggin, G. (2006). Cell phone culture: Mobile technology in everyday life(pp. 102-103 ). London: Routledge.

Light, A., & Luckin, R. (2008). Designing for social justice: People, technology, learning. (pp. 9, 25)

Marwick, Alice. (2002). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society, 9(4): 382-384

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Social Justice Application/Technology Review: ASK DC Reporting sexual assault

ASK DC Part of a larger districtwide initiative to help raise community awareness on sexual assault and dating violence, ASK (Assault. Services. Knowledge) DC is a cellphone application designed to assisted victims of sexual, domestic and dating assault (Rich 2013). Being that social justice beliefs are sometime unnoticed in the way that projects are set up (Light and Luckin 2008) this The Men Can Stop Rape (a nonprofit organization that empowers men and boys to use their strength to create cultures free from violence.) and District of Columbia Executive Office of the Mayor Office of Victim Services app has successfully found a way regenerate its’ larger issue of sexual and dating violence through an apps that addresses and helps with the issue in regards to reporting sexual assault (Rich 2013).

Designed after a smaller scaled app (U ASK DC), that was released across Washington D.C.’s college and university campuses after seeing spike in the number of assaults that needed a more coordinated response, this app will now allow victims in the D.C. area to anonymously report incidents (Rich 2013). Alongside that once the free application is downloaded users are able to access resources such as medical assistance, law enforcement, and 24-hour support hotlines in the D.C. area. Even if a victim is not ready to report their assault right away, through the ASK DC app they are provided resources and other options that individually suits their needs. Seeing that social justice involves everybody (Light and Luckin 2008) this app also effectively provides bystander tools and resources for friends, family members or colleagues of those that have experienced sexual assault.

Although mobile technologies are made in mind for all it unfortunately does not always pan out that way (Goggin 2006). To address some accessibility issues like language, the app is also offered in English, Spanish, French, Amharic, American Sign Language, and more than 20 different Asian languages (Rich 2013). The app also has accessible assistance for those that are immigrant and can even connect individuals visiting from a foreign country to their home country’s embassy or consulate in the U.S. Features such as those will continue to establish the success of this app because according to Light and Luckin article when designing for social justice complications usually occur because “one partly creates the landscape one will travel through in reaching a solution” (Light and Luckin 2008) (Dorst 2003).

With certain social technologies designed to allow others to constantly digital examine and investigate our lives (Marwick 2012) this apps privacy policy addresses any concerns. According to the apps about me information privacy is 100% secure and confidential by not collecting, storing, or sharing any identifying information to ASK DC or their sponsors (askdc.org).privacyPolicy

I Believe that this app will prove to be successful because it provides victims with immediate access to the information that they will need most in the event of a sexual assault fast, privately, and free(Light and Lukin 2008)(askdc.org). Although it does not attack the initially goal of sexual assault prevention this helpful tool is for anyone living in or visiting DC area that has been or knows someone that has been sexually assaulted.

 

Work Cited

  • Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning. Report for Futurelab.
  • Marwick, Alice. (2012). Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4), 378-393.
  • Goggin, G. (2006). Cellular Disability: Consumption, Design, and Access. In Cell phone culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge.
  • Rich, S (2013, August 19). App Helps Victims Report Sexual Assault Anonymously in D.C., Government Technology. Retrieved from http://www.govtech.com.
  • ASK DC. (2013). Hotline information and app download. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from: http://www.askdc.org/

Privacy Concerns Don’t Help Blind Users

Mobile media has the ability to take the form of a social justice tools for the fair treatment of people. There are a large amount of issues that are presently being tackled by a digital philosophers. Social justice must be supported by the people who can challenge the fairness of society. Today, social justice requires digital philosophers to work together and are able to design tools to reflect fairness into all parts of society.

Since today’s society is one that is extremely visual in how information is processed, a mobile application that can help the impaired understand their environment could provide to be beneficial for millions of people. According to the Light and Luckin reading, Learner-generated content is “becoming a significant feature of the educational landscape”[JISC 2007].

The Color ID Free application, found in the Apple App Store is “an augmented reality app for discovering the names of the colors around you!” The application uses the camera on the iPhone to “speak the names of colors in real-time.”  The app is designed to be used by everyone, including those suffering from social justice issues. “It can be a useful app for the blind and visually impaired, but I think it’s fun for everyone”

When using the app, the learner-generated content becomes apparent immediately. Upon opening the Color ID app, the color of whatever the camera is seeing is spoken to the learner. This gives those who are blind or vision impaired “a powerful way of stimulating both the individual and collective learning, as well as supporting social processes of perspective-taking and negotiation of meaning that underpin knowledge creation”[JISC 2007 : 185]. The colors that appear in the physical world hold meaning to those who “see” them.

Problems arise in the app when notions of privacy are examined. The user of the app is essentially recording the environment around them, and in a public space, inappropriate circumstances make themselves present. Stores are beginning to recognize that a camera can be an harmful tool and are beginning to ban it. As seen in Chapter 1: MannGlass “Business establishments like T&T Supermarket are actually in violation of the law because they forbid the use of a seeing aid in their establishment.I wasn’t recording anything until I was told such activity was forbidden. Once told to stop recording (which I wasn’t doing), I started recording, so that I would have evidence of their illegal activities” What would the user of Color Id do if the privacy concerns of the public prevents them from properly using the social justice app?

There are omnipresent issues for digital philosophers and their fight for social justice. Privacy concerns being just one aspect of the fairness of society today. The future of augmented reality will provide support for social justice apps because they will allow greater access and accuracy than the social justice apps that are around today.

Works Cited

Color ID Free. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2014, from https://appsto.re/us/aKz-x.i

Denvir, D. (2013, March 6). Police Brutality in the iPhone era.

LIGHT, Ann and LUCKIN, Rosemary (2008). Designing for social justice : people, technology, learning. Discussion Paper. Futurelab.

https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/designing_for_social_justice.pdf

Mann, S. (2013). Chapter 1. In MannGlass, SpeedGlass, Googlass, and The Veillance Contract.

http://wearcam.org/VeillanceContract/VeillanceContract.htm

Learn the First Aid on Your Phone

First Aid is the official American Red Cross supporting app that provides expert advises for everyday emergencies in people’s hand. You can instantly find the information you need to know to handle common first aid emergencies. It has simple step-by-step instructions, not only in text but also videos and animations makes learning first aid easy and fun. All the safety information are preloaded so users can instantly access any information they need even without Internet. You can also find the closest hospital location and contact information on the phone through GPS if necessary.

british-red-cross-iphone-android

Emergencies occur all around us and we couldn’t control accidents, and knowing what actions need to control an emergency can make the difference between life and death. This is why knowing first aid is so important. When the emergency happens, the quicker people treat it in a right way, the safer the injured people will be. However, in many emergency situations, people do not know the right first aid to control the situation, sometimes even make things worse by using wrong first aid. This is why such First Aid apps are invented to address the health justice.

The approach is based on the technology-enhanced learning (TEL) theory, Ann Light and Rosemary Luckin claimed that “The technology increase expand away from fixed desktop technologies to small, affordable, mobile devices suggests that there is even greater potential for TEL to be experienced by the masses, and therefore it to promote social justice” (2008). There are two aspects how we design TEL applications to help people enhance their learning. “First, TEL can offer learners and experience that is specific to them and that is designed to meet their individual needs” (Light and Luckin, 2008). The app was designed for specific purpose and function. It intends to inform people first aid information in emergency cases, and people can chose emergency categories on the app and see what to do. Besides the first aid suggestions, there are several FAQ in each situation allows people read more related information. Because it is a smart phone app, it is very convenient to access the app with less limitation.

For privacy concerns, there is no any mandatory log in function in order to access the app or any other users information require. People can access it even without Internet connection. So there does not have too much concerns about surveillance problem through this app. Alice E. Marwick said “Making information public can also have positive supportive social effects” (2012). True in First Aid, its function is sharing the professional advices to people and intends to allow more people to know these information in the app.

This app now is available for iPhone and Android devices, the two most common smart phone system. For showing the first aid advises, there are not only text in the app, users can also watch videos and animations to learn first aid. “As a best-practice accessibility-enhanced Website, the content should usually short and to the point” (Soederquist, 2012). All of the first aid advises are written step by step, and normally each step is a short sentence tells you what you should do. The content in the app is legible, all the text is black with a white background; some important hints are highlight in red color for example “Call 911”.

The First Aid app is a great and useful tool to help people deal with emergency situations. It could save people’s life by these short advises. Keeping our lives away from danger is the most basic human right. First Aid enable us to protect ourselves better.

Works Cited

Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.

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.

British Red Cross (2013, March 24). Baby and Child First Aid App [Video file]: Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K6CMdl34fs

Pete Railton. Digital image. Retrieved from http://www.wirefresh.com/british-red-cross-first-aid-app-is-an-essential-download-for-iphone-and-android-users/

EVA

The ability for men and women who are transgender to properly represent themselves in the way that they themselves see fit has left much to be desired. While they will change how they identify, including how they physically appear, they are not fully able do so because their voices do not match their new appearances. People identify each other with not only their eyes, but their ears as well. Enter; the Exceptional Voice AppEVA is a voice training application that addresses this social justice issue. By allowing a person who is transgender to completely identify(combining audio and visual cues) as the gender they chose to, it has the potential to improve on their own lack of personal confidence as well possibly avert harassment, violence, and discrimination that comes with being a perceived unfavorable minority in society.

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EVA’s voice training is done using a smartphone and the designed application. It uses pitch, breathing, and other exercises to help to completely modify their voices over time. It is available for both iOS users and Android users. However, due to some software  inconsistencies a number of android devices do not support EVA. EVA is a Technology-enhanced learning (or TEL) tool.

Because EVA is a smartphone based application that teaches one to modify one’s voice to different frequencies and therefore is a tech-enhanced learning tool, it brings it into the realm of evaluation of a TEL regarding addressing social justice. As Light and Luckin discussed in their Designing for Social Justice excerpts, TELs have an important place within social justice agenda. TELs can offer learners an experience that is specific to them and that is designed to meet their individual needs.(Light and Luckin, 2008, p. 27). They can address the needs of the many, especially members of marginalised groups and help them articulate their voices. (Light and Luckin, 2008, p. 27). Perhaps most importantly, it supports a learners social and communicative activities; this allows them to voice their views and needs more effectively. EVA does this effectively. EVA literally and figuratively gives the transgender a voice to operate with. Not only does it give one the voice they desire, it gives them the voice they desire for the attention and possible acceptance of those outside of the marginalised group.

There are some positive points and concerns regarding privacy and accessibility with EVA. First and foremost despite EVA’s seemingly permanent effects over time, it is still a wearable technology. It’s a wearable audio technology. In a way, one may deem it partially similar to visual technologies i.e. Google Glass and other augmented reality devices. As detailed in Steve Mann’s Mann Glass, Speed Glass, GooGlass, and The Veillance Contract one of the biggest issues within wearable computing is that of surveillance and the hypocrisy of surveillance and sousveillance. “The very same people who were building a world of watching — were afraid of being watched!” (Mann, 2013). When one that deems an uneven playing field of communication as normal is challenged by the playing field becoming even, it is now no longer normal. One way privacy in certain respects is a form of hypocrisy. However, in regards to EVA, not only is the app itself designed to be private by working from your smartphone, when it “evens the playing field” for representation of transgender, it is done in a manner to simply allow transgenders to live the lives they have earned instead of forcing an even playing field of privacy through the visual cue of wearable visual image capture technology.

However, with EVA there are some serious concerns with accessibility. As detailed in Gerard Goggin’s Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in Everyday Life, although mobile technology is made in mind for all (especially commercially), unfortunately it does not actually play out this way. For instance, cell phones were once difficult for ones with disability to hold and use because it was too bulky. Then, as technology allowed for phones to become greatly smaller, it created another issue with people who lacked the dexterity and nimble fingers to sift through the small screens and even smaller interfaces on them. (Goggin, 2006, p. 91) By fixing one you exclude another.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 10.00.30 PM

While being transgender is not a disability, having a phone with a fragmented software is; in terms of accessibility to technology. This means if you don’t have the supported phone with the supported software, despite the app itself being available on all major mobile platforms, you do not have access to this application.

Works Cited:

– Goggin, Gerard(2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. Retrieved March 8, 2015 From: https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/goggin-gerard-cell-phone-culture_ch-5.pdf

-Light, Ann and Luckin, Rosemary(2008). Designing for social justice: people, technology, learning. Retrieved March 8, 2015 From: https://mobmedsp15.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/designing_for_social_justice.pdf

-Mann Steve (September 26, 2013). MannGlass(“GlassEyes”), SpeedGlass, “GooGlass”, and “The Veillance Contract”. Retrieved March 8, 2015 From: http://wearcam.org/VeillanceContract/VeillanceContract.htm

-[Picture of Phone will running “EVA” app] (2015). Retrieved March 8, 2015 From: http://exceptionalvoiceapp.com

-Perez, Kathe. (May, 8, 2009). Rachel Now and Then. Retrieved March 8, 2015 From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qFmNE1dxHs&t=102

-[Screenshot of Accessibility claim for EVA] (2015). Retrieved March 8, 2015 From: http://exceptionalvoiceapp.com (Original Site)

-Perez, Kathe. EVA: Eva From Kathe Perez: The World’s FIRST and ONLY Transgender Voice Training App!. Retrieved March 8, 2015 From http://exceptionalvoiceapp.com

-Lewis, Shanna. (August 25, 2014). Transgender people whose voice doesn’t match their looks turn to new app. Retrieved March 8, 2015 From http://www.cpr.org/news/story/transgender-people-whose-voice-doesnt-match-their-looks-turn-new-app

Cyberbullying: STOPit, Stops It.

The STOPit app is an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet that helps those who are feeling victimized by cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the act of the physical and emotional feelings of a person through using electronic media. According to Cappadocia et al, (2013) “cyberbullying involves harassing, insulting, physically threatening, socially excluding, and/or humiliating others using electronic media such as email, Internet sites, instant Internet messaging, and cell phone text messages (Chisholm, 2006)” (p. 172).

The app, that has already been a mandatory tool in many school in New Jersey, helps the victim report issues that are related to cyberbullying and harmful situations to trusted adults and report crimes to authorities. The app was developed by Todd Schobel, a father, who was effected by the 2012 story of a young girl, Amanda Todd, who killed herself after being cyberbullied for years. Schobel was deeply affected by it and thought it was in the public’s best interest to develop an app that “empowers the kids” to become aware of the situation that is cyberbullying (Giordono 2014). By having this app being a mandatory use in some schools, it successfully addressing cyberbullying because by reporting these situations, not only does it increase the knowledge of what the action is, but it also makes the children and adults aware that there are instances such as this, that truly do go on in their schools, whether they know it or not. According to Light and Luckin (2008), “justice requires us to enable people to engage in the activities necessary to achieve what they want, rather than to give them what they want” (pg. 9). When a victim is being cyberbullied, it is not always in their best interest to report it. When reporting it, the victim can feel like a “tattle-tale” and be ridiculed by peers or bullies because of reporting such instances. With the STOPit app, it is a simple touch of the finger on their smartphone or tablet, to report what the victim has encountered and the adults and authorities can take action however is necessary without the victim’s identity being exposed.

Although this is an app that reports issues and the reporter is anonymous and private, the app is an app that gets peoples attention and it is an attention-seeking content. This is a positive aspect in having this app providing anonymous reports, for Marwick (2012) argues that “people are very resourceful at combining information from disparate digital sources to create a ‘bigger picture’ (p. 390). With the app, it is easier for individuals to manage and it eliminates small factors that make this social justice issue the “big picture” that Marwick is saying it is.

The purpose of the app is to make people, especially students, aware of the social justice issue. By having this app a mandatory tool in schools prevents the actions of cyberbulling and hopefully will decrease the amount of issues in schools across the nation, as well as preventing instances such as Amanda Todd’s from happening again.


  • [paranoidpap]. (2012, February 12). CyberBully Trailer. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk_YSO0py7s.
  • Cappadocia, M., Craig, W., & Pepler, D. (2013). Cyberbullying: Prevalence, Stability, and Risk Factors During Adolescence. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 28(2), 171-192. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from SAGE Journals.
  • Giordono, R. (2014, September 13). Haddonfield students get new tool against bullying. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from http://articles.philly.com/2014-09-13/news/53855454_1_app-haddonfield-students-haddonfield-memorial-high-school
  • Light, A., & Luckin, R. (2008). Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology, Learning. Futurelab.
  • Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393.

Watching the Watchmen — The NYC Stop and Frisk app.

In addition to protecting and serving, the job of a police officer is to uphold the public’s trust. Due to a recent rash of incidents involving questionable police procedures as well as police misconduct, the public trust of law officials has been called into question. From the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown to broken window searches in Philadelphia, many are questioning the methods of law enforcement, and whether or not these methods are perhaps racially motivated. In response, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has put out a sting of apps designed to monitor and report police conduct in the users area. So far the ACLU has put out apps for various regions most affected by alleged police misconduct, but the first app they released, the New York City Stop and Frisk Watch app has had the most impact.

The NYC Stop and Frisk app was released in 2012 and it aims to keep NYC police officers honest in their duty through empowering individual citizens with the means to record and report civil liberties abuses directly to the ACLU. The app has three main functions to accomplish this. The first feature and arguably the most important is the “record” function. This function allows users to record a police encounter with just one touch of a button on their phone. Once the filming stops the user is presented with a survey they can fill out with details about the incident. Both the video and survey will then go directly to the ACLU for review.

The second function of the app is the “listen” function. When engaged the listen function will alert users when citizens in their vicinity are being stopped by the police. If another app user in the area triggers the record function, the app will send a notification to all users in the area with the listen function engaged letting them know the location of the incident, so that they can go keep tabs on interactions between the police and citizenry. This function is especially useful for community groups who aim to monitor law enforcement activity.

The third function of the app is the “report” function. The report function allows users to fill out the survey that accompanies the record function even if they haven’t recorded the incident. That report will then be sent directly to the ACLU for review. The app also includes a “know your rights” section that lets users know their rights when it comes to interacting with and recording police officers.

As with all apps that are used for recording there is an issue of privacy, namely the privacy of those being filmed, both officers and citizens. In the case of public officials it has been ruled by the Supreme Court that the filming of police officers is lawful and protected under free speech. For a citizen who may possibly be filmed getting arrested it is a little different. While the filming is still technically legal, that individual may be concerned about the footage getting into the public media space and doing damage to their reputation. Unfortunately I could not find any information on how these videos are stored by the ACLU, but judging by the nature of their work I would imagine that the footage is secured and identities protected.

In terms of accessibility there is not much effort in making the app accessible to those who may have disabilities such as loss of vision or hearing, or physical impairments like arthritis, but due to the one button functionality of the record feature, I imagine that it would be easy to use even for those with disabilities.

Works Cited:

Goggin, G. (2006). Cellular Disability: Consumption, Design, and Access. In Cell phone culture: Mobile technology in everyday life. London: Routledge.

Light, A., & Luckin, R. (2008). Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology, Learning. Futurelab.