This paper will summarize the goals of Safe Voices, add context for our involvement with the Safe Voices team, provide a reflective section by assessing our specific work, and how this relates to the larger intersection of technology and sexuality. Safe Voices is non-profit, community based organization that supports and empowers individuals affected by domestic violence and engages in the promotion of social change within the Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin Counties. Safe Voices acts as a space to support those impact by domestic abuse by defining different types of violence such as: teen dating abuse, elder abuse, LGBTQ abuse, animal abuse, internet safety, sex trafficking and refugee and immigrant abuse. Safe voices acknowledges that certain groups of individuals defined by their heritage, race, age or sexual orientation experience disproportionate levels of sexual abuse. Safe Voices thus provides resources and mentoring support to assist those in need. Education remains a key aspect of the Safe Voices community as a well informed community created social change and limits abuse cases. Educational tools provided by Safe Voices include trainings, workshops, youth services, task forces and human trafficking information. Beyond defining abuse and education for their community, Safe Voices also provides the ability to get help through a myriad of services such as a 24-hour helpline, advocacy, shelter, support groups, among others. As Safe Voices has partnered with Bates College, we wanted to create additional resources that would add direct value to members of the Safe Voices community.
The goal of our involvement with Safe Voices is to add direct value to a single component of their curriculum base. Safe Voices already provides a widespread informational base yet as they are an developing organization, there remain opportunities for our team to add direct value to Safe Voices and thus their client base. Through numerous meetings with the Safe Voices team, we determined that internet security and privacy was an underserved and desires component. Within the overall scope of internet security, our team studied and created tools to educate clients on location services. These locations services are ubiquitous across all mobile devices and many users remain uneducated about their use cases and security concerns. Using online development software, we designed social media posts and a complete guide to location security concerns with a two-sided pamphlet. The information covered within these materials included Find my Friends, GPS applications, read receipts and additional points about CallerID and browsing history. During the design process, we received feedback from Safe Voices as they expressed the need to include the idea of empathy into our work. This includes specific wording and use of graphics.
This process began strictly as a technology problem. We have identified the issue over internet privacy and location services and choose to being the design process. The initial feelings toward this project were technical and regimented. All information for location services settings and research on concerns was available online, while our plan was to grapple with these resources and design our informational guides in a simple, easy to read format. As time progressed, our designs became less mechanical and more socially aware. A specific case of exploring empathy and concern during this process was shifting the wording to act less aggressive and imply individuals are being tracked across their lives. We originally indicated that using GPS allowed governments to track your locations. Although this remains true under certain cases, we choose to softer out language and eliminate the word government, now implying that GPS location should be shared with trusted individuals. This now allows the end user to select who and when one can see their location, without spreading additional fear. I now acknowledge and lifestyle of the end user when developing a product, as their emotions and actions can be influenced by your work. This remained challenging across all our designs, to consider each word with caution.
The process and design used technology to benefit others. The Safe Voices team remained pleased with our results and will spread all materials created by our group on their social media accounts and via paper copy in their Lewiston office. My individual learning goals for this project was to listen to a designated customer base and design a product that would directly provide value to their organization. My learning goals were completed during the process as I expect to see our designs and information pamphlets provided to the Lewiston community. The key learning goal of delivering a useful product was driven by the feedback of the Safe Voice team. As mentioned in the previous section, empathy and the consideration of the end user is imperative for delivering a valuable product. I am now more concerned with the desire to listen and learn from all partners, regardless of end product. Moving forward, the connection between technology, gender and the soft sciences are more evidently linked. In the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn states that, “the content of science is linked to the observations, laws and theories described in their pages” (1). Technology is not mutually exclusive and is forever fastened to the softer sciences of law, observations and the feelings of others. The rapid rise of technological innovation was driven by technological advancement. This rise was searching for use cases and ways to exploit profits by rewritings conventional business. It was not until later, and will be an forever ongoing process that the harm of these technological advancements are being noticed, and thus regulated on a global scale. Government and private initiatives are necessary to curb these harmful practices that are carried out online across the globe. Safe Voices is also experiencing the negative effects of these advancements as harmful content can target members of the Lewiston community. Our products are designed to educate members of these threats as their value will only increase as technological advancement becomes more complex.
Adrienne Massanari covers the toxic culture that has developed on Reddit and the companies failure to deflect this negative media on its platform. Massanari provides context by stating, “the toxic technocultures I discuss demonstrate retrograde ideas of gender, sexual identity, sexuality, and race and push against issues of diversity, multiculturalism, and progressivism” (333). Massanari is discussing the ideas that perpetuate a culture of toxic behavior that enables these ideas and various form of harassment to both live and grow on Reddit and other services such as 4chan, Twitter and online gaming (333). Under the laws of free speech, this culture is legal in most cases and attracts some of the sickest members of our global community, such as white supremacist organizations, conspiracy theorists and most recently, the New Zealand shooter, who was a frequent member of these toxic, hate filled, dark web communities. All of these forms of online hate and harassment are simply new school ways for abuse to transfer from offline to online. Safe Voices is concerned with their more familiar domestic abuse cases and continue to invest in ways to educate their clients about digital hate.
Beyond the topic of rising online threats, this project with Safe Voices was heavily intertwined with our preconceived notions of domestic violence and its link with sexual identity. The Safe Voices team stressed the idea that domestic violence is experienced across all age groups, genders, races, religions or county heritage. Joanne Hollows express her ideas about these specific relationships within “The Feminist and the Cook”. Hollows helps define a movement of second-wave feminism and how our ideas about gender roles within a domestic setting should be challenged. She states, “feminists have played a key role in questioning common sense ideas about the home as a site of leisure and a ‘haven’ from the public sphere of work” (Chapter 2). We must promote social understanding that feminist values don’t endorse a movement into more conventional male gendered roles in society but rather support women with the freedom and ability to choose their own path, whatever that may be. Safe Voices of course encourages all women to seek the places and ideas they wish to grash and provides support when this path becomes blocked by either domestic abuse or other types of societal pressures. Our work with educating their client base around safe online practices is a small piece in this larger movement.
In closing remarks, this project was beneficial to all parties involved, with amble group based decisions taking place. I stressed the need for Canva usage and it was a well deliberated group decision to zone our designs and work around online privacy and location services. If we were given another chance to interact with Safe Voices, or if more time in the semester was left, I would recommend to our group the need for additional mock-ups in the early design process. This would allow the Safe Voices team to pick and choose the designs and ideas they feel will most effectively benefit their community. In the future, I plan to incorporate my newly developed understanding of technological tools to promote social change. Online services may be born with the goals of solving a problem and capturing profits, yet the need to comprehend these tools through a sociological and political light is necessary. Technological tools will continue to appear and shape our global community in vast ways, while our unalienable rights of privacy, respect, empathy and understanding must remain central to these products.