|| On January 3, Caroline Sinders and I conducted a workshop at Tactical Tech about applying design-thinking approaches to understanding and addressing online and offline harassment. I write about the results of this workshop in two parts, the first, this one, dealing with the framing of online harassment in the context of speech, and why this needs to be reconsidered. The second documents how we applied a design-thinking approach to understanding how online and offline harassment occurs.
|| We gave each group a different use case- one group was to work on campaign harassment, meaning harassment from many sources. The other group dealt with more interpersonal, and one-on-one harassment.
We did not give the groups explicit details of the cases they were to work on. We wanted to see how they developed the storyline and responded to prompts. This is a significant feature of a design thinking when it is used to learn about problems: to not be prescriptive or specific, but to allow for ambiguity in constructing what the problem is. Unlike campaigning and advocacy that script specific stories for the purpose of amplification, or a call to action, this approach attempts to leave received notions of an issue to one side. We imagined this exercise as a sort of projective technique, knowing that everyone in the room had a fair degree of familiarity with the topic.
Working in small groups, participants were given choices of storylines to develop. One group was asked to develop a scenario of either two exes having a political disagreement online, or of a fight between two classmates that evolves into a bullying situation. The other group was asked to develop a story of an activist who faced harassment online, or of a journalist being attacked from readers for a story she had written. In response, the first group told the story of an anti-police brutality group that was attacked online for posting a report it had released. The second group constructed the story of two friends using Snapchat and where a personal interaction escalated into anger and bullying.