willow's blog

Trustworthiness in response

When I came on with Aspiration in January, it was clear in my soul why the joining up made sense. But not many folk in the disaster and humanitarian response circles I run in pay much attention to the overlap of activism and response. It took some time to make it clear and explicit.

What's the Catch at Chaos Communications Camp

Chaos Communications Camp, like the World Cup, is something so special that it only happens once every four years. It’s a few thousand hackers, artists, and activists camping together in Germany. We come together to share skills, stories, and ambitions, including how to get into space and provide secure internet in austere places. There’s brightly colored hair everywhere, and a slowly improving gender ratio, and stickers on laptops, and a gig of data to your tent.

Forays in creating a healthier online ecosystem

Weaponized Social is an emerging program that seeks to support a healthier online ecosystem. Since our last gathering in New York, we've been to Nairobi on May 2nd, hosted WeapSoc SF in our office home in San Francisco, and facilitated a highly relevant event, the International Workshop on Misogyny and the Internet in MY home base of Cambridge, MA. We've continued to build out the Weaponized Social Wiki with notes from conversations, projects, and possibilities.

Weaponized Social in Nairobi

In Nairobi at AkiraChix, we further refined the checklist for making safe space and started two projects: FaceOff and Trolling the Trolls. FaceOff provides space for highly visible people to interact in a nuanced way, posting back to short-form spaces, so as to ask their constituents to be better balanced. This is a response to the very real occurrences of politicians calling their online followers to take action (sometimes violent) in offline space. Trolling the Trolls seeks to use language patterns from sock puppet accounts to find those accounts sooner, and respond to them before they have a negative impact on the speech of marginalized individuals online. Yvonne, who suggested this, also introduced me to ZeroTrollerance which was then represented by Peng! Collective.

How can humanitarian response be decentralized?

For a long time, it wasn't possible to include everyone's voice in planning or decision-making without impossibly large amounts of time. There was no way to listen, at scale. So aggregation and centralization became common, especially in times of urgency, even with the troubles these tend to cause.

But now, with the technologies we have, we can *listen*, in high resolution and in high fidelity. But technology isn't a silver bullet. We also need the political will and the personal values to make that happen. With Aspiration's new Digital Humanitarian Response program, we get to support some of the rad people willing and able to make these movements happen. In May, we hosted the Humanitarian Technology Festival at MIT. The Digital Response Wiki provides resources and notes, and here are some top-level highlights from the event:

Digital humanitarian response: Meanwhile, in Nairobi...

I was in Nairobi, Kenya, at the end of April participating in various happenings across humanitarian response spaces. From interactive gameplay to resiliency indicators, here's how we focused attention on frontline communities through digital means.

Facilitating gameplay to model for resource allocation

Game materials to indicate water points

I attended the 9th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA9) with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre in Nairobi on April 24-30. I was there to facilitate a game which simulated the citizen reporting of water resource status and distribution in an area to better inform allocation.

The game stems from Taarifa, a free software project that has been widely deployed to collect, visualize, and map infrastructure information. The Climate Centre is well known (and appreciated) for their distillations of complex climate, environmental, and social systems into fun-to-play games, which are available on their website.

Reporting Back from Weaponized Social in NYC

A group of fifteen participants gathered in New York City on February 13 and 14 to discuss the idea of Weaponized Social: the notion that social harms resulting from digital interactions can become dangerously amplified online by the network effect.

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