The social justice topic I decided to tackle was socioeconomic inequality. Living in Philadelphia all of my life I’ve noticed that in certain neighborhoods people are living very poor lives while other people are living extravagant lives. I’m not purposing a redistribution of wealth, however I believe that if people band together we can help eradicate hunger and poverty.
Poverty can lead to a numerous amount of other ills a group of people can face; increases susceptibility to diseases, lower standards of living, or even starvation. “It now clearly appears that poverty is increasing” (Alfsen, 2004, p. 167) In Philadelphia poverty has a direct correlation to HIV/AIDS and according to Aidsfundphilly.com: “Philadelphians are being affected at a rate five times the national average.” Diseases are a small part of socioeconomic inequality, but I think it’s important to note that debilitating diseases as well as being broke are not conducive to a healthy life for a human being. Cities with large populations of impoverish people can have “enormous social and health problems.” (Stanvliet, 2004, p. 84) I believe that if people seek to help each other, generally these problems can be alleviated. If you look at non profit organizations like Project HOME or Aids Fund Philly, these are combatants of my social issue topic. The first Philly AIDS walk raised $33,000 dollars, which was hosted by Aids Fund Phlly. They also provide a hotline and information about the disease for the masses. This is a step in the right direction in my opinion. There are various other topics, such as clean drinking water or social incarceration that goes into poverty. It’s a wide topic with many factors affecting the people living in these conditions across the world.
My field research led me to attack income inequality when I noticed how much people actually care about each other. When I was in Miami experiencing the nightlife I noticed that a lot of people were more concerned with people’s lives on their mobile devices as opposed to who was around them or even in harmony with who was around them. A lot of the people in the spaces I explored were filled with tourists, which can be attributed to spatial mobility. The idea that these people were nomadic in nature, going somewhere for Spring Break to come together and function in these spaces was extremely interesting to me. What was more interesting was how interaction happened in these spaces. Most people were using their mobile devices to take videos of them functioning, effectively trapping their exploits in space and time, while sharing their exploits with the world. Was it become more connected to others? Will this want for a connection to others translate into charitable actions? Can I harness this want to be seen by others as an instrument to help bring about the dismantling of hunger and poverty in the United States, the World?
From my observations I decided that a social networking application would be most appealing in handling my social justice topics. A space where temporality had an organizational effect, but actions could be recorded forever to be viewed by all is a driving force behind my application’s design. “Technology inherently influences temporality of our social activities.” (Kakihara & Sorensen, 2001, p. 34) Although I agree that temporality in connection to technology is usually used to make a process more productive, in terms of social networking and my app’s design I want the users actions to be recorded forever. The want to be connected to others, to be seen, to be accepted could help create a culture. This culture could be used for the promotion of charitable acts.
There are various designs that go into my app, the most influential app I researched was Gig Walk. Gig Walk is based on geo-location servicing allowing the application to display jobs around you or near you. The jobs of the app consist of taking pictures for different mapping organizations. For example a job may be take pictures of the outside, and inside of a restaurant at these specific angles for Google Maps or Bing. Once you complete the jobs money can be transferred into a PayPal account that you register with the application. “The technology mediated world does not stand apart from the physical world.” (Gazzard, 2011, p. 406) We use geo-location services to extend our comprehension of the physical world. I’m not trying to use these different app designs to create an alternative reality; I’m using these applications to change the reality we live in for the better. Social networking is another part of the design that goes into my application. Websites like Myspace and Black Planet were the forefathers to modern social networks like Facebook or Google+. These networks allow people to connect to others that live across the globe, the profiles created by users display this common interests in hopes of fostering relationships with like minded individuals.
QR codes will play a large role in my app’s design as well. With the invention of the barcode there was a need for a 2D “barcode” one that could be read up/down and left/right instead of just left to right. After years of research Masahiro Hara created QR codes. These codes can be scanned like barcode and with the introduction of camera phones into mainstream technology people can use their mobile devices to scan these codes anywhere they are present. The idea of having an avatar or a graphical representation of a user in an online setting has no real history to who created it first. I like the idea of having a 3D representation similar to a Wii character because people connect to their pixelated counterparts.
My application is called ChariT, it’s a social networking application that ties in a lot of existing technology for a social justice purpose. The application provides users with a profile, the user can have a username and or can connect with Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to sync accounts across networks. Tied to this profile will be the person’s short bio, age, and birthday. Each profile will be connected to a timeline where people can share their thoughts by micro blogging. The character limit will be 200, and can include pictures and videos. In addition to the information you can fill in yourself on your profile you will have an avatar similar to the Xbox 360 or Wii, this avatar can be dressed in different clothing bought by you from completing tasks or in-app purchases.
User data that would be collected consists of geographical data, profile information, if you choose to sync the application with any other social networking, and credit card numbers if you choose to do in-app purchases. Theoretically I would build the greatest firewall to protect my clients from attacks, but if hackers wanted to get data they could hack through anything. The best thing I could do is have an alert system similar to TU alert that would send out notifications if our company was hacked and credit cards or other sensitive data was compromised. Privacy isn’t really important to the design because it’s a social network intended to be shared with others in an attempt to unite humanitarians across the globe and local settings to help communities affected by socioeconomic inequalities.
A huge component of the app that will connect to my social justice topic are the badges your avatar and profile are able to collect. These badges can be displayed across different social networks as achievements to show your friends and families. To receive a badge you have to perform a “ChariT.” A “ChariT” is an action that helps fight the social justice problem of income inequality. The easiest way to receive badges is to donate an amount of money that will gain enough points for you to receive a badge. 1 USD will be the same as 5 “ChariT” points, once you reach 5000 points you get the first badge.
Since a lot of people won’t have money to donate the alternative way to gain points and thereby gain badges is my favorite part of the application. Imagine the application taking in your geographical location and based on your location you are given a list of tasks near you. For example if I am in downtown Philadelphia I go to my “Find a Task” menu, which will find task around me, and select say “Help at X Location.” Being mobile is an extremely big deal in terms of my application, but in an abstract way. The mobility comes from how fast or slow you rise the ranks in attaining badges. You don’t really need to be on the move to participate in the app as it finds objectives for you that are close to your location. The more badges you obtain the more your internet persona inhabits that of a humanitarian. I see in the future if the application becomes big, we would pay for people to go on missions across the world to help people as a part of premium tasks.
I plan on having my application deeply ingrained in mainstream culture similar to how newscasters display their Twitter names live on air. I plan for the application to be partnered with businesses; the businesses partnered with would provide daily tasks for those who want to participate. For example X Location in downtown Philadelphia is a soup kitchen, a user would go to X Location and check in by scanning the QR code provided to the business by my company. After checking in the application will count how long a user is at a set location or if you do not want that functionality you could essentially clock in at a location and then clock out by verification of an authorized ChariT representative. So you pull five hours at the Soup Kitchen, you gain 1000 points and are one-fifth away from gaining a badge. While checked in to various locations when you micro blog other users can see where you are, of course you can turn that functionality off.
“More than 80 percent of the world’s population live under or nearby a mobile signal.” (Katz, 2008, p. 33) Most of the world is accessible to mobile signals, which means they can access my application. The downside is some of these regions that have access to mobile signals might not have access to purchase the hardware associated with my application. To remedy that I could make low cost mobile devices that function from cell phone signals to be entirely built around my application. Now I didn’t think about having the application in different languages so people that don’t read/write English could be excluded. However the blogging functions can be in any language that can be written with English characters. Blind people would be excluded from my application’s mobile blogging features. However if I incorporated a text-to-speech capability it could read over different objectives and texts people post. Blind people would also have a hard time checking in with QR codes, but there would be people at locations to help participants check in. If a person was blind and deaf I don’t really think they can participate in my application.
To re-cap you can geographically find tasks for you to do, thereby gaining points to gain badges. These badges can be shown on your different social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, expanding our popularity while allowing the user to share their exploits “everywhere.” You can also gain points by directly paying for them; our company will provide services that use people’s money to attack my social justice issue. Your avatar can also be something where we can draw money from in-app purchases and can be used to display the badges; they will actually be pins for you avatar if you choose for him/her/it to wear it. You avatar can be a person or an animal and can wear different articles of clothing, hats, pants, shirts, etc. Different organizations we work with will have QR codes our participants can log in with allowing them to keep a data record of their community service. I firmly believe that community services are the only way we can have battle income inequality, society is set up for there to be haves and have-nots, but through love and support we can help the have-nots have comfortable lives.
Alfsen, A. (2004). Environmental Factors in HIV/AIDS Epidemic Development: New Perspectives for Gender Equity and Global Protection against HIV Transmission. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1023(1), 164-174.
Gazzard, A. (2011). Location, location, location: Collecting space and place in mobile media. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 17(4), 405-417.
HIV/AIDS Facts. (n.d.). AIDS FUND PHILLY:. Retrieved May 9, 2014, from http://www.aidsfundphilly.org/awareness/facts
Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.
Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.
Stanvliet, R. (2004). The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Concept as a Tool for Urban Sustainability: The CUBES Cape Town Case Study. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1023(1), 80-104.