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Nextview Event: From personal stories to concept-prototype

“I’ve never done it before. So I think I can do it.”

– Pippi Longstocking

 

By Nina Nout

We held our Nextview Event on June 19 surrounded by inspirational quotes in the beautiful workshop space of the Nextview Design Centre on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. We had the opportunity to collaborate with Nextview on this ideation session, an innovative company which specializes in combining design thinking and technology. With their expertise and know-how for the day, we designed the first concept-design of our Early Warning System prototype.  Needless to say, it was a very productive day!

We had the pleasure of welcoming people from a variety of fields, from human rights defenders, tech experts, designers, and interested students. Most of our team also attended the event, so we could collaborate with others to create a concept design for our Early Warning System technology.

We started the day with general information on the structure of the event and information about our projects. We also invited human rights defenders to speak about their lives and the importance of ethical technology to support human rights activism. After that, we split up into two groups. We dedicated the rest of the morning to the exploration phase, where we discussed the problem, context and the needs of human rights defenders.

 

Shucheesmita draws attention to important moments in her activist journey using a Journey Map.

 

We created journey maps based on the lived experiences of the human rights defenders present at the event. In one group, we followed the journey of a Bangladeshi feminist activist who became the target of human rights violations. We established the key points in her story and discussed how online harassment against her began and escalated.

In the other group, the journey map detailed the story of a man who shared his story from Islam to atheism online. The subsequent storm of online harassment caused him to quit social media for a number of years. After which, he began to build connections and communicate again on social media, this time more aware of the risks of his activism online and offline.

Even though both journey maps had different stories, we found some distinct similarities between the two stories. The journey maps showed that both human rights defender did not intentionally set out to become activists. Their first activity did not come from a political or activist point, but from personal experience and opinions. This meant that they became aware of the importance of safety and privacy online only at a later stage in their work. The lack of a trustworthy source of information about online safety and what actions to take when they received threats was a common theme in both stories.

Despite the similarities, there were also clear differences. An important point that became clearer during the conversations with human rights defenders was that every human rights defender had different experiences and a threshold for what they considered a “serious” threat.

The nuances that came to light during this day proved the importance of trans-disciplinary design sessions . Offering reliable tech solutions takes more than one hackathon. We need to think, discuss and adapt our projects constantly to bring the separate worlds of human rights and technology  together throughout the problem-solving process. Another quote that we were reminded of at Nextview is the old saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is also why we need the infrastructure and resources to follow-up with the innovative ideas that come out of ideation sessions to transform them into concrete technologies.

 

One of the groups discuss the shape and characteristics of their Early Warning System technology concept-prototype.

Based on the journey maps, we began to design our tech solutions. Both groups designed variations of the Early Warning System technology. This technology takes into account the individual stories and viewpoints of human rights defenders but also monitors online trends and movements. We have since been busy with the development of these design ideas and have come up with a concept-prototype of the Early Warning System technology. Currently, we are working towards being able to make our first prototype.

Even though it’s summer we have not been sitting still on our other activities either. The Hague Hacks co-organized an informing session for the World Legal Summit on August 1st with The Humanity of Things and The Embassy of Canada to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We were also invited to speak and educate a dynamic and talented group of youth from CISV about safe practices for activists on social media, as well as guide them through an ideation session to brainstorm new technologies for hate speech online. Several interesting ideas emerged, and the youth were excited about the possibility of seeing these ideas come to life!

We have also begun preparations for our third The Hague Hacks Festival this December. We’re very excited about this, and will update you on the latest news on our blog and our social media channels!

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer, or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks@thehaguepeace.org .

Meet The Hague Hacks: Connecting Tech and Human Rights

Written by Nina Nout

At The Hague Hacks, we’re all about connecting the worlds of peace and technology. From our annual The Hague Hack Festival, to our events, to building an innovative platform for creating new tech solutions to human rights issues; we are ‘hacking’ the landscape of human rights issues in collaboration with our extensive multidisciplinary network. We want to connect people from different backgrounds to solve human rights issues, and we’re excited to share our progress on this mission.

In December 2018, we brought people from the tech industry, human rights advocates, academics, diaspora members, students and designers for the second annual The Hague Hacks Festival. We unpacked and contextualized five human rights issues from five countries with the help of human rights defenders from those respective communities. Then, we brainstormed solutions to the pressing human rights issues in those countries. The event gave us a wealth of new ideas and perspectives. The Bangladesh group emerged with the strongest plausible tech solution, and we have since focused on developing their concept and collaborating with tech companies. You can read more about the event here.

 

It is becoming increasingly important to find tech solutions to human rights issues in Bangladesh. The number of internet users in Bangladesh has sky-rocketed, from 100,000 in 2000 to over 92 million people as of February 2019 [1, 2]. The rapid technological advancements and increased internet usage have provided an (inter)national platform for human rights activists, but have also resulted in a rise of online harassment and threats. Furthermore, the government is cracking down on privacy and freedom of expression online. International independent observers fear this is an attempt to limit free speech and criticism. [3, 4]

 

Our mission is to address these issues through technological and social solutions. In the last two years, we’ve built a team of inspiring human rights activists, researchers, designers and volunteers to work towards our goal. Since The Hague Hacks Festival, we have brought more people from different disciplines together to approach the issue of online censoring and oppression in Bangladesh from different angles.

 

Today, we are very happy to tell you more about our upcoming events, current research, and our activities.

 

Events

June will be an eventful month for us (literally!). On June 13, we’ll be at the Border Sessions Festival with our very own design lab to create a collective of tech companies and human rights defenders. We want to connect the human rights defenders urgently in need of tech-solutions with tech and design companies.

 

At the end of June, we are collaborating with Nextview for a closed design event at their Design Lab on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. The focus of this design session is to connect the tech industry with human rights activists to evaluate the tech solutions from Bangladesh group and begin development and prototyping.

 

We’re very excited for these events and the progress they will bring! The Nextview Event is closed, but we’re happy to welcome interested participants to our Border Sessions Event on June 13. So if you or someone you know of is a member of The Hague’s tech community, please get in touch via haguehacks[at]thehaguepeace.org. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Research

Over the last few months, members of our team have been conducting in-depth qualitative research about the issues human rights defenders in Bangladesh face online. This research is essential to validate the ideas that emerged from The Hague Hacks Festival, and ensure that any tech-solutions meet the needs of human rights defenders or aid the victims of human rights violations. Our preliminary results are both surprising and insightful. We’ve identified some key issues related to safe internet practices and online harassment. Given the sensitive nature of the information shared to us by human rights defenders, we will only release an overall conclusion of our observations. Keep an eye on our page for our upcoming post about this research.

 

Activities

Based on the findings of our qualitative research and past events, we are developing projects to support human rights activists in safe online practices. Aside from that, we are working on a video of The Hague Hacks Festival to capture the essence and energy of our organization. We also want to peak the interest of human rights defenders, problem-solvers, and passionate diaspora members. Finally, we are also collaborating with a few talented individuals in the creation of a new podcast that is coming to our site soon.

 

We’ll keep you updated here about our events, activities, and progress. We’ll also bring you the latest news about human rights, tech and the best internet practices to keep you safe. So, check in with us soon!

 

Fotografie Eelkje Colmjon.

 

If you are interested in The Hague Hacks, or if you would like to learn more, collaborate, volunteer or just want to drop a note, we’re happy to hear from you. Send us an email at haguehacks[at]thehaguepeace.org

 

References

  1. Asia Internet Stats by Country and 2019 Population Statistics. (2019). Internet World Stats.
  2. Study: Internet users in Bangladesh have increased 800x since 2000. (2018, October 23). Dhaka Tribute.
  3. Bangladesh: Crackdown on Social Media. (2018, October 19). HRW.
  4. Bangladesh’s new digital law will silence critics, rights groups say. (2018, October 9). CNN.

 

Events

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