The proposal I presented to my student colleagues and tutor were received rather positively, however it was mentioned that the proposed solution doesn’t necessarily address the problem statement. Creating a platform to which my target audience can compare and contrast data in news articles solves the issue of misinformation on all issues more so than it does in reducing passivity towards the refugee issue specifically. Thus, although having access to such knowledge would empower individuals from a mental standpoint, this is not the core problem. I already identified that the target audience often has a knowledge and opinion on the issue its just that they feel powerless in the whole situation and thus do not act on such understandings. However I haven’t done enough research into why, running mainly on assumptions and hearsay which makes it difficult to effectively render a valuable solution to this issue. Therefore, I must extend my research so that the solution can effectively give our target audience a platform to speak out about the refugee crisis with confidence and the underlying knowledge that their actions have far-reaching, beneficial consequences.
Furthering my research.
In order to address these shortcomings, I sent out a survey to a group of people in this age bracket asking, “When you feel passionate about a topic, how do you express your belief? Why do you express it this way and why don’t you express it other ways?” And I gave them examples of modes of expression to make the task easier. The purpose of this was to hopefully get a better grasp on how and why the focus group shares, and doesn’t share their opinions and use this to set up a system that would better accommodate for these needs and thus encourage further action towards solving some of the problems that exist within the global refugee situation.
What I found from this was that there are a large variety of ways in which people deal with their values. Some openly express any and all of their opinions, others keep quite until directly asked or the topic arises in conversation, others will speak up if a core value is challenged by another in an attempt to defend and perhaps persuade the offender and some feel they don’t have strong enough views to even bother expressing them. Common to all but the last is a necessary provocation to inspire expression, without happening upon the topic through conversation, online discussions, advertisments etc. the values go largely unheard. Most of this is due to a fear of being challenged or a belief that their audience will be disinterested. A lot have also recognised or inadvertently revealed that one-on-one interactions are the primary avenue used for discussing important matters and bringing opinions into the light. However, the crucial bit of insight I garnered from this probe is that most people are strongly opposed to having their own views and thoughts manipulated by external things or people yet many attempt to persuade others on their own beliefs.
To filter through these different responses and implement them into a proper design solution, I’ll categorise the habits discovered into different archetypes. We have the defenders, the pacifists, the persuaders and the recluse expression types. The defenders are those that hold firm beliefs and will speak up only once someone or something has outright violated their belief, often found supporting others who share their beliefs but rarely initiating a discussion. When discussing their beliefs, they are often found speaking only to those they are familiar with, unless they are if prompted strongly enough by strangers. This is often due to a belief that without prior mention by others, they would not care for the topic thus the individuals’ efforts to express themselves would fall on deaf ears. They may also have a fear of conflict and of having to passionately debate against opposition when they feel they are unequipped to do so.
The persuaders are those who hold firm views that very rarely change their perspectives on things through others’ persuasion. They will discuss it with others online or in person, and will relentlessly attempt to educate the others and bring them along to their side of the debate. They believe that they are right and that the only way to create meaningful change is to take action. The pacifists are those who hold very little conviction towards many topics and refrain from engaging in deep discussion, they are disinterested in expressing themselves. And the recluse expression type are those who have opinions on particular matters but fail to see the point in trying to convince or involve others, they often engage primarily in the process of personal change to ensure they are living in sync with their own values, without pressuring other people. They may also engage in discussion with those closest to them when prompted, but it is likely they will try to avoid this, as they don’t want to open up their views to be changed by others. It was also found that, apart from the pacifists, all types research further into the issues they care about in an attempt to understand it from a well rounded perspective.
What this means.
The most effective audience to target would be those that fit in with the ‘Defender’ expression type, second would be to pull along the ‘persuaders’ who share similar values and then as a third area of focus, the ‘recluse’, where hopefully the solution will inspire them to initiate personal change in a pro-refugee manner. The main factors to consider when building a platform for people to engage with the refugee issue, with the primary target audience in mind, is therefore to eliminate the fear inherent to sharing and voicing an opinion (e.g. having your opinions matched with indifference or with passionate and direct opposition), and also to give them agency to actually make a change with their voice and actions. It will also be important to inspire a passion for the issue with knowledge and a form of secondary experience else why would they bother using the platform.
My revised proposal.
A site where individuals can create an account and begin to submit anonymous opinions on different topics related to the refugee crisis. The data inputted by these individuals will enter a large catalogue that collates every response. The individual will receive infographs that show the comparisons between their opinions and that of the general public, once they’ve responded to a particular poll. They will receive updates at regular intervals and when there is a sudden change in the sentiment on one of the polls they participated in. These functions will keep them involved with the views of their peers and allow them to assess their own opinions whilst also gaining support and confirmation of their own beliefs on topics that they care about. The confidence that is inspired by this process will hopefully make them more willing to talk and discuss the issue without the fear of animosity whilst also demonstrating the large amount of interest towards this issue that exists within the community and thus be less likely to feel that their opinion is not of consequence or of interest. It will also be broadcasts that these statistic analyses will be provided to the government and those in power to create policies that better reflect the sentiment of the people.
A second feature of this platform is to educate the individuals and provide a large store of information on the issues if they care to take their research further before settling on an opinion. It will host links to various fact-checked and/or peer reviewed sources to facilitate this process, and also have the function of allowing you to add your own sources (you may add a widget like that of pinterest to your browser to do this) with complimentary fact-checking facilities. Furthermore, upon showcasing their opinions and where their interests lie, the site will prompt users to take small actions to create change that are tailored to their specific interests and will track their completion rate and hypothesis the amount of impact they have. This will be combined with a reward system to encourage continuous, further action, and will also feature a toggle on and off function so as not to bombard users.
This proposal will ultimately provide the target audience with a platform to express their views without direct confrontation, in a way that will encourage them to take concrete steps in acting upon their beliefs and instigating social change within the limits of their power and influence. It will motivate them to continuously strive for this goal by showcasing a large communal support system through the infographics and also through the prompting and rewards based system. They can also feel assured on the fact that they are being exposed to relevant, objective and insightful information on the topics they care most about, giving them the knowledge to speak up about the issues with confidence.
By Brittany Thiel 12020549