COVID19 has revealed structural, systemic flaws across society and technology, from racial inequity, user neglect, bad security, and social upheaval. This inequality already existed offline but was amplified in our rush to make everything digital. Digital interfaces are the bridges to our communities. People are streaming their quarantine recipes, schools are on Zoom, art galleries and artists talks are digital, weddings, karaoke, DIY music venues, dance parties, dj sets, community groups, neighborhood support, mutual aid groups, activist meetings and even funerals all went online. Technology alone can’t fix the systemic inequality revealed by COVID19, but it can help make connections with our communications less stressful and difficult. The tools we use are designed to work "well enough" for professional circumstances, they don’t work well in our personal lives. Our tools need to be adapted to make these moments online easier, and better.
This tool kit and website brings together on emergent best practices, workflows, and tools that communities, educators, mutual aid groups, designers, artists and activists are using right now to host gatherings, and how design needs to change to best suit people, right now.
This project and toolkit is funded by Omidyar Network with an outreach project partner, the Mozilla Foundation. It was researched during March, April, May and June 2020 in response to how communities were organizing and creating spaces of interaction during COVID19.
For this interviewed 25 individuals about their experiences working with mutual aid groups, teaching online, shifting their artistic collectives and arts venue to digital meetups, talks, and events, and what their frustrations, enjoyment and learnings have been during COVID19.
We attended events like United We Stream DJ and club music sets, TFW dance parties, Souvenirs, IAM Festival talks, Present!, House of Beautiful Business workshops, This Human Moment and others. We spoke to some collectives, mutual aid groups, artists, and alternative education spaces that have had to shift to the online like Babycastles, the School for Poetic Computation, BedStuy Strong, NYC PPE, Well Now WTF art exhibit curators, Now Play This festival curator, and different creative individuals, educators, and artists like shawne michaelain holloway, Simone Browne, Pamela Liou, Sam Garfield, Marie Foulston, Prem Krishnamurthy, Em Lazer-Walker, and Carly Ayres on their experiences attending events online and participating in digital community building.
Check out our blog for tips, stories from communities and creators we’ve interviewed, and more suggestions on creating responsible technology to create better, safer, and delightful interactions.
Research & writing by Caroline Sinders
Editing by Margarita Noreiga
& Edward Anthony
Design by Xuedi Chen & Pedro Oliveira
Web development by Jay Mollica