Fighting Hate By Promoting Courage

occiI say it frequently: our tools have immense power — not just good, not just bad, but both, and that certainly pertains to our digital platforms. They comprise some of the largest communities on the planet. So many wonderful connections have been made, so many heroic efforts have been launched. And, unfortunately, these very same tools have become the breeding ground of hate speech and cyber bullying. The hate may be sent through the ether but the impacts are all too real in our non-virtual world.

Understanding just how big of an issue this online form of harassment is, Facebook announced a new initiative to combat extremism and hate speech on the internet. The Online Civil Courage Initiative aims to fight hate speech by better understanding it and helping internet users respond to the comments.

In launching OCCI, Facebook partnered with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence; the Institute for Strategic Dialogue; and the Amadeu Antonio Foundation to, as OCCI said in its inaugural Facebook post, “combine forces across politics, civil society and academia.”

It’s an interesting effort to culturally regulate words that harm. Sure there’s always been a dilemma, a tension, between a person’s freedom of expression and the public’s need for safeness. But our digital platforms operate beyond any one political jurisdiction, like so many of our efforts in our globalized world, and thus it would be folly to think we can simply make these behaviors illegal and outsource the policing to someone else. No friends, we’re going to have to create the attitudes, the courage and the action to talk these hateful activities back into the corner. (more…)

Libraries Aren’t Just For Books Anymore

I could, and often do, rant about how fantastic libraries are for the obvious reasons: They promote literacy, they are safe gathering spots (for the most part) and many have some really cool programs for the community. They have and continue to be idea factories that weave our communities together for greater prosperity. They serve as a critical civic design. And like all good design, many libraries are changing in ways to make them more relevant to more people across the globe. In our digital age, libraries have also evolved into places where the underprivileged can go to have access to something most of us take for granted: the Internet.  (more…)

BIG DATA: VERY INTELLIGENT. BUT VERY WISE?

You get a red notification on Facebook and you click on it. It’s your friend (or likely more of an acquaintance than anything) and he wants you to support his band by “liking” his Facebook page. So you click on the link and show him your support. Every click of that mouse has been captured and is now waiting to be analyzed by anybody with the gusto to do it.  This is happening all around you, hundreds and hundreds of times throughout your day. (more…)

WHAT’S BETTER THAN CLEAN CLOTHES? CLOTHES THAT CLEAN OF COURSE

It seems like the second I wrap up a blog post about some cutting-edge design I think the public should be aware of, I find another one I want to share. This one is especially cool (just like the rest, I suppose!): Clothes that reduce gasses in the air that contribute to climate change.

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CHEERS TO AN OLD CLASSIC REMAKING ITSELF IN A VERY MODERN WAY

Levi Jeans to me means classic denim, clean lines and ageless fashion. What doesn’t come immediately to my mind are the words progressive or eco-friendly. Well, I stand corrected! One of Levi’s new products is called Water<Less jeans, which are made with between 28 and 96 percent less water than Levi’s originals. In the manufacturing process thus far, Levi’s has saved 172 million liters of water, according to its website. (more…)

INFOGRAPHICS — A NEW LANGUAGE FOR OUR NEW WORLD

If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of empathetic design; products and services that are made from the prospective of the user.

What you’re about to read about is something that far too often we think of a merely a service: how we get information.  But the information itself is indeed a product as well and too often it’s not designed with the consumer of that information in mind.  Usually, the focus is built around what the producer needs to say.  But a truly good story – one that really sticks with you — is built to be heard not just stated, and infographics are emerging as a wonderful design constructed for that purpose.  The need has never been greater as each day we are introduced to another information aggregation website or application.  Listen, I’m a big fan of big information – but sometimes it can be a challenge to keep all of the data straight or pay attention to one story while there are a million others out there equally as deserving of our attention. (more…)

SOMETIMES THE BEST GIFT IS TO ALLOW SOMEONE TO MAKE ONE FOR YOU

Last week I came across an article by Leo Babauta called The No New Gifts Challenge. I posted it on the Naked Civics Facebook page to see what opinions people had on not buying anything new this holiday season, but rather spend their energies making gifts and purchasing used goods instead. (more…)