notes from IDEPSCA coordinators meeting

Amanda and I gave a presentation on Mobile Voices today during the IDEPSCA coordinators meeting. Amanda had the staff brainstorm about any positive and/or negative experiences that day laborers face and we then discussed how these stories don’t reach the mainstream media as much as anti-immigrant stories. This brainstorming helped us begin a conversation about how technology can be used to empower people in very different ways.

To give them an idea of how mobile phones can be used to solve specific problems, we showed the Zexe Canal*Accessible video from Barcelona. I think the video was a bit difficult to follow, this may have been due to the fact that the screen was too small and the subtitles weren’t clearly visible. While the Barcelona story is a very good example, the next time we show this video I think we need to simplify what it’s about in a brief introduction. While some of the coordinators did understand that our intentions with Mobile Voices is to do something similar to what Zexe did with the handicapped persons in Barcelona, others didn’t quite understand why we were showing this video. In further presentations it would be useful to have a quick conversation about the idea of mobile phones being used to solve problems or to tell stories – this is something that many people are not familiar with, therefore we can’t expect them to fully grasp the idea right away. I think that most people only see their phones as a way to make phone calls, we need to be very specific about just how much mobile phones can do.

After the video I talked a little bit about the survey results. Many coordinators seemed to agree that the information we gathered from the surveys is the same as what they have observed in the centers. There was a very strong response when I mentioned that many workers have had problems with Sprint – the coordinators also have negative feelings about Sprint.

After the survey results we took some questions and this is where we got somewhat of a mixed reaction from the coordinators. We had some comments expressing confusion – it still remained unclear what Mobile Voices sought to do and what our next steps would be. Some of the coordinators seemed a bit skeptical, but I think this was because they still haven’t completely grasped the possibility of a project based on mobile phones. A couple coordinators asked what this project would be doing to help day laborers with very urgent problems – such as finding work. This is where an interesting conversation started, one of the coordinators (I believe he is in the newsletter group) assured the rest that the project would focus primarily on getting the workers jobs. While we tried to explain that the first group of participants would help decide where exactly this project would go, there seems to be an expectation that Mobile Voices will provide a way for laborers to connect with jobs through their phones. I think we need to be very careful about this – we need to be very clear with everyone involved about what exactly Mobile Voices is and what types of activities can or cannot be conducted.

I honestly became a bit nervous about what types of expectations are building around this project and if we are not being specific enough when we talk to IDEPSCA and the workers. One of the coordinators actually asked that we be more specific and have a clear plan of action instead of leaving everything “up in the air” for the workers to decide. I understand their concerns completely, and I think that we could find a way to describe this project in a very straightforward way so that there are no misconceptions or misinterpretations. Before we present to the newsletter group we should talk about how to best introduce the project, what we can and can’t promise at this point and what our specific next steps will be. Amanda and I talked about this briefly, and she suggested that a real-time demonstration would be best to help people understand what we mean by “digital storytelling via mobile phones”. I think that is a great idea, I would also suggest that we spend a little bit of time discussing how mobile phones can be a part of popular communication.

Okay, those are my thoughts for now… I hope writing them out like this is helpful ☺

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