This problem space - civic engagement - is very complex and the smaller problem space I’m trying to tackle - community board meetings in New York - is still very complex. The challenge I’m trying to tackle on this project is specifically access to community board information, which will hopefully translate into first, awareness about community boards and community issues and second, eventually greater attendance.
It’s impossible I think to pinpoint a root cause, but I think that contributing factors to poor access to this information include 1) lack of money/public resources devoted to digital communications 2) an old system that hasn’t been updated for the 21st century 3) lack of awareness around importance of this information and 4) people with power in this system not wanting others to access it. I hope that my project can begin address at least a few of these.
This week I started to formalize my plans for my website radio. I started by making a mood board:
Then I sketched out some layout options, thinking about website clicking and dragging functionality:
I like the retro look and the contrast with modern web page design, but I also want to make it colorful and fun since most people consider this a boring topic. My friend Dana introduced me to razzle dazzle warship paint (more formally called dazzle camouflage) from WWI and since then it’s been popping up everywhere for me, perhaps because I have been thinking a lot about surveillance this semester. I originally thought that all of the dazzle was black and white, but recently realized this is because the photos are in black and white and the ships were actually brilliant colors! I love thinking about bright ships going around the ocean.
As I’ve been thinking about surveillance, I’ve been thinking in particular about the aesthetics of obfuscation efforts (in order to avoid surveillance). I like the idea of this being a radio for and by citizens and putting the dazzle on the website to “obscure” it from entities (the dazzle paint wasn’t actually meant to conceal ships, but to make estimating their speed, trajectory, etc difficult) trying to overly surveil activities. Of course this wouldn’t actually work and community boards are part of a larger entity that normally does a lot of surveilling, but that’s the way it connected in my mind. I think this may have also come from thinking of something to replace the speaker on the old radio layout. So here is my dazzle mood board:
This helped me make a more detailed layout and make a few palette options for my website:
I also looked into the history of Citizen Band Radio, but ran out of time to dig into this. I’d like to ground this in the history of radio or at least think about how to be in conversation with these previous technologies and efforts.