Project Pitch

Posted: Thurs, Jan 28
Due: Tues, Feb 2, 11:59PM
Point Total: 10% of your IA grade (3.5% overall)

Overview

In this course, we have two main types of assignments: individual assignments and a semester-long group project (completed in teams of four). The theme for the group project this year is: social justice. This assignment has two parts. In part one, you will brainstorm a list of ideas related to social justice (as many as possible!). In part two you will select two ideas from your list and write-up 'elevator pitches' (proposals) for each. Your proposals should succinctly outline a problem and an approach that could become an interactive technology project for this course.

Matt (the TA) and I will select the top proposals and post them anonymously online (behind a password protected link). You will then cast your vote for your top three pitches (IA04 Pitch Vote). We will use your votes to pick the top projects and assemble the project teams. Thus, take time crafting your proposals--you are trying to convince the instructors that the idea is good as well as your classmates and you just might work on the idea for the remaining 15 weeks.

Topic Area: Social Justice

The Oxford dictionary defines social justice as "justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society." Wikipedia provides a slightly different, more detailed definition: "Social justice is the fair and just relation between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges." Given recent events in the US and the world related to police violence, immigration concerns, income inequality, discrimination, this seems like a particularly powerful, important, and timely topic. These are, no doubt, complex societal issues that will require a mixture of social, political, economic, and, yes technology, solutions. Your task is not just to brainstorm important social justice issues but think of ways in which interactive technology can play a role in addressing those issues.
DisruptShtThatMatters.jpg

And technology does have a role. Consider the website tribunalvoices.org, which provides interactive access to 49 video interviews conducted with personnel from the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; or turkopticon, a website to help make online worker-employer relations visible and to provoke ethical and political debate about fair wages/treatment for crowd workers; or applications like the ACLU's Mobile Justice that allow you to record interactions with police that are then uploaded to ACLU servers; or, finally, the Living Voters Guide, which helps empower voters to learn about ballot measures and share opinions.

From our in-class brainstorm today, we thought of a number of important issues that may be worth considering for a class project, including: poverty, immigration, war, censorship, police violence, food deserts (link), militarization of police (link), income equality (link, link), racism/bigotry, force labor (link), bullying, homelessness, discrimination, migrant crisis in Europe (link), gender inequality, LGBTQ discrimination, and issues related to the 2016 US presidential election. This list is by no means complete. Give yourself time to think about topics, read current events, and find compelling areas that are personally meaningful to you.

Part One: Brainstorm

On paper (in your sketchbook!), brainstorm ten social justice problems/domains. If you read an article or saw a related website/app that inspired the idea, list that as well. For five of these areas, brainstorm and describe potential ways that interactive technology could address that problem/domain. And 'by address,' we mean many things from increasing transparency of an issue to collecting and visualizing data. Scan in your sketchbook (or take non-blurry photos) to submit for your deliverable.

A few examples:
  • Domain: War. Idea: Make an interactive visualization of every nuclear detonation since 1945. Through a compelling map-based visualization, the mobile app shows you the closest nuclear detonation based on your current destination and describes what would happen if such a detonation happened today. Some motivating links: [here] and [here].
  • Domain: online bigotry/racism/discrimination. Idea: The anonymous social media app, Yik Yak, has been in the news lately for providing a forum for 'hate speech' and 'bigotry' (e.g., Slate, WaPo). Figure out a way to scrape Yik Yak feeds and monitor them for hate speech. Create interactive visualizations of this data or, perhaps, an app that auto-sends this speech to @yikyakapp on Twitter.
  • Domain: income inequality. Ideas: many government employee salaries are public--yes, including public universities--can this be used as a data source to discover trends in income inequality? Make a compelling interactive website that allows users to discover and understand these discrepancies in interesting ways. Could you make a mobile app that scans prices of goods and shows the price of that good corrected for an average male income vs. average female income?

Some helpful sources on brainstorming:
  1. Tom Kelley, The Perfect Brainstorm, Excerpt from The Art of Innovation, 2007 [source link]

  2. ABC News Video, IDEO Design Thinking, 60 Minutes, January 2013 [source link] (This video is about Tom's brother David Kelley, who is the founder of IDEO and a professor at Stanford).

Part Two: Proposals

Select two ideas from your list and extend them into more detailed proposals. Each proposal should be between 1-3 paragraphs, can contain images/sketches, and should contain at least three references (e.g., references that provide more background on problem or to similar/related applications). Though you can draft these in your sketchbook, the final versions that you submit must be written on the computer.

Note that proposed projects:
  • Must be accomplishable in ~15 weeks with four group members
  • Must have a clearly delineated set of users
  • Must be implementable in code; all project teams will build and demonstrate an interactive prototype at the end of the semester (though the focus will be on the UI, so the full end-to-end system need not be created).
  • Must have both a native Android component and a web component (they don't need to be balanced; one can be the primary interface while the other a supporting interface. For example, you might build a website that helps track/visualize US police violence along with a mobile app that provides data collection support).

Proposal Parts
Each proposal should contain (these may come in any order but the order below is fairly standard):
  • A title with the last four digits of your university id below
  • Motivate the general problem/domain that you’re trying to solve
  • Provide a specific problem statement
  • Describe related/past solutions to said problem and where they succeed/fail
  • Differentiate your proposed idea (what makes it unique?)
  • Make clear who this will benefit and why
  • At least three references (with web links as appropriate). Please format the reference list with APA style.

The writing doesn’t have to be perfect. We are most interested in the idea and the ways in which you’ve thought about the idea. You can also use images in the pitch (as many as you want).

Example Proposal

Here’s an example ~220 word proposal for a project on water sensing and feedback to encourage water conservation in the home. While not on the topic of social justice, the example helps highlight key aspects of your proposal.

Empowering Home Owners to Use Less Water through Better Information
<the last four digits of my university id here>
Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates [2]. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently [3]. One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve [1]. In this project, we propose a new type of feedback mechanism for residential water consumption that leverages emerging sensors that monitor water usage at individual fixtures with only one or a few low-cost sensors [2]. Unlike past water usage feedback systems which only provide one number per month on consumption (e.g., a water bill), our system provides real-time feedback on all water fixture usages across the home via a live HTML5 website that can be viewed on mobile phones or traditional web browsers. Our system promises to help better inform residents about wasteful water usage practices (e.g., leaky toilets) as well as to help inform new government codes about plumbing, water heating and low-flow fixtures.
References
  1. Froehlich, J. (2011). Sensing and Feedback of Everyday Activities to Promote Environmental Behaviors. Doctoral dissertation. University of Washington, Seattle.
  2. Froehlich, J., Larson, E., Saba, E., et al. (2011). A Longitudinal Study of Pressure Sensing to Infer Real-World Water Usage Events in the Home. Pervasive’11; 50-69
  3. Glennon, R. (2009). Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do about It. Island Press
  4. Inman, D., & Jeffrey, P. (2006). A Review of Residential Water Conservation Tool Performance and Influences on Implementation Effectiveness. Urban Water J., 3(3):127-143.

Analyzing the Example Proposal

If you break down the above pitch statement into parts, you get:
  • Title: A succinct text capturing the idea of the pitch itself.
  • Problem background/motivation: Cities across the world are facing an escalating demand for potable water due to growing populations, higher population densities and warmer climates [2]. As new sources of water become more environmentally and economically costly to extract, water suppliers and governments are shifting their focus from finding new supplies to using existing supplies more efficiently [3].
  • More specific problem statement: One challenge in improving residential efficiency, however, is the lack of awareness that occupants have about their in-home water consumption habits. This disconnect makes it difficult, even for motivated individuals, to make informed decisions about what steps can be taken to conserve [1].
  • Proposed solution: In this project, we propose a new type of feedback mechanism for residential water consumption that leverages emerging sensors that monitor water usage at individual fixtures with only one or a few low-cost sensors [2].
  • Differentiation to past solutions: Unlike past water usage feedback systems which only provide one number per month on consumption (e.g., a water bill), our system provides real-time feedback on all water fixture usages across the home via a live HTML5 website that can be viewed on mobile phones or traditional web browsers.
  • Who benefits and why: By providing much more temporal and granular data than ever before possible, our system promises to help better inform residents about wasteful water usage practices (e.g., leaky toilets) as well as to help inform new government codes and regulations about plumbing, water heating and low-flow fixtures.

Other Examples

Here are some of the higher scoring proposals from previous classes. Note that previous classes had different project requirements and different project themes--still, these examples provide a useful reference.

Deliverables

Please post the following to Canvas as PDFs by the due date.
  1. A scanned or otherwise digital version of your ten social justice/problem domains and the five potential technology solutions.

  2. Your two elevator pitches on separate documents. Do NOT put your name on the document directly. Instead, put the last four digits of your university id below your title. I repeat: you must submit your two project pitches in two separate documents. In addition, you must NOT put your name below the project pitch title. Instead, use the last four digits of your university student id#.

Rubric


You can download the rubric as an Excel file below:


Click on the rubric image to enlarge.
IA03-ProjectPitches-GradingRubric_v1e_cropped_650w.png