Defenders of Internet Freedom Unite in Valencia, Spain

Internet Freedom Festival laptop

When 700+ human rights activists, technologists, policy makers, researchers and designers come together for the Internet Freedom Festival, lots of amazingness happens…

  • Tools such as DASH which is a new(ish) cryptocurrency with the capacity for instantaneous transaction are introduced
  • Tool developers that have paved the way for this movement such as Tor Project and CGI Proxy share their latest and get critical feedback from the community
  • Funders have the chance to connect with each other, their grantees and future grantees,
  • And most importantly, those serving as bridges to some of the most targeted communities when it comes to Internet freedom are present to raise the profile of users on the ground.

This year, IFF was extended to a full week, running March 1st through March 6th in Valencia, Spain. Both Katey Metzroth and Roxann Stafford participated on behalf of SecondMuse in many roles: as track leads co-curating the Design and Usability Track, volunteers to set up the festival, gets folks registered and oriented, and as participants and facilitators of sessions throughout the week. This is how it goes — as a member of this growing community, you have an opportunity to contribute to and learn from each other thus building a sense of community amongst both new and old participants.

During the SecondMuse session called “Keeping it Real: Real Stories from Real People, Roxann and Katey led a group of about 40 participants ranging from designers to tool developers to activists through an exercise to share and collect stories from the field in order to deepen participants’ understanding of who they are designing for. The focus of SecondMuse’s work is to help the community to understand the needs of users on the ground in the context of their everyday lives.

As Roxann describes it, “Needfinding brings together the disciplines of and sits at the intersection of community organizing and human-centered design.” During the workshop, participants did a role play exercise, which SecondMuse initially prototyped in Tunis, Tunisia and most recently in Kampala, Uganda, which got participants to act out a threat that they or someone they know have faced while attempting to communicate. This work is part of a larger body of work called Needfinding for Internet Freedom which Katey and Roxann have been building since September of 2013 thanks to the support of the Open Technology Fund. You can read more about SecondMuse’s work in Internet Freedom here.

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on some of Katey and Roxann’s favorite sessions from IFF and what’s happening at RightsCon. In the meantime, read more on the IFF wiki, and follow #InternetFF on Twitter for more stories on the festival.

About the authors:

Roxann Stafford
Roxann brings together the worlds of social impact and design thinking. Her background in mechanical engineering, business, and psychology combines the analytical rigor and empathy necessary for sustainable systems design. Prior to joining SecondMuse, she was a consultant at FSG with a focus on Shared Value and Collective Impact. As a Senior Associate at Jump Associates, she worked with visionary organizations to identify new markets, reinvent existing categories, and develop new sources of revenue. Roxann’s expertise in linking human needs with technological solutions has helped her clients develop robust strategies and successfully bring numerous products to market.

Katey Metzroth
Katey leads New York’s Next Top Makers, a program by NYCEDC, which supports NYC-based independent product designers to establish and grow their businesses in the city. Katey is also part of the Internet Freedom team at SecondMuse which focuses on localization and need-finding efforts to make Internet Freedom tools more accessible to users around the world. Before SecondMuse, Katey helped launch a prize at the Wharton school for social innovators. Prior to that, Katey guided NYC’s digital strategy firm, Sarkissian Mason, to incorporate social impact into their business model. Katey participated in Philly’s first ever Random Hacks of Kindness event and her team developed PhillySNAP to connect food stamp beneficiaries with farmers’ markets through a simple text message. Katey holds an MA from Georgetown and the UNSAM in Buenos Aires.

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