On any given day at the office of the Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) in Philadelphia, some dozen young filmmakers and activists taking a several-month course in video production “making media that serves movements” may be found hunched over shared computers, editing videos about local criminal justice reform, immigrant and labor rights. Community members might drop by for trainings on how to livestream meetings to defend public schools, or to make plans for running an emerging media production co-op. In the thick of the activity, Helyx Chase Scearce Horwitz, independent video artist as well as MMP’s Tech Manager, is likely coordinating equipment for loan between different groups of people, detangling wires, fixing a malfunctioning printer, uploading footage from SD cards to the office servers, charging batteries, and maintaining the organization’s open-source database.
Immediately after the election of Donald Trump, movement technologist, Josue Guillen, was overwhelmed with inquiries from social justice organizers and activist groups suddenly worried about their digital security. Digital security — the protection of an individual’s or organization’s identity, communications and assets via Internet, electronic or cell phone technologies — had been a concern to Josue for the last 14 years, but it was largely ignored outside of activist techie circles. After the presidential election, more progressive groups and activists became concerned about government surveillance, right-wing cyberattacks and doxxing. Josue was jazzed. His role at the Center for Popular Democracy is to provide technical support and training to its 51 member groups, so he recruited an expert and put together a webinar on digital security. He wrote a list of recommendations: Use the free, downloadable encryption app, Signal, for sending text messages. Change your phone password. Change your computer password.
What are the technologies that intervene in war?
This guide was used to run focus groups in a variety of different communities of practice across the space of people who work with technology for social justice.
This interview guide, which was the basis for all of the interviews conducted with practitioners in 2017, was collaboratively developed based on the concerns of the partner organizations on this project.