DPSI Spring 2016

Upcoming Events

  • Workshop: March 30, 5-7pm: The Pipeline Problem in Computer Science (RSVP)
  • Workshop: April 6, 5-7pm: Internet Monitor Workshop (RSVP)
  • Speaker:  April 11, noon-1pm:  Online Violence Against Women & Emerging Legal Protections: A Conversation with Congresswoman Katherine Clark (RSVP)
  • Workshop: April 13, 5-7pm: Women’s Law Association/Lumen  (RSVP)
  • Workshop: April 20: metaLab: future of email (RSVP)

What is DPSI?

Smartphones, smartwatches, and even smart drones… new technologies are so rapidly integrated into everyday life that it is sometimes difficult to pause and take note of their potentials and pitfalls. We want to hit the pause button to ask questions, discuss, and even solve the problems that are sometimes overlooked in the rapidly growing technology and cyberspace sphere. As we question, let’s make things, reflect on how we made them, and learn from the process itself. We are the Berkman Center’s Digital Problem-Solving Initiative.

In Spring 2016, we will be holding several workshops ranging in topics from the future of email (what should happen to your digital legacy after death?) to the right to biodata access (how much should FitBit really know about you?) to many more. These 2-hour workshops will propose a question, give time for discussion, and brainstorm – or even create – possible answers. We’ve invited student groups, Berkman researchers, and other affiliates to join in on the conversation. Through the lens of these different topics, let’s explore various skills related to design-thinking as a problem-solving protocol, such as paper prototyping, rapid iteration, and more. This is a unique opportunity to invent, build, and shape the increasingly digital environment in which you live, learn, work, and create.
If you would like to get involved and receive updates, please sign up here.

Workshop Reflections – Transparent Revenge

Transparent Revenge (1) (1)

The Question

How do we balance the interests and privacy of victims of gendered online harassment with transparency regarding online content removal requests?

Our Solution(s)


Attendees first received an in-depth explanation of Gendered Online Harassment delivered by Crystal Nwaneri of the Women’s Law Association, covering specifically the Gamergate incident of 2014. Following some discussion, the Lumen Database was introduced as a way of streamlining takedown requests and other cyber legal matters.

We discussed how Lumen can aid many of the problems of Gendered Online Harassment, as well as inform the public about the frequency of these requests. Additional questions to consider are how public should requests be and how to handle copyright takedown requests in a more automated manner without losing fairness or accuracy.

What’s Up Next

Attendees became more familiar with both Lumen as a tool and as a database, and will incorporate it into future endeavors and discussions regarding cyber law.

Transparent Revenge – Protecting Victims of Online Violence Against Women

The Question
How do we balance the interests and privacy of victims of gendered online harassment with transparency regarding online content removal requests.

The Plan

  • Food and mingling
  • Introduction to the Lumen Database
  • Overview of Gendered Online Harassment
  • Presentation of the Question
  • Co-Design Policies and Solutions
  • Present Possible Solutions

The Co-Sponsors
Harvard Women’s Law Association & Lumen – Berkman Center for Internet & Society

The Time & Place
April 13, 2016
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society, conference room (23 Everett Street)

RSVP here

Workshop Reflections – Policy in Pixels

The Question

How can data visualization answer questions about our world? What are interesting policy questions where data visualization could be easier?

Our Solution(s)

Rebekah Heacock of the Internet Monitor Project led the workshop. She first explained the concept of Internet Monitor, as well as its real-life applications and uses. Rebekah asked students to think about Internet public policy and where Internet Monitor could possibly be useful in making policy decisions. We created a huge brainstorming wall, grouping together similar concepts.

IMG_5588 (1)

Then, students broke down into groups to tackle each policy-related topic, including Privacy, Access, and the Right to be Forgotten. They made quick sketches of possible visualizations and data plots that could help answer key questions in those topics.

IMG_5591 (1)

What’s Up Next

Students can now use Internet Monitor as resource of data visualization for their projects and assignments, and Internet Monitor will use the ideas generated by the workshop to direct their next areas of research.

Workshop Reflections – The Pipeline Problem: The Lack of Women in CS

The Question

Why are so few women entering CS fields – and how do we fix this problem?

Our Solution(s)

We first heard from three speakers: Michelle Danoff (WiCS co-president), Katharine D’Hondt (Master of Public Policy Candidate at HKS), Margo Seltzer (Herschel Smith Professor of Computer Science at SEAS). Their topics ranged from personal experiences as women in CS to statistical analysis of the CS pipeline at Harvard.

Following these talks, we broke into small groups to try to better analyze the current state of the pipeline. What does it look like? What is the output? What is the input? What are we trying to measure, and how are we measuring that? Both broken and ideal pipelines were created. 

IMG_1051 (1) IMG_1052 (1)

What’s Up Next

This workshop was a great opportunity to look at a long-standing problem through a slightly different lens, with the help of data and analytics. It is a jumping off point for more discussion and for pinpointing the exact problem quantitatively.

2016-03-30 18.03.31 2016-03-30 18.03.26 2016-03-30 18.03.35

Policy in Pixels Workshop

Workshop Announcement – Policy in Pixels: Understanding the World through Data

Internet Monitor

The Question

How can data visualization answer questions about our world? What are interesting policy questions where data visualization could be easier?  

The Plan

Food and mingling
Explanation by Rebekah Jones of the Internet Monitor Project
Presentation of the Question
Brainstorming in Groups
Present Possible Solutions

The Co-Sponsors

Researchers: Rebekah Jones
Undergrads: Developers for Development (D4D), International Relations Council (IRC)

The Time & Place

April 6, 2016
5:00 – 7:00 pm – Geological Museum 102

RSVP here!

Workshop: Access to Justice

The Question: In what ways can we use technology (specifically, a mobile app for legal services triage) to increase and expand access to justice?

The Plan: We will brainstorm features, design workflows, and troubleshoot possible issues for a mobile app focused on the triage stage of legal services. We envision an app with both “passive” features (that provide basic legal information) as well as “active” features (that receive and manage prospective litigants’ information for intake by legal service providers).

The Co-Sponsors: Researchers: Naomi Campbell, Caroline Cox, Sarah Guerrero, Samuel Reese, Aubrey Sparks & Elizabeth Tuttle (as part of the Justice Lab of the Systemic Justice Project)

The Time and Place: Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 7-9pm – Berkman Center Conference Room

RSVP HERE; dinner will be served.

The CS Pipeline Problem

The QuestionUnfortunately, the lack of women entering computer science fields is not a new problem. We are asking why what’s already been done has not worked, what are new steps to fix the problem, and how do we measure the outcome of those steps?

The Plan:
Food and mingling.
Speaker: Margo Seltzer, Herchel Smith Professor of Computer Science
Presentation of the Question
Brainstorming in Groups
Present Possible Solutions

The Co-Sponsors:
Researchers: Jim Waldo, Margo Seltzer
Undergrads: Women in Computer Science (WiCS)

The Time & Place:
March 30, 2016, 5:00 – 7:00 pm – Place to be announced

RSVP here!

Highlights from the Team on Food for Free

Cindy and I have been working on actionable solutions for Food for Free. We created some mockups for a tablet app, and are excited to show the proposed design to their team for feedback in the coming weeks. We have some ideas for what it could look like, and are eager to user test with the drivers. We have also been coordinating talks with local partner organizations that Food for Free works with to get a better sense of Food for Free’s existing digital initiatives. More to come soon!

21st Century Girlhood – Week 7

What we did

This week, we brainstormed for our upcoming focus groups. The first one will hopefully include some middle schoolers. Getting their perspective, as they are in the midst of girlhood, will be interesting. The next focus group will be with a group of young women traveling from NYC to visit Harvard and the MIT MediaLab. We have different activities planned for each group and we hope they will be as informative and interesting as our first focus group.

What went well

It feels as if we are finally getting into the swing of things. We have moved past the purely abstract phase. The ball is rolling and we are on our way.

What was challenging

Getting traction on our blog will be our next step once our blog is more fleshed out with more content. Right now, it is looking pretty bare. We will need to figure out a way to get people to make submissions.

What’s up next

We have some blog posts in the works (stay tuned for baby photos) and we want to start getting more content on our website. The two upcoming focus groups will ideally help us generate some new ideas.