Criticality: Further Developments

After receiving my formative feedback I decided to develop the project further by taking on board some of the improvements that were suggested to me during the feedback.

  • Design detailing – the warnings pop up too slowly need to be quicker. Think of it as though it’s something that you might not want to see here quick.
  • Currently demonstrating the same thing five times if there was something different about each one there more subtle details that can be explored.
  • Maybe consider adding a page in before this where you as the user can set the settings.
  • Consider making it as a browser extension.
  • By doing this and bring it together in one big final project.

Research

Taking on board the feedback that’s above I thought that it would be best to start by researching into Browser Extensions as I agree with the feedback that this would give the project more context and show how something like this could be used. A browser extension is a small piece of software that can be added by the user into a web browser. These often make the browser customisable for example – Honey is a browser extension which searches for discount coupons when you are looking to buy something. I am proposing that my project concept of creating trigger warnings on sensitive content be like one of these browser extension giving the user the ability to make it their own.

Honey is just one example of a free extension – another popular one is Grammarly which helps when writing emails or blog post of anything through a web browser. One aspect that I have noticed through this research is that these type of browser extensions are mostly free. As my other research has noted in this project that there is a high level of anxiety about reading the news an extension like this one could help people feel more relaxed as less afraid when when they know that there are warning is place so that they can choose to see the content only if they wish.

https://support.grammarly.com/hc/en-us/articles/115000091552-Install-the-Grammarly-browser-extension

https://www.joinhoney.com

Developement

The first development I’ve made is developing a brand identity for the project. I had been using this icon for the warnings before therefore I thought that it would be best to use the same symbols for the browser extension. As the project is now developing in the direction of the browser extension the name also needed to change. I brainstormed names that I could use before settling on Filter Out. The name highlights the fact that the app physically filters out the articles online you might not want to see due to people feeling anxious when reading news articles or headlines. I have also changed the colour to a turquoise blue as from reading though orange shows the warning that something there blue is more calming for those people who feel anxious and this project is trying to show that a warning might help prevent this anxiety around reading news online.

Using illustrator, adobe XD and after effects I started to create what the app would look like when setting up the key words and phrases relating to topics the individual might find difficult. By typing these in allows the user to completely customise the app to look for these key phrases and related words when scanning the webpage for articles.

Once this was developed I went into After Effects to animate the video to try and give it a realistic effect. One of the main things to do in this was look at the warning. Previously I had developed the warnings to pop out which weren’t hugely impactful. However, I have developed the warning to now cover the article with a blur and state why the article has been granted a warning – based on one of the key words. I also added an option where the viewer is able to view the article or keep it hidden. I thought that adding this would allow the opportunity for the user to decide if they want to see the article or not- not just completely hiding the articles allow the user choice.

These developments have started to bring the project together and create a better sense of purpose for the project. By adding the page at the beginning of the animation give context to the epic and shows how it can be changed depending on the person and is no longer set by external people depending on research. These small developments have started to impact the project and although I think that if the project was expanded on I could produced a variety of different types of warnings this small video highlights what I have found in my research and created an impact.

Criticality: Development #4

Tutorial Feedback

I was able to show my animation to both Theo and Carol during my tutorial and they thought that this was a really interesting idea and a project that could be developed a lot further. They were able to give me a few points to develop on this project in the next few day:

  • maybe consider changing the colour of the trigger warning at the moment blends to much into the BBC branding.
  • Consider if it was an external plug in for a web browsers how it could be used on multiple websites not just the BBC this might help with the colour choice of the trigger warning.
  • Consider a way of how the trigger warning could come before they even see the image or the article, as this is normally where we would see the warning.

Theo also mentioned looking at a episode of Black Mirror where a young girl has her brain modified by her parents to keep her protected. This lead onto us having a conversation about warnings and resilience, how do we strike the right balance between the two.

Research and Development

Thinking about how the trigger warning could come first got me thinking back to the research into blurring out news articles and the work of Libby Miller and Alicia Grandjean. They created software to blur out certain articles on news websites something like this could work well with the trigger warnings. Miller and Grandjean’s work is for the BBC whereas I’m starting to think that this could be something that acts on all websites not just the BBC. As Theo suggested I watched the black mirror episode ‘Arkangel’ where Sara has technology implanted into her after she get’s lost at young age. The technology allows her mother to see her location, vision, hearing and allows her mother to censor distressing content. This got me thinking about how there needs to be a balance for people between the two. Maybe within my idea I only censor certain articles. If this was to be developed into an actual browser then the software would determine whether an article would need to be blurred out.

In terms of changing the colour of the warning pop up I felt that either a yellow or an orange could work. Both colours are used to draw attention or increase awareness therefore I think that they work with the idea behind the project. Also the colours would both visual disturb the example of the BBC and also attract attention if this was to be used on another site as well. I felt as though a darker colour would have just been dismissed by the eye when reading the scrolling would have be much faster.

Going into after effect I decided that the colour orange would work best with the colours on this example. A yellow I thought would have just blurred the background further. I also have used a masked rectangle with a lens blur on it to hide the headline and when the mouse scrolls over where the headline should be then the trigger warning pop up. In order to make the outcome appear realistic I videoed someone sitting at the computer using the ‘website’ in order to highlight the fidelity side. When I tired this you weren’t able to see the animated video correctly and this is what the focus of the animation should be. Instead for the purpose of this submission I am thinking that I would be better using a mockup

Overall I am happy with the outcome that I have been able to produce for this project in the circumstances. I think that I have touched upon a topic that I’m really interested in and is something that I could continue to research and develop further. While it both offers a solution to the problem it also highlights to the viewer the amount of news that can cause us to feel anxious or frustrated.

Criticality: Development #3

After my tutorial with carol I decided that it would be best to look at developing the aesthetic of the warning and look at the copy as well. I want to make the viewer realise that the effects of reading the news can have on emotions in particular causing worry and anxiety around a topic. This got me thinking about the wording being changed to anxiety trigger and then having a small amount of copy underneath listing a few of the feeling that might be experienced. I experimented with the aesthetic of the warning and looked over the branding of BBC News. I felt that the use of the callout style warning would work well with the existing aesthetic of the website.

In after effect I was able to start animating the callout to work with the screen recording. I found the animation of the warning brought the idea to life, especially by having the screen recording acting as thought someone is actually using the website. I created one version where it simply popped up with the phrase ‘Warning Anxiety Trigger’. I thought that this worked because it was short and sharp, while still being surprising to the viewer.

I have also developed a second options where there is a short amount of text that also pops up alongside the callout which highlights the potential feelings that someone might have from reading the article. The pop up of the copy follows the same visual style as the call out as it wanted to make this as realistic as possible. By adding a small amount of copy to the callout I think will give the viewer more content about the term anxiety is referring too.

Both of these versions of the idea work well and I think after I show them to both Carol and Theo tomorrow I will be able to move forward a make any small changes needed. I am also hoping to showcase this by videoing someone using the website to showcase it in situ.

Criticality: Development #2 & Tutorial

Development

In order to start creating some visuals for the outcome I decided in order to get good fidelity for the project using screenshots from the BBC website would work best. I could adapt and edit these within photoshop to showcase how my alternative solutions could work. This is what I did with the first idea of creating a website interface that is shows a balance between the positive and negative news.

Image 1 – screenshot taken from BBC website. Image 2 – Photoshop version with positive headlines

I thought that this worked well in order to showcase how it might look if this idea was to be put in place. I didn’t have the correct typeface that the BBC use so I have had to adapt to use one that is similar this is something that I need to work on if I was to take it forward. When working on this idea that to wasn’t clear which of these sides was positive or negative at times. This is something that I think Carol and Theo were trying to get me to distinguish clearly but this is evidently harder that I thought it would be.

I wanted to look at creating the news interface with a warning message that would pop up. I thought that this could be better way of communicating to the audience about how the news can make us feel negative due to a process call negativity bias. We are used to seeing content warning on social media but not when on news website. I think it would get people thinking about twice about how it might make them feel after reading the article.

Again I felt that the best way to do this was to take a screen recording of me using the BBC website then in after effects create pop up warnings that appear when hovering over the article. I looked at visuals of content warnings that you would see and also news alerts to see the aesthetic that they had. From this I create an initial warning that could be used for the outcome. I used the phrase emotions warning then listed negative feelings that it might make them feel. By taking this illustrator file into after effects I was able to then animate it to work with the video.

Personally I think the second approach works best with what I want to communicate to the audience. Also, I think that it’s clearer and will get people thinking about how negative the news can be and that there isn’t a balance between positive and negative. Trying to create a balance is more challenging than simply just placing a label on them.

Tutorial Feedback

I found the feedback from the tutorial really useful as it will help me develop my idea further. Carol agreed with me that the second approach is working better and is a bit more disruptive while still getting the point across that there is a bias in the news particular when it comes to reporting negative news. These are the following points from the tutorial.

  • Consider trigger warnings from different points of view. Like different biases within the news, there are different categories for the bais and how it could impact.
  • Maybe look into research about bias within the news to give some underlying theory to this aspect of the project.
  • Play around and develop how the warnings pop up is there a more interesting way? consider looking at the sensitive content ones that we see on social media sites like instagram??
  • Consider the different warnings that might pop up??

Using this feedback I’m going to develop this project further and play around with the design aspects of the idea. For Monday, Carol mentioned wanting to see an near final outcome which is do able within the timeframe that we have left. I am thinking about videoing someone using the website with the pop up coming up in order to showcase how it could work.

Criticality: Development #1

After spending time developing the idea and trying to push it further, I thought about how I was going to present the concept visually. Now that I had developed a statement to act was a type if brief for the project as what I want the audience to gain from my outcome this made it easier to think about the visual aspect of the project. As mentioned before I already had a clear aesthetic for the project as it is going to based of the current news website/app style and I have chosen to focus on the BBC as research showed that this was one of the most popular news sources.

Using my sketchbook I sketched out the first visual that changed the visual language of the website. The home page would have negative and positive headlines sitting side by side therefore highlight that this is how the news should be promoting both types of stories at the home page. This visual for the concept would use photoshop to manipulate the elements on the page and show how it might look.

The next idea focuses on the BBC News app and the language. The interface on the app is very different from the website and personally when using it the language is the first thing that catches my eye. As mentioned it could be interesting to change the language to words associated with being positive. A page of apps where the language is extremely positive could make the viewers think twice about how the news is normally very negative.

The third visual idea for the concept that I thought about would take the current visual aesthetics of the BBC website but when you went to click on an article before it opens as ‘feelings warning’ would pop up. This visual idea came from looking back over Theo’s presentation where he had trigger warnings on some of the work we were looking at. If a trigger warning posed up every time you wanted to read a post, I think this would get the consumer to think about the the of news they are consuming. Which in turn might get them to consider limiting time they spend reading or even seek out some positive news for the day.

Criticality: Pushing the Idea

Following my last tutorial with Carol and Theo I knew there were certain elements of this idea that I needed to look at and keep pushing forward. Considering the question that they asked me in the tutorial it was clear that positive and negative news cannot be defined easily. What is positive for one individual might be negative for another?

When research into this idea more I found that there was very little research into what makes a story negative or positive. There was some research that talked about points and how the number of negative points might outweigh those of positive therefore the article would be negative but there wasn’t any clear method as to how someone defines it as good or bad. This fell along the same sorta lines as the finding out what makes good news good news. The definition for the term good news is something that’s positive, encouraging, uplifting, desirable or a like.

There are designers and individuals out there who are producing things such as ‘good news newspapers’. The Happy Newspaper created by Emily Coxhead is an example of one of these good news sources. On her website Coxhead states ” Every single day there are people helping others and doing incredible things in all corners of the planet and the majority of them aren’t celebrated, but we think they deserve to be recognised. We aim to bring a refreshing twist on what we typically know as ‘news’, reporting on positive changes and truly inspiring people.” This is her definition of what good news is and what it stands for. For Coxhead it’s clear that happy news is about celebrating what others are doing to make positive changes in the world.

Another definition about the what positive news is comes from the online newspaper Positive.News. “Positive News is the magazine for good journalism about good things. We are pioneers of ‘constructive journalism’ – a new approach in the media, which is about rigorous and relevant journalism that is focused on progress, possibility, and solutions. As a magazine and a movement, we are changing the news for good.” This gives a different perspective about what positive news could be, it’s about changing perceptions about the news being negative.

For this project to work I think that I will have to use stories around the pandemic as there is no sides that people can really choose (Unlike where as on political matters people tend to chose one side or another). As a population I think it’s reasonable to say that we all want the same thing for the pandemic to get better and see things starting to return back to normal. With this in mind I should be able to start distinguishing between the two aspects.

I thought that about what I wanted the audience to gain from my piece of work. What I wanted them to think and feel when they see the outcome. After looking at the research I want to get the audience to think about the type of news that they choose to consume raise awareness that there isn’t a balance in the news that we consumer. The use of negative language is over shadowing news that some might find more comforting to read about. By establishing this I can now move forward into developing visuals and an outcome for the project.


Further Research Sources

https://theconversation.com/when-too-much-news-is-bad-news-is-the-way-we-consume-news-detrimental-to-our-health-146568

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Examples-of-positive-neutral-and-negative-newspaper-headlines-about-medicine-and_tbl6_247805527

https://thehappynewspaper.com/

https://www.positive.news/about/

Criticality: Tutorial Feedback

I spoke to both Carol and Theo about my ideas and thoughts after conducting the analysis and further research after last week. I found that they helped to reassure me that I was going along the right lines for the project and idea was interesting, as this was a small worry that I had about the project.

We spoke about the concept of the idea and about fedelity and how in order to really bring my idea to life the aesthetics for the project should be dictated by the current news aesthetic, in particular website and news apps. In some ways this is good the current climate as I can use screen grabs etc to help bring my idea to life.

We then went onto discuss the idea of value judgement that I would be placing on the use of language. Theo posed the question as to how I am going to assessing what is negative and what is not? Carol mentioned that this is what she meant last week and I think I got caught up in other areas of research that I just forgot about this, but it’s a really important point. Positive and Negative news will mean different things to different people and this is something that I need to think about. We spoke about maybe focusing on a narrow topic within the news which brought me back around to my thoughts on the pandemic and news around that. As a topic it might be easier in the first instant to distinguish between positive and negative as it’s not an issue that people are voting on.

I need to think about what makes the idea of good news interesting? What does good news actually mean? Carol mentioned that I need to be careful not to just go this is positive and this is negative. I need to really think about it and understand what it means. Both Theo and Carol mentioned examples of work that might be worth looking at from a positivity point. a point that Carol mentioned was about getting to much positive news might be the same as negative it doesn’t serve a purpose? This is an idea that I think could be interesting to think about through developing the project this week.

Finally I think the next stage is to really push this idea further for a day or two as I know what the aesthetic of the project is going to look like due to the context that I have decided to work in. Theo also mentioned to me that I should maybe think about the message that I would like the audience to get from my work. What do I want people to think and feel when they see what I have done and created? By thinking about this is affectively gives the project a brief to work with, which makes it similar to the project that I have worked on in the past.

Criticality: Ideation & Research

After my deep research and analysis into spaces of news I found that two areas I could explore were the use of negative language and the incorrect balance between negative and uplifting stories. These were the areas which I think I could look at making and impact and surprise the audience.

Research into Negative Language

Through research into why the media will support the writing and distribution of negative stories, it’s argued that we as humans might be neurologically drawn to focusing on negative information. It seems to be believed that it stems from there being more potential benefits to us understand negative information than positive. However, this is an argument which cannot be proved easily therefore is open to interpretation.

According to statistics published in 2020 90% of all media news is negative. That is a massive amount and again highlights earlier research that the news is based towards negative content. These statistics also showed that headlines with bad news catch 30% more attention than those with positive language. Could the use of positive language with headlines then surprises viewers? If I was to create a concept design where news stories utilised positive language within their headlines it could have and impact on the viewer.

Research into Similar Projects

I came across a project undertaken by Libby Miller and Alicia Grandjean in 2019 who looked at creating software that allows people to blur out certain articles that might make a viewer anxious. In an article written by the BBC Alicia stated “Digital wellbeing, and more precisely the relation between news and anxiety, is something I am very interested in. I really think that we can create simple tools to give control back to users to allow them to engage with news in the way that is most appropriate for them.” For me this just highlights again the problem within our news today that it cause people to become anxious, and maybe people don’t realise this at first.

In their research Miller and Grandjean found that it it was mainly 16 – 24 year olds that spend less time looking at the news because it made them feel anxious. I think looking at this target audience even slightly older would help make people aware of the problem within the news industry today. It has also got me thinking that people are purposely avoid the news because it’s negative it could be another way in which this is explored. There have also been other software and ideas developed in a similar way to Miller and Grandjean’s with Google creating software where you ask google to tell you something good, they hoped that it could start to balance the media.

Ideation Development

From this research I felt as though there were two options that I could look at further. Both of which visually could work within the realm of critical design.

  1. Creating an alternative website interface that has both uplifting and negative stories side by side.
  2. Create an alternative that highlights the use of positive language within headlines rather than negative language.

References

https://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2019-08-news-mood-filter-mental-health

https://metro.co.uk/2018/08/22/because-everythings-so-bad-google-will-now-filter-out-negative-news-7870518/

https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/why-is-there-no-good-news/

https://letter.ly/negative-news-statistics/

Criticality: Further Research into Topic

After the tutorial on Thursday I found myself going back to my research and pin pointing a more specific area and target audience for this project. When researching I came across this study called ‘ Publishing the Positive’ undertaken by Jodie Jackson in 2016. It demonstrated that people find that positive news can unite and inspire people.

“Participants expressed that an excess of negative news led them to see the negative in other people, and feel isolated from society. However, the opposite was experienced when participants read positive news, which created a sense of admiration for other people and ‘restored [their] faith in humanity’.” (Jodie Jackson, 2016)

Even though this study was conducted back in 2016 I think that it could still be very relevant to society today during the pandemic. We are seeing more negative news that previous years and this is bound to have an effect on well being and mental health. In an article to Positive News, Jackson states “Positive and negative news stories should not compete, but co-exist”. This for me got me thinking that this doesn’t appear to be happening on any platform which individuals might come into contact with the news at the moment.

News Outlet Analysis

I decided to do an analysis of the a newspaper and websites in order to gain an understand of the balance between negative and positive stories being shown to us. I looked at both the BBC and ITV news websites while also looking at a copy of the Daily Telegraph that I was able to get hold of.

When looking at both the websites it became clear that they were mainly negative stories being told. There wasn’t any really uplifting or positive stories on the main page when you get onto the website. The language being used in the headlines seems to be the reason why the perception of the news is mainly negative rather than positive. This is an area which I could potential look at disrupt, if the language was positive would this getting people thinking?

Furthermore, I noticed that the BBC did have a page for uplifting stories however, it wasn’t obvious how to get to it from the homepage on BBC News but it did get me thinking that there is some effort to highlight these stories but they aren’t being pushed as much as the negative ones.

When looking at the newspaper it became clear that there was a little bit more of a balance between the two types of stories. Although the main cover page was all negative headlines it was by the 2nd/3rd spread I was able to identify some stories that were more uplifting. Obviously in other climate I would look at a range of papers but I was only to get hold of this at this time. Newspaper are starting to get a balance between the two stories it got me thinking about why apps and websites can’t do the same thing? This could be another aspect that I look at disrupting, what would the space look like if there was more of balance between the two.

This research has enable me to get a better understanding on the visual languages that are out there at the moment and ideas of how I could disrupt them. I think the audience for this needs to be younger (young adults etc) as they are the ones who might not be reading the newspapers and will get their dose of the news through apps or website newsfeeds.


References

https://www.positivenews.news/society/media/positive-news-stories-bring-people-together-study-finds/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cx2pk70323et/uplifting-stories

https://www.itv.com/news

Criticality: Ideation and Tutorial with Carol

Ideation

Following on from the research that I under took I have started to think about how I could disrupt spaces that we find the news and how I can do that. I immediately thought about the notifications that we get on our phones when headlines are announced what if there was some sort of software that countered the negative headlines by showing us a positive story within the news. This started my ideation to follow thinking about the idea of news paper clippings creating an image that shows this rather than solving it. I think this has been the hardest part of my understanding this brief because I’m used too showcasing a solution to a problem rather than a highlighting the problem.

I also started to think about outcomes using newspapers themselves, having small tip ins to highlight how good news is often overshadowed by negative news. Or having a spread which physically shows the positive news being kept smaller than the negative news. The idea of animation has also crossed my mind because it could be visual interesting to consider how the morphing the words into the words negative and positive could be impactful.

Tutorial Feedback

I found this tutorial with Carol really helpful as I was able to talk through this idea of disrupting our negative newsfeeds. (I have developed this idea since speaking to Theo). Carol thought that I could push this idea further maybe by looking a newspapers and doing an analysis of how much space is taken up by what category. It could be worth being more specific in terms of who I am aiming to communicate as positive news for one person might be negative for another person. I think that this is an important step in the development of this project.

It was really helpful to hear other opinions in the group because they all had different perspectives on the news and why they look at the news. Obviously it was clear that majority of people are drawn towards negative news more than positive because the news is often where we find out about the world. This is something that I think I’m aiming to showcase that it’s not all about being negative.

One important point I want to try focus on is coming up with someway of surprising people in the space they would normally come into contact with the news.

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