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Bonfire beta

In my weeknotes over the last few months you’ll have seen reference to Bonfire, a federated app toolkit. Today, I’m delighted to be able to share that the core team behind Bonfire have launched the beta, and you can go and give it a whirl in the playground.

You may recognise my dulcet tones from the screencast video. It’s been my pleasure to be able to help with that, as well as the Zappa project and some user testing.

Bonfire has a big future ahead of it, and as more than just a microblog! Read more on what you can expect from the Bonfire beta.

Exploring the sweet spot for Zappa project approaches to misinformation

Venn diagram showing three overlapping circles (Technical, Procedural, and Relational)

At the overlap of all three circles is the words 'Zappa Project'

At the overlap of Technical and Relational is the word 'Consistency'

At the overlap of Procedural and Relational is the word 'Reliability'

At the overlap of Technical and Procedural is the word 'Efficiency'

The Bonfire logo is at the bottom of the graphic, with the version number 0.1

While we know that misinformation is not a problem that can ever be fully ‘solved’, it is important to try and reduce its harms. Last week, we published the first version of a report based on user research as part of the Zappa project, an initiative from the Bonfire team.

This week, I’ve narrated a Loom video giving an overview of the mindmap embedded in the report. This was requested by Ivan, as he found that the way that I explain it captures some nuance that perhaps isn’t in the report (which is more focused on recommendations).

Another thing I was tasked with this week was creating a Venn diagram from the three types of approaches that could be taken for the technical development for the Zappa project. These were slightly tweaked from suggestions made by one of our user research participants. As you can see in the above diagram, these are:

  • Technical — improving the way that users interact with information
  • Procedural — improving the process of capturing and displaying information
  • Relational — improving the way that humans interact with one another

It’s unlikely that any one approach would sit squarely as being only one type of approach. For example, spending time thinking about the way that information is presented to users and allowing them to control that sits right in the middle of all three.

There are three overlaps other than the one right in the middle. These are:

  • Technical / Procedural — we’ve currently labelled this intersection as Efficiency as using technical approaches to improve processes usually makes them more efficient. This might include making it easier to block certain types of posts, for example.
  • Procedural / Relational — we’ve labelled this intersection as Reliability because process when considered in terms of relationships is often focused on repeatable patterns. This might include, for example, being able to validate that the account you’re interacting with hasn’t been hijacked.
  • Relational / Technical — we’ve used the label Consistency for this one as one of the things we found from our research is that users are often overwhelmed by information. We can do something about that, so this might include helping users feel in charge of their feeds to help avoid context collapse or aesthetic flattening.

You will notice the version number appended to this diagram is ‘v0.1’. It might be that we haven’t found the right words for these overlaps. It might be that some are more important than others. We’d love feedback from anyone paying attention to the Zappa project, whether you’ve been following the work around Bonfire since the beginning, or whether this is the first you’re hearing of it.

If it helps, feel free to grab the Google Slides original of the above Venn diagram, or comment below on a) what you think is good, b) anything you have questions about, or c) anything that concerns you.

First version of report published sharing findings from Zappa project user research

Illustration of a bear, fox, badger, and squirrel looking into a fire. Taken from the Bonfire website.

Over the last month, I’ve been working with the Bonfire team to perform some initial user research on the Zappa project. The aim of the project, funded by a grant from the Culture of Solidarity Fund, is to empower communities with a dedicated tool to deal with the coronavirus “infodemic” and online misinformation in general.

We ended up speaking with 11 individuals and organisations, and have synthesised our initial user research into the first version of a report which is now available.

📄 Click here to access the report

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