This project requires collaboration on different fronts. The first being with FIND and negotiating the parameters of the research as well as the visual presence of the website. The second is with the web design team, collaborating on the technology behind the research and its presentation in website form. And finally, collaborating and interacting with Khaleeji women web users.
With the FIND team, we managed to hone the project to track Khaleeji women users on the web and create a live archive of their online interactions. The website would pick up the hashtag #MsKhaleejiMaam from Instagram and Twitter accounts that are public. Additionally, it would have an option so women could immediately submit pictures and texts without having a social media account. The point of this project is to offer a space where Khaleeji women could represent themselves in whatever capacity they see fit. The outcome would be to see/track the choices they make with regards to self-representation. What are the unique ways in which Khaleeji woman present themselves on the web? Would more of them feel confident to use their authentic images/names, which for some in the Gulf is a major taboo? What sort of content would dominate?
Then came the collaboration with the web design team. I opted for a company that was run by a Ms. Khaleeji Ma'am, BOLD boutique. After weeks of Skype calls and emails, we were able to pin down a logo, look and feel (that would be simple and stripped-down), and of course, most challengingly, the technology. The wireframes were set up and the difficulty became in deciding how the hashtags would work, how the photos would be uploaded through devices, how much info I would request from the user, and whether or not we should require registration on the site prior to the submission of content.
Eventually, the website was done, and prior to the mass promotion of it, I decided to ask friends of mine to put up submissions while disabling the registration feature. As some were submitting, difficulties were experienced and I used their live feedback and reported it to the design team through Skype to be fixed in real time. Some problems included a specific way in which the hashtags were meant to be typed in, the system forcing some to type in both languages, the wrong orientation of photos etc. Most of those were resolved immediately and the next step was to see how the system would work in tracking all mentions of #MsKhaleejiMaam on Twitter and Instagram.
I began promoting it online through my contacts and through word-of-mouth. I do hope that most people will actually directly submit on the website as it's easier to ascertain which part of the Gulf they are from as opposed to just through the hashtag #MsKhaleejiMaam on Twitter and Instagram. It would be interesting to see if women would most likely use images as opposed to just text or if they use images, they would document their faces. I'm also interested to see which language will dominate in the captions and descriptions. What hashtags (in addition to the #MsKhaleejiMaam) would be used? What would they mean? How would I go about interpreting all of this data? Those are the questions that are currently on my mind and will hopefully be resolved when I have a fair amount of content.