Underexposed 2019

February 11, 2019 by Anxhelo Lushka

During early January (7-11) Elio and Anxhelo from our team participated as mentors in the Underexposed event organized by Simply Secure in Berlin, Germany. Simply Secure

Underexposed Logo

Underexposed Collective is a loosely-knit group of designers, researchers, writers, advocates, and users who reject the current trajectory of mainstream technology development. They support people by providing funding, education, mentorship, design support, research, testing, and a community for collaboration.

This was the first time Underexposed took place in the form of a residency. Fellows from around the world spent one week with designers and developers focused to work on their projects, and help others with theirs. Together, the cohort used the residency as a place to ask questions, work on prototypes and circulate feedback quickly. Over the course of the week we had sessions about user research, design systems, prototyping, and wireframing Fellows also had an opportunity to share their work with the public, specifically at the final presentations at the Mozilla Berlin offices

Monday (7 January)

The first day started with an introduction by Simply Secure over at the WikiBär. Georgia Bullen, the Simply Secure Executive Director, quickly introduced the gist of the week. We had a chance to get to know all fellows and their projects better, which helped us have a better grasp of their needs and motivations.

Sticky notes schedule photo

Tuesday (8 January)

Our first session covered the basics of Prototyping. Participants began with pen and paper prototyping, something we are great fans of doing when having the privilege to be in the same room with people. Afterall, this approach has a lower entry level barrier than any design software, allowing everyone to move quickly and scrap ideas before investing a significant amount of time.

The fellows had really interesting projects and for most of them, the main issue was related to the encryption key restore process. As these projects are security-and-privacy related, they are decentralized and offer users the option to create an encryption key in order to access their data if something bad happens in the future.

Unfortunately, this process is often bypassed by users as it’s (according to them) an extra step that slows down their workflow. As a result, they often lose access to their accounts and data, which could be avoided if they would have had created that key in the beginning.

We helped the projects there by creating prototypes on paper, discussing UX problems and possible solutions for them, then digitally creating mockups using Figma, a proprietary design collaboration tool.

Wednesday (9 January)

Wednesday was one of the busiest days of the event. We got up early, ate breakfast and joined the others at the venue. We separated into two groups, one upstairs and one downstairs and worked on our personal projects or with others.

Cade, a designer from Germany, gave a very interesting talk on Weaponized Design, a process that allows for harm of users within the defined bounds of a designed system. You can read his essay in the link above.

Friday (11 January)

Elio’s presentation was on Friday, about Style Guides and the process of working in the open. He explained our latest projects, how we worked with SecureDrop, I2P, Reproducible Builds, Thunderbird etc.

This was the final day of the event and the fellows worked during the day to prepare their presentations, on what they learned during the week and what they worked on. The presentations were held at the Mozilla Offices in Berlin. Many people had registered for the event and the fellows presented one by one their projects and conclusions. We were happy that our mockups were present in their slides and hope that the process continues to turn them into reality soon.

Sarah Fox presenting at the Mozilla Offices in front of the audience

After the presentations, we got to discuss with each other and then head over for drinks somewhere close the venue.

We would like to thank the entire Simply Secure team; Georgia, Ame, Eileen and Molly for being there and organizing a fantastic event. We had a really awesome time and hope to see you all again soon.

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