The design of Look Deeper was inspired by a concept, Look Different. Speak Out., that I created which won MTV's 2015 Look Different Challenge.
Look Deeper is an online tool that creates a safe, pre-moderated space for millennials to have conversations about racial, sexual, and gender bias: Whether it's in pop culture, the news, or just something encountered in their everyday life. Users can share stories and comment using images, videos, audio clips, links, and more.
Initial Concept Sketches
As it was initially proposed, Look Different. Speak Out. would be an interactive sound-scape, crowd-sourcing the social mindset of the millennial generation. On the platform participants would be able to record a short audio file voicing a thought, fear, or story about personal biases or discrimination. Each recording would have a 15 seconds clip limit—just a little longer than a Vine or a Snapchat video. Submission would be completely anonymous to encourage user to express themselves openly and without embarrassment.
After a participant records a sound clip, they would be able to add social issue tags to indicate what topics they are addressing, such as “Homophobia” or “Sexuality.” Tags could also be used to categorize sound clips by current events, like “Ray Rice” or “Ferguson,” or they could add tags to indicate affiliations with specific popular media, like “Beyoncé” or “Teen Wolf.” All of the clips would then be clustered by the tags in a massive cloud of talking points. Users can search topic areas like “Race” or “Feminism” and then zoom into the portion of the clustered submission that fit those tags. The intention being to use a shared dialogue to build empathy and understanding across racial, gender, and sexual boundaries.
Collections of different perspectives on specific issues would come together to reveal the social zeitgeist of the moment.
While the final, implemented, version of the project moved away from the audio-driven focus of the Speak Out. pitch, it maintained a focus on collecting a range of different opinions and creating a safe-space for people to discuss them. As the team at MTV's Look Different worked to translate my concept into a reality, I was able to join the conversation, provide feedback, and shape the ultimate form of what grew into LookDeeper.org. The final interactive is a data visualization-centered story-sharing platform for MTV's fan-base to share some of their thoughts about inequality, bias, and social justice.
In 2015, when the platform launched, I was fortunate to be interviewed briefly by MTV News:
"Silence will never let us overcome these wicked systemically engrained social issues. I think getting people comfortable talking about social issues is the first step to addressing those issues. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right?" Wheeler said. "That's what Look Deeper is all about — honestly sharing your own story and beliefs while building empathy for others by listening to their stories and beliefs. I hope that is what it can be for people." [praise hands emoji]
Below is the original concept pitch entered for the Look Different Challenge.