Week 7 – Kevin Gaboury

For me, the Public Secrets website felt like a prison.

The motif of the entire website is very angular, which brings to mind the walls of a prison. The design is black-and-white without much embellishment, which seems to reflect the stark reality of incarceration. Many of the women interviewed expressed hopelessness, anger and pain. Their words were very eye-opening and indicative of the broken system that keeps them locked up.

I do agree with some other posters, however, that we should take what they say with a grain of salt. Remember, these women are criminals and it is possible their words aren’t 100-percent factual.
While the design of the site succeeded in creating the mood that I’m guessing the developers intended, I felt that it was missing something. Maybe I’m just so used to highly visual, interactive sites that I’m not used to something so simplistic, but it could have used a picture or two. The interview were interesting, but I wish the women didn’t have to remain anonymous. I understand the circumstances, but I think we have a natural curiosity to know whose voice we are hearing. Do we really know for sure that the women are prisoners, or could they be voice actors? We can only trust what the site leads us to believe.

Saving the Sierra perfectly embodies the notion of community that we are exploring this week. These are real people that call this area of northern California home, and are willing to fight for it. You get a sampling of young and old, as well as different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, all with a similar goal in mind: to conserve this beautiful, rugged area for future generations. The site also uses only sound bites, but the people aren’t anonymous, which I believe gives it more credibility than Public Secrets.

Does anyone else feel that it’s important to put a face or at least a name to someone’s words? Or does it matter, as long as the subject matter is provocative enough?

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3 comments to Week 7 – Kevin Gaboury

  • banders3@uoregon.edu

    Yes, I also felt that because they were in prison, I took what they said with a little apprehension, which didn’t make me feel as connected or engaged in what they were saying as I could have been. One woman was saying something about smoking only a little bit of crack and kind of playing it off like it was no big deal. I kept thinking that smoking a little might not be a big deal to her, but smoking a little could be a very big deal to others.

    Your point about mentioning names in these stories and how those relate to credibility is interesting because I mentioned in my post about how, in the Surviving the Sierra project, they had names, but didn’t really tell distinct background stories of the people involved. For me, the lack of background stories on these people made me think that they weren’t really all that authentic, which leads me back to credibility. In terms of believability, is there some sort of magic formula for these types of projects that would lead to more people being engaged with the content? No names + good backstory = engagement or believability? Or names + no backstory = engagement or believability?

    I also actually liked the prisons project website. I felt like it encompassed what I assume prison would be like — minimal, black, white and grey. I thought that sort of design lent itself perfectly to the project. Is it ideal for every project? Absolutely not. However, I felt like it did a good job of capturing how these women feel and what they’re looking at every single day.

  • dereky@uoregon.edu

    Kevin,
    I felt like something was missing with the absence of video and photographs in Public Secrets. I think we are used to experiencing these projects with much more. It is important to put a face with the words for authenticity. Maybe using video in the project would make it too familiar to mainstream media.

  • epriebe@uoregon.edu

    I also felt like I was in a prison when viewing the Public Secrets project, but for me that really elevated the project. I thought it was really interesting how you had to open the project in a new window. Even in that small act, you are moving from the outside to the inside of the project, without any other distractions in that separate window. I think the starkness of the project (no pictures or video) represents the lack of visual stimulation many of the women have in prison, especially when they talk about the yards inside of the prison and how bleak they are. Maybe we’re just primed to expect more visuals because that’s the life we have on the outside.

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