Slacktion — Applying Blockchain to Social Media Activism

My experience at the 2017 Fall IDEO CoLab Makeathon

In October 2017, I was one of 60 participants among 700+ applicants invited to the IDEO CoLab Makeathon, a full-day design marathon where makers gathered to explore and create concepts around emerging technologies. Each team of four to five people prototyped how a given technology prompt can be applied to solve a human problem.

My team explored the concept of micro-transactions and its application to slacktivism — the practice of supporting a political or social cause via the Internet with small effort or commitment. From our personal experiences, my teammates and I noticed that people in this digital age are quick to post about social issues, especially on social media, but slow to actually commit financial resources towards their causes.

From observing and asking people, we found out that the idea of “donating” causes hesitation and conveys big commitment. Furthermore, the current minimum donation amount is relatively high due to transaction fees and can be overwhelming, especially to people on a tight budget.

Slacktion — Social Media Extension Integrated with Blockchain & Micropayment System

After several iterations, our team created interactive mockups and a chatbot to present the concept of Slacktion, a blockchain system which allows users to make tiny, lightweight payments directly tied to their existing social media activity.

When a user authorizes a transaction, Slacktion buys that amount of cryptocurrency and transfers it to the intended destination. By using cryptocurrencies, Slacktion can transfer small amounts of money without being exposed to the volatile exchange rates of traditional currencies.

Alternatively, the system can gather user donations and then use traditional currencies once the cumulative donation is large enough for the additional charges. However, this system may not be suitable for smaller charities and foundations that may not receive as much publicity or donations. By using the micro-transaction-based system, however, Slacktion allows these smaller organizations to equally benefit from social media activism.

Mobile prototype developed by Lucia with help from Amanda
Chatbot prototype developed by Aaryaman and Seung Pyo
Quick snapshot of our process: “How Might We” ideation (top left), prototype ideation (top right), paper prototype (bottom left), and presentation (bottom right)

I am still amazed and humbled to be invited to this fall’s CoLab Makeathon. Once again, I witnessed how the makeathon represented the best of diversity in collaboration. The diverse backgrounds of my teammates brought various design opportunities to the table; enabled us to view the problem from different perspectives; and created a solution that received positive reactions overall. I hope that this concept continues developing beyond a Facebook extension and reaches out to a broader spectrum of users.

Huge shouts out to my makeathon teammates, Amanda, Seung Pyo, and Aaryaman for being awesome, IDEO CoLab for providing this fun and exciting challenge, and my sister for helping me polish my words for this article.


Saper Vedere

Personal journal of learning “how to see” the world