AXIS: A Global Feedback Exchange for Trainers, Auditors, Developers, and Designers

November 18, 2020
 Image with title AXIS: A Global Feedback Exchange for Trainers, Auditors, Developers, and Designers in text
Image with title AXIS: A Global Feedback Exchange for Trainers, Auditors, Developers, and Designers in text

Internews, with support from Okthanks and Simply Secure, hosted a month-long virtual event entitled AXIS: A Global feedback Exchange for Trainers, Auditors, Designers, and Developers. This event brought together key communities to map privacy and security tools being used by at-risk organizations and to identify concrete ways that we can support improvements to those tools.

66 participants across the globe attended throughout the month including:

  • 41 Digital Security Trainers and Organizational Security Auditors
  • 9 Designers and UX Experts
  • 4 Tool Developers
  • 12 People Representing Other Communities (journalists, activists, etc.)

Image of blue world map with dots placed in the USA, Mexico, Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe

In order to maximize flexibility for participants, program content was made available in a variety of formats including podcasts, live sessions, and blog posts. Since AXIS was originally planned as an in-person event, one of our top priorities when making it virtual was to facilitate community building and trust among participants, particularly for those who are new to the digital security and Internet Freedom communities. While building community and trust can come naturally during in-person events, virtual gatherings require strategic facilitation to create opportunities for those connections to be made.

Here are a few of the ways we facilitated collaboration and communication throughout the month:

  1. Welcome Calls. Prior to the start of AXIS, we hosted two “Welcome Calls” where participants could introduce themselves and get to know one another in an informal setting.

  2. AXIS Community Slack. Throughout the month, participants were able to communicate with each other or the hosts via the AXIS Community Slack. The Slack served as a space for participants to make introductions, exchange resources, submit homework assignments, and even share music recommendations and pictures of their pets! Having this informal space for participants to communicate throughout the month (and afterwards) greatly contributed to the overall success of the event.

  3. Community-led Skill Shares. As part of AXIS programming, participants were invited and encouraged to share their own skills and expertise through live sessions, blog posts, and/or podcasts. 12 participants contributed to these skill-shares covering topics such as web accessibility, threat modeling, user research, and more.

  4. Breakout Groups and Shared Notes. During live sessions, hosts used BigBlueButton’s breakout feature and shared collaborative notes on Riseup Pads to create smaller groups and allow participants to engage in the format they are most comfortable with, whether that be speaking or typing into the shared document.

AXIS Outputs and resources

As part of select AXIS sessions, participants contributed to the development of new resources, and provided feedback on existing resources. Content developed during the event, ranging from best practices for feedback collection to templates for archetypes, will be edited, designed, and integrated into the UX Feedback Collection Guidebook.

Building on User Personas, or fictional profiles of individuals created based on the real needs of users, the archetype templates developed during AXIS will expand the resources available to help trainers, auditors, designers, and developers analyze threat models and understand risks. AXIS participants contributed to the development of templates for the following resources:

  • Organizational Archetypes will provide a snapshot of at-risk organizations who rely on privacy and security tools. These archetypes will highlight threats they face, tools they use, the size of the organization, and more.

  • Adversary Archetypes will provide a direct contrast to the organizational archetypes, as they will provide a snapshot of common threat actors, including some of their tactics, known targets, and more.

Templates for these resources will be shared with trainers and auditors so that they can contribute to a growing library of personas and archetypes.

AXIS Tracker and Feedback Collection Certification

Each AXIS participant collected a virtual “stamp” for attending a session, reading a blog post, or listening to a podcast. Each stamp represented a different theme or topic, and an editable Progress Tracker allowed participants to track their progress throughout the event. Upon completion of the program, participants were eligible to receive an AXIS Feedback Collection Certificate*. A total of 42 participants received a Feedback Collection Certificate.

Image of printable game board with 10 stamps that can be added into square spaces to track progress

What’s Next?

Following the event, AXIS participants were invited to apply for the Feedback Collection Funding Pool, a small grants pool for individuals or organizations who would like to implement feedback collection from at-risk users during their trainings or audits. Many AXIS participants have expressed interest in collaborating with another trainer or auditor to implement these activities, demonstrating an increase in the amount of collaboration happening within the auditor and trainer community, particularly with regards to usability work. This feedback collection, combined with the UXFund, aims to improve the usability of open source security and privacy tools used by at-risk communities around the globe. Check back here for updates as we launch this work!

Image of 10 stamps representing AXIS themes

Logo, Progress Tracker, Icons, and all other design assets for AXIS were created by Juan Pablo Trujillo Romo.