By Bobby Bah for Tech | Hustle | Culture
This article is featured as part of the Connect Series, taking folks behind the scenes of how the Floreo Labs team uses their in-house tools and creativity to blend the Tech with the Culture.
Video Recap of Our Politics As Usual CheckIt Activation 2020
Remember being outside? Our winter coats slipping off our shoulders too soon, bracing for the upcoming spring? What were the times that held strong in your memory?
This past February during President’s Day weekend the THC collective partnered up with DJ MikeNasty and MORESOUPPLEASE, two dynamic DJ’s and creatives based out of Brooklyn, to gather our community with purpose.
The purpose? Bringing folks together to have fun AND build discourse around political engagement and the upcoming Democratic Primaries (which at the time had no clear frontrunner and the contrast between each candidate became blurrier with each debate). While our technical solution to this idea was not unique (we essentially ported one of our products, CheckIt, to include a "Get To Know Your Candidate" questionnaire. The quiz asked users a series of questions on their personal policy positions and then revealed what politician they had the most in common with, similar to the Washington Post Quiz, but facilitated by a dope live activation.
Here's How We Pulled It Off
The idea to combine political discourse and good vibes at Kinfolk was fashioned to bring people from all different walks of life together in a fun, safe space. It's the brain child of Jaquell, Harlem native, artist, and our in-house Creative Strategist. Jaquell, who’s been familiar with CheckIt since using it for his own album release, realized the platform was perfect to facilitate unique engagements between artists, community leaders and their supporters who make their work possible.
Jaquell knows better than anyone that artists have unprecedented access to creative tools, yet little control over their creative output—ask any artist about what they use for outreach and marketing and you’ll find that these creative entrepreneurs are managing their tools and logistics just as much as they are managing the actual music/media/art itself.
This is why partnering with Floreo Labs to build a CheckIt quiz and produce a live activation was a no brainer. CheckIt is a tool that helps artists deeply engage with their super fans. With Check t, users can build custom quizzes and deploy them to a target audience, making connecting with super fans and engaging with them on a personal level easy & accessible. CheckIt activations provide the perfect activity to get people talking and they increase engagement around brands, venues and artists. Jaquell knew bringing the tech would amplify the experience and we set out to design the quiz and activation.
The Design Process
The folks at the Lab approach event planning as a design thinking project. During the empathy phase of our work together, they took the time to really understand the needs and context we were creating in.
As technology and software spreads to every facet of industry and personal life, it is easy to see tech as an apparatus that we have to mold ourselves into in order to achieve the outcome we desire. Our community activations highlight the agency we have to build tools that reflect our needs and values.
In producing this event, we encouraged everyone to ask: “If you could make any idea come to life what would it be? What pain points are you experiencing with some of the platforms you’re working with?”
No idea is too crazy or impractical and in acknowledging the frustrations of our partners, we get an up-close understanding of how every layer of technology has the potential to frustrate the user as computer logic clashes with human intuition.
BTS Ideation Session (Pictured: Jaquell & Cam Flowers)
Aside from the nuts and bolts, the sync or ideation session is meant to be creative and is filled with non-linear paths that provide context to how we think and view the environment we interact with. Every time we go through this idea process we are reminded why it’s important not to hold too many expectations for what an ideation session will flow, as every meeting doesn’t always adhere to a bullet-point agenda. This flexibility (at really every part of the process) cannot be underestimated.
After flushing out the "Why's" and vision, we eventually get to building, which in hindsight, is the easy part (aside from a few hours tossed up to the computer gods, spent debugging misplaced commas and a lazy text editor). I don’t want to glorify the coding process too much, especially in the early stages, because often the most elegant solutions in coding are the product of smoothed out edges and solutions defined over time as software problems get exposed. (Tech Stack: CheckIt is a React and React Native project with a Non-Relational backend and a Heroku server to spin everything up. For this particular rollout we only used the web based React.)
Okay, I lied, the rollout of the event, and seeing the fruits of your labor is most definitely the fun part. This is also the part of the creative process that you have the least control over: the location staff could call out, the space and facilities can reveal certain inadequacies that were overlooked, the weather could hamper folks from leaving their homes, etc. Which is why we have to find joy in the journey of ideating and building instead of focusing solely on the outcome (think the opposite of the ends justifying the means type of thing).
The event was held at the now shuttered doors of Kinfolk 90 which stood on the corner of Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg. First there’s the set up: getting to know the venue’s staff, verifying equipment and stock, and then eventually testing the software on our devices. In this case it included two tablets and a monitor for presenting CheckIt. After the doors open and the early arrivals came, we used the more intimate setting as an opportunity to engage with folks on a personal level, understanding why they came, what their interests are and then talking more deeply about our values and why we threw the event in the first place.
Luckily, the early attendees were followed by more people, turning the event to what we would recognize as a party; drinks were flowing, bodies were twisting and grinding and the intention of the night was actualized. In between the gyrations to Afro-beats there were pockets of discourse scattered about, eyes glued to our tablets with the CheckIt quizzes on them. Each user prompted a different discussion that related to their own experience and what they wanted for the future of their community.
In retrospect, as the outside and shared spaces seem like a commodity of the past, it feels even more important (life-saving even) to share spaces with intention, and while the digital sphere and quarantine life can never duplicate the carefree movements of a pandemic free past, that doesn’t mean the values geared towards gathering community can never be lost, and so it is incumbent upon us to explore tools, ideas, and experiences that bring us together in commonality.