Out of Site


Hanlin Li, Bodhi Alarcon, Sara Milkes Espinosa, and Brent Hecht. 2018. Out of Site: Empowering a New Approach to Online Boycotts. In Proceedings of the 2018 Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW’2018 / PACM), 2 (106). Pre-Print PDF

















At the People Space and Algorithms lab at Northwestern University, I collaborated with Hanlin Li to build and test OutofSite, a system intended to empower online boycotts. We incorporated two movements: #grabyourwallet and Stop Animal Testing on cosmetic products. I became familiar with research on tactics and strategy for collective action, as well as the discussions around digital and online activism. Interestingly, I also saw the limitations and possibilities when writing for venues like the CSCW conference.


For this project, I was particularly interested in exploring the ways in which collective economic action can be carried out online, focusing on prolonged engagement, low threshold of adoption and micro-organizational enabling meso/organizational tools. I reviewed different models and methods that have interpreted collective action, namely structuralist approaches (including political process), cultural approaches (focusing on identity and agency), and game theoretical models.


  Besides this information about the cycles of collective action from different perspectives, I also gathered information about micro-organizational strategies and agent decisions in front of collective action dilemmas. I collected out research about digitally mediated social cooperation from the social sciences, Information and Communication studies, and compiling the implications for design coming from these documents. Particularly, I reviewed critical literature about Civic Media as a historical movement, looked for models of organizational strategies and structures for building and maintaining social movements, and considered strategies of micro-organization to increase the agency of participants. I participated in the drafting and conceptual development of the project from the beginning. I collected database information about cosmetic companies using animal testing and their brands. I was also in charge of prototyping the User Interfaces. 

Sara Milkes 2018