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Alexa & The Spectrum Seal

KUMARI PACHECO


Read my final project deliverable: a product purpose story for The Spectrum Seal. Scroll down for process details!

At 7:59 a.m., Alexa rolls out of bed. She'd come across some exciting news the previous night—Monkey Cage, her favorite blog, is on the hunt for article submissions. Alexa sits at her computer and begins typing: JSTOR.com. She already has a topic in mind: surveillance laws. All she needs now are some reliable sources.
Alexa has used JSTOR before, but never for something this. . .official. As she googles the references of a research paper, she notices that nine of the fourteen authors are white men. Puzzled, Alexa tries out a couple of keywords: "surveillance diverse," "BIPOC sources surveillance," "LGBTQ+ authors surveillance." These searches turn up articles discussing diversity, not articles with diversity at their rootsin their sources.
Alexa tries Amazon Books next, hoping to find more diverse sources in full-length texts. A banner at the top of the screen catches her eye. "What's that yellow thing on the books?" it reads. Sure enough, there are yellow stickers on a few of the books in the "Top Rated" lineup.
Alexa selects "Learn more." It turns out those stickers are Spectrum Seals: badges awarded to nonfiction books that balance their bibliographies across race, gender, and other identities, ensuring that no one group makes up the majority of the sources.
But what if an author follows the requirements without using the sources in a substantial way? Skeptical, Alexa reads on. She notices something called the "spectrum score," a secondary customer-rating system specific to the use of sources. Readers keeping writers honest. Alexa smiles at that.
One purchase later, she opens a Spectrum Seal book in Kindle: Dark Matters by Simone Brown. Alexa's article is going to be well-researched, alrightand who knows, one day, it too could wear a Spectrum Seal badge.

Product story arcs, The Spectrum Seal


The Spectrum Seal is a fictitious Amazon Books initiative. Its badge indicates books that make use of diverse sources in accordance with a defined set of criteria. I chose to explore this project in the context of story because I'd already done a lot of scenario-based thinking around it.


First, I created three product story arcs: a concept arc, an origin arc, and a usage arc. I ended up choosing the origin arc for my final product story because of its ability to demonstrate character, scenario, and use without getting too far into the weeds.



Process



The first image is of a product molecule. This is the very first thing I created, as it allowed me to get a birds eye-view of the Spectrum Seal and the problem it solves.


The second image is of my persona. I created this in my original project, so I basically just used it as a reference point.


The third image is of my story arc. Essentially, it represents a rough outline of what I ended up writing.



Takeaways


The most difficult part of this process was the writing. At first, I wasn't quite sure where to start in terms of characterizing Alexa. She's a political science major with a love for books, but that in itself is not a goal or a need. Ultimately, I settled on a reader turned writer, which is often the reality for readers of nonfiction. This way, I could frame the mindset of a reader and a writer, considering both in the context of the Spectrum Seal system.


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#diversityinpublishing #ownvoices #miniproject

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