When Practice Informs Technology presented at hacklu 2016

by Mahsa Alimardani,

Summary : Digital rights activists and social change actors often operate in singular movements that seldom overlap, creating a disconnect between technology and practical needs. Non governmental organizations (NGOs) with insufficient knowledge of technology, or technological infrastructure may try to fill this void by allocating funding to attain the most up to date technologies or best practices, which may not be of relevance to local needs and contexts, ultimately proving ineffective. The latest technologies, best tech practices or rapid response expertise are often not only ineffective, but find themselves repeated within the same networks rather than expanding beyond immediate existing trust relationships between at risk Internet users and technologists. There is a need to bridge the relationship between the practices of change actors and the decisions of technologists to ensure that they inform the technologies and digital security guidelines given to them -not the other way. Deliberate efforts to connect technologist with civil society actors beyond their existing networks and foster new trust networks are therefore necessary. Emphasis will be given to three areas of focus: inclusion of marginalized groups such as women, youth and LGBT; privacy vs. publicity concerns; and UX/usability concerns to facilitate the building of networks, bring women and those marginalized into the technology discourse through an environment that fosters trust, and exchange tools, technologies and best practices.