Round table: Tech per se
Framer: Indra de Lanerolle, University of Witswatersrand/MAVC
Chair: Linda Raftree (independent)
Panellists: Declan Ottaro, Ushahidi – MAVC; Erica Hagen, Groundtruth; Lina Dencik, University of Cardiff; Tony Roberts, IDS
Technologies create enormous opportunities for generating and using data and amplifying and connecting voices — including those of marginalised citizens.
Scaling and replication is a complex process. Disruption may be the wrong approach.
The sector needs to follow more adaptive processes that take account of the affordance and roles of the specific technologies.
Technology cannot be understood outside of the cultural and social framework where it was designed and where it will be applied.
What roles can play technology?
Erica Hagen: distribute information and, most especially, the outcomes of applying this information.
Tony Roberts: availability, affordability, awareness, ability, accessibility. These are the five “levels of access/exclusion” of technology appropriation, to make sense of technology. Most of the time, more than doing “new” things with technology, we have to address these 4A.
Lina Dencik: the challenges of using technological platforms where people already are is that one can’t control how info travels, allows surveillance. We have also to be aware of the core processes of activism and how data can enhance them — not replace them with “data porn”.
Declan Ottaro: we have to remove the stigma that technology does not work for people. Sometimes “projects have to fail”, as this is the nature of innovation: essay and error, fail fast… and correct faster. But after that, we have to be sure that technology is useful for people. And the biggest incentive for citizens to use technology is getting a response from their government.
Erica Hagen: one of the things that technology can do well is unlocking the black box of decision-making and participation, making some processes more visible and understandable, especially in what concerns people relationships.
Tony Roberts: we have to begin with people and not technology, and especially with movements, with actions that can be enhanced with the application of technology.
Declan Ottaro: we have to prepare for change, to be flexible and adapt to always changing people needs.
Tony Robert: technology is not neutral and tends to reproduce patterns of domination and exclusion.