Open thread for 94-848/79-298: Mobile Phones & Social Media in Development & Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal

I’m taking a break from my vacation in the stunning mountains of Montana to talk to a class at Carnegie Mellon being taught by my awesome major advisor, Jay Aronson. I’ll be updating this post with references to the links I bring up in the conversation, so class participants and refer back to it. Any students who have questions during the class, or after, can comment here and I’ll respond.

Here are those mountains:

Here are the sites and resources I mentioned:


Communities to follow-up with:

Links we didn’t get to:

Some great organizations using technology for social justice:

Some more controversial examples of organizations using technology to further social justice and world changing (in their minds):

Places to find jobs using social media for social justice:

  • Search for job titles like “Social media manager,” “Community manager,” “Online outreach,” “Digital communications,” etc

Inspirational Quote:

“This linking together in turn lets us tap our cognitive surplus, the trillion hours a year of free time the educated population of the planet has to spend doing things they care about. In the 20th century, the bulk of that time was spent watching television, but our cognitive surplus is so enormous that diverting even a tiny fraction of time from consumption to participation can create enormous positive effects.” ― Clay Shirky



  1. Thank you for the resource referral for Palantir. Maybe we can communicate further as we do our research for our case study (western companies selling surveillance equipment to repressive regimes in Africa).
    -Tara O’Neill (and Sapna Sharma)

    1. I’ll let some other folks do it for me. Here’s a basic description:

      Here’s a list of common trigger warnings:

      Some cool conversations on the utility of trigger warnings:

      There are a lot of mainstream media outlets that are seriously critical of trigger warnings. My thing is, I want to proactively make spaces where I write safe for survivors of violence. Even if the world often is going to retraumatize them with un-trigger-warned images and words, I don’t have to. I can make my spaces safe for whomever I want to, and so I generally trigger warn my work.

  2. Thank you speaking today! Thanks for the reference: Nighat Dad is the contact you gave me right? Also you talked about women in developing countries and a certain program. Could you tell me the name of that program again?

    1. Sure! Here’s some of her stuff:

      As well as:

      The program is Google Change Makers, which sends women in computing to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing ( through the Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship:

      You should also check out the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program: (Certain people I’m related to are a part of the TechWomen program, so there’s a bias there:

      There are some great communities online communities for women in computing that you might want to explore, like Systers:

  3. Hi Jessica,
    thanks for all the sources. Quick question about Women Tech:
    Do you know if there are any initiatives for Women Tech to not just cater to educated women? So I was reading on the website and it has information about who is in Women Tech–it requires women to have two or more years of experience in IT…


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