My wife and I have a one year old and are looking into childcare centers in Northern Virginia. I did a little research, found a list of facilities, cleaned it, prepared it, and visualized it. My findings? Childcare is expensive.
I connected with Lula Mayen after seeing an article about his work in The Next Web. After reading that his goal was to attend GDC 2017, I organized a crowdfunding campaign with Global Game Jam to raise the funds to purchase Lual's plane ticket and hotels in San Fransisco. The campaign met its $2,500 in just over 24 hours. In the process I managed to convince Generosity that South Sudan and Sudan are, in fact, two different countries.
From February 8-10, my colleagues and I organized a PeaceTech Exchange on technology for transparency and accountability. 46 activists, journalists, and civil society representatives from across Central America and Mexico came to Costa Rica for a 3-day conference on data visualization, communication strategy, data collection and anonymous leaking.
I've been accepted into the National Democratic Institute's Civic Tech Leadership Program. It's a seven-week competition, training program, and accelerator for civic-tech ideas, in which I'll be working to translate and propagate civic technology in Arabic.
A visualization of Iraq's budget in 2016. Prior to this, the Iraq 2016 budget existed mainy as a scanned pdf copy of a paper document buried on a website. We turned it into a visualized, downloadable database. Translation by Waseem Ahmed, visualization by me. Our next goal is to publish it in Iraq.
Visualizing the budget only helped to reveal to me how much information is missing from Iraq's budget. The information only goes down to the Ministry level - it would be fantastic to get to the project level.
I ended up completing the Stanford Technology for Accountability Lab "with distinction."
September 30 to October 2 was PeaceTech Exchange: Islamabad, an event where PeaceTech Lab connected small peacebuilding non-profits based in Islamabad to low-cost, easy to use tech for their work on preventing radicalization and violence. I ended up training on engageSPARK and helping participants use SMS and IVR to communicate with their audiences.
Data-based decision-making is important. This map was one of the visualizations I made of my research on violent extremism in the US, to help our team decide where to focus our efforts. The data is from the FBI's crime statistics from 2014.
This month I launched the PeaceTech Wiki, a free learning resource hosted by the PeaceTech Lab. The Wiki will be incorporated into the Lab's PeaceTech Exchange program as a way for peacebuilders around the world to learn more about the tools that apply to their work. Getting it up and running required installing MediaWiki on an AWS instance, integrating extensions like Semantic MediaWiki, fun stuff like logo design, and hard stuff like data structuring. It'll be a long process, but my goal is for the wiki to become a powerful tools database updated by technologists and peacebuilders alike.
In 2015 I helped the Girls for Change from the Dharavi slum in Mumbai to bugfix and publish their app to prevent sexual violence. After a fire burned many of the girls' homes and interrupted their technology studies, I helped them to set up a crowdfunding campaign on Generosity. We worked together to choose a platform, design the narrative of their movie, target the audience for fundraising, and reach out to news and blog outlets. After 2 months of campaigning, a story that was covered by Forbes and Mashable, the Dharavi Girls met and blew past their fundraising goal of $10,000. The money will go to clothes, food, fire sensors, laptops, and the girls' continuing education.
The PeaceTech Lab partnered with Impassion Afghanistan to organize PeaceTech Exchange: Kabul. We brought together non-profits and government actors to learn about low-cost, easy-to-use technologies to fight corruption. I headed up the Lab's role in the PTX workshop, trained people on data collection tools and conducted a problem statement and project development workshop.
As we began day four of our workshop, a massive explosion and gunfight wracked the city in what would be the deadliest attack in Kabul in 15 years of war. The event underscored the importance of empowering peacebuilders in Afghanistan - they need to build up their country before it gets torn down.
"The second core PeaceTech Lab program is PeaceTech Exchange, information-sharing meetings in which the lab brings in technologists from the U.S. to work with activists on conflict resolution. “Our basic operating theory is that if peace builders are equipped with low-cost, easy-to-use tools that help them communicate better, collect information better, make better decisions, then they'll be more effective,” says Derek Caelin, a lab specialist who runs exchanges in countries including Iraq and Afghanistan. The technologies range from mapping software to track attacks against journalists to a website that improves government transparency."
Can Your PlayStation Stop a War?
Video games are being used for everything from helping find cures for HIV to losing weight. It's time to start using them to make peace.
The question of whether violent video games cause violence in the real world has been around pretty much since they were introduced. It’s a controversial issue and one that has prompted at least six reports by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and was the subject of a 2011 Supreme Court decision that struck down a ban on selling them to kids without parental supervision. From policymakers to parents, people are investing resources into investigating how interactive media shapes audiences both psychologically and behaviorally. As it turns out, although most of the worst fears about games creating a more violent society are overblown, they do, like all media, have an impact on the people who use them. In the past decade, designers have begun to harness that impact capability to achieve positive social impact, on the idea that games could inspire a new wave of good.
Also got to chat with Nino Nanitashvili and Justin Hefter, who are both doing really cool work with games. Nino used the Games for Peace methodology to bring Georgian and Abkhazian youth together (as well as worked with professional developers to create a game for peacebuilding). Justin is looking at for profit models to build games.