videoJune 21 2017

Inform/Transform: Translating Critical Tech Perspectives

Zara Rahman

Databite No. 102

Zara Rahman’s lightning talk focuses broadly on the importance of building bridges between researchers and civil society. “Tech translation” is the concept that those working within tech are practically “speaking another language” than those outside of the sector. Rahman’s research thus focuses on the challenges that civil society organizations and individuals face when understanding and engaging with tech language and data.

Often, Rahman explains, tech giants and start-ups fail to address or even understand the systematic issues underlying major problems like unemployment or poverty. Her talk also seeks to dispel myths about the promise of technology as a cure-all for society’s problems.

Data & Society’s Fellows Talks is a three-part Databite series showcasing our 2016-2017 fellows cohort. Each talk features 3 fellows speaking about their work, wide-ranging interdisciplinary connections, and a few of the provocative questions that have emerged this year.

Zara Rahman is a researcher, writer, and linguist who is interested in the intersection of power, race, and technology. She has travelled and worked in more than 25 countries in the field of information accessibility and data use in civil society, and speaks four languages fluently. She worked for OpenOil, investigating the use and availability of open data in the extractive industries, then worked for Open Knowledge, primarily with School of Data on data literacy for journalists and civil society. Now, she is a Research Lead at The Engine Room where she leads their Responsible Data Program, supporting the responsible use of data in advocacy and social change. Her work at Data & Society looks into creative and artistic ways of boosting critical data and tech literacy.

About Databites

Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.