Links I Liked: CwC, Tech Tools and Slacktivism

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Sparklers. Photo: Jamie Street (CC0 1.0) A short collection of articles, document and blog posts that I found interesting or useful or both:

Alyoscia D’Onofrio from the IRC has written a very interesting and compelling blog post about how the IRC integrates beneficiary feedback in their programming. What I like about this post is that it links to additional sources that can help with designing and justifying communication with communities (CwC) activities.

It can be extremely difficult to keep up to date with technology tools in any field of expertise. The Engine Room has recently released a report on tools for human rights documentation. It’s a very good place to start, but I was a little surprised to see Palantir on the list of tools. Even though the document makes it very clear that Palantir has links to the CIA, I find it a little weird to include a company like this at all.

Does social media engagement translate into real-world activities or does it just simulate action? This question is at the heart of the slacktivism debate. So far, most of the research is based on experiences in the US, but now this report looks into a case from Mexico.

The Big Data journal is working on a special issue on the use of online bots in the political sphere. They are looking for papers that either describe what is happening or propose solutions to mitigate the impact of bot-driven propaganda. The deadline for submission is June 2017.

Have you recently come across something interesting? Please share your comments below!

  • Tom Walker

    Hi Timo, it’s Tom from The Engine Room here. Thanks for mentioning the ‘Technology Tools in Human Rights’ report. Glad you found it useful!

    I wanted to reply to your question about Palantir:

    The report is a scoping report that describes how some human rights organisations are actually using technology tools right now. It explicitly doesn’t ‘recommend’ specific tools, and we certainly didn’t intend to give you that impression.

    We included Palantir in the list of tools being used by human rights organisations for a simple reason: because we spoke to organisations that were actively using it. We felt it would be better to state this and simultaneously highlight the problems with using it for human rights work, rather than glossing over the reality as we found it. I hope this makes sense – happy to talk more if that’s of interest.

    • Thanks for clarifying, Tom. This actually raises another question: do you recall whether the human rights organisations were aware of the background of the company? I’m just wondering whether that was a conscious decision after weighing all the pros and cons or not.