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Track: Socially Conscious Software

Location: Seacliff ABC

Day of week: Tuesday

As technology becomes more accessible to the average person, how do we ensure we are creating safe, ethical products? What is technology’s role in world politics, climate change, and protecting the rights of everyday people?

And what is our role, as individuals who build products that touch the lives of millions of people, to the privacy, safety, and dignity of our fellow citizens?

In this track, we will explore the human side of technology - the good, the bad, and the hopeful future. Join us as we dive deeply into the social implications and repercussions of hastily built tech, and walk away with actionable ways you can improve both your product and your community.

Track Host: Danielle Leong

Engineering Manager on GitHub's Community and Safety Team

Danielle Leong is the engineering manager for GitHub’s Community & Safety team who focuses on building consensual software and tools that help make online platforms safer, more welcoming, and inclusive. She’s the founder of Consensual Software, an open source project that advocates for clear and enthusiastic consent from users to interact with them or their data. She is also the founder of Feerless, an app that provides trigger warnings for Netflix users with PTSD. She’s passionate about online privacy, inclusivity in tech, mental health awareness, and improving online good citizenship. In her spare time, she takes mediocre photos of her dog on Instagram, dresses up as a dinosaur, and eats lots of pizza - occasionally all at the same time.

10:35am - 11:25am

Using Technology to Protect Against Online Harassment Panel

As the internet becomes more integrated into our social and professional lives, what are we doing to protect vulnerable populations from harm? This panel will discuss the changes society has seen since the advent of social media and how they're building the next generation of software tools to protect against online harassment.

Danielle Leong, Engineering Manager on GitHub's Community and Safety Team
Leigh Honeywell, CEO @tallpoppyio
Sri Ponnada, Software Engineer @Microsoft
Kat Fukui, Product Designer @github

11:50am - 12:40pm

Community Centered Tech for Social Good

Community-centered app development bridges many gaps in the accessibility and usage of technology. The cross-platform Seattle Park Explorer app is one example of a community-centric approach to addressing digital divides. This talk will focus on how a collaborative project between the Seattle Parks Foundation, the City of Seattle, and Microsoft allows residents to discover local parks, and to take advantage of the various resources that the city has to offer. Additionally, with the integration of IoT devices in public spaces, the city will have access to real-time data on how parks and amenities are being utilized.

This community-based project, which extends the capabilities of IoT devices and the cloud, amplifies the tremendous value that public spaces provide. Data from the app will not only help the City of Seattle make data-driven decisions when developing existing services, but also empower its non-profit partners in their advocacy for innovative community-based programs. The app showcases how connecting high-tech firms, like Microsoft, with local organizations, fosters continued development of socio-economic justice programs - transforming our society from one plagued by digital divides, to one empowered by digital inclusion.

Sri Ponnada, Software Engineer @Microsoft

1:40pm - 2:30pm

Design Strategies for Building Safer Platforms

Building user safety into the foundation of technology we create is everyone’s responsibility. But it can be difficult to ensure your development processes are prioritizing your users’ well being. Whether or not you have research or UX/product design resources, there are ways to get your team collaborating on inclusive software.

This talk will provide design strategies that the Community & Safety team at GitHub uses to design safer, more consensual features and discuss how you can incorporate them into your own engineering teams’ processes.

Kat Fukui, Product Designer @github

2:55pm - 3:45pm

Software Love Languages (On Passion & Product)

As we build the future of technology, there are many principles and goals we can leverage to determine what tradeoffs we will make. We can prioritize user count, growth, metrics, or other goals. At True Link Financial, we have a responsibility to build software that protects and empowers some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. We try to envision a world where both tech and finance show genuine love and care for these groups - then we roll up our sleeves and go to work.

In this session, we will explore examples from the tech world of products that show love and care for users. We'll discuss things we can learn from these organizations and how to use these principles to build a more inspiring and equitable future. 

Isaac Elias, VP Engineering @truelinkfin

4:10pm - 5:00pm

Managing Values-Driven Open Source Projects

While working full time as a software engineer, I helped start 5 Calls as a small side project to provide an easier way for citizens to contact their representatives in the wake of the 2016 election. Before we knew it, we had people I had never met working on open source projects for three platforms and a formal non-profit to run.

 

This talk will cover the unusual parts of starting a company with passion instead of money, including:

  • What to do when 100 volunteers show up
  • When to take a stand on your values
  • The boom and bust cycle of non-profits
  • Supporting a non-profit by starting a for-profit

Nick O'Neill, Co-Founder @make5calls

5:25pm - 6:15pm

FreshEBT

Fresh EBT is a mobile app used by over a million households each month to manage their SNAP benefits. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net in the United States that offers nutrition assistance to over 40 million eligible, low-income individuals. The Fresh EBT app serves as a pragmatic example of consumer software that seeks to improve government services from outside the government. This talk will focus on the challenges involved with scaling the app nationwide.

Ram Mehta, CTO at Propel Inc, building @FreshEBT

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