Day 9: Making technology safe | Dream of a tool

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Monday, December 3, 2007

There are many motivations that drive the development of information and communication technologies (ICT); whether it’s to increase productivity, efficiency, profits, or the capacity to transcend physical, cultural and social boundaries, and so on.

However, existing gender disparity in this field – especially at higher and decision making levels – means that evolution of tools, platforms and paradigms pays lesser attention to the specificity of women’s lives, especially women who occupy multiple marginalised positions in society.

For example, while global positioning system (GPS) devices can help us to find our way in strange city by telling us exactly where we are on a map through satellite technology, it can also help domestic violence abusers to track and monitor their partners. At the same time, there have been legislative proposals for domestic violence offenders to wear GPS tracking devices if they violate restraining orders. What would it take for GPS to be useful without neglecting its vulnerability to abuse?

We need to actively engage in this field to know what advancements in technologies are, what their potential impact may be, and to inflect and affect their development and subsequent use.

It might not be easy at first to swim through the technical jargon and try to understand what some of these things might be, but it can also be incredibly empowering.

  • Design your dream of an ICT tool, device, platform or gadget that would keep you safe.
  • Spend 15 to 30 minutes browsing through online magazines, journals, encyclopedia or the technology section of your local newspaper.
  • When something strikes your interest, spend some time thinking about what its potential impact could be on women and grrls, especially in relation to VAW.
  • Think of alternative ways that it could be developed, or a totally different tool that can address the risk that you’ve discovered.
  • Be creative, rowdy and outrageous in your thoughts. Let imagination break through the constraints of reality. Anti-rape umbrellas, wifi dildos, stalker-recognition software, anything goes!
  • Doodle it, write a description, share your vision.
  • Leave a comment, or make it into a postcard.

Take back the tech. Have fun and play. Dream of technology that is transformative for everyone.