Today on Facebook, I read an excellent post by Praveen Sinha. The post talks about the problem of privilege in the area of law and policy making around technology. The gist of the post is that the people who are most likely to be hurt by bad technology policy are the ones least likely to be represented appropriately in the debate. We at Geeks Without Bounds whole heartedly agree with the description of this problem, and we wanted to respond with some optimism to move us forward.
One of the causes of the gap in tech law and policy is that there is a gap in skilled use of technology. At Geeks Without Bounds we are working to close that gap by bringing the tools and skills of civic hacking into the communities that need them most. Our hackathons are organized to be safe and inclusive spaces. We actively recruit participants from the populations that are supposed to be served by the projects we work on. We reach out to non-technical participants as well as those with very little experience with code and long-time, hard-core developers.
We’re certainly not the only ones doing the work of trying to close that gap. We are part of an amazing ecosystem of organizations that are gaining momentum in grassroots technology education and activism in under-represented populations. That ecosystem includes feminist and ethnically diverse hackerspaces (like LOL Space in Oakland!), FreeGeek centers around the country, organizations like Black Girls Code, and Girl Develop It.
Yes, the technology gap is still a problem, but we hope that you’ll work with us to close it as quickly as possible.