Monday, November 28, 2011


This past week was one of my favorite weeks of being a VISTA so far. No I was not knee deep in service like you might have imagined however, I was truly appreciating my role as a VISTA. I received a whole lot of inspiration by the people who make want to continue what I'm doing and expand more into the NPO tech world.

Tear tear, I know I'm getting a little bit emotional but I must say it was a pretty amazing week here in San Francisco. On Tuesday, I went to down to Mountain View with Kami and Kari Grey of (Access Now/Computer help days) to participate in a “get connected” round table discussion held by CETF (Center for Emerging Technology Fund)

The set up of the conference was great, literally a round discussion room filled with various NPO's from the south bay who deal either with education or teaching digital literacy. Our friends at the Chicano/Latino Foundation were there as well as many other wonderful organizations.

The conference was very informative as well as great to meat other orgs doing similar things to that of CTN in the south bay. I was able to reach out to find partners who may be able to provide training space for Google volunteers to teach classes.

On Wednesday I headed to Preservation Park in Oakland to start my first of three days at Aspirations 3 day Non-profit Software Development Conference. The conference by far, was one of the coolest conferences I've been been to.

Not only was there a “no power point rule” but the way the conference was facilitated I found it very hard for me to loose attention which tends to happen to me quite often at large conferences. I made sure to put on the evaluation form at the end: “perfect format for people with ADD.”

The conference was based on a series of break out sessions headed by different people who attended the conference. As I expected many of the sessions were a little bit too techy for me and did not apply to me. However, I was able to find some very interesting sessions that were centered around online identity and security.

I came into this conference feeling very apprehensive that I wouldn't be able to follow. I was also afraid that I would become more paranoid due to the nature surrounding the topic of line security. I was wrong about both.

I feel sort of ignorant when I say that I never realized how large of a role technology played and is playing in the current political movements that are happening globally such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.

I also never realized how vulnerable we make ourselves by putting such sensitive information online. As I learned that everything I've done on the Internet thus far in my life is permanent it made me much more concerned about my activity in future and what I choose to put about myself online.

I also learned a great deal on protecting ourselves online. I think the topic of Internet security and who is watching us is often an overlooked topic. Many people (including myself) believe that we are not in any danger and that we have nothing to hide. As technology continues to expand at such a rapid growth I think our control over who has access to our private information is going to shrink without us even knowing it.
In order for large corporations to remain to have control over the market they need to have control over their consumers. By monitoring their personal information they are able to gather valuable information about their users that will allow them to advertise specifically to them in order to keep subscribing to their services. Not to say that all advertisements are bad, yet having access to such sensitive and private information is not only unlawful but scary in the sense that it can be turned over to the wrong hands such as the government. Taking proactive measures to prevent yourself from being surveyed is extremely important not only to prevent yourself from giving out important information but protecting your online privacy as well.

As the dev summit came to a close I posed many questions to myself. I felt very empowered. I felt like I had just gotten insight on very essential information that not many know too much about. What can I do to help these people who need to know about this information? How can I put it in a way so it makes sense so they will take action to protect themselves? How can I inform them without sounding paranoid? All of these are difficult to ask as well as figure out. I also thought about where I would be next year. If possible I would really like to attend the summit next year. My goal is to be able to contribute and lead a session. How can I fit into this world of social change with out an extremely tech background?

1 comment:

  1. Dan,
    It really sounds like this was a great experience! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the importance of privacy and security in our ever increasing online based world. Coming from the world of online engagement, this made me think about the dueling impulses to help nonprofits connect with their constituents online (in most likely very public ways) while also taking issues of security and privacy seriously.
    Great post!
    Abby (the one from HOT Seattle)