Technology in the service of social reform

Information technology can empower social reform — not just as medium, but also as message. Slavery abolitionists used the printing press to distribute a diagram exposing the inhumanity of the slave-trade. Lewis Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform by photographing child labour. Photographs like that of the Tank Man in Tienanmen Square were seen even more widely on broadcast television. Mobile technology and social networking services can enable scattered social unrest to become organized political action, as we’ve seen from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement.

Though, information technology can also enable oppression and censorship. The 20th century saw government propaganda reach new heights with centralized broadcast technology, and 21st century networked and mobile technology has enabled unprecedented levels of surveillance and new models of censorship and information control. Plus, social reform is not always for the better.

Information technology is not a force for good in and of itself, but technology in the service of truth can amplify the call for justice or the exposure of injustice, and empower social reformers to change society for the better. Moreover, any successful social reformer must learn how to effectively use technology, to understand its effects on social reform and society at large — and moreso today than ever before in our age of rapid technological change.

My goal with is to use networked information technology in the service of the pro-life movement by providing practical solutions, digital media literacy, and a vision of technology as a tool for social reform.