Notes from Peru, Now on Medium

Ruth Miller
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March 23, 2016

It's been a thrilling first three months at Digital Democracy. On top of digging into our existing code base and meeting some of our US-based allies, I've already logged two weeks in the Peruvian Amazon, and will head to Guyana to meet more partners soon.

Peru is a beautiful country with a rich history and heavenly cuisine, but going with Dd is very different than the tourist experience. We skipped Machu Picchu, instead spending time at and beyond the edge of infrastructure. I first noticed the difficulties of moving ourselves around, but as we set to work, I began to realize the deeper difficulties in moving around information.

It's one thing to be told "the Internet is not very reliable out there." It's a very different thing to experience it for yourself, to work through and around it, and to learn from the people who do so every day.

Inspired, and with ample time and notebooks to sketch and write, I jotted down some observations. These informed two posts that are now up on Digital Democracy's Medium page.

What do we mean when we call something “Low Tech”?

When we, as “high tech” users, describe a set of projects as “low tech”, are we being inherently patronizing? Is there is an implicit judgement on the part of the high-tech user, that these discarded tools are no longer good enough for users like “us.” We’ve moved on, so if someone sees them as worth adopting, then those people must be backwards, or at least behind the times.

Checking Our Tech Privilege

Spend enough time holding your breathe at a 4 kbps download, and you’ll start seeing web design a little differently. These are a few of the ways Digital Democracy’s staff and volunteers check our high tech privilege.

For more discussion of our role in the responsible data community, follow Digital Democracy on Medium.

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Ruth Miller
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