Using technology for a noble purpose

By Romi Mahajan, Director, KKM Group

Romi MahajanMost articles on technology proclaim the game-changing business benefits technology renders; others talk about “consumers” and how their “lives” are improved with technology, but few discuss the importance of technology to causes of social justice.

A very simply and wonderful example of here is the Peoples’ Archive of Rural India, started by Journalist P. Sainath and a group of dedicated technologists, activists, writers, and filmmakers. Using technology, they have created a powerful and interactive mosaic of the peoples of India, in their full splendor and in their full abjectness. Technology is often the stuff of the elite, but in this case, the PARI founders are using it to help middle-class India understand the lives of their fellow citizens.

In the digital age, it has become a truism to say that information is available at our fingertips; still, there is a well-understood tendency for people to use the Internet to find “data” and “information” on subjects and from points of view with which they are already familiar. Eli Pariser has called this phenomenon “the filter bubble.”

Due to this self-reinforcing tendency, most of us who deal with technology for our living hasten to read about the business of technology and the technology of business; few of us spend time thinking about the ways in which technology can be used to deepen our understanding of the complex world around us.

My own experience with PARI has been exhilarating and has certainly incited action. The game of technology is worth playing not only to advance our careers but to advance our roles as citizens and humans. PARI is a superb example of using technology for a noble purpose.

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