We asked some tech-savvy dads we know to share with us some websites, applications, and tools that they’ve found useful in day-to-day life but that can also be used in a human rights context. Take a look at these great resources and please share some of your favorites with us in the comments below.
Happy Father’s Day to all!
Mobile Safety and Mobile Blogging
From our IT Manager, Ricky Cortez comes this blog post on how to set up your child’s first smartphone, with an eye to security and privacy. Tip 5 “Turn Off Location Services” is one of several tips that makes sense for parents concerned about their children sharing too much information while they’re on the go as well as for activists who may be concerned about governments tracking their movements.
Ricky also suggests checking out the mobile app for WordPress the popular blogging platform. Not only does it allow parents to update blogs while on-the-go so that extended family members don’t miss any developments, activists can use it to update their blogs from the field (wherever using a mobile device is safe).
Toward a More Open World
Nathan Freitas of our ally organization The Guardian Project spotlights a bit of technology most of us use daily, video conferencing, but he feels is worth talking about here. Nathan continues:
“Specifically FaceTime. While I am an Android/Linux guy, my wife, parents and mother-in-law all have iPods and iPads, and it is really amazing that with our family scattered across the country (and the globe sometimes), how important that the weekly FaceTime calls have become. All the grandparents can easily sit anywhere or pass the iPad around the house, while my daughter carries our family iPod in her tiny little 2 year old hands. They have a great time singing, reading, laughing… just like the Apple commercials.
I also stress FaceTime over Skype, because of the formers simplicity, and the latter’s increasing bloat and complexity. This same need for simplicity and quality is obviously relevant for streaming in a human rights context. Unfortunately Facetime is a closed system, with close code, and only available on more expensive hardware. Our hope is that through our work on the Open Secure Telephony Network we can get to a point of simplicity, quality AND openness that can make it a true foundation to society, and not just another product by Apple.”
“Teach Your Children” … How to Be Activists
Martin Tzanev, our Post Production Coordinator is a huge Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fan, hence the title of this section. He’s also a go-to resource at WITNESS for video equipment and technology that activists can use in the field. So its no surprise that he shares “5 Revolutionary Apps for Social Justice Protesters” with us. The post aptly begins by summarizing the current technological landscape as it pertains to protests:
[C]ities all over the world are flooded with protesters who are voicing their discontent with the current social conditions. Unlike similar protest movements in the past, this time the protesters are armed less with political pamphlets and flowers, and more with Smartphones and digital cameras.
Two of the apps in the list of five deserve mention here with respect to those protesting families: 1) Find My Friends- an app that helps you reconnect with people should you find yourself lost in a huge crowd. The app allows you to share your location with a select number of people you’ve determined its safe to share your coordinates with. And 2) Sit or Squat- an app that helps you locate the nearest public restrooms. Its safe to assume that kids and adults alike will find that one of immeasurable value (at protests or not).
Martin also sent along a link from the Shop To Stop Slavery blog that shares tips on how to teach your kids about social justice (and possibly to become future activists). They include making information age appropriate and the experiences fun. For instance, have a fair trade Smores party (that is make your Smores with fair trade ingredients). Or take your kids to a u-pick orchard. While there, discuss the length of time it takes to harvest the food and the wages that agricultural workers earn.
Visual Privacy: ObscuraCam
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our own application, developed with The Guardian Project called ObscuraCam. This is an app that was developed with human rights activists in mind. It allows the user to “obscure” faces in still images (and eventually video) in order to protect the visual privacy of subjects in photos. One way I think of it is as facial recognition technology in reverse. Here’s more about the application on the Guardian Project’s blog.
When we released the app last year, we also saw bloggers mention that it is useful to those who might be concerned about sharing images/identities of children online. One wrote that he supports a boy’s organization in the UK and when attending events he often takes pictures. He continued,
Because so many children take part, it is impossible to ask each and every parent to sign a disclaimer to allow us to upload their child’s image to appear online….With ObscuraCam all I need to do now is take the picture, the app immediately recognises where the faces are on the image and you simply tell it to filter the image of the face.”