Welcome and Agenda


Happy New Year. We are pleased to announce the formation of the Technology Science Research Collaboration Network. This is our next step after successfully launching the Technology Science publication last August.

As editors of Technology Science, we are more than 50 researchers and educators at a variety of universities that undertake research with students aimed at better understanding the way in which new and emerging technologies impact public interest issues. Over the next 18 months, the Research Network will engage with civil society and government agencies to articulate problem statements that seem solvable by researchers. We expect to produce scientific facts and document relevant experimental results that will provide new insights for the media, policymakers, and the broader public about the ways technology impacts civil society. Possible topics range from consumer protection to criminal justice, elections, employment and gender issues.

Thanks to support from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and other groups, we have resources available to help researchers, educators and students tackle these tough problems.

Over the next 18 months, we will:

  1. Host workshops and a seminar series that connect civil society and government agencies with researchers interested in addressing public interest issues
  2. Maintain a repository of research problem statements that if solved would be relevant to civil society
  3. Provide resources to those engaged in solving these problems
  4. Generate a set of papers reporting experimental results relevant to civil society.

Welcome to our first workshop!

Our goal for the next two days is to distill discussion into problem areas that are likely to be fruitful. We are bringing civil society organizations together with researchers to brainstorm across technology and civil society issues. The outcome of the workshop will be high-level descriptions of research topics and problems. These will be available to all the members of the Research Network.

Specific discussion tracks include:

  • Election Vulnerability. Technology and personal data availability has changed communication norms and sources of trust. What are manipulations of social media and technology that may significantly influence election outcomes? What are other vulnerabilities introduced by recent changes in absentee voting and mail-in ballots?
  • First Amendment Tools. Technology makes it possible to express free speech in many new ways that have led to concerns. These include the right to record, revenge porn, and online experiences of female gamers. What are ways to quantify the problems? What are possible solutions?
  • Consumer Protection. Technology is changing the way consumers purchase and use products. These include the Internet of Things, data as currency, children's apps, health apps, credit and fraud. What are ways to quantify the problems? What are possible solutions?
  • Open Government Data Sharing. The government holds lots of data that if freed could possibly lead to improved social and societal benefits. Privacy seems a big challenge, impacting witness protection and posing personal harms. What are ways to quantify the problems? What are possible solutions?
  • Impact on People of Color and Disadvantaged Communities. All of the issues described above, election vulnerability, first amendment issues (e.g., the right to record the police), consumer protection, and open government data sharing holds perils for all Americans, but even more so for people of color and disadvantaged communities. What are ways to quantify the problems specific to these communities? What are possible solutions?

The first day of the workshop explores areas by breadth and the second day looks at specific issues in depth. All activities will be held at 1730 Cambridge St. Cambridge, CGIS South Building, Room S020, lower concourse.

Let's get started.




Day 1 (Breadth)

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Registration and Breakfast

Room S030

Have breakfast, meet people and get the following: (1) your name tag and (2) your code sheet, which is used throughout the day to place you in groups

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM: Opening Remarks

Room S020

Opening remarks from Prof. Latanya Sweeney, Dean Michael Smith, and Dean Frank Doyle of Harvard University

9:30 AM - 10:15 AM: Meet-and-Greet

Room S020

Now let's everyone hear the voices of everyone else. We will go around the room quickly.

10:15 AM - 11:15 AM: Public Interest Primer

Room S050

Introducing the five target discussion tracks to ignite brainstorming.

11:15 AM - 12:30 PM: Breakout #1

Rooms S030, S050, S153, S250 (depending on your code sheet)

Our goal is to identify problems we can solve over the next 12-18 months. If we cannot solve the problem, can we describe experiments that would help characterize the issue, bring public attention the issue, or serve as a proof of concept. You want to describe problems, approaches, and concerns with approaches. The post-em sheets you will bring back will be your work products. Go ahead and brainstorm.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM: Lunch

Room S030

Eat and enjoy conversation. We have assigned tables so that you are next to people who were mostly not in your breakout session. (This is our last time assigning seats, so bear with us.)

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM: Get back together

Room S020

As a group, we will examine the sheets made in the breakout sessions and discuss them. We will give about 15 minutes to the sheets produced in a break out session. Feel free to comment, question or explain any sheet.

2:30 PM - 3:00 PM: Break


Refreshments available.

3:00 PM - 4:45 PM: Breakout #2

Rooms S030, S050, S153, S250 (You choose)

Go to whichever session you want, even if you were a facilitator in the previous breakout session. When you get to the room associated with the topic of your choice, you will find the post-em sheets from the previous session and a room of like-minded people. Feel free to work in small or large groups, or even alone, as you prefer. You will now produce your own description of work to do or that you want done or you envision students doing as assignments or labs. Be as concrete as possible. You can reiterate previously described work, but use your own words and with your own rationale. Newly inspired problems statements are great. Draft at least 5 problem statements. They can be inspirational. Submit them online. Submitted statements have no attribution.

4:45 PM - 5:00 PM: Recap of the Day

Rooms S020

Behold all you have done today…. post-em sheets describing work and problem statements online. Look at all the new personal connections you made. Well done. See you tomorrow for a different approach.

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Happy Hour

Main concourse

Day 2 (Depth)

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Breakfast

Room S030

Welcome back.

9:00 AM - 9:30 AM: Today's Remarks

Room S020

Welcome back.

9:30 AM - 10:00 AM: Evaluating Problem Statements


Go online and vote problem statements that interest you.

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM: Public Interest Reactions


Hear how public interest groups react to the most popular and less popular problem statements.

11:30 AM - 12:15 PM: Lunch


No assigned seating this time. Start talking to those who share your interests in specific problem statements.

12:15 PM - 1:00 PM: Presentation: Teaching Technology Science


Hear from Prof. Latanya Sweeney and Prof. James Waldo on how they teach and encourage students to research technology science problems.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM: Breakout #3

Main concourse

There will be 10 stations set up for the top 10 most popular problem statements. Join the stations that most interest you to connect with like-minded individuals on next steps. Interested in multiple problem statements? No problem. At the 30-minute mark, switch to a new station.

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Final session


We will review the final problem statements and discuss the next steps with research funding, future workshops, and publishing research in the journal.

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