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A New Breed of Conference: Social Good Tech Week Through the Eyes of Our Intern



A New Breed of Conference: Social Good Tech Week Through the Eyes of Our Intern

Nasser H

By Cynthia Leon & Regan Bradley-Brown


How do we utilize the power of technology in 2015? We keep up with old friends through a simple "like", we express our opinions in 140 characters or less, connect our professional network through a series of links, and transform a home movie, in an instant, into a viral video.

Last week, San Francisco was home to SGT Week, Social Good Tech Week, bringing Bar Area techies together to showcase the impact of technology. SF is definitely familiar with tech conferences but has likely never seen a conference like this. The difference? This conference featured speakers presenting work designed to encourage people to harness the power of technology to create social change. 

The rhythm of SGT Week reflected the tempo at which content is shared in society, paired with a concentration that is representative of Bay Area. This conference, founded by LeAnne Pittsford -local tech innovator and self proclaimed dachshund mom-, featured over two dozen speakers including a key note speech from our very own CEO, Tessie Guillermo. 

LeAnne Pittsford kicked off Friday's mainstage event with an exhilarating introduction of the conference. Throughout her speech, I kept thinking, "this. is. awesome." She was clever and concise and conveyed the attitude of someone who is used to getting things done. Her introductions of this event and its speakers perfectly described what the audience was 

As each presenter left the stage, I found myself more stimulated. I was amazed by each innovative tool used to leverage technology for social good. I walked away from the event feeling inspired and with several takeaways about how technology can be used to influence social good. 

At the end of the day, I walked away feeling inspired. I learned from the masters that today's technology can go beyond the entertainment and social connection. If a scrappy Ruby on Rails website and Twitter campaign can provide access to water in Detroit, what other amazing things can we do in 2015?


Tech Industry Careers:

One of the most meaningful ways to reduce social inequity is through capacity building that prepares low-income communities to enter a growing job sector like technology. "Help us make technology live up to its promise of creating a more equal and just." -Tess Posner, Same, USA. The key bridging the Digital Divide of career opportunities to use a holistic approach to workforce development.

Designers have a more obligation and we all need to become data literate.

Design and Data:

We are living in a state of technology that collects information for analyzation at an unprecedented rate. In the age of big data, "what information should we collect?"  only partially addresses problems. The question concerning data is, "what does it mean and why does it matter?"

"Graphs don't make things scientific. Designers have a moral obligation,  we all need to become more data literate. " said Matt Scharpick of Elefint Designs. As tech innovators, we must strive to capture the mind and eyes of our audience. It is an injustice to data to ignore the associated visuals. In order to humanize data, he advocated sharing visually engaging information, requiring human insight and design skill. 

Fundraising, Social Media and Advertising:

Danae Ringle of Indiegogo, a social good fundraising tools said, "authenticity, story telling, and showing the impact drives supporters." Social Media has greatly expanded since the days of choosing your "Top 8 Friends" on Myspace; it has developed a culture of its own serving the individual needs of its users. Whether an individual is seeking social connection, musical exploration, or a news update there is a site that has been design to meet their needs. 

Grandparents on Facebook isn't the end of the social media era. Companies like Indiegogo, Louder, and are leading the pack in harnessing the power of social media to engage potential donors and the results are staggering. Exhibit A, a campaign that began as an art project profiling "Humans of New York" inspired one to initiate a $1.2 million Indiegogo fundraisers to send New York City middle school students to visit Harvard.