My Summer of Tech

Two of the abnormal things about going back to graduate school are 1) I get a real summer again and 2) I go back to “summer associate” status. Luckily, the team at EchoDitto – where I’m spending May, June, and July – are an exceptional bunch working on compelling, meaningful projects. About 12 people work in EchoDitto’s Somerville office with the rest based in D.C. or scattered across the country. This July marks the firm’s 10th anniversary.IMG_3148

EchoDitto describes itself on its site saying “We empower leading organizations to have a greater impact through the creative use of new technologies. We design participatory campaigns and build technical tools that enable individuals and organizations to make the world a better place.” For me, that means spending each day with a team that is not only digitally capable and savvy but also building careers with an eye to generating a positive impact in the world. We also have the option to get Boston Burger every Friday for lunch and the office is charlie-the-poodle friendly – unexpected perks of the office.

If you are interested in the work they’ve done to build sites for progressive organizations and institutions, I would definitely recommend checking out some of their profiles. Some of my favorites are Project AWARE and the community portal for divers we built, and a site for thousands of events across the country connected to Food Day (mark your calendars for October 24th).

Earlier this month, I also got the chance to travel to NYC for the Personal Democracy Forum, one of the nation’s largest gatherings of people interested in using digital tools for social good, public services or political action.

I got to geek out at talks by Rebecca Mackinnon, An Xiao Mina, and Anthea Watson Strong. And discovered some resources I will absolutely take advantage of in the future – like civic participation platform Loomio.

I particularly loved Loomio’s story of coming into formation. The New Zealand-based site was started by a team of developers interested in creating a better method for participants in the region’s Occupy movement to communicate and make decisions. Today, clubs, government agencies and coalitions worldwide are using Loomio to make collective decisions. I snagged a screenshot from them to give you a sense of some of their tools, but I recommend checking out their site if you are currently looking for a way to better organize many different groups and their opinions. Screenshot 2014-06-22 15.11.21
To complete my summer of tech, I’m also taking a Coursera course through the University of Michigan on Python programming language. For those of you who are interested, the next section of the course doesn’t start again til October, but as someone with limited programming experience, I can attest that it is very accessible. So go ahead! Click on some of these links and start thinking about how tools in the digital space can make this world a better place.

Until Next Time.



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