Tag Archives: SXSW

How to Ensure a Diverse Tech Event

by Guest Contributor Erica Mauter, originally published at SwirlSpice

This is the companion post to the presentation I gave at SXSW Interactive on March 12, 2011.

The hashtag is #diverseevents. Search for tweets. Tweets on the whole series can also be found at #F15Diversity. Tag your posts. My slides are embedded below.

Also, Invisible Knapsack LOLcats.

It’s an honor and a privilege to present this topic at SXSW Interactive of all places. Not only is it highly relevant, SXSW is an example of an event that is doing a lot of things right.

That said, I noted a strange irony in the seriously broad range of panel topics alongside the heavy big-brand marketing presence.

Let’s also remind ourselves that most events are not only not nearly as big as SXSW, they are way smaller. A lot of the concepts still apply, but things involving costs may work very differently.

I spent less of my time on actual how-to and more on the concepts of representation and building awareness. The key words and phrases are inclusion, representation, and structural barriers to participation. It’s really hard to distill the concept of privilege and oppression down to a 12-minute presentation, much less further apply it to why various groups are or aren’t represented at tech conferences of all sizes. But it’s critical to the conversation, so I did my best.

I can give you pages of ideas for outreach, but if you aren’t aware of the social forces behind all of it and aren’t willing to truly re-think how you go about things then no progress can be made. A conference is a manufactured environment; it necessarily reflects the ideology of the creator. Understand that some may reject that framework in favor of their own or none at all.

As promised here are some further resources specifically addressing how to increase representation of marginalized groups at your tech event.


The following posts address the topic of representation at conferences. Each one of them has a bulleted list of tips and hints.

Carmen (Van Kerckhove) Sognonvi – Top 4 Mistakes Meeting Planners Avoid If They Want Diversity and Inclusion at Their Next Conference

Savvy meeting planners carefully sculpt both their advertising and their agendas to appeal to a culturally diverse population. But far too many planners still don’t understand the fundamentals of culturally-sensitive hosting.

Here, then, are the four biggest mistakes meeting planners should avoid, followed by their more appealing and appropriate counterparts. Continue reading

SXSW Panels

by Latoya Peterson



Me and Miriam are hoping this movie isn’t queer distancing, but queer and subversive, but we can’t tell that from the trailer. It could really go either way.

Either way, my whole crew is coming to the premiere tonight 9:30 PM at the Paramount Theater. If you’re around come through – according to some film folks I talked to yesterday, you can buy tickets even if you aren’t registered for SXSW.

Panel list after the jump. Continue reading

Travel + Speaking + Announcements

by Latoya Peterson


This time of year is always hectic for me. While Arturo is holding down the fort, here’s where I’ll be:

West Coast Bound!

I’m doing some client work, which takes me out to San Francisco. I seem to remember a request for a west coast meet up sometime last year – if folks are still interested, we can organize one sometime between the 17th and 21nd of this month.

Harvard Black Law Student Association Spring Conference

HBLSA Spring Conference Logo

I am pleased and honored to be a panelist for the HBLSA spring conference! Here’s an excerpt from the invitation they sent me:

The Black Law Students Association at Harvard Law School (HBLSA) would like to extend an invitation to you to be a panelist at our 28th annual Spring Conference. This year’s conference is entitled, “Empowerment: Effective Leadership Within and Outside of Our Community.” The HBLSA Spring Conference will take place Friday, March 4, 2011 and Saturday, March 5, 2011 at Harvard Law School. We invite you to participate in the kickoff event, which will be a panel and roundtable discussion on race and social justice activism. This event will take place on the evening of Friday, March 4, 2011.

Generations of Black law students have had to grapple with issues of race and justice, and each generation has had their own perspective on the responsibilities and capabilities of the student community to affect broader issues of racial and social inequities. The Friday kickoff event will explore the opportunities that students have as leaders to empower themselves and others in addressing social and institutional disparities. Our panelists will lead a discussion on how the shape of social and political activism has changed over time and ways that social movements can be inclusive of a variety of generations in their approaches to dealing with injustice.

The annual HBLSA Spring Conference unites students, alumni, professors, legal practitioners, and the community at-large to engage in a dialogue about relevant issues in the local, national, and international Black communities. Our panel topics this year are designed to address various aspects of Black leadership and empowerment, including: advocacy designed to eliminate institutional disparities, the growth of alternative and green legal careers, and lessons we can learn from modern day pioneers and trailblazers in the Black community. Additionally, we will partner with HBLSA’s Leadership and Mentorship Program to host our sixth Youth Summit, a special panel designed to address the particular needs and concerns of high school students from the nearby Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School.

The conference is open to the public and takes place March 4th – March 6th.

There is a fee: students (from any school) are $20, regular admission is $35. Admission includes lunch, a tee shirt, and sweatpants. Register here.

Also, folks in the Cambridge/Kendall area, let me know if you also want to do a meet up. But there isn’t a rush on this one, since I’ll be back later in March.

SXSW 2011

SXSW logo

Racialicious is back for round 3 at SXSW!

Tech Power to the People! Digital Community Engagement

How do we ensure no one is left behind in the tech revolution? This panel is designed to provide a look into the best practices for using media to engage with communities, particularly minority outreach and low income/low access areas. This panel will feature a variety of activists explaining the ways in which they have used mobile campaigns, apps, blogs, and other methods to engage their communities and transfer skills, as well as tips for evaluation and measuring results.

My co-panelists are Salina Brown, John Keefe, and Miriam Perez.

Stay tuned for a list of notable panels and meet-up announcement.

Maynard Institute – Media Academy @ Harvard’s Neiman Journalism Lab

March 13 – 18th, I’m back at Harvard to complete the second half of the Maynard’s Media Academy, which was really intended for journalists trying to get to management positions/hone their management skills…but for some reason I’m there and enjoying it. The description of the academy is as follows:

The Maynard Media Academy is a performance-driven immersion program in entrepreneurial leadership and management.

Run in partnership with the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, the Academy has a track record of helping new media managers across all departments – editorial, sales, product development and production – achieve success in competitive, evolving environments.

Faculty includes top media leaders as well as professors from the Harvard Business School. Teaching methods include the proven Harvard Business School case study method, small-group work and collaboration with high-achieving peers.

Training includes two weeklong on-site seminars at Harvard and a self-directed online component developed by the Maynard Institute and hosted by Poynter Institute’s News University.

The training focuses on three areas critical to taking a news organization to the next level:

Management tools: communication, conflict resolution and performance management.

Entrepreneurship: business plans, product development, marketing and strategy.

Leadership: vision, judgment, drive and focus.

Ethical decision-making and valuing diversity are taught across all topics.

All participants receive an in-depth managerial assessment. The report is based on a detailed survey taken before they arrive for their first on-site seminar. Their report lists strengths – with suggestions on how to reinforce those assets – and suggests solutions for improvement areas. Areas of assessment include adapting to change, customer focus, judgment, planning, relationship management and how to coach others.

Who should apply: Media managers who want to sharpen their leadership, entrepreneurial and management skills.

That rounds out the travel (so far).

In the meantime, stay tuned – we are planning more events, in different cities, and will be releasing a site survey soon to gauge interest and figure out pricing.


Vote for Our Race, Tech, and Social Justice SXSW Panels!

by Latoya Peterson

I don’t know what happened to August, but September is staring us in the face and it’s the last week to vote for our South by Southwest Panels! (Voting Closes Friday, argh!)

Here’s my idea for this year:

Tech Power to the People! Digital Community Engagement

Latoya Peterson, Racialicious.com

How do we ensure no one is left behind in the tech revolution? This panel is designed to provide a look into the best practices for using media to engage with communities, particularly minority outreach and low income/low access areas. This panel will feature a variety of activists explaining the ways in which they have used mobile campaigns, apps, blogs, and other methods to engage their communities and transfer skills, as well as tips for evaluation and measuring results.

Questions answered:

1. How can I ensure that the community I am working with can actually utilize this technology? Continue reading

Afternoon Action: Pitch a Panel to SXSW

by Latoya Peterson

Ever since the “Can Social Media Help End Racism panel,” a lot of us who use technology in pursuit of social justice have tried to figure out a way to get more racial diversity into SXSW. (The organizers also have the same goal, and created different systems to try to encourage more diversity in panelists and presenters.)

This year’s South by Southwest panel selection closes tomorrow, July 9th. I know LATISM was planning a 100 panel push for Latinos who work in tech. However, I want to encourage everyone – folks working with social media, using social media to promote their projects (film folks, this means you!), moderating/facilitating online communities, people employed in technology, or even just enthusiasts to propose a panel. The panels then go to a vote, and the SXSW staff will also check out their favorites and make decisions on what will ultimately create a great mix of content. So please – if you have an idea (or even half of one), please go to the site and put in your pitch.

I’m actually cutting back on conferences next year with all the changes to Racialicious (and the fact that I’m just conferenced out) but I did come up with an idea yesterday that I want to pursue. Tentatively called “Tech Power to the People,” I think I’m going to ask some of my other PMC fellows to go in with me on a discussion of how tech can be leveraged to reach a variety of communities, how to get a sense of community needs, and how to empower communities to create their own stories. (We decided early in the program that if we don’t show people how to create this content, the project isn’t going to be sustainable.) By SXSW, my six month stint with the Corps will be over, and I should have some hard data for what worked and what didn’t work in the various areas of D.C. and the different populations. So, I think I’ll do that.

What are your ideas?

Social Justice And Video Games

by Latoya Peterson

Here are the slides to our presentation, with a few quick notes added. Check back in about three hours, and we will have the video of the session and the Q & A available (just as soon as it finishes loading.)

Some things to remember: We found ourselves with about four hours of material that needed to be shrunk into forty minutes – so a lot of things we wanted to discuss (the Jade Raymond situation, recruitment and outreach from the gaming industry, how different races/ethnicity are represented in games) hit the cutting room floor. In one of the segments, I refer to a fifty page paper I’m holding on to – that paper covers those topics more in depth, and I will publish it here after I revise it some more.

(Special thanks to Naomi and N’Gai for agreeing to be on the panel, everyone who showed up, those who weren’t there but tweeted and retweeted the findings, and Allison Bland for volunteering to tape this!)

Social Justice and Video Games – Part 1 from Latoya Peterson on Vimeo.

A Mini-Interview with Rose Shuman, Founder of Question Box

by Latoya Peterson

While at SXSW, I made sure to attend quite a few panels.

One of the more intriguing panels was titled Appfrica: How Web Applications Are Helping Emerging Markets Grow. (That link also leads to the podcast.) While all the panelists were engaging and informative, one of the speakers stood out – Rose Shuman. After explaining that she was not a web developer, she related tales of working in various areas around the globe and realizing that the ideas formulated in think tanks do not necessarily translate into solutions that every day people can handle. Her latest project, Question Box, seeks to bridge the communications barriers that prevent people from harassing the power of the internet.

As explained on the website:

Question Boxes leap over illiteracy, computer illiteracy, lack of networks, and language barriers.

They provide immediate, relevant information to people using their preferred mode of communication: speaking and listening.

As such, Question Boxes combine the ease of using mobile phones with the enormous information and communication power of the Internet.

Below is a quick interview with Rose Shuman, the Founder of Open Mind and the idea behind Question Box on technology, developing communities, and information.

Why did you start Question Box?

I had worked with various development agencies for 12 years. I’ve always been interested in tools, providing ways for people to use your tools in ways you never imagined because you aren’t those people. At the same time, I became interested in mobile phones and how they exploded in different parts of the world. The internet is not popping in the developed world for various reasons – the low literacy rates in adults and beyond that, language barriers. Question Box was designed for people who are used to phones, placing a heavy emphasis on comfort of users.

How do people use Question Box?

In India [the location of the pilot program], it looks like free standing metal box with push buttons. [If you press the button,] it speed dials to an operator who speaks in your local language – [in the area of the pilot] Marathi – and talk to someone who speaks your language. You tell them what you need, they look it up, translate it and convey it back.

Each box has a core user group of several hundred people. It will expand to more when we start to market the service. We are also designing pictographics to go with the box to help assist with the reading barriers – as well as other service graphics like the weather, or frequently asked questions.

In all of your work, what has been your largest takeaway in terms of the challenges with developing technology like this?

If you’re designing a technology for people to use, you have to know who those people are and how they behave. It’s really easy to get infatuated with a tech solution without understanding how people will actually use it. It may be cool, but will it be useful?

What do you hope to accomplish?

The huge scale mission is to make information available for everyone in the way we want to get it. To take the pilot running in India and expand it out to the whole country. [And Question Box] is a way for organizations to reach out and communicate with our user base, who are hard to reach populations.

You [also] have these enclave of populations that are being left behind in American society. There may be a place for Question Box in community centers and immigration centers. The basic question still remains: How do you get information to people you are trying to reach?

SXSW Panel Summary

by Latoya Peterson


Joined by Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man), Jay Smooth (Ill Doctrine), and Kety Esquivel (NCLR and Cross Left), I moderated a panel at SXSW called “Can Social Media End Racism.”

We organized the panel over email (and one lively dinner discussion) and came up with the main outline for the session.

We began by playing part of the trailer of abUSed: The Postville Raid while people were walking in, to the pull them into the moment and get people thinking about how videos and documentaries help to spread the word about current issues in social justice.

Then we introduced the ourselves.

The panel opened with me explaining what the panel was not. The panel was marked intermediate, which means we were not going to spend time on racism 101. (Jay added that racism 101 has a role and a purpose – just not a role in this session.) We wanted to outline some common experiences with racism online, tackle the question “Can Social Media End Racism,” and ways in which to take action. Continue reading