Crowdsourcing and surveillance

Applying the insights of information science and technology to urgent social problems is a complex process of trial and error typically marked by competing visions of what constitutes smart and ethical design. This presentation will focus on recent efforts in the U.S. to mobilize crowds and crowdsourcing as a way to reduce instances of sexual assault and rape, and to document rape in new ways. It will highlight some of the IT experimentation and entrepreneurship happening around women’s issues, with a focus on smartphone applications. It will also trace the longer history of rape-related informatics. The larger argument to be presented is that crowds and crowdsourcing offer provocative possibilities for addressing urgent social problems but, in this particular case, create a problematic arrangement that asks women to trade their personal autonomy for continuous surveillance.

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On the Idea of Using Crowds and Crowdsourcing to Combat Rape and Sexual Assault was presented on October 21st, 2013, by Dr. Brian Beaton, assistant professor of information sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.

Listen to the audio file of his talk.

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