Chocolate Cake, Social Justice and Technology.

(Which of these things is not like the other?)

First, consider chocolate cake. You pretty much know when you are eating chocolate cake. Not only that, but you know what’s in it, basically, how it was put together, and how it’s different from other tasty treats like cookies or pudding. Sure, there may be some fuzzy edges (does chocolate souffle count as chocolate cake?) but by and large we can all pretty much agree on what chocolate cake is and how to make one.

There are a bunch of us engaged in the intersection of social justice and technology. We are jealous of people who make chocolate cake. Why? People who make cake get to say “chocolate” and put up a picture of a cake. Bam. Everyone immediately understands the topic and whether or not they are interested.

Technology? Anything from a mechanized textile loom to electricity over wireless bands. Social justice? High stakes geo-politics or compassion across the walls of a cubicle or a fence?

Tell me, how in the blazes are we going to make something out of two other things that we can barely define? Those of us in this space who are being honest will agree that even setting the terms of the conversation is a challenge in itself.

One thing is sure, though. Like chocolate cake, when you taste societal injustice, you know it. It tastes very bad. And if you ever perceived technology making your life worse not better, you find yourself wondering why it can’t all be put together just a little different.

That is why those of us in this space remain here. What would it look like to have social justice driving technological innovation? Even if we can’t define it just yet, we can feel something meaningful out there.

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