Social Computing for Social Good in Low-Resource Environments

Aditya Vashistha
University of Washington
Talk Series: 
03.28.2019 11:00 to 12:00

AVW 4172

Mainstream social computing technologies—like social media platforms, online discussion forums, or crowdsourcing marketplaces—have revolutionized how literate people with access to smartphones and the Internet participate in the information ecology and digital economy. However, these technologies currently exclude billions of those who are illiterate, who speak low-resource languages, who live in poverty, or who do not have access to Internet-connected devices. In this talk, I will present three systems that I designed, built, and deployed for people who face literacy, language, socioeconomic, and connectivity barriers: (1) Sangeet Swara is a voice-based, community-moderated social media service that enables people in low-resource environments to produce, consume, and moderate audio content in their local language, (2) Respeak is a voice-based crowdsourcing marketplace that enables people in low-resource environments to vocally transcribe audio files in exchange for free airtime and additional earning opportunities, and (3) IVR Junction is a free and open source toolkit that enables global development organizations to build and maintain voice-based social computing services and facilitate information exchange between local and global communities. Together, these systems fulfill my vision of building scalable, sustainable, and replicable voice-based social computing services that enable people without literacy, smartphones, or the Internet to participate in informative dialogues at both community and global scales. I will also discuss how these social computing technologies achieve social good by improving people’s access to health information, employment opportunities, and entertainment.