Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, April 18, 2007
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

Software Not Provided:
Challenges, Experiences, and Opportunities in Supporting Communities and Democracy

Todd Davies and Jerry Feldman
Stanford and UC Berkeley/ICSI
About the talk:

Software that gets produced is generally

(a) profitable,
(b) desired by software developers for their own use,
(c) easy to write, and/or
(d) similar to something that already exists.
But these criteria leave a large class of software underprovided. We argue, in particular, that software which supports community and democratic (rather than individual) goals for under-resourced populations is very useful and needed. But it tends not to get produced, or is difficult to sustain, because it requires approaches that are novel and complex, is difficult to fund, and does not fill a void in the lives of enough software developers.

We will discuss experiences, challenges, and trends in community and democracy supporting software, highlighting examples such as the East Palo Alto web portal EPA.Net and the Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS) -- both of which were funded by grants to nonprofit organizations. Over the last few years, groups at Cal and Stanford have been independently developing and trying to deploy platforms for supporting community and other democratic institutions. We will discuss the state of our efforts and some unanticipated difficulties. The visions of the two projects differ somewhat and we will leave time for a panel-like discussion of both specific and general ideas on under-/un-provided software.


There are two sets of slides to download. Download Davies' slides in PDF format. Download Feldman's slides in PDF format.

About the speaker:

Todd Davies is Associate Director of the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford University. He is involved with PIECE (the Parternship for Interenet Equity and Social Engagement) and Deme: A Platform for Online Deliberation.

Jerry Feldman is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley and a member of the Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. From 1988 to 1998 he was the director of the International Computer Science Institute, where he is a member of the AI group.

Feldman is a life member of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), and Davies is CPSR's current president.

Contact information:

Todd Davies: Symbolic Systems Program, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2150
Jerry Feldman: University of California Berkeley, Computer Science Division, 739 Soda Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1776