The Hard Work of Review Boards

by | Oct 25, 2019 | Change, ICT4D |

It’s hard to believe you are objective if your ‘review board’ all look like you. To say you are ‘culture agnostic’ when your ‘review board’ all come from the same culture as you. (And culture here could be ethnic, societal, organisational, and so on.)

Technology isn’t neutral. Technology is ‘human made’ and therefore not neutral. Creating is a wonderful, amazing, beautiful, terrific and much needed act, but it is not neutral. And that’s ok; that’s the gig. Whether you are reviewing academic writing, research, sacred texts, or humanitarian data, if you’re desire is to be as objective as possible, work needs to be done.

If your goal is to be objective, to remove as much bias as you can. If your goal is to learn, to grow, to make better things (research, writing, decisions, etc.). Then find the others who don’t look like you, don’t think like you, don’t sit in the same organisation as you, are not the same colour, age, gender, or sexual orientation as you, or had the same childhood as you. People living with physical and mental disabilities. There are knowledgable, respectful, kind, and wonderful people who fit those descriptions.

Find them. Invite them to your ‘review board’ asking them to respectively critique your work. Ask them to help you see things you didn’t before. Ask them to bring their whole selves, their subjective selves, to your ‘board’.

It’s scary. There will be tension and difficult conversations. You will be stretched. It will be hard. But that’s the gig, so do the work.

We need this especially in our humanitarian work with data and technology. It is critical as we seek to ‘do no harm’, use data responsibly, and as we continue to build the digital ecosystem.

The alternative is the status quo, which isn’t working so well right now, if it did ever.

Photo by Brittani Burns


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