I don’t have a biting analysis to sum up the 2016 election or the handful of days since then. And I especially can’t speak with the voice of an immigrant, or a person of color, or a woman, or a member of the LGBTQ community, since I belong to none of those groups.

But seeing the acute anger and fear among my loved ones and colleagues in communities targeted during the campaign—people facing political threats, verbal assaults and most of all physical violence even as you read this—I’ve felt grief-stricken and confused. I’m writing not to tell you about my grief (which isn’t that interesting and has the luxury of being felt from comparative safety) but about my confusion.

dandd

The Personal Democracy Forum conference has always been a celebration of technology’s role transforming politics and redefining democracy. But this year’s celebration included particularly strong notes of caution, like danah boyd’s talk on the unintended consequences of code, Mark Surman’s warning that internet freedom is shrinking and Mariana Ruiz Firmat’s reminder that equity within our organizations is a design imperative, not just a good hiring practice.

The chorus of realistic voices was my second favorite thing about PDF16. My favorite was our own cautionary panel, “Is the Civic Tech Story Broken?”, which I presented with panelists Sam Dorman, Elizabeth Eagen and Shaifali Puri.

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