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Wired for Change

Ford Foundation-1

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (EDT)

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Wired for Change Ended Free  

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Wired for Change:

The Power and the Pitfalls of Big Data

October 23, 2012



Big Data presents enormous challenges and opportunities for social change makers. How can we ensure that vast data sets are tapped for the common good? How do we protect the right to privacy? And how do we build a transparent framework for data collection and analysis that allows us to create a better and more equitable future for all?

In its second year, Wired for Change brings together social innovators, technologists, entrepreneurs, government leaders and philanthropists for provocative conversations about the critical issues facing our hyper-networked, hyper-public society.


8:45 am

Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:30 am         


Luis A. Ubiñas President, Ford Foundation          


9:50 am          

Big Data, Big Challenges and Big Opportunities

Big Data has the power to transform. It offers us a new lens on the world—and with it, new ways to innovate and create, analyze and identify, strategize and achieve. Big Data has revolutionized how we plan and build cities, conduct business, run political campaigns and report the news. So what does it mean for social change makers? With access to an ever-growing number of data sets, how might public interest groups take advantage of data to further their work? Join us for a wide-ranging  discussion of hopeful ideas and pragmatic concerns about our hyper-networked, hyper-public society.

Moderator: Ethan Zuckerman Director, MIT Center for Civic Media


  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee Inventor, World Wide Web
  • Esther Dyson Investor, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
  • Jaron Lanier Computer Scientist, Composer, Visual Artist and Author
  • Kaitlin Thaney Manager of External Partnerships, Digital Science

10:40 am        


11:00 am

The End of Privacy?

How Big Brother is Big Data? With data increasingly becoming a valued currency, in the corporate world in particular, the rush is on to collect as much as possible. How is that information mined, and how deep does the digging really go? How do we strike a balance between the need for data to fuel innovation, build markets and increase competitiveness, and the need to safeguard fundamental privacy principles? How can social change makers ensure they take into account both the day-to-day risks and the long-term implications of a data-run world?

Moderator: John Palfrey Head of School, Phillips Academy, Andover    


  • Harvey Anderson General Counsel & Public Policy Lead, Mozilla
  • Brad Burnham Co-Founder, Union Square Ventures
  • Kamala D. Harris Attorney General, California
  • Jon Leibowitz Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
  • Ashkan Soltani Independent Researcher



12:00 pm      

Bringing a New Lens to Old Data  

Through the smart use of Big Data, we can identify areas of economic opportunity, track growth and productivity and visualize what a healthy economy looks like. And, says César A. Hidalgo, visualizing data in creative ways can lead to fresh insights and more effective strategies.                   

Speaker: César A. Hidalgo, Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab



12:30 pm      

Lunch Discussion:  The Human Face of Big Data

Since March 2012, approximately 100 of the world's leading photographers in over 30 countries have been searching out and capturing images that illustrate The Human Face of Big Data. Project creator Rick Smolan will share some of the stunning images from this globally crowdsourced media project focusing on humanity's new ability to collect, analyze, triangulate and visualize vast amounts of data in real time.

Moderator: David Kirkpatrick Founder and CEO, Techonomy

Speaker: Rick Smolan CEO, Against All Odds Productions


Big Data and the Media

The ability to access reams of data at the click of a mouse has opened up new ways for the media to tell stories and support narratives. But it has also added new pressures and challenges. We look at how journalists and media outlets are handling data: when it works, when it doesn’t and when it’s just plain complicated. 

Moderator: Sewell Chan Deputy Editor, Op-Ed and the Sunday Review,                    The New York Times         


  • Emily Bell Director, Tow Center for Digital Journalism
  • Stephen Engelberg Managing Editor, ProPublica
  • Shazna Nessa Deputy Managing Editor of Editorial Products and Innovation, Associated Press
  • Joseph Turow Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

2:40 pm            

Tracking Progress:  What the Media Cloud Can Do For You

The brainchild of Harvard's Berkman Center and MIT's Center for Civic Media, Media    Cloud can store and index hundreds of thousands of articles a day from tens of thousands of blogs and conventional news sources, allowing us to see and understand the way stories morph, mutate and gain traction in local, national and international media. MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman illustrates the power of this new tool and what it means for organizations driving social change.

Speaker: Ethan Zuckerman Director, MIT Center for Civic Media

2:55 pm            

First Do No Harm: Changing the Human Rights Landscape

Now more than ever, our data rich world enables us to build networks, grow movements, collectively build new public records, bring together the voiceless and marginalized, and identify abuse and shame the perpetrators.  But the same tools that connect and reveal can also be used to quell dissent, censor, spy and punish. For legacy human rights organizations whose reputations are built on strategic expertise, controlled messages and careful research, these crowd-sourced tools present a difficult challenge. How do they incorporate the new while preserving the tried and true? How do they collaborate with tech developers to meaningfully seize the opportunities of Big Data without creating vulnerabilities that undermine their legacy?

Moderator: Yvette Alberdingk Thijm Executive Director, WITNESS 


  • Jeremy HeimansCo-Founder and CEO, Purpose
  • Becky Hurwitz Codesign Facilitator and Community Organizer, MIT Media Lab
  • Cristina Jiménez Managing Director, United We Dream
  • Kenneth Roth Executive Director, Human Rights Watch

3:45 pm          


4:05 pm            

Big Data and the Just City

Whether we are conscious of it or not, Big Data has changed the way we live, travel and co-exist in urban settings. It has been used to transform metropolitan development plans, identify areas of need and opportunity, and galvanize local movements seeking improvements to community services. We offer three vignettes of what’s new in the networked city, highlighting bold ideas for using data to create the just and sustainable urban environments of the future.

Moderator: Rick Karr Journalist and Educator


  • Adam Greenfield Founder and Managing Director, Urbanscale
  • Nithya V. Raman Project Director, Transparent Chennai
  • John Tolva CTO, City of Chicago

5:00 pm          

Life, the Internet and Everything

Whether personifying the Swine Flu on Twitter, treating a Foursquare mayor battle as legitimate politics or live-blogging his experience clearing an exit ramp on Lakeshore Drive during Chicago's epic blizzard of 2011, Baratunde Thurston has used social media to do much more than post photos and beg for followers. Beyond delivering comedy and shock value, he has also engaged communities and delivered results. His riff on living online concludes our day.

Speaker: Baratunde Thurston Author, "How to Be Black"


5:15 pm            



Have questions about Wired for Change? Contact Ford Foundation-1

When & Where

Ford Foundation
320 E 43rd St
New York, NY 10017

Tuesday, October 23, 2012 from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (EDT)

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