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Welcome to Doteveryone's first edition of Society in the Loop!

Society is at a critical moment in its relationship with the internet. Digital technologies are changing the world at a speed never seen before, in ways no-one could have imagined. The social sector and civil society have an important role to play in directing the impacts of technologies on our lives.

I've written before about the need to bridge the social sector, with the social sciences and the tech sector, especially at this critical time. Whilst the tech industry is starting to wake up to its impact on society and our lives *cough* Facebook *cough*, it is still a long way off, and often far removed, from the depth of understanding that people working in the social sector have of society's biggest challenges.

Through either having had direct experience of poverty, inequality, ill-health, or any of the other number of issues we face in society today. Or through having worked closely with people who have - people working in the social sector have spent time digging into the root causes and engaging with the layers of complexity that often exist around such things.

Meanwhile neither the tech industry or the social sector have been connected enough to the social sciences - the anthropologists and the sociologists who’ve been identifying the ways in which the internet is changing society. They are the community that know just how bias in an algorithm could have huge unintended consequences on some of the most vulnerable in society and how they are potentially deepening existing inequalities.

Society in the Loop intends to bring these communities together; to share their collective expertise, to gain more understanding of the others’ work and to ensure that the impacts of technology are directed in a way that benefits everyone and strengthens society.

It's less of a newsletter; and more an ongoing conversation. In future issues, we’ll be sharing interviews between people working in the social sector and those studying the impacts of tech, we’ll be championing the people and organisations who are strengthening the social fabric of the UK (because that’s what we really care about!) We’ll also be reflecting on how the need to mitigate for the unintended consequences of tech can exist without drowning out the ways it can also help address social issues.

I hope you enjoy our first issue. If you do, make sure you let us know you want to receive our future editions!

Cassie Robinson
In Issue 02 we will feature the first in our “conversations” series - where someone in the social sector who’s likely thinking about eliminating knife crime, ending poverty or tackling homelessness is in conversation with a social scientist who’s thinking about automated decisions and how an algorithm could send the wrong person to prison.
How can their concerns meet and be informed by the other?

🏛️ Public institutions and accountability

In order for technology to benefit everyone in society, our public institutions have a role to play in holding the tech sector to account. But the recent Windrush scandal brings the messy state of ‘citizenship’ in the UK into view once again. As the buck is passed around government it raises the question about what this says about accountability in the UK.

The Migrants Rights Network reflect on practical actions for holding public institutions to account, whilst The Institute for Government draws lessons from Windrush, Grenfell and Carillion to explore the weak accountability structures in the UK today. Others are understandably pointing to the human stories of immigration and the risks of dehumanising the policy debate.

👨‍💻 Work 👩‍💻

Productivity seems to be flavour of the month in the UK. As with much of the public discourse at the moment, discussions around productivity are never too far away from of artificial intelligence. Despite the considerable attention the topic is currently garnering, there remains a feeling in some quarters that the voices of charities are not loud enough in the debate around AI (on a related note, this blog about the role of civil society in defining digital identity is also an interesting read).

As the emergence of the 
agritech start-up small robot company shows even tractors are at risk of automation. Perhaps the answer to the productivity puzzle lies in going back to the basics? JRF suggests that a good ol’-fashioned pay boost would do the trick in the hospitality sector, whilst Atkins suggest investing more in workforce wellbeing.

⚖️ Rights and justice 

The backlash against targeted marketing has permeated into the Irish referendum on abortion rights. The wider picture for freedom of the British press doesn’t look too rosy either: the Bureau of Investigative Journalism laments the UK’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index performance, whilst the Transparency Project asks if there’s a crisis in court reporting.
Within the justice system many interesting ideas for reform are being floated: rethinking sentencing for young people, abolishing short custodial sentencing and using virtual reality technology to improve offenders empathy.

Collective actions

At Doteveryone we're interested in the potential of collective action for driving change. We've found a few examples that look interesting:

🏞️ Jeremy Pitt draws the analogy between the Parkrun UK movement and the journey to collective action.

🚴 Bikestormz is (literally) mobilising the UK’s young people to stand against rising knife crime.

🔫 Susan Nall Bales, founder of the Framework Institute, zooms out on the gun-control debate is the US to explore effective ways of building social movements.

📖 Queen Mary University’s Thomas Dixon outlines the history of solidarity as a force for collective mobilisation.

💪 The Civil Society Futures Inquiry has published a mid-inquiry progress report - Chair Julia Unwin calls for civil society to do more to deepen democracy.

Cool stuff 

🏦 Street Bank – a platform for sharing skills, things and opportunities within local communities
✌️ Avaaz - an online tool for community mobilization
💬 Chatterbox – creating opportunities for refugees and displaced people to teach their native languages  
🌎 Academic Earth – a collection of free online courses from universities worldwide
🤹Thursday 31 May: NCCPE host a Social Innovation Skills Share

...and a little left-field 👈

🕉️ Ever wondered what connects hindu mystics with the Kremlin? Hope not Hate’s David Lawrence takes a deep dive into the philosophical origins of the emerging alt-right.  

🌆 And Author Jan Klaus imagines a city with ethics at its core.

🗣️ Have your say 🗣️

Got a story to tell? Burning issue to raise? Fancy being a Guest Editor?

Get in touch at
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