Five software projects worth supporting

As the year wraps up, it’s a natural time to think about supporting worthwhile projects and organizations.  There are a lot of great non-profits working to make a difference in society, and in these challenging times it’s vital to support national groups like the Center for Media Justice, United We Dream, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee / Defending Dissent, the ACLU, and EFF.   It’s also important to support local organizations and small businesses; ask around to see who’s making an impact on the causes you care about.*

This list, though, has a somewhat different focus: software projects that I support — and hope you will too!  Some of these are non-profits, others are businesses (where the best way to support them is to pay for their products).  And keeping with the theme of this blog, all of them are very aware of diversity, whether or not it’s their primary focus.

Dreamwidth logoDreamwidth Studios is a community for all kinds of creative folk.  Yes, they have free accounts; but in a year where we’ve all seen first-hand the destructive effects of exploitative social networks we’re the users are the product, it’s worth putting down some money to support independent alternatives.   I talk a lot about Dreamwidth as a great example of a social network that really values diversity; it’s also a cool place to hang out!

Trans*H4CK logoTrans*H4ck creates technology for the trans and gender non conforming community by incubating projects, running hackathons, hosting online and in-person events, and being a hub for trans visibility in tech.  In 2017, Dr. Kortney Ziegler and the team are looking to launch local trans-focused spaces with their new Community H4CKters program.

hollaback! logoHollaback is a global movement to end harassment, and builds safe, inclusive public spaces by transforming the culture that perpetuates discrimination and violence.  Executive Director Projects include the Hollaback app for responding to street harassment, and the Heartmob platform for dealing with online harassment.

Thurst logoThurst is “the first dating app for queer people of all genders”.   Morgen Brommell’s outstanding AlterConf talk on Imagining Radical Queer Futures Through Tech is a great look at the possibilities of online spaces created by queer and trans people of color.After a promising beta test, Morgen’s currently working on security for a release in January 2017.  As well as donating, you can support the project by getting a cool t-shirt or tote bag!

Tor logoTor is free anonymity software, helping defend against traffic analysis and other kinds of online tracking as well as  circumventing censorship.  Tor’s vital for activists, whistleblowers, and journalists across the world. Tor has had some significant changes over the last 12 months including Shari Steele joining as executive director and new board members including Gabriella Coleman, Cindy Cohn, Matt Blaze, and Bruce Schneier.   It’s the first time I’ve given to the project – so a strong vote of confidence in the new direction!


* for example, if you’re in the San Francisco area and care about an activism-friendly nightlife space, consider supporting the DNA Lounge

Also published on Medium.

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