Kanak Biscuitwala : 2013 Mobile and Social Workshop


Thursday, April 18, 2013
Location: Fisher Conference Center, Arrillaga Alumni Center

"Dispatch: Secure Mobile Publishing for Journalists"


The wide availability of personal communication devices in even developing countries, combined with the global publishing power of social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, is changing the journalistic landscape, making it possible to document and report on events in even the most inaccessible locations. From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, mobile phones and social networks are becoming core reporting devices for both citizen and professional journalists. Yet using these technologies today presents important *risks*: the communication networks on which they rely are often proprietary, thus exposing users' information to the scrutiny of collaborating companies or governments. They are also inherently *fragile*: in conflict situations, devices may be destroyed or confiscated to prevent publication, or authorities may simply disconnect the links connecting an entire country to the internet. Those who do succeed in publishing may risk retribution either during or after reporting, if they are identified with their device or their publishing records are traced. Dispatch is a collaboration between computer scientists and journalists at Stanford and Columbia seeking to develop a mobile communication and publishing solution for journalists that reduces risks to reporters, increases tolerance to network fragility, and matches the usability of popular social networks.


Kanak Biscuitwala is a graduate student in Computer Science at Stanford. He is working under the direction of Monica Lam as part the Mobile and Social Computing Research Group, in which he has explored applications of mobile devices in new domains including finance, student experience, and journalism. He received his BS in Computer Science from UCLA in 2011. Along the way, he has interned at several different companies covering a wide range of the Computer Science spectrum.