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Babbel: Perspectives – Promise and Peril in Mobile Technology | September 10 | Berlin

Babbel: Perspectives vol. III

Everything is Possible, Everything is Dangerous: Promise and Peril in Mobile Technology

Mobile technologies have proven enormously transformative in the developing world, expanding possibilities for freedom and democratic agency. Community response to crises. Police accountability. Popular mobilization and consciousness-raising. The movement from margin to center these tools have inspired for so many has deepened the resonance of utopian visions in recent art and literature. For example, imaginations across the world were captured by Black Panther’s Wakanda, in part, because the liberatory potential of technology had been the direct experience of millions.

At the same time, these technologies have given rise to oppressive and deeply authoritarian forces, as well. The tracking of mobility, surveillance, data-harvesting and the corresponding engineering of public trust and political institutions all continue to generate headlines, daily. What’s often forgotten is that the superficial democratic features of mobile technologies obscure the fact they are not public utilities and not publicly accountable. The capital that develops them, and in turn the power behind them, is incredibly concentrated — policing the boundaries of possibility, nodding in the direction of Orwell. Wakanda, tellingly perhaps, recreates this subtle, unspoken tension. A utopian vision nested within a monarchy, the distribution of its technological power visibly uneven.

It’s that tension that’s led Babbel to put mobile technologist and researcher Ronda Zelezny-Green in conversation with politics and technology author and writer Ingrid Burrington for an evening of reflection and conversation, in the third installment of Babbel: Perspectives, September 10th at Babbel’s headquarters in Mitte. They’ll be joined onstage by Babbel’s Insight Manager, Daniela Ordonez Acuna, who will moderate discussion for the evening.


Dr Ronda Zelezny-Green is a mobile technologist, educator, and researcher, whose professional experience spans the public, private, and civil society sectors. She specializes in educational technology (especially mobile learning), gender, teaching and training, and policy advice. She has provided quantitative and qualitative market insight and analysis as well as project implementation leadership for a wide range of stakeholders including schools, mobile network operators, governments, and international NGOs. A passionate champion of girls’ and women’s education, Ronda regularly publishes in academic forums and is globally recognized as the world’s foremost expert in gender and mobile learning. A U.S. Fulbright Scholar (2013), Dr Zelezny-Green is the Policy and Regulation Training Delivery Director at the GSMA, the Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, and in 2018 was named Honorary Research Associate at the University of London.

Ingrid Burrington writes, makes maps, and tells jokes about places, politics, and the weird feelings people have about both. She’s the author of Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure. Her writing has also appeared in The Atlantice-flux journal, and Quartz, among other outlets. Ingrid’s work has previously been supported by Eyebeam Art & Technology Center, Data & Society Research Institute, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Daniela Ordonez is the Insight Manager at Babbel, putting data in the service of often qualitative problem-solving. Personally and professionally, she’s committed to a vision in which technology contributes to building a more open and inclusive society, making education accessible to everyone.


Babbel HQ

Max-Beer-Straße 2

10119 Berlin


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