Africa's Digital Revolution: Learning from Global Cultures of Innovation

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Today’s tech landscape is an exciting one, rich with disruption, innovation, and new commitments to diversity and design thinking. Africa’s digital revolution stands as a primary example of the ways emerging communities of programmers and creatives are working in tandem to adapt technology to the needs and dynamics of global “digital undergrounds”—users and makers whose work falls outside conventional visions of what tech could and should be. By recognizing and resourcing the work of these digital undergrounds, we foster unprecedented innovation in industry.

Africans are engaging the need for mobile apps and technologies, for ways to connect with community members who have migrated throughout the world, and for ways to appeal to users who cherish the arts, design and creativity. As they do so, they are creating a host of new digital forms and functions and making digital resources more accessible to those situated across the global "digital divide."

On November 13, please join us for a talk from Dr. Ali Colleen Neff, a digital anthropologist, UX researcher and advocate for global digital diversity, as she draws on her own work with African digital practitioners to understand how the tools of anthropology, especially processes of intercultural collaboration and conversation, promise to help the tech world understand its digital divide, foster a more inclusive global digital landscape, and inspire new modes of innovation. We'll also explore how these trends and this type of thinking can be an inspiration to Portland's tech community.

About Ali Colleen Neff, PhD:

Ali Colleen Neff, Ph.D. is the founder of, a Portland-based firm for global digital diversity and inclusion. As director of the Digital Undergrounds and Digital Africa projects, she has generated groundbreaking work on how subcultures, women, and marginalized communities innovate across the global "digital divide." She has worked with Intel's She Will Connect program to empower African women online, conducted workshops on diversity in the digital workplace, and revamped public works websites to appeal to low-income residents. Her books and articles include work on Hip-Hop and digital culture, African feminism, and creative media; she has received prestigious fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, DK Wilgus, and Peacock REACH. She is affiliated with Portland State University's Program in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She can be found online at and

Doors open at 5:30pm and program will start promptly at 6pm. 

The presentation will be followed by a Q & A with our speaker at 7:30pm.