South by Southwest, the annual conference of thinkers and innovators, has honored two nonprofits it says are using technology in novel ways to promote social good.
The organizations, which won scholarships to attend next year’s conference, are Hollaback and Friendfactor. Three other groups that are not nonprofits also won after entering an essay content to describe their work.
Hollaback, in Brooklyn, works to fight sexual harassment by collecting personal stories of victims on its Web site. Victims are encouraged to use their smart phones to post pictures of those who engage in “street” harassment.
To making such reporting easier, Hollaback has released smartphone applications that let victims log incidents. In logging these incidents, they can indicate the type of harassment (verbal, flashing, groping, assault, or other), the location, and when it took place. The information feeds a map, updated in real time. Victims are then invited by e-mail to write up the full account of their experience.
Friendfactor, a gay-rights advocacy organization in New York, is also using online technology to help supporters share information about its mission.
Its Web site features a “Freedom Index” that depicts, state-by-state, the rights available to heterosexuals that are not extended to gays, lesbians, or transgender people. Visitors post their stories about problems caused by government policies and solicit their friends and relatives to sign up as their supporters.
The organization’s goal, according to its site, is to make “gay and transgender rights about gay and transgender people, not politics or ideology.”