Presented By O'Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
Sept 29–Oct 1, 2015 • New York, NY

Protecting the humanity in data II: Personalized crisis counseling/messiness of interpretation

Jake Porway (DataKind), Bob Filbin (Crisis Text Line), danah boyd (Microsoft Research | Data & Society)
2:05pm–2:45pm Wednesday, 09/30/2015
Law, Ethics, & Open Data
Location: 3D 04/09 Level: Intermediate
Average rating: *****
(5.00, 4 ratings)
Slides:   1-PDF 

DataKind founder and executive Jake Porway hosts two sessions back-to-back that explore ethical questions in data science for good projects.

In this second session, Bob Filbin, chief data scientist at Crisis Text Line, will present on their approach to personalized crisis counseling and Danah Boyd, founder of Data & Society Research Institute, will present on the challenges of interpreting results.

Personalized crisis counseling – Bob Filbin
Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 text line available nationwide that connects anyone in crisis to crisis counselors. Having handled over 5 million text messages to date, Crisis Text Line recently worked with DataKind to more quickly identify repeat texters, and route them to long-term care so their counselors could focus on critical cases requiring rapid intervention.

The messiness of interpretation and decision-making – danah boyd
The data is clean; the algorithm is mathematically sound. But that is not enough when data is being used to make meaning and decisions. In this talk, Danah will drill into the assumptions involved in interpretation, and the social and cultural challenges that data analysts must grapple with when doing their work.

Don’t miss the first half of this speaking series – join us for both!

Photo of Jake Porway

Jake Porway


Jake Porway is the founder and executive director of DataKind, a nonprofit that harnesses the power of data science in the service of humanity. He is an alum of the New York Times R&D Lab and has worked at Google and Bell Labs. A recognized leader in the Data for Good Movement, he has spoken at IBM, Microsoft, Google, and the White House. Jake is also a PopTech Social Innovation fellow and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. He holds a BS in computer science from Columbia University and an MS and PhD in statistics from UCLA.

Photo of Bob Filbin

Bob Filbin

Crisis Text Line

Bob Filbin is chief data scientist at Crisis Text Line, the first large-scale 24/7 national crisis line for teens on the medium they use and trust most: texting. Bob specializes in the application of behavioral psychology to questions of data collection, analysis, and reporting, to make sure data leads to good behavioral change. Bob has given lectures on using data to drive behavioral change at places including MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, and the North American International Auto Show, and has authored several articles in the Harvard Business Review on data. He runs in Prospect Park.

Photo of danah boyd

danah boyd

Microsoft Research | Data & Society

danah boyd is the founder and president of Data & Society, a research institute focused on understanding the role of data-driven technologies in society, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and a visiting professor in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. danah’s research focuses on the intersection of technology, society, and policy. She is currently doing work on questions related to bias in big data and artificial intelligence, how people negotiate privacy and publicity, and the social ramifications of using data in education, criminal justice, labor, and public life. For over a decade, she examined how American youth incorporate social media into their daily practices in light of different fears and anxieties that the public has about young people’s engagement with technologies like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and texting. She has researched a plethora of teen issues, ranging from privacy to bullying, racial inequality, and sexual identity. Her early findings were published in Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media. Her 2014 monograph, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, has received widespread praise from scholars, parents, and journalists and has been translated into seven languages. This work was funded by both the MacArthur Foundation and Microsoft Research. Her most recent collaborative book project, Participatory Culture in a Networked Era, with Mimi Ito and Henry Jenkins, reflects on how digital participation has shaped different parts of society. Her work has been profiled by numerous publications, including the New York Times, Fast Company, the Boston Globe, and Forbes, and published in a wide range of scholarly venues.

In 2010, danah won the CITASA Award for Public Sociology. The Financial Times dubbed her “the high priestess of internet friendship,” Fortune magazine identified her as the smartest academic in tech, and Technology Review named her one of 2010’s young innovators under 35. danah was a 2011 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She is a director of both Crisis Text Line and the Social Science Research Council and a trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian. She sits on advisory boards for Electronic Privacy Information Center, Brown University’s Department of Computer Science, and the School of Information at the University of Michigan. She was a commissioner on the 2008–2009 Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy. From 2009 to 2013, danah served on the World Economic Forum’s Social Media Global Agenda Council. At the Berkman Center, she codirected the Internet Safety Technical Task Force in 2008 with John Palfrey and Dena Sacco to work with companies and nonprofits to identify potential technical solutions for keeping children safe online. More recently, she codirected the Youth Media and Policy Working Group with John Palfrey and Urs Gasse, funded by the MacArthur Foundation from 2009 to 2011. In 2012, she and John Palfrey also helped the Born This Way Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation develop a research strategy to help empower youth to address meanness and cruelty. She is one of the hosts of the annual Data & Civil Rights Conference. Since 2015, she has also served on the US Commerce Department’s Data Advisory Council. She also created and managed a large online community for V-Day, a nonprofit organization working to end violence against women and girls worldwide. She has advised numerous other companies, sits on corporate, education, conference, and nonprofit advisory boards, and regularly speaks at a wide variety of conferences and events. danah holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University (under Andy van Dam), a master’s degree in sociable media from the MIT Media Lab (under Judith Donath), and a PhD in information from the University of California, Berkeley (under Peter Lyman and Mimi Ito). She has worked as an ethnographer and social media researcher for various corporations, including Intel,, Google, and Yahoo. She blogs at and tweets as @zephoria.