“Techsanity?” Keynote Manoush Zomorodi asks HighEdWeb attendees to take control of their technology

Entrepreneur, author, podcaster, and journalist Manoush Zomorodi is on a mission to make technology more relatable. And she brought it to HighEdWeb in Sacramento.

“I want to empower people to understand technology to the point where they feel like they have autonomy over it,” she said in a talk that dove into some of her most noteworthy projects.

Manoush’s work, first with WNYC’s Note to Self and now with Stable Genius Production (co-founded with former WYNC producer Jen Poyant) examines the intersection of humanity and technology. In 2017 she published her book, Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self.

Manoush found an excited and receptive audience.

In 2015, Manoush and the Note to Self team launched the “Bored and Brilliant” project. That was followed in 2016 by “Infomagical” and then in 2017 by ”The Privacy Paradox.” Each research project was designed to highlight how participants interact with technology and, possibly, inspire them to change their behaviors.

At one point in her talk, Manoush discussed President Donald Trump and his often controversial use of social media. She said he has prompted conversations about what it means to be a citizen, tested Silicon Valley’s utopian belief that technology is a force for good, and emphasized that democratic ideals are at stake.

Manoush pointed out that companies such as Apple and Google are including tools in their phones to help, such as features that track phone use. But she wondered if they would work as intended.

Manoush ended her keynote by looking into the future.

“Algorithms and machines are going to make a lot of decisions for us in the near future,” she said. “But we still need to look after each other.”