What do we use at work? This series of posts interviews the Ushahidi staff about their methods of working and the tools they use. The profile of a different employee will be posted twice a week until we make our way through most or all of the staff!

“Must. Finish. Dissertation.” – Heather Ford

Heather Ford

What’s your day to day at Ushahidi like?

Argggh. Haven’t started yet. Must. Finish. Dissertation.

How did you get involved in the software/tech space?

I did journalism and media studies as an undergrad at Rhodes University in South Africa and took one of their first classes in ‘cyber publishing’. I was majoring in communication design then and was pretty ludditish about technology, preferring to use a lot of hand drawings and real flowers scanned into my designs. It was only when I got my first job working as a webqueen for an elections and democracy non-profit that I started thinking about some of the political and social opportunities that thoughtfully-designed technology might have. From there my future was set!

What are some of your favorite apps for work and how do you use them?

Wikis wikis wikis. I’m a huge fan. I used SocialText for the longest time in my previous job for organising everything the team was doing in a really simple way. I believe that the best tools are those that everyone can and will use. I also really love having Skype chats going during the day: it gives one a sense of being able to listen in on conversations – a nice little ‘replacement’ of the water cooler when everyone is so distributed.

What are some cool projects you’re working on right now at Ushahidi or; What excites you about your work right now?

When I start, I’ll be doing really detailed, people-centered, grounded studies of how people use technology and how it fits into the social, political and cultural milieus of their lives. Hopefully this will inform better (or at least more thoughtful) design practices so that we can improve levels of trust within the system.

What helps you make it through each day?

Silent Twitter screams. My morning cup of Five Roses tea. Beautiful dresses.

The one thing you can’t live without?

Sunshine. Seriously. I start to wither and die inside when it’s gloomy out.