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Organization / Welcome Darius Kazemi, our Senior Frontend Developer
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Meedan is excited to have Darius Kazemi on board as our Senior Frontend Developer! Check out his work on Check :-) and learn more about him in the short Q&A below.

1. What has been your experience before you joined Meedan?

My first career was as a video game developer. I got interested in open source games technology, and specifically browser-based game engines. This opened the door to web technology more broadly and before I knew it I became a full-stack developer. I developed a creative coding practice focused primarily on social media bots and cofounded a creative technology cooperative. In 2018, I was awarded a Mozilla Open Web Fellowship embedded with Code for Science & Society, researching and building decentralized social media software. That culminated in a guide called Run Your Own Social. I did some work for Center for Digital Resilience, and then spent the pandemic being a full time therapeutic foster dad (with some fact-checking on the side).

2. Tell us about an exciting and insightful experience that has shaped your perspective and work.

I would point to spending a year of my fellowship traveling around the world and talking to people in different countries with extremely different needs for what they want to get out of their internet experience. It was incredibly formative for me and really helped me reset my baseline expectations for what people want from technology. Some people in remote areas have massive external bandwidth limitations and anything that requires talking to a cloud service is a no-go for them. For some groups of indigenous people, knowledge is tied to geographic location and it actually really matters to them physically where that knowledge is stored. It’s enabled me to do much better work when thinking about communication systems from the ground up.

3. What is the bot making community like online? What are the strengths and what gaps do you see?

I think bots used to be a more specific definable practice but ever since the 2016 election, “bot” has become a really over-loaded term that actually has a lot more to do with disinformation than fun art projects or useful tools. Platforms are (rightly) cracking down on malicious bots, but non-malicious bots tend to get swept up in the same crackdowns so what we end up with is a more hostile environment for our bot makers. It’s one of the reasons I was driven to running my own social media platforms. Ultimately I think that’s led to a “cooling off” of the bot making community as something concrete. It seems like less of an identity these days (“I’m a bot artist”) and more like just another piece of people’s practices within creative coding. Frankly I think that’s natural and good, for a medium to not lose its luster when it loses its novelty, but just to become something “normal” that people do.

4. What brought you to Meedan?

I was wrapping up a year of foster parenting and was looking for meaningful work as a programmer. My time as a Mozilla Fellow introduced me to the Internet Freedom Festival. They have a job board and Meedan was listed there. I loved the mission so I applied!

5. What’s a project you’re excited about right now?

We have a new search feature that we’re going to be rolling out that I’ve been working on for the last month. I’m excited to see how it helps our users get their work done more effectively. In particular, searching for similar images could be really powerful when trying to search for similar instances of reported disinformation!

6. Tell us some fun facts about Darius.

● Related

The Checklist–read misinformation news from around the world

The Weekly Roundup

—open-source investigations, industry resources and event information