PDF 2019 Update!

#PDF19 will be taking place on June 6th, 2019 at Civic Hall in New York. This year, PDF will be a day-long event as the team turns their attention towards the Civic Hall @ Union Square expansion project. We will scale PDF back up to its historic size once the new space is open. 

Please visit pdf19.com to see the agenda and buy tickets.

If you are interested in suggesting a keynote, lightning talk, or PDFopen session, please describe them in this form.  


June 7-8, 2018 | New York Law School




8:00-9:00am Registration and Breakfast


Jerry Michalski
Relationship Economy Expedition
Designing from Trust

Pia Mancini
Chair of DemocracyEarth Foundation
Reimaging Government Beyond the Nation-State

10:30-11:00 Coffee break


Jan Neutze
Director of Cybersecurity at Microsoft
Cybersecurity, Democracy and a Digital Geneva Convention

Ramya Raghavan
News and Civics Programming at Google
Security Tools for Activists and Journalists

Robyn Swirling
Founder of Works in Progress
Collective Action to Build an Inclusive Culture

Chris Hughes
Founder of the Economic Security Project
Economic Security and the American Dream

Trebor Scholz
Founder of Platform Cooperativism Consortium
The State of Platform Cooperativism

Gina Glantz
Founder of GenderAvenger
“Oh Crap! What’s She Up To Now?”

Matt Stempeck
Researcher, Civic Hall
Building A Global Guide to Civic Tech

Siva Vaidhyanathan
Author of Anti-Social Media
Anti-Social Media: How Facebook is Undermining Democracy

1:00-2:30 Lunch

Keynote Workshops:

Cybersecurity and Election 2018

Jan Neutze, Jessica Huseman, Amy Cohen, Shauna Daly, Dave Leichtman (facilitator) This workshop will look at what is hype and what is truly worrisome about the state of election security today, what state election directors are doing to better guard their systems from abuse, and how campaigns and advocacy organizations need to upgrade their own…

Read More

New Approaches to Democracy in the Digital Age

Pia Mancini, Ttcat, Ipa Chiu, Shu Yang-Lin, Fang-Jui Chang, Liz Barry, Miguel Arana Catania, Darshana Narayanan (facilitator) This workshop will delve into current experiments in 21st century digital democracy, including pioneering practices being developed by the g0v civic hacking community in Taiwan (including a hands-on look at how they use virtual reality as part of…

Read More

What To Do About Facebook: Outside Approaches

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Justin Brookman, Katy Pearce, Ben Tarnoff, David Madden, Shireen Mitchell (facilitator) This workshop will focus on a variety of external “fixes” for the problems Facebook has generated for democracy, including much stronger consumer privacy protection, antitrust enforcement, and expanded ways of defending human rights organizers and civil society values on Facebook. And we’ll…

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Designing From Trust: Case Studies

Jerry Michalski, Rosa Zubizarreta, Erin Mazursky, Shanti Nayak, John Kelly (facilitator) This workshop allows participants to try their hand at designing from trust, based off the morning keynote that explains how we went from being citizens to consumers and how this has affected our ability to trust one another and our institutions. By using education…

Read More

Work, Dignity and Freedom

Rakeen Mabud, Ioana Marinescu, Mia Birdsong, Natalie Foster, Taylor Jo Isenberg (facilitator) This workshop will challenge assumptions and beliefs around economic security, stability, “deservedness” and how this plays out across gender and ethnicity. It will also look at a variety of emerging approaches, including a guaranteed income, to solving the challenges presented by automation and…

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The Platform Cooperativism Movement

Trebor Scholz, Camille Kerr, Sylvia Morse, Cerenia Dominguez, Danny Spitzberg (Facilitator) This workshop will dig into the state of this rapidly growing movement for an alternative to the Uber-driven version of the sharing economy, exploring also how platform coops can be created and run, with the help of several leading practitioners.

Individual Action, Collective Effect: How the Choices We Make Can Harm or Help our Community

Robyn Swirling, Stephen Hicks (co-facilitators) When we witness or hear of harassment, when do we choose to speak up or to stay silent? Participants in this workshop will explore what drives those choices, and the cumulative effects of action and inaction on who feels safe or welcome in our workplaces and communities. Workshop attendees will…

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4:00-4:30 Coffee break

PDFopen sessions:

A Moonshot in Equity and Democracy: 80% Voter Turnout by 2024

Mike Hogan, Natalie Adona, Sarah Audelo, Darrell Scott, Kate Krontiris (facilitator) Can we have 80% of eligible voters in the US voting by 2024? With an electorate looking like the population by demographics? Those are the ambitious questions behind an emerging Democracy Moonshot, facilitated collaboratively by the Democracy Fund, Democracy Works, and Common Cause. The…

Read More

Reverse Engineering the Tech Platforms to Win Campaigns for Change

Erica Portnoy, Annie Sartour, Malous Kossarian, Rich Skrenta, and Ann Lewis (moderator) Learn about the incentive structures of big tech companies from tech industry insiders, and how these incentives are used to make decisions, allocate resources, structure teams, and ultimately broker power. Equipped with this knowledge we’ll brainstorm progressive organizing tactics that can use this…

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Disrupting the Funding System

Julie Menter, Josh Lucido, Nitika Raj, and Jackie Mahendra (moderator) Over the past year, we’ve seen immense disruption in the civic tech space, but funding these innovations is stretching philanthropy in exciting and sometimes uncomfortable ways. Even more transparent and responsive models for funding – from open calls to prototype funds and fellowships – have…

Read More

Using Data to Improve Police-Community Relations

Farhang Heydari, Mecole Jordan, and Michael Simon This panel will focus on the potential and challenges inherent in challenging the status quo in police-community relations. Featuring perspectives from leading community organizers, academics, and tech startups working on this vexing problem.

Intersectional Techies: Creating Accessible “Know Your Rights” Technology for Immigrant Communities

Adrian Reyna, Cynthia Pompa, Jeanette Whitman-Lee, and Katie Aragon (moderator) In response to an increasingly hostile national and local environment for immigrants, a number of organizations created unique new technology products to empower immigrant community members with accurate information and tools to protect themselves and their loved ones. In this workshop,  leading immigrant rights organizations…

Read More

Product Demos and a Reverse Ragtag Pitch

Demos by David Moore, Sonya Reynolds, Keren Flevell, Bitsy Bentley, and Annafi Wahed. Reverse Pitch by Emily Baum. Ragtag represented by Dan Ryan, Niq Johnson and Brady Kriss. Five makers of promising new tools for political organizing and civic engagement will offer short 10-minute demos, followed by a 40-minute reverse pitch session for civic activists…

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Getting Started in Civic Tech

Jared Ford, Kathryn Peters, and Matt Stempeck What is civic tech? How do I navigate all the groups working in it, build a product, start an organization, or find collaborators? Come join three seasoned civic tech veterans who will share a bounty of resources to help you onboard into this space. We’ll provide a brief…

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Digital Skills for Public Servants (in cooperation with the Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council)

NYC Councilmember Ben Kallos, Art Chang, Dave Seliger, Alexis Wichowski, and Andrew Rasiej (moderator) This panel will feature several top NYC public officials exploring the pain points they share as they use technology to do their jobs and deliver vital services to the public, and offers vendors and the makers of civic tech a chance…

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Security Tools for Activists and Journalists (sponsored by Google)

Ramya Raghavan and Jamie Albers Google will host a training workshop on security tools for candidates, campaigns, activists and journalists. The workshop will be co-hosted by members of the Google and Jigsaw teams and cover products like Jigsaw’s Outline (which makes it easier for news organizations to set up their own virtual private network) and…

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6:00-7:30 Cocktail Hour


8:30-9:00am Registration and Breakfast


Malka Older
Author of Infomocracy
Speculative Resistance

Natalie Evans Harris
COO of BrightHive
Spurring the Ethical Imagination for Responsible Data Use

10:30-11:00 Coffee break


Haley van Dÿck
Co-Founder of the United States Digital Service
Upgrading the Critical Infrastructure of Government

Anna Galland
Executive Director of MoveOn.org
Organizing Civic Resistance and Building Democratic Resilience

Matt Mitchell
Founder of Crypto Harlem
Smart City vs. Menacing City: A Wakanda Deferred

Ricardo Alfaro
Former Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Technology for Puerto Rico
Connecting Puerto Rico While in Offline Mode

Samidh Chakrabarti
Director of Product Management at Facebook
Improving Civic Discourse on Facebook

Renee DiResta
Head of Policy at Data for Democracy
Distorted Democracy: Fixing It is Up to Us

1:00-2:30 Lunch

Keynote Workshops:

Upgrading the Critical Infrastructure of Government: Challenges and Opportunities

Haley van Dÿck, Chris Kuang, Sha Hwang, Mollie Ruskin, Emma Burnett, Shea Sinnott (facilitator) Whether it is internal tools or constituent facing interfaces, many of the critical touch points within and between government agencies and citizens are in the process of being digitally upgraded. Join this workshop to reflect on lessons learned and paths forward…

Read More

Local Organizing in an Era of Mass Participation

Anna Galland, Jonathan Smucker, Amanda Johnson, Kei Williams, Kenneth Bailey, Nicole Carty (co-facilitator), Thais Marques (co-facilitator) Since 2016, we’ve come to see some of the largest protests and demonstrations of our time. Aided by social media and technology tools, individuals can quickly mobilize for protest, but what about more sustained, local community organizing? This workshop…

Read More

Unmasking and Dismantling E-Carceration Nation

Matt Mitchell, James Kilgore, Sarah Aoun, Myaisha Hayes (facilitator) This workshop will focus on the many ways that the tech is powering new forms of old systems of surveillance and discrimination against communities of color. It will also take a close look at the rise of e-carceration and other ways vulnerable communities are surveilled and…

Read More

Using Science Fiction to Imagine Futures We Want

Malka Older, Rachel Wiedinger, Deji Olukotun, Danya Glabau, Jo Miles (co-facilitator), Amanda Kloer (co-facilitator) Don’t like how things are going in the present? Imagine a different one! Join science fiction writers, science and technology scholars, and artists who are using imagination to guide new potential realities for technology, governance, and society. This workshop will dive…

Read More

Creating a Code of Ethics for Responsible Data Use

Natalie Evans Harris, Caitlin Augustin, Nate Matias, Sara Holoubek, Sarah Henry, Lauri Goldkind (facilitator) How can individuals incorporate ethical decision-making and identify ethical dilemmas in their work with data? Whether you are a data scientist, program manager, or leader of an organization, come to this workshop to explore your ethical imagination around data use. If…

Read More

Improving Civic Discourse on Facebook

Samidh Chakrabarti, Katie Harbath, Katy Pearce, Liz Mair, Crystal Patterson (moderator) Ever want to ask Facebook a few questions about how it thinks about civics, dialogue, and elections? This is a great opportunity to engage with members of the Facebook team and a few critics about the ways in which Facebook is trying to combat…

Read More

Distorted Democracy: Fixing It is Up to Us

Renee Diresta, Moira Weigel, April Glaser, Luther Lowe, Jed Miller (facilitator) The problem of disinformation is bigger than anyone understands, and no one group is in a position to solve it. Not the tech platforms, not government regulators, not the watchdog groups. To turn things around—to even understand how to try—we need to think bigger…

Read More

4:00-4:30 Coffee break
4:30-e:00 Closing Talks and Entertainment: Negin Farsad 

This schedule is subject to change and more content will be added soon.


The theme of PDF 2018 is “How We Make Good,” with a focus on two interrelated questions:

  • How we make good on creating, strengthening, and securing democracy and its core institutions.
  • How we make sure that tech acts as a force for good in the civic life of the citizens of democracy.

New Venue

This year, we will be at New York Law School in New York City’s Tribeca (185 W. Broadway; see map below), a more intimate venue better suited to collaboration.

New Format

On both days of PDF, we’ll start together in plenary session. To get warmed up, we’ll hear a few fast five-minute talks and demos. And then we’ll go deep for the rest of the morning, with six hand-picked anchor keynote talks, each followed by audience Q&A.

Then, after a networking lunch, you’ll dive in to a 90-minute workshop session, led by those anchor keynotes, with some supporter speakers and assisted by expert facilitation.

The day will end with PDFopen, 90 minutes of unconference-style talks, breakouts, speed-dating and demos generated by conference participants.

The goal: to help you connect with the people, ideas, and movements that are making good, right now.

Finally, to make sure those relationships have the best chances to form and stick, we’re building an online community forum for attendees to start the conversation and share resources well before June, and to ensure that it keeps going afterward.  (Registered attendees will receive an email invite into the forum–if you can’t find yours, email community manager [email protected] to have it sent to you).



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Topics we'll be covering

  • Modernizing the critical infrastructure of democracy
  • Figuring out how to boost voter turnout to 80% by 2024
  • New experiments in liquid democracy
  • Reinventing local democracy in the wake of the 2016 election
  • Moving online participation to offline engagement

  • How social media platforms are damaging democracy
  • Building a healthier media system
  • Combating peer-to-peer misinformation
  • Designing systems that reinforce trust rather than mistrust

  • Challenging how surveillance technologies punish the poor
  • Fostering a code of ethics for data practitioners
  • Freedom cities versus smart cities

Where we'll be


Interested? Contact us about sponsorship at sponsorship[-at-]personaldemocracy.com