About Us

متن‌ساز is an inter-disciplinary collaboration between researchers and practitioners spread across institutions. If you'd like to get involved do get in touch. 

 

Computing treats non-Latin languages as second-class citizens. Many valiant efforts, like the great work of the Unicode Consortium, have worked to correct this. Still, many languages like Urdu remain disproportionately underrepresented on the Internet, in electronic communication, publishing, and software design. The history of Urdu computing is one of repeated compromises in linguistic tradition to fit available technology.

The result is an inescapable belief in Pakistan today that English is the language of computing, implying that Urdu will never be sufficient for computing. Of course the reality is that computing is not sufficient for Urdu. And this project attempts to challenge not just technological designs, but social conceptions of localized technology with an outreach initiative to test and provide language models for the keyboard. Promoting not just better language technology but rethought ownership of technology that reflects and promotes a renewed cultural, social and historical awareness in our practice.

Building on the world of organizations such as the Unicode Consortium, the Face/Interface conference, the Center of Language Engineering, متن‌ساز works to build consumer and developer tools that foster the production of creative output in the Urdu language, and broadly in other languages in the Arabic script.

 

Team

 
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Zeerak Ahmed

Candidate for Master in Design Engineering at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Director of Product at Patari. Formerly of Microsoft, and a number of startups with work spanning search software, open data systems, educational games, music streaming, and health, among other domains.

 

Faculty Advisors

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Krzysztof Gajos

Gordon McKay professor of Computer Science at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Krzysztof is broadly interested in intelligent interactive systems, a research area that bridges artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. Recent projects pursued by his group contributed to diverse areas such as personalized adaptive user interfaces, systems for supporting collective creativity, large-scale experimentation in the wild, crowdsourcing with intrinsically motivated volunteers and learning technologies.  Prior to arriving at Harvard, Krzysztof was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and his M.Eng. and B.Sc. degrees from MIT. In the Fall of 2005, he was visiting faculty at the Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana, where he taught Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. From 2013 to 2016 Krzysztof was a coeditor-in-chief of the ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems (ACM TiiS) and in 2017 he chaired the ACM Symposium on User Interfaces Software and Technology (ACM UIST). He was also a recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship.

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Neil Brenner

Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD).  His writing and teaching focus on the theoretical, conceptual and methodological dimensions of urban questions.  His work builds upon, and seeks to extend, the fields of critical urban and regional studies, comparative geopolitical economy and radical sociospatial theory.  Major research foci include processes of urban and regional restructuring and uneven spatial development; the generalization of capitalist urbanization; and processes of state spatial restructuring, with particular reference to the remaking of urban, metropolitan and regional governance configurations under contemporary neoliberalizing capitalism.

Prior to his appointment to the GSD, Brenner was Professor of Sociology and Metropolitan Studies at New York University, where he also served as Director of NYU’s Metropolitan Studies Program.  Brenner has co-supervised Ph.D. research in Sociology, Geography, History, Political Science, American Studies, Law & Society, Urban Planning and Architecture, among other fields.

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Susan Crawford

John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2009) and co-led the FCC transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations. She also served as a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Advisory Council on Technology and Innovation and is now a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Broadband Task Force. Ms. Crawford was formerly a (Visiting) Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Michigan Law School (2008-2010). As an academic, she teaches courses about city uses of technology, Internet law, and communications law. She was a member of the board of directors of ICANN from 2005-2008 and is the founder of OneWebDay, a global Earth Day for the internet that takes place each Sept. 22. 

 

Specialist Consultants

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Syed Shiraz Ali

Master’s candidate in Islamic studies at Harvard University. He is generally interested in the intellectual and cultural history of the Islamic world (1500-1900); the history of Arabic logic and Islamic philosophy; and digital humanities. He works as cataloguer and bibliographer for Widener Library’s South Asian collection development project (also known as “the Shahab project”) and has surveyed and catalogued the Alamgir Shuja and Khalil-ur-Rahman Collections. He previously worked for Oxford University Press, PeaceNiche, and Kailoola Productions’s documentary film “Salam”.