I am a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. I am a member of the Dynamics Graphics Project (DGP) lab and Third Space research group, where I am supervised by Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed. In addition to my CS Ph.D., I am doing a doctoral specialization in South Asian Studies from the Munk School of Global Affiars and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
My research in human-computer interaction (HCI) and information and communication technologies for development (ICTD) is at the intersection of faith and computation. I study organized religious groups (such as Muslims in Bangladesh and Canada) and religious institutions (such as mosques, madrasahs, trusts, orphanages) through ethnography, natural language processing, topic modeling, and computer vision. I develop theories and design novel technologies for communities where religiosity dominates modern and pragmatic values. Broadly, my recent works inform design and deployment lessons for HCI and STS communities in the domains of sustainability, privacy, and public speaking. I often draw on theories and concepts from the sociology of religion, anthropology, theology, and information science.
My previous research on designing technologies for marginalized communities involves aspects of sexual harassment, after-use phase of technology (repair, recycling, and e-waste), and garbage problems in Bangladesh.
Before joining University of Toronto's CS Ph.D. program, I have held research positions at the University of Colorado - Boulder and New York University - Abu Dhabi, and teaching position at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. I graduated from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) with a BS in Computer Science and Engineering.
I was born and raised in Bangladesh, a beautiful South Asian country. I speak Bengali and English. If we ever meet, please call me Rifat -- I go by my last name.
Faith, Religion, Social Practice, and Technology
Social practices of religion are pervasive around the world yet widely ignored in technology and policy design. Based on ethnographic studies in Bangladesh and Canada, we critically analyze existing theories and concepts of HCI that often cannot fully capture the lives of people where religiosity, spirituality, and occult practices play a dominant role. This project contributes by extending theories, concepts, and interventions of three domains in HCI: sustainability, privacy, and social development. Read more: [CHI 2017][CSCW 2020] [IslamicHCI Workshop @ CHI 2020]
Covid-19 and Misinformation
We analyze the generation and spread of misinformation on social media by some religious preachers, while at the same time explore technology and policy solutions to mitigate the spread of such misinformation. The particular goals also involve re-assessing existing definitions of fake news through which misinformation is categorized and analyzed in existing research. [Student Engagement Award]
Religious public preaching attracts a wide array of people in Bangladesh, both online and offline. This project's goals are three-fold: 1) a methodological exploration for the correlation between popular speeches (as shown by view counts, ratings, etc.) and speech features (such as voice, linguistic features, emotional trajectory, religious sensitivity, narrative trajectory, etc.) 2) a qualitative exploration of social implications due to this pervasive phenomena online. 3) the materiality of production, dessimination, and entrepreneurship of waz.