Shuli Hallak photographs the Internet. And when we say she photographs it, we’re not just talking about cool pictures of wires (although those are in her portfolio) but entire worlds that are up and running right under our noses but remain invisible.
Her work is helping to demystify the sometimes complicated language surrounding the open Internet and is building a new understanding of how important the open Internet is for people everywhere.
She is Executive Vice President of our Chapter in New York and an active member in our North American Bureau.
For World Photo Day, we’ve chosen to #ShineTheLight on her as an amazing woman in tech who’s making a difference.
On How She Got Started
It’s an interesting time that we’re in. We only recently moved from the industrial era to the technology era and there are so many of us who have industrial skills and training, living in this brave new landscape.
I feel like I am one of these people. I’m a photographer. This helps me capture all the things we can see. The physical reality of our world. And while I’m passionate about photography, it does have its limitations.
There is an entire world out there that we don’t see, but we depend on. I began focusing on things like cargo ships and coal mining operations
I started photographing the Internet in 2013. I mean, it’s the ultimate invisible network. I felt that if I could see it and photograph it, then maybe I could start to understand it and other people could too.
So then the next step was to figure out how to do it. That was a series of cold calls, not knowing exactly what I was asking, and learning a lot.
My first shoot was inside an interconnection facility. I didn’t even know what that was, but I discovered an entire world. It was pretty much the closest thing you could get to being in the matrix.
I was hooked and began working toward my ultimate goal of getting on a cable ship - which I eventually did.
On What She Found Out
But as I was doing all of this, I was also learning. I began to understand things like surveillance, access issues, privacy and so on. Once I started to understand Internet standards I began to realize that photography was not enough. So I took a three-month intensive course in coding and that allowed me to dive into what makes the open Internet so special.
On Who She Wants to Shine the Light On
I think there are women out there like Susan Crawford, who’s a professor of Internet law at Harvard who is doing incredible things. Or Anne Schwieger who works for the City of Boston’s Innovation and Technology department. Both of these women are outside of what we could consider traditional ‘women in tech’ but how they’re using technology or fighting to keep the Internet open for people to create opportunity with is amazing.
On Becoming A Woman In Tech
I think the biggest thing that’s changed in the world is that tech is now a universal language. It’s in everything we do and encompasses so many disciplines. We need to rethink the traditional definitions of what it means to work in technology. It’s not just about working in a male-dominated space anymore. Don’t get me wrong; that does exist, but we need to remember the possibilities are endless.
There is just so much. You can do anything you care about and use technology to further your field. We all can use it to get connected to each other, to evolve and to make the world a better place.