Mohammad Rashidujjaman Rifat
DGP Lab, 5166-40 St George St, Toronto, ON M5S 2E4, Canada.
Email: rifat [AT] cs [DOT] toronto [DOT] edu
[Google Scholar Citations]

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.

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.

Ongoing Projects

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-forthcoming] [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]

Public Speaking

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.

See all projects

Selected Publications

  • Mohammad Rashidujjaman Rifat, Toha Toriq, and Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed. "Religion and Sustainability: Lessons of Sustainable Computing from Islamic Religious Communities." In CSCW 2020. (Forthcoming) [Preprint]

  • Mohammad Rashidujjaman Rifat, Hasan Mahmud Prottoy, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed. "The Breaking Hand: Knowledge, Care, and Sufferings of the Hand of an Electronic Waste Worker in Bangladesh." In Proceedings of the 37th annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI 2019), Glasgow, UK. (Acceptance rate: 23.8%) *Best paper honorable mention* [pdf] [video abstract]

  • Mohammad Rashidujjaman Rifat, Jay Chen, and Kentaro Toyama. "Money, God, and SMS: Explorations in Supporting Social Action Through a Bangladeshi Mosque." In Proceedings of the 35th annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI 2017), Denver, CO, USA. (Acceptance Rate: 25%) [pdf]

See all publications

Recent News

Oct 17-21, 2020: Presenting our paper at CSCW 2020.

Oct 05-08, 2020: Presenting our proposal at USAID's Evidence Summit on Strategic Religious Engagement.

Oct 3, 2020: Co-organizing the critical computing seminar at the University of Toronto. Know more about the seminar and the upcoming talks from here.

Sep 04, 2020: Proposal for combining faith to computing for interfaith communication and social development has been accepted to USAID's Evidence Summit on Strategic Religious Engagement.

July 24, 2020: Our paper, "Religion and Sustainability: Lessons of Sustainable Computing from Islamic Religious Communities," got accepted at CSCW 2020! Preprint

July 23, 2020: Participated at IslamicHCI workshop at CHI 2020. The presentation is here.

July 1-2, 2020: Organizing a CHI 2020 virtual event at Third Space, the University of Toronto. Details are here.

June 13, 2020: Joining a panel discussion on HCI research and career by SIGCHI Bangladesh chapter. Details are here.

June 06, 2020: Received the COVID-19 Student Engagement Award at the University of Toronto. The project description is here.

Feb 29, 2020: Position paper on religious values and privacy accepted to IslamicHCI workshop at CHI 2020.

Feb 24, 2020: Journal paper on e-waste recycler exposure to flame retardants published to Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN). The priprint is here.

See the full list

What I am upto

Research and Academic Travels: Dhaka, Bangladesh (January to July 2020).

Reading Now: Islamic Reform in South Asia (Filoppo Osella and Caroline Osella), The charisma machine: The life, death, and legacy of One Laptop per Child (Morgan Ames). Find what books I am reading here (2020 onwards).

Compiling: Compiled a reading list for HCI enthusiasts.

Watching: Friends (Always watching this!), The Office.

Find me on Twitter (@mdrashidujjaman) and LinkedIn