In late 2013, soon after Vinod Kurup joined Caktus Group, an open source software firm based in Durham, N.C., he became the lead developer for a new app. The client was the government of Libya, and the purpose of the app would be to support voter registration for the 2014 national elections in that country. Bomb threats and protests in Libya made in-person registration risky. “I realized right away that this wasn’t your standard tech project,” says Kurup.

As a result of that...


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