Friday, July 25, 2014

Weekend Reading: The Long and Rambling Edition

I feel like I'm getting lazier and lazier about writing my weeekend reading  posts. I guess I'm going with the assumption that you primarily read them for the links, not what I have to say about the links. If I'm wrong in that assumption, well, life is full of little disappointments, isn't it?

Anyway, I thought I'd try to be less lazy this week, but I suspect that really it will come across as me being more rambly. Another one of life's little disappointments, I suppose. Regardless... let's get to the links.

I really liked this post from Marie Connelly about how sexism is the climate, not the weather. Obviously, sometimes it is the weather- sometimes, you're caught in a local downpour and boy, does that suck. But I don't think it is those weather events that push women out of tech and other male-dominated fields. I think it is the climate. It is the realization that the latest downpour is just part of the standard pattern, and you can expect it to be rainy for your entire career. I'll probably return to this topic in a longer post, soon, because, as I tweeted last night, I've been thinking about how sometimes the people you're working with when your patience with the climate runs out aren't the ones who necessarily create the worst weather.

Sort of like how the day that finally pushes you to go buy the air conditioning unit isn't necessarily the hottest day.

But I need some thoughts to finish gelling before I can tackle that post. So: later.

In the meantime, here is an example of how the climate is different for women than it is for men.

In broader news about things that happen to women and not to men... navigating protests while going to see your health care provider! One couple came up with an unusual response to this.

In other "novel ways to tackle depressing problems" news: Detroit's debt crisis has turned into a water crisis, particularly for low income people who cannot afford to settle their accounts. If you'd like to help, you can now be matched to someone who needs help and pay their bill- in part or in full- directly. This is the idea of two coders who started talking on Twitter and decided to do something about it. The two coders, by the way, are Black women, which goes back to the point I've made before about how one reason we need diversity in tech is because we'll solve more problems if we have a wider group of people thinking about what problems tech can solve.

Which is not to discount the importance of community... if you look at the list of other people who helped on that site, there are several whose bios mention Code for America, which is a non-profit working to get techies to think about how their skills can make government and civic life better.

Speaking of the importance of diversity, I really liked this article by Tina Vasquez about literary diversity and why it matters. A couple of particularly good quotes:

"Yes, progress is slow, but it’s always the most needed voices that are forced to wait."


"When you give people at the margins the opportunity and platform to tell their own stories, what is reflected will look like intentional pushback against mainstream narratives. Our stories only seem revolutionary because they so often go untold."

I also have a couple of things about privacy, or the lack thereof.

First, Anil Dash argues that big media companies need to stop considering everything on social media fair game and tech companies need to stop pushing us to expose more and more.

On a more Gibsonian front... Robinson Meyer writes in the Atlantic about using a face painting technique called CV dazzle to hide from facial recognition algorithms.

The weird dissonance of being hugely conspicuous and yet being invisible to computer search algorithms called to mind this article from Will Oremus in Slate about being public but not Google-able.

Of course, that last article isn't so unfamiliar for me: I use a pseudonym here not because I think it truly makes me anonymous but because I think it makes it harder to link this blog to my actual name on Google. I suspect that all of this will be second nature to my kids and the rest of their generation, but navigating it will always be a struggle for me. I've been thinking about that lately, too, as I decide how I'll handle the fact that I have things I want to write and associate with my real name now, as part of the career change I'm making. I'll no doubt write more about that soon, too.

Speaking of the career change thing, this post from Joel Spolsky does a great job of articulating one of my motivations for starting a company. I'd love to make it succeed, hire people, and then prove that a company can succeed and grow without expecting insane hours from anyone. Or, as he says:

"Even though Fog Creek, Trello, and Stack Exchange are now three separate companies, they are all running basically the same operating system, based on the original microprocessor architecture known as “making a company where the best developers want to work,” or, in simpler terms, treating people well.
That architecture is all the stuff I spent ten years ranting on this blog about, but y’all don’t listen, so I’m just going to have to build company after company that runs my own wacky operating system, and eventually you’ll catch on. It’s OK to put people first. You don’t have to be a psychopath or work people to death or create heaps of messy code or work in noisy open offices."

I've got quite a way to go before my company demonstrates anything to anyone, of course, but it is good to have big dreams.

I've also been thinking a lot about travel and its benefits, since I'm just back from a vacation and I've noticed that (1) I'm even more fired up to get my projects going, and (2) that knot in my back I'd assumed was just the latest manifestation of my repetitive strain injury actually went away. And has stayed away, at least for now!

So, I picked a travel related quote to post on Tungsten Hippo today:

"With the disappearance of the familiar and its many calls upon our thoughts, we finally begin to think differently, or even just begin to think at all."
-Evan Rail, in Why We Fly
(If you want a permanent link to that quote, here's a link to the quote on my Tungsten Hippo tumblr).

And finally, I absolutely love the WTF, Evolution tumblr, so I'm happy to see there will now be a book:
I  may just buy a copy for Mr. Snarky for Christmas....

Happy weekend, everyone!

1 comment:

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    Aaron Grey
    aarongrey112 at


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