What Caught My Eye - Week 2

Diversity and Culture

  • A More Peaceful 2014: How people working on real issues can end up silencing each other while ostensibly working for the same causes.

    I find this post particularly interesting as someone starting a new blog in 2014. I will completely admit to a terror about posting on divisive issues rooted in a fear that I will be misjudged: labelled ignorant, harmful, or abusive when aiming higher.

  • On Technical entitlement: How early exposure to technology and skills changes our attitudes to them, in a way that discourages late starters. I especially enjoyed the following quote:

    For one thing, precocity is rewarded in tech. We all swoon over the guy who started programming robots when he was 6. Growing up in tech, I took this as a constant in life—if you’re doing cool things, the younger the better. But it’s become obvious that this is more unique. One of my friends working in finance put it this way: “If I told people I started shorting stocks when I was nine—not that I was, by the way—people wouldn’t be impressed. They’d only say, ‘Who was stupid enough to give you their money?’”

    Follow up with this post from Philip Guo on how privilege greases the wheels. He closes the piece with the following, which captures a lot of my thoughts on the topic too:

    I hope to live in a future where people who already have the interest to pursue CS or programming don't self-select themselves out of the field. I want those people to experience what I was privileged enough to have gotten in college and beyond – unimpeded opportunities to develop expertise in something that they find beautiful, practical, and fulfilling.

    The bigger goal on this front is to spur interest in young people from underrepresented demographics who might never otherwise think to pursue CS or STEM studies in general.

  • The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet (disturbing): Last week I mentioned how software can have political agendas, without meaning to. The kind of problems described in this article are another kind of politics, which I'd argue partially stem from the narrow perspective rampant in the creation of internet technologies.

    But no matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment—and the sheer volume of it—has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet. Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages. [...] And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the constellation of local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them—all arenas that remain dominated by men, many of whom have little personal understanding of what women face online every day.



  • Links 2013: Brett Victor's collection of papers and projects he fell in love with this year.

    My friends know that Brett Victor simultaneously fascinates and irks me. He's clearly thinking on a higher level than I am, and I can't shake the feeling that what grates at me is simply his genius; He's so much smarter than me that it burns.

    His historical awareness is also terribly painful. Watch his video on The Future of Programming, and you feel like we went down the wrong trouser leg.