jm + culture   43

A Clash of Cultures
In short, I am in support of Naomi Wu. Rather than let the Internet speculate on why, I am sharing my perspectives on the situation preemptively.

As with most Internet controversies, it’s messy and emotional. I will try my best to outline the biases and issues I have observed. Of course, everyone has their perspective; you don’t have to agree with mine. And I suspect many of my core audience will dislike and disagree with this post. However, the beginning of healing starts with sharing and listening. I will share, and I respectfully request that readers read the entire content of this post before attacking any individual point out of context.

The key forces I see at play are:

Prototype Bias – how assumptions based on stereotypes influence the way we think and feel
Idol Effect – the tendency to assign exaggerated capabilities and inflated expectations upon celebrities
Power Asymmetry – those with more power have more influence, and should be held to a higher standard of accountability
Guanxi Bias – the tendency to give foreign faces more credibility than local faces in China

All these forces came together in a perfect storm this past week.
culture  engineering  maker  naomi-wu  women  stereotypes  bias  idols  power  china  bunnie 
10 days ago by jm
This Future Looks Familiar: Watching Blade Runner in 2017
I told a lot of people that I was going to watch Blade Runner for the first time, because I know that people have opinions about Blade Runner. All of them gave me a few watery opinions to keep in mind going in—nothing that would spoil me, but things that would help me understand what they assured me would be a Very Strange Film.
None of them told me the right things, though.
culture  movies  film  blade-runner  politics  slavery  replicants 
6 weeks ago by jm
The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death - The New Yorker
At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.
capitalism  culture  gig-economy  lyft  fiverr  work  jobs  employment  self-reliance 
march 2017 by jm
Video Games Are Boring
I'm not remotely interested in shockingly good graphics, in murder simulators, in guns and knives and swords. I'm not that interested in adrenaline. My own life is thrilling enough. There is enough fear and hatred in the world to get my heart pounding. My Facebook feed and Twitter feed are enough for that. Walking outside in summer clothing is enough for that. I'm interested in care, in characters, in creation, in finding a path forward inside games that helps me find my path forward in life. I am interested in compassion and understanding. I'm interested in connecting. As Miranda July said, "all I ever wanted to know is how other people are making it through life." I want to make games that help other people understand life.

We are all overwhelmed with shock, with information, with change. The degree of interactivity in our lives is amazing and wonderful and I wouldn't exchange it for anything, but it is also shocking and overwhelming and it's causing us to dig in and try to find some peace by shutting each other out. On all sides of the political spectrum we've stopped listening to each other and I fear we are all leaning toward fascist thinking. We should be using this medium to help us adapt to our new, interactive lives. This is how we become relevant.
essay  feminism  society  culture  games  gaming  life  art 
november 2016 by jm
How Fucked Up is Your Management?
Oh dear.
Score 1 “My management culture is fucked up” point for each of the following:

We have an unlimited vacation policy;

We don’t do regular 1:1s, but we have open office hours/are super available if anyone wants to chat;

We don’t have a process for interviewing, we just hire awesome people when we meet them;

We super care about diversity, but we don’t want to lower the bar so we just hire the best person for the job even if it means diversity suffers;

We don’t have defined levels and career paths for our employees, we’re a really flat org;

We don’t have formal managers for every staff member, everyone just gets their work done;

We don’t have, like, HR HR, but our recruiter/office manager/only female employee is super good if you want someone to talk to;

We don’t do performance improvement plans for employees that are struggling. We just have a super honest conversation about how they aren’t a good fit and fire them;

We would have some hard explaining to do if our salary list accidentally became public.
startups  management  culture  work  vacation  hiring  office-hours  managers  diversity  careers  hr 
october 2016 by jm
Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech
Excellent talk. I love this analogy for ML applied to real-world data which affects people:
Treating the world as software promotes fantasies of control. And the best kind of control is control without responsibility. Our unique position as authors of software used by millions gives us power, but we don't accept that this should make us accountable. We're programmers—who else is going to write the software that runs the world? To put it plainly, we are surprised that people seem to get mad at us for trying to help. Fortunately we are smart people and have found a way out of this predicament. Instead of relying on algorithms, which we can be accused of manipulating for our benefit, we have turned to machine learning, an ingenious way of disclaiming responsibility for anything. Machine learning is like money laundering for bias. It's a clean, mathematical apparatus that gives the status quo the aura of logical inevitability. The numbers don't lie.


Particularly apposite today given Y Combinator's revelation that they use an AI bot to help 'sift admission applications', and don't know what criteria it's using: https://twitter.com/aprjoy/status/783032128653107200
culture  ethics  privacy  technology  surveillance  ml  machine-learning  bias  algorithms  software  control 
october 2016 by jm
Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study - The Washington Post
This is excellent research, spot on.
Elizabeth Stoycheff, lead researcher of the study and assistant professor at Wayne State University, is disturbed by her findings. “So many people I've talked with say they don't care about online surveillance because they don't break any laws and don't have anything to hide. And I find these rationales deeply troubling,” she said.

She said that participants who shared the “nothing to hide” belief, those who tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.

“The fact that the 'nothing to hide' individuals experience a significant chilling effect speaks to how online privacy is much bigger than the mere lawfulness of one's actions. It's about a fundamental human right to have control over one's self-presentation and image, in private, and now, in search histories and metadata,” she said.
culture  privacy  psychology  surveillance  mass-surveillance  via:snowden  nothing-to-hide  spiral-of-silence  fear 
march 2016 by jm
How Completely Messed Up Practices Become Normal
on Normalization of Deviance, with a few anecdotes from Silicon Valley. “The gradual process through which unacceptable practice or standards become acceptable. As the deviant behavior is repeated without catastrophic results, it becomes the social norm for the organization.”
normalization-of-deviance  deviance  bugs  culture  ops  reliability  work  workplaces  processes  norms 
december 2015 by jm
re:Work - The five keys to a successful Google team
We learned that there are five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from other teams at Google:
Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
teams  google  culture  work  management  productivity  hr 
november 2015 by jm
Ignoring ESR won't do anymore
I'm tired of this shit. Full stop tired. It's 2015 and these turds who grope their way around conferences and the like can make allegations like this, get a hand wave and an, "Oh, that's just crazy Raymond!" Fuck that. Fuck it from here to hell and back. Here's a man who really hasn't done anything all that special, is a totally crazy gun-toting misogynist of the highest order and, yet, he remains mostly unchallenged after the tempest dies down, time after time. [...]

I'm sure ESR will still be haunting conferences when your daughters reach their professional years unless you get serious about outing the assholes like him and making the community a lot less toxic than it is now.


Amen to that.
esr  toxic  harassment  conferences  sexism  misogyny  culture 
november 2015 by jm
The price of the Internet of Things will be a vague dread of a malicious world
So the fact is that our experience of the world will increasingly come to reflect our experience of our computers and of the internet itself (not surprisingly, as it’ll be infused with both). Just as any user feels their computer to be a fairly unpredictable device full of programs they’ve never installed doing unknown things to which they’ve never agreed to benefit companies they’ve never heard of, inefficiently at best and actively malignant at worst (but how would you now?), cars, street lights, and even buildings will behave in the same vaguely suspicious way. Is your self-driving car deliberately slowing down to give priority to the higher-priced models? Is your green A/C really less efficient with a thermostat from a different company, or it’s just not trying as hard? And your tv is supposed to only use its camera to follow your gestural commands, but it’s a bit suspicious how it always offers Disney downloads when your children are sitting in front of it. None of those things are likely to be legal, but they are going to be profitable, and, with objects working actively to hide them from the government, not to mention from you, they’ll be hard to catch.
culture  bots  criticism  ieet  iot  internet-of-things  law  regulation  open-source  appliances 
september 2015 by jm
Kate Heddleston: How Our Engineering Environments Are Killing Diversity
'[There are] several problem areas for [diversity in] engineering environments and ways to start fixing them. The problems we face aren't devoid of solutions; there are a lot of things that companies, teams, and individuals can do to fix problems in their work environment. For the month of March, I will be posting detailed articles about the problem areas I will cover in my talk: argument cultures, feedback, promotions, employee on-boarding, benefits, safety, engineering process, and environment adaptation.'

via Baron Schwartz.
via:xaprb  culture  tech  diversity  sexism  feminism  engineering  work  workplaces  feedback 
september 2015 by jm
grsecurity
Open source security team has had enough of embedded-systems vendors taking the piss with licensing:
This announcement is our public statement that we've had enough. Companies in the embedded industry not playing by the same rules as every other company using our software violates users' rights, misleads users and developers, and harms our ability to continue our work. Though I've only gone into depth in this announcement on the latest trademark violation against us, our experience with two GPL violations over the previous year have caused an incredible amount of frustration. These concerns are echoed by the complaints of many others about the treatment of the GPL by the embedded Linux industry in particular over many years.

With that in mind, today's announcement is concerned with the future availability of our stable series of patches. We decided that it is unfair to our sponsors that the above mentioned unlawful players can get away with their activity. Therefore, two weeks from now, we will cease the public dissemination of the stable series and will make it available to sponsors only. The test series, unfit in our view for production use, will however continue to be available to the public to avoid impact to the Gentoo Hardened and Arch Linux communities. If this does not resolve the issue, despite strong indications that it will have a large impact, we may need to resort to a policy similar to Red Hat's, described here or eventually stop the stable series entirely as it will be an unsustainable development model.
culture  gpl  linux  opensource  security  grsecurity  via:nelson  gentoo  arch-linux  gnu 
august 2015 by jm
Avleen Vig on distributed engineering teams
This is a really excellent post on the topic, rebutting Paul Graham's Bay-Area-centric thoughts on the topic very effectively. I've worked in both distributed and non-distributed, as well as effective and ineffective teams ;), and Avleen's thoughts are very much on target.
I've been involved in the New York start up scene since I joined Etsy in 2010. Since that time, I've seen more and more companies there embrace having distributed teams. Two companies I know which have risen to the top while doing this have been Etsy and DigitalOcean. Both have exceptional engineering teams working on high profile products used by many, many people around the world. There are certainly others outside New York, including Automattic, GitHub, Chef Inc, Puppet... the list goes on.

So how did this happen? And why do people continue to insist that distributed teams lower performance, and are a bad idea?

Partly because we've done a poor job of showing our industry how to be successful at it, and partly because it's hard. Having successful distributed teams requires special skills from management, which arent't easily learned until you have to manage a distributed team. Catch 22.
business  culture  management  communication  work  distributed-teams  avleen-vig  engineering 
january 2015 by jm
Zeldman on Facebook's "Year In Review" feature
This is a great point.
When you put together teams of largely homogenous people of the same class and background, and pay them a lot of money, and when most of those people are under 30, it stands to reason that when someone in the room says, “Let’s do ‘your year in review, and front-load it with visuals,’” most folks in the room will imagine photos of skiing trips, parties, and awards shows— not photos of dead spouses, parents, and children.

So it comes back to this. When we talk about the need for diversity in tech, we’re not doing it because we like quota systems. Diverse backgrounds produce differing points of view. And those differences are needed if we are to put the flowering of internet genius to use actually helping humanity with its many terrifying and seemingly intractable problems.
best-practices  sensitivity  culture  design  silicon-valley  youth  privilege  facebook 
december 2014 by jm
Shanley Kane of Model View Culture Challenges a “Corrupt” Silicon Valley | MIT Technology Review
If their interests were better serving the world, using technology as a force for social justice, and equitably distributing technology wealth to enrich society … sure, they’d be acting against their interests. But the reality is that tech companies centralize power and wealth in a small group of privileged white men. When that’s the goal, then exploiting the labor of marginalized people and denying them access to power and wealth is 100 percent in line with the endgame. A more diverse tech industry would be better for its workers and everyone else, but it would be worse for the privileged white men at the top of it, because it would mean they would have to give up their monopoly on money and power. And they will fight that with everything they’ve got, which is why we see barriers to equality at every level of the industry.
culture  feminism  tech  mit-tech-review  shanley-kane  privilege  vcs  silicon-valley 
december 2014 by jm
Scaling email transparency
This is quite interesting/weird -- Stripe's protocol for mass-CCing email as they scale up the company, based around http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_inattention
communication  culture  email  management  stripe  cc  transparency  civil-inattention 
december 2014 by jm
The Oral History Of The Poop Emoji (Or, How Google Brought Poop To America)
'I went over to Japan right around the time Takeshi was deciding which emoji were going to make it into the first cut of Gmail emoji. The [PILE_OF_POO emoji] was absolutely one of the necessary emoji that Takeshi said we have to have. There was actually conflict because there were people back at headquarters who had no idea what emoji were, and thought that having an animated [turd] in their Gmail was offensive.'

'[The poop emoji] got very popular when a comic called "Dr. Slump" was broadcast in Japan back to the ‘90s. Such poop was not an object to be disliked, but it had a funny meaning. This was a very popular comedy animation where a girl played a trick on other people using the poop. The poop was this funny object to play with. It was never serious.' 'In Japanese that’s called “unchi.” It’s a child word with a benign meaning. '
culture  emoji  google  pile-of-poo  turd  poo  japan  gmail  unchi  dr-slump 
november 2014 by jm
A Teenager Gets Grilled By Her Dad About Why She’s Not That Into Coding
Jay Rosen interviews his 17-year-old daughter. it's pretty eye-opening. Got to start them early!
culture  tech  coding  girls  women  feminism  teenagers  school  jay-rosen  stem 
october 2014 by jm
The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It's Gamergate
Like, say, the Christian right, which came together through the social media of its day — little-watched television broadcasts, church bulletins, newsletters—or the Tea Party, which found its way through self-selection on social media and through back channels, Gamergate, in the main, comprises an assortment of agitators who sense which way the winds are blowing and feel left out. It has found a mobilizing event, elicited response from the established press, and run a successful enough public relations campaign that it's begun attracting visible advocates who agree with the broad talking points and respectful-enough coverage from the mainstream press. If there is a ground war being waged, as the movement's increasingly militaristic rhetoric suggests, Gamergate is fighting largely unopposed.

A more important resemblance to the Tea Party, though, is in the way in which it's focused the anger of people who realize the world is changing, and not necessarily to their benefit.
culture  gaming  journalism  gamergate  tea-party  grim-meathook-future  culture-wars  misogyny 
october 2014 by jm
Tech’s Meritocracy Problem — Medium
Meritocracy is a myth. And our belief in it is holding back the tech industry from getting better.
culture  hiring  diversity  meritocracy  tech  software  jobs  work  misogyny 
october 2014 by jm
YOU AND YOUR DAMNED GAMES, JON STONE — Why bother with #gamergate?
So what is #gamergate? #gamergate is a mob with torches aloft, hunting for any combustible dwelling and calling it a monster’s lair. #gamergate is a rage train, and everyone with an axe to grind wants a ride. Its fuel is a sour mash of entitlement, insecurity, arrogance and alienation. #gamergate is a vindication quest for political intolerance. #gamergate is revenge for every imagined slight. #gamergate is Viz’s Meddlesome Ratbag.
gamergate  culture  gaming  4chan  mobs  feminism 
october 2014 by jm
No, Nate, brogrammers may not be macho, but that’s not all there is to it
Great essay on sexism in tech, "brogrammer" culture, "clubhouse chemistry", outsiders, wierd nerds and exclusion:
Every group, including the excluded and disadvantaged, create cultural capital and behave in ways that simultaneously create a sense of belonging for them in their existing social circle while also potentially denying them entry into another one, often at the expense of economic capital. It’s easy to see that wearing baggy, sagging pants to a job interview, or having large and visible tattoos in a corporate setting, might limit someone’s access. These are some of the markers of belonging used in social groups that are often denied opportunities. By embracing these markers, members of the group create real barriers to acceptance outside their circle even as they deepen their peer relationships. The group chooses to adopt values that are rejected by the society that’s rejecting them. And that’s what happens to “weird nerd” men as well—they create ways of being that allow for internal bonding against a largely exclusionary backdrop.


(via Bryan O'Sullivan)
nerds  outsiders  exclusion  society  nate-silver  brogrammers  sexism  racism  tech  culture  silicon-valley  essays  via:bos31337 
march 2014 by jm
Hero Culture
Good description of the "hero coder" organisational antipattern.
Now imagine that most of the team is involved in fire-fighting. New recruits see the older recruits getting praised for their brave work in the line-of-fire and they want that kind of praise and reward too. Before long everyone is focused on putting out fires and it is no ones interest to step back and take on the risks that long-term DevOps-focused goals entail.
coding  ops  admin  hero-coder  hero-culture  firefighting  organisations  teams  culture 
january 2014 by jm
To my daughter's high school programming teacher
During the first semester of my daughter's junior/senior year, she took her first programming class. She knew I'd be thrilled, but she did it anyway.

When my daughter got home from the first day of the semester, I asked her about the class. "Well, I'm the only girl in class," she said. Fortunately, that didn't bother her, and she even liked joking around with the guys in class. My daughter said that you noticed and apologized to her because she was the only girl in class. And when the lessons started (Visual Basic? Seriously??), my daughter flew through the assigments. After she finished, she'd help classmates who were behind or struggling in class.

Over the next few weeks, things went downhill. While I was attending SC '12 in Salt Lake City last November, my daughter emailed to tell me that the boys in her class were harassing her. "They told me to get in the kitchen and make them sandwiches," she said. I was painfully reminded of the anonymous men boys who left comments on a Linux Pro Magazine blog post I wrote a few years ago, saying the exact same thing.


I am sick to death of this 'brogrammer' bullshit.
brogrammers  sexism  culture  tech  teaching  coding  software  education 
september 2013 by jm
12 DevOps anti-patterns
my favourite:

3. Rebrand your ops/dev/any team as the DevOps team

CIO: “I want to embrace DevOps over the coming year.”

MGR: “Already done, we changed the department signage this morning. We are so awesome we now have 2 DevOps teams.”

Yeah great. And I bet you now have lots of “DevOps” engineers walking round too. If you’re lucky they may sit next to each other at lunch.
devops  ops  dev  company  culture  work  antipatterns  engineering 
april 2013 by jm
OscarGodson.js | What I Learned At Yammer
some pretty interesting lessons, it turns out: a 'take what you need' vacation policy means nobody takes vacations (unsurprising); Yammer actively work to avoid employee burnout (good idea); Yammer A/B test every feature; and Yammer mgmt try to let their devs work autonomously.
yammer  startups  testing  analytics  culture  work 
march 2013 by jm
Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant
"They had a great lead, they were years ahead. And they completely blew it. And they completely blew it because of the bureaucracy."
microsoft  bureaucracy  stack-ranking  hr  culture 
july 2012 by jm
Many Niches » Blog Archive » On Working At Amazon
(catching up on old posts) good article from a recent hire, discussing some unusual aspects of the corporate culture
amazon  culture  work 
june 2012 by jm
Indian Street Graphics - a set on Flickr
a great collection (via Bruce Sterling)
via:bruces  art  culture  design  flickr  india 
may 2011 by jm
brandnewretro | scans from the past
a mate of mine, scanning Irish cultural artifacts from Ireland in the '70s and '80s. fanzines!
fanzines  irish  ireland  history  1980s  1970s  dundalk  culture  scans  from delicious
april 2011 by jm
What Larry Page really needs to do to return Google to its startup roots
massively detailed critique of Google's corporate culture -- lots of internals exposed
google  management  culture  aws  corporate-culture  gossip  from delicious
march 2011 by jm
Gamasutra - News - Opinion: Minecraft And The Question Of Luck
'Notch’s luck was that he came across the idea of doing a first-person fortress building game. His alignment was that the game that he wanted to make was culturally connected to [he PC gamer] tribe. While the game may appear ugly, and its purchase process etc seem naive to many a gaming professional, all of those decisions that Notch made along the road to releasing his game were from the point of view of a particular perspective of what games are, what matters and what were the things that he could trust the tribe to figure out for themselves.'
tribes  viral  minecraft  gaming  analysis  games  culture  gamasutra  via:nelson  future  software  marketing  from delicious
february 2011 by jm
The Moon Museum
a Grumman engineer, working with artist Frosty Myers, hid a tiny ceramic plate of modern art on one leg of the Apollo 12 moon lander -- including a crude penis drawn by Andy Warhol
1960s  art  culture  funny  hack  history  museums  space  nasa  apollo  andy-warhol  from delicious
november 2010 by jm
The Totalitarian Buddhist Who Beat Sim City « Viceland Games
interview with the guy behind the "Magnasanti" video. [Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi] 'presented the world in a way I never really looked at before and that captivated me. Moments like these compel me to physically express progressions in my thought, I have just happened to do that through the form of creating these cities in SimCity 3000. I could probably have done something similar - depicting the awesome regimentation and brutality of our society - with a series of paintings on a canvas, or through hideous architectural models. But it wouldn’t be the same as doing it in the game, for the reason that I wanted to magnify the unbelievably sick ambitions of egotistical political dictators, ruling elites and downright insane architects, urban planners and social engineers.' WHOA
whoa  mental  architecture  culture  gaming  society  video  simcity  urban  vice  from delicious
may 2010 by jm
PeteSearch: How to split up the US
wow. fascinating results from social-network cluster analysis of Facebook, splitting up the entire USA into 7 clusters
clusters  facebook  data  statistics  maps  culture  analytics  datamining  demographics  socialnetworking  graph  dataviz  from delicious
february 2010 by jm
Op-Ed Contributor - Microsoft’s Creative Destruction - NYTimes.com
MS internal politics routinely torpedoed cool new projects. surprise, surprise. 'Engineers in the Windows group falsely claimed [ClearType] made the display go haywire when certain colors were used. The head of Office products said it was fuzzy and gave him headaches. The VP for pocket devices was blunter: he’d support ClearType and use it, but only if I transferred the program and the programmers to his control.'
cleartype  microsoft  software  bureaucracy  politics  culture  management  corporate  nytimes  from delicious
february 2010 by jm
Science fiction: The stories of now - 16 September 2009 - New Scientist
(via Pierce) Kim Stanley Robinson on today's British SF "golden age". I have a lot of reading to catch up on
sf  science-fiction  uk  scifi  kim-stanley-robinson  new-scientist  culture  toread  books  from delicious
september 2009 by jm

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