Issue 23

the Week of June 29, 2015
An eerie, black and white shot of a keyboard with small, contorted figurines laid out on the keys.

In this issue, we explore the lifecycle of new programming languages, how microaggressions reinforce stereotypes, and children’s toys as surveillance platforms. We look at the rampant dysfunction in technical interviewing, and how constructions of legitimacy are used to gatekeep access to tech careers and financial opportunity. Plus, Silicon Valley through the lens of science fictional utopias, self-tracking technologies and the rise (and fall?) of wearables. Photo CC-BY TORLEY, cropped.

Image from NYC Rise Up and #ShutItDown for Baltimore protest in Union Square, New York, with a large banner reading Black Lives Matter, a number of people gathered around it holding posters and listening to a speaker.

What Liberation Technology Can Learn From Historical Movements

Seven principles that past movements have taught me on sustaining change today, drawing especially from the civil rights movement.

Three different smart watches on a single wrist.

Fitter, Happier, More Productive: The Promises and Failures of Self-Tracking Technologies

We have reduced the notion of health to a set of standards that tend to be binary, arbitrary, or both.

A stuffed bear in black and white, casting long eerie shadows on the wooden floor.

Smart Toys and the Endangered Solitude of Childhood

Though adults are free to opt in and out of advertising services and control the collection and use of their personal data, children have no such power.

A man reclining in a chair, with virtual reality headgear, numerous wires attached to his body, flanked by large amounts of blinking computer equipment.

Silicon Valley is a Science Fictional Utopia

For every SF utopia, there is an equal and opposite dystopia.

Photo of a peapod, cracked open to show numerous brightly-colored peas: pink, orange, blue among the green peas.

Stop Acting So Surprised: How Microaggressions Enforce Stereotypes in Tech

If you’re someone who identifies strongly with the techie stereotype, then all of these myths about the tech industry and its predictable culture make it sound like a promised land that was built just for you.

The stages of a butterfly from chrysalis to newly hatched.

The Life Cycle of Programming Languages

New programming language communities are “graded” on how cutting-edge they are: our pattern-matching capabilities associate white men with the cutting edge, especially if they’re talking about monads.

Hands on monkey bars.

Programmer Legitimacy: Earned, Bought, or Borrowed?

Legitimacy as a programmer universally requires a stamp of approval from institutions with power and privilege over marginalized groups.

Implementation of a binary search tree in a text editor.

Cultural Ramifications of Technical Interviews

Punishing and irrelevant interview processes seek to produce disciplined high-tech employees, jumping through arbitrary hoops at the whims of employers.

This issue is made possible in part by some of our generous readers: Haley Rose Smith, Laura Porter, Matt Pruitt, Chris Eigner, @chort0, Josh Lucas, Jacques Labuschagne and Rishab Ghosh