Wired's cover story is a terrific piece by programmer and CEO Paul Ford, Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense of a Difficult Industry.
May 15, 2019
I probably started at nearly the same place as him: just getting online in the last great days of Usenet (he references the September That Never Ended) and, not coincidentally at the same time Wired magazine was starting up. It reads like he had a lot more ambition and less fixed mindset than I do, pushing into higher levels of less hands-on activity while I've been content in my role of making small things (and sometimes helping others make things) without needing to decide what everyone should be making. The article is a love letter to people who were building stuff on the early Internet, back when everyone needed their own "homepage".
It also points to how the techno-utopian vision didn't pan out. In particular some of the challenges in terms of inclusivity people trying to climb on this gravy train face:
I keep meeting people out in the world who want to get into this industry. Some have even gone to coding boot camp. They did all the exercises. They tell me about their React apps and their Rails APIs and their page design skills. They've spent their money and time to gain access to the global economy in short order, and often it hasn't worked.I think his attitude is good, and I hear him echoing this quote from Neal Stephenson's 1992 work Snow Crash:
I offer my card, promise to answer their emails. It is my responsibility. We need to get more people into this industry.
But I also see them asking, with their eyes, "Why not me?"
And here I squirm and twist. Because--because we have judged you and found you wanting. Because you do not speak with a confident cadence, because you cannot show us how to balance a binary tree on a whiteboard, because you overlabored the difference between UI and UX, because you do not light up in the way that we light up when hearing about some obscure bug, some bad button, the latest bit of outrageousness on Hacker News. Because the things you learned are already, six months later, not exactly what we need. Because the industry is still overlorded by people like me [...]
It was, of course, nothing more than sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists.Anyway. As my own blog gets to the end of its second decade, Paul Ford reminds me of how lucky I've been, and continue to be, coming into techie adulthood during such a time of flourishing new ideas.
It reminds me of that old Douglas Adams thought-
That's where I am! Lets see how I manage to surf a rising tide of ageism - kind of hoping to scrape some kind of retirement together to coast into shore by that point.
- everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal;
- anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
- anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.
Oh hey terrific. Striking down the Voter Rights Act, breaking the constitution by by holding a Supreme Court seat til conditions were favorable, Gov Brian Kemp "overseeing" an election he was running -- there's a bunch of landmarks to see while GOP gets set for decades of white minority rule.
Oy. Came down with something flu-ish. Is it kind of weird that I'm a grown-ass man who doesn't know if fever reducers like Tylenol and Advil will significantly delay recovery? I mean, a body doesn't set up a fever for its health - err, except in the literal sense, I guess - so if I can tough out some shivers and aches by just lying here, is that the best path, don't mess with the body trying to to sous-vide its way to health?
(Only yesterday did I realize, if I took some fever reducers, I shouldn't then be relying on a thermometer reading as a gauge of how sick I am...)
I feel that even a person of faith could look at, say, Psalm 139:13 ("For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb") or Job 10 and accept that there's uncertainty if souls are jammed in there - KAPOW! - when sperm meets egg (in which case, I guess a 6 week old thing the size of a snowpea could carry one along?) or if forming a soul/molding a person is something God + mother's do over time. Since there's potential ambiguity even for people who are convinced the Bible is the protected Word of God, principles of letting the people who bear almost all of the cost of molding decide - i.e. women and respecting their bodily autonomy - needs to win out.
I'm not convinced of the feasibility of changing anyone's heart and mind - and that of their tribe - through words on a screen, but a strict "My Body, My Choice" line is going to be talking right past believers (or even humanists) who counter "Abortion is Murder!!!!" - who might not be realizing they are implying they KNOW that the soul or personhood is an instantaneous appearance vs a process that can be stopped before life / soulness has been achieved. "Souls get knit, they don't just pop" might have more traction, or at least acknowledge that abortion banners think they're heroically saving people.
Sorry if this is too much of a "both sideser" style argument. To be clear I am firmly pro-choice. But when people do attempt to examine the assumptions behind their firm beliefs, I think that's the only way progress can be made.
(I am also not sure it's reasonable to grant benefit of the doubt to people breaking legislative procedure to make these bills happen, that they are solely (or soul-ly) motivated by "saving kids")