Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, March 15, 2014

White Men March! (aka "Being Outside")


Mark Plus said...

For some reasons progressives don't characterize Occupy Wall Street as a "White Man's March," even though men dominated it and demographically it looked whiter than the state of Oregon. A lot of the protesters also held degrees from elite universities and earned respectable incomes, well above the U.S. median:

jimf said...
Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem
MARCH 12, 2014

. . .

Unhappy Valley

A few weeks ago, a programmer friend and I were talking about unhappiness,
in particular the kind of unhappiness that arises when you are 21 and
lavishly educated with the world at your feet. In the valley, it’s
generally brought on by one of two causes: coming to the realization
either that your start-up is completely trivial or that there are people
your own age so knowledgeable and skilled that you may never catch up.

The latter source of frustration is the phenomenon of “the 10X engineer,”
an engineer who is 10 times more productive than average. It’s a term
that in its cockiness captures much of what’s good, bad and impossible
about the valley. . . Signing bonuses at Facebook are rumored to reach
the six digits. . . [T]alent — and the ability to attract it — has become
one of the few stable metrics.

[F]or all the glitz and the glory and the newfound glamour, there is a
surprising amount of angst in Silicon Valley. Which is probably inevitable
when you put thousands of ambitious, talented young people together and
tell them they’re god’s gift to technology. It’s the angst of an early hire
at a start-up that only he realizes is failing; the angst of a founder
who raises $5 million for his company and then finds out an acquaintance
from college raised $10 million; the angst of someone who makes $100,000
at 22 but is still afraid that he may not be able to afford a house like
the one he grew up in.

Tech is fun now, deliriously so, but this fun comes with a built-in anxiety
that it must lead to more. As an engineer, coding should be your calling,
not just a job, so you are expected to also do it in your time off. Interviewers
will ask about side projects — a Firefox browser add-on maybe, or an
Android version of your favorite iPhone app — which are supposed to
indicate your overflowing enthusiasm for building software. Tech
colloquialisms have permeated every aspect of life — hack your diet,
your fitness, your dates — yet in reality, very little emphasis is
placed on these activities. . . [F]emale friends I talk to complain that
most of the men are, in fact, not available; they are all busy working
on their start-ups, or data-crunching themselves. They have prioritized
self-improvement and careers over relationships.

These choices, to insulate oneself, to make technology the central theme
in your life, make some sense: The marketplace is competitive, and if
you’re not working on this or that potentially industry-disrupting idea,
someone else will get there before you. But it breaks down when you
begin to question whether or not your idea is actually industry-disrupting
or, really, meaningful at all. . .

Dale Carrico said...

The lack of diversity in evidence in much of the highest profile Occupy protests and interventions a couple years back (although far from all in this still ongoing, still ramifying, actually nation-wide movement of movements) was and remains a fact that received endless critique by those who shared its concerns over neoliberal financialization, precarization, privatization, wealth concentration. Although I am more sympathetic with Occupy's devotion to equity-in-diversity and progress-in-sustainability than the facile anarcho platitudes that often attach to Occupy, I am personally someone who remarked upon these facts that you claim are not remarked on, and when I did so knew them to be commonplaces for democratically-inclined people like me. Those who, again, like me, see Occupy as a phenomenon preceded by the Wisconsin popular uprising and followed now by the stunning and still growing Moral Mondays movement, would tell a more complicated story than you have done about the emergence of a more polycultural and planetary political coalition standing in a more realistically involved while resisting relationship to instituted governance over the course of these movements and in the context of the ascendant Obama coalition and the marginal aggressive-defensive white-racist neo-confederate coalition of plutocratic-organized Tea Party and "liberty movement" factions on the reactionary right. "For some reason" white-racist reactionaries like you often want to pretend that democratizing diversifying secularizing planetizing movements for progress are as racist as you are, and as beholden to corporate-militarists, too... perhaps it helps you live with yourself?

Dale Carrico said...

I have to say that denizens of the Valley of the Silly Con usually seem to me a callow and callous lot, more self-congratulatory than accomplished, superficially clever but without anything remotely resembling conversation, exhibiting scarcely more than quotidian intelligence, rather like used car salesmen spending a bit of windfall that won't last long and hence brings out both the tastelessness and the panic.

erickingsley said...

Progressives haven't characterized the "White Man March" as a white man's march, the "White Man March" organizers did that by naming it the "White Man March" and making it about "“DIVERSITY” = WHITE GENOCIDE" - a direct quote from the organizer (ALL CAPS included).

Color me not surprised that a transhumanist would defend that garbage, however obliquely.