Dear Fellow Geeks: WTF?

I'm going to assume you've already gotten all the background on what went down at Pycon (but if not, read up, and then come on back over).

We, the tech community, should be taking a hard look at our response to the aforementioned events. Aren’t we better than this? I’m not talking about the trolls. There will always be frenzied agitators who are just mashing away on their keyboard, trying to outrage people. I'm talking about how many (otherwise reasonable-seeming) people I saw who were comfortable and self-righteous in calling a woman a bitch/cunt/etc from their Twitter, Hacker News, or, yes, reddit account.

Stop.

These amazing open platforms for speech work because an internet connection is all we need to share an idea with the connected world. What makes this freedom so awesome is not simply that we have it, but how we exercise it. Your tweets, your comments, and your upvotes matter. The comments (and support for them) I’ve seen over the past few days have really disappointed me and I really hope this is a chance for us to reflect on how we use these tools to foster the tech community. This isn't "political correctness," this is you having the courage to use your words to create an environment that promotes an open exchange of ideas -- not alienate people and certainly not terrorize them.

Growing up, we typically weren't picked first for sports, but were first on the Quake II server. Few people really understood our peculiar hobbies or how amazing it was to see "Hello, world" for the first time. Plenty of us got used to being ignored. Many of us were bullied. But what did we learn from it -- empathy or hate?

We need to know the answer, because suddenly we are the cool kids. They're making movies about us. We're "rock stars." Holy shit, the rest of the world is finally realizing how awesome we are. The geek has inherited the earth. And now that we’re the powerful ones, we need to remember: with great power comes great responsibility. It's irresponsible to continue to act as though we are victims.

Our community has largely been defined by not-poor straight white men over the years[1], but it's growing more diverse every day as kids get excited about technology and adults realize our industry is fast-growing and valuable. Diversity does not end at gender or sexuality or race; people with a wide variety of life experiences and opinions have joined the community. This is a wonderful thing, but it also means that there will be a wider range of reactions and more potential for miscommunication. In other words, we have many more opportunities to decide whether we 1) belittle and ostracize people for being different from us or 2) react with empathy, patience, and kindness.

Kurt knew: "There's only one rule that I know of -- god damn it, you've got to be kind."

[1] As a not-poor straight white guy, believe me, this setup has worked out pretty well for me, but I know I've been playing with cheat codes and the internet won't live up to its full potential without getting the best out of everyone.

Proud to be Part of Selection Committee Helping Rebuild Lower Manhattan with $1.25MM in Grants For Tech Startups

The NYC EDC gave away $1.25MM to companies relocating or expanding to the financial district -- and I was honored to be part of the selection committee working to replace some of those suits with hoodies!

Congrats to all the finalists, but an extra high-5 for our five winners: Booker, STELLAService, Grapeshot, Paperless Post and The Flatiron School.


The Internet Has My Axe

"The Internet has my axe, insofar as I can be helpful as a voice or a person on camera or someone at a protest," the 29-year-old Ohanian, best known as a co-founder of social-sharing site Reddit, said via a deft "Lord of the Rings" reference.

"I will use it. But the reality is that the magic of the Internet is that there isn't any hierarchy to it. It's this flat connection of people where all links are created equal."

via CNN

Web anonymity battle starts anew

Preach. Via The Hill.

“The ability to speak anonymously [online] is critical to the ability to speak freely, to speak on the matters of public policy,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president of consumer interest group Public Knowledge and a former member of the U.S. delegation during the U.N. conference.

Some countries, including China and Russia, have reportedly argued that anonymity on the Web poses a risk to cybersecurity and makes it harder for them to go after hackers and other malicious actors, which leaves Internet users vulnerable to online fraud schemes, virus-laced spam and malware.

But free speech advocates warn that the push to ban anonymity in the name of cybersecurity is simply a facade for efforts by authoritarian governments to crack down on political dissidents and critical speech they disagree with on the Web.