Alex Kadis

Make Inclusiveness the Default

Morocco Film Camera

This post on PandoDaily has the potential to open up a discussion of power and privilege within the Silicon Valley tech-elite. In it, Jason Calacanis expresses his deep anger for the way that three tech leaders have treated their local homeless population, and the utter callousness and displeasure they express towards those they deem to be in the “lower part of society”.

Arrogance and abuse is rampant within the tech community; something that is rarely talked about, but that is slowly changing. This is one of the reasons there are so few women working in technology.[1] Some technology leaders see insults and vilification as their “culture”, something they are entitled to do to others. Even amongst those techies who wouldn’t dream of mistreating others often find themselves look down upon those who do not have the same geek chops that they do. Think of IT guys scoff when a user asks a basic question they could look up themselves (I’ve been guilty of this, and it’s something I’m trying to fix).

We live in a society where nerdiness is revered. Silicon Valley has done a lot to make being a geek popular, and I’m so happy I live at a time where I can totally geek out about something, still be respected as a professional, and have that passion for technology rewarded. But we need to be careful not to let it get to our heads. Just because someone has trouble with something that comes easy to you, doesn’t mean that they’re not smart; quite the contrary – it just means that they have different skills that you do.

It’s obviously not just geeky arrogance that causes people like Greg Gopman to harbor such blind hatred. It’s straight up classism or ethnocentrism – prejudice against those who are different from him.

Why do Peter Shih, Greg Gopman, Bryan Goldberg, and men like him, feel comfortable expressing such revulsing views?

Jason argues that these men are not representative of the tech industry, and in a lot of ways I want to agree. I want to believe that most technologists find the views these men have expressed abhorrent. But then I remember that egotism is often the default with techies – those who don’t know what we know, know nothing.

Donations by Mark Zuckerberg[2] and Bill Gates have begun to make giving back cool amongst the tech elite. Projects like have made programming accessible. But that’s just the beginning. We need to change tech culture so that inclusiveness and mindfulness is the default – where giving back is just something everyone does because we should.

Let’s figure out how to get there.

  1. The NYT article is from 2003, but it’s highly relevant to today, as not nearly enough has changed in the 11 years since that was published. This is a topic I could go into in much more detail, and likely will in a future post. For now, I’ll leave it to those who know far more about this than I do.  ↩

  2. Google Cached; the actual article is behind a paywall  ↩

Hamba kahle Madiba

Nelson Mandela

My ability to write publicly, for anyone to read, is a freedom I hope never to take for granted.

Nelson Mandela, the hero and inspiration for millions passed away this week.

It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.

Closing Address, 13TH International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa, 14 July 2000

I wonder how Madiba’s passing will affect the political climate in South Africa, a country I know and love.

Writing a bit more

I need to stop talking about writing and actually write something.

Today I’ve decided, as many people do, that I want to start writing again. We’ll see how long it lasts before the next project captures my interest instead.

I’m going to talk a bit about technology and nonprofits, and my thoughts of where we’re going as a society. You’ll learn what it’s like managing the tech for a small-to-midsize nonprofit; the challenges I’ve faced setting up iOS devices, selecting a volunteer management system, and the solutions I’ve found.

Interspersed with that, I’m going to write about how I’m adapting to life in New York; how much I like living Brooklyn although I’ve barely scratched the surface, and how much I detest the Hell’s Kitchen area of manhattan. How the subways freaked me out the first weeks I was here, and did so again last night when I was trying to meet up with some friends.

This blog will reflect me as best as I can.

2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks: Analyzing the Analysis

2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study: Analyzing the Analysis

I thought it would be fun to analyze the analysis done by two fantastic organizations (M+R Strategic Services and NTEN) about the state of nonprofit communications. There’s a whole lot of #DataNerd stuff in here, so let’s dig deep and take a look!

The report they released is called the 2013 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study. It’s easy to read, and I highly recommend spending some time exploring and reflecting on it for your nonprofit.

You should see how your organization stacks up with others within and outside of your sectors. Then ask yourself why some organizations and sectors are outperforming or underperforming in certain areas.

The tl;dr version: There are few surprises here.

  • Email is still more successful than social media.
  • Don’t forget The Ask.
  • Talk to your people more.
  • Photos go viral.

Continue reading »