Alex Kadis

Category Archives: Random Thoughts

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 code.org 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  ↩

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.

Turning the Clock Back 72 Years

After reading a post on the Freakonomics blog, I decided to do a bit of research:

If you are in the United States, you probably remember participating in the Decennial Census in 2010. These forms are kept confidential for 72 years—roughly an average American’s life span. But this same rule means that today (actually, a couple of days ago), the 1940 Census results became public information. The good folks at the National Archives have scanned all of these census forms, and put them all online. With a bit of work, you should be able to find your house—or if you are in a newer neighborhood, perhaps a neighboring house.

It took me a few hours to make my way through the National Archives site before I hit on useful information. It turns out that their site really only likes Internet Exlorer. Blegh. Of course, not that you can find that listed on their website anywhere. If you’re looking to do the same research I did, I’d recommend checking out this Unified 1940 Census ED Finder. I didn’t find it until I completed my research, but it would have saved me a lot of time.

According to the National Archives 1940s Census, where I live now was Enumeration District 1-106 of Washington, DC. Once I figured out my enumeration district, I was able to find a map (click through for the full size version).

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Seeing the Future at FOJNP

On Wednesday, 24 August 2011, I along with 50 others attended Dave Weinberg‘s Future of Jewish Nonprofit summit (FOJNP) in New York. The event brought together some great minds in the nonprofit Jewish world to talk about how to raise money in these difficult times, proper use of social media (Google+, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn), and how to get your ideas out there. I think it was a resounding success.

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My Ideal Leadership Conference

Over 400 “young leaders” from Jewish communities around the globe attended Masa’s Building Future Leadership (BFL) conference. Masa did a brilliant job in their first attempt at a week-long leadership conference, and my hat goes off to them. One thing that struck me during the conference: I really wasn’t the target demographic. So for the heck of it, I’ve decided to dream up what BFL could have been, if it had been designed with me in mind.

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