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You don't want to be an edge case

We are relying more and more on algorithms for making decisions for us but often they are designed for the "average" and people who are not in the "average" are left out. Here the "average" often means the elite or people who are already in power and control things. There have numerous cases of implicit sexism and racisim "by technology" [1] [2]. When designing technology we need to careful of whom we include but also who we exclude.

[1]: http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/25/6844021/apple-promised-an-expansive-health-app-so-why-cant-i-track [2]: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/jan/25/racism-colour-photography-exhibition

Let the other 95% Of Reality In

This is a rebuttal of Paul Graham's essay "Let the 95% in", where PG argues to easing the immigration laws so that tech companies can get more programmers from outside the US. Tough I and also the author sympathesis with the conclusion, PG has got all the arguments wrong.

When I first read PG's essay I liked it and I was "yup, this guy is making sense" and now he doesn't. This tells me that I need to think more carefully about the things I read and thing which forms my opinion. And need to include more opposing sources of information in my reading. Its like when I first read PG many years ago I liked him and then I read a lot of him and I felt everything he writes is so true. Which is almost impossible for anyone? Well why do I think so? Okay, no meta thoughts for now.

Academic Assholes and the circle of niceness

Academia has a problem of Assholes, people who belittle other people, bash for not knowing something etc. In this article the author discuss what promotes people to behave as assholes. She talks about the book ‘The No Asshole Rule’ Robert Sutton, where he discuss why having a asshole in your organization is bad and in the last chapter he tries to answer the question "Is there any advantage of being an asshole?", it turns out that unkind behavior is seen as unlikeable but is seen as more clever and intelligent and this is what promotes assholes in Academia. I want to Sutton's book, it appears to be a very interesting read, I also skimmed through his blog a few days and he appeared insightful.

Giving with No Thought of Return

Steven Holden a PSF board member writes about the question which industry often asks "What's in for Me?" when it comes to contributing to Open Source. And he tries to argue that this should be a question at all because money shouldn't be only thing that matters.

In recent years I have also developed deep skepticism and kinda disgust for the big corporate and their mentality that profit justifies everything. And the sadder part is that a lot of commoners have also justfied this idea. This argument of "it sells" comes from everything from sexism in video games and advertising to privacy issues and the copyright laws.

Hundereds of startups are booming up from Scilicon Valley to Bangalore it would be interesting to analyze how many of them wouldn't even have the scope of coming up if they didn't have all these open source tools and languages. Open Source has given them so much yet they ask "What's in for me?"

The stegosaurus strategy

Academicians by their nature and training are critical, they are skeptic and they are trained to see where things might go wrong. They need to think "What can be faulty assumption and what step doesn't really follow from the previous one". Facing and embracing your criticism is important as it brings out hidden flaws and helps you improve overall. This can be tough for people who are new to it. It was tough for the author of this blog post, they have decried the events where they have cried in the bathroom and though about quitting academia on their forth day. But people eventually cope up with criticism and author describes mainly two strategies people take. Some people internalize what critiques like and what they don't and they do the things which they like and avoid the one which they don't. They basically become a chameleon. Others develop a hard skin and become stegosaurus. Stegosaurus spin their tail and argues back. Author argues you should become neither of them, chameleon does things for the fear and not for the love of it whereas stegosaurus in some sense becomes the bully themselves. What will I do? I don't know a stegosaurus definitely seems better than a chameleon