As a black software engineer, I often occupy spaces where I am one of a few - if not the only black person. There is often a visible look of relief after I broach the topic of race at work - that of “I can stop pretending to not notice that you are black.” Afterwards, people are more amenable to discussing “black” topics such as the latest Drake or Kanye album. However, discussions of race have a tendency to devolve into an anecdote trading contest. This, this talk will contend, can be alleviated by arming ourselves with empathy.
If we think of technology as means of production - economic, cultural and otherwise - it becomes crucial to include a multitude of voices and backgrounds in creating these tools and platforms. Hence, it is up to us - technology workers, to learn and teach the nuances of nurturing such inclusive environments. This talk will serve as an appeal for increased empathy from both people of color and white Americans when engaging in discussions of racism in America. With the recent media attention on the killing of unarmed black Americans, increased political awareness sparked by the Black Lives Matter movement, and a presidential campaign most notable for levels of vitriol unseen in modern politics, frustration and tension over the issue of race relations are incredibly high.
This talk will attempt to highlight select instances in media, pop-culture, and forums for technologists where the depiction of people of color is generally glossed over by the population at large, but may be problematic to people of color, though discussion of these issues are often relegated to discussions in safe spaces.
It will also seek to encourage guests to identify and avoid pitfalls common in cross-cultural discussions of race. This will include encouraging people of color to recall that, when engaging members of other races on the topic of race, we are often challenging their world view. Finally, I will go on to encourage non-colored guests that the most prevalent and exhausting forms of racism are not outright bigotry, but micro-aggressions.
In *The Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy*, the Babel Fish is a universal translator. By allowing all beings to communicate regardless of language, it ‘neatly crosses the language divide between any species’.
Most programming languages are designed for English speakers. Programming language keywords are usually in English, and programmers must understand a basic amount of English in order to collaborate with others on open-source projects written in those languages. But does this need to be the case? Could we create a truly multilingual programming language - one that can be localized, so any developer only ever reads or writes code using their native language, all while maintaining interoperability with code written by developers who speak a different language? And how would we create a multilingual programming language community, allowing developers to collaborate on open-source projects even when they don't speak the same (human) language?
Let's look at an example of a localized programming language: করো (*koro*), which localizes the Go programming language into Bengali, and see how this could be extended to other languages as well. We'll also talk about the steps to making open-source projects fully multilingual, so that developers who only speak English can collaborate seamlessly with developers who don’t speak English at all.
The global internet audience has been steadily changing over time. The structure of the internet itself, however, has been slower to catch up. Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), which utilize non-Latin alphabets and diacritic marks, were proposed in the mid-90s, but not realized until 2010. Even now, not all services play nicely with them. In a country and a world where internet can serve as a lifeline to learning tools, as well as opportunity, access must go beyond simply connecting to the internet.
While changes are coming, there is still widespread inconsistency in how user-friendly to non-English speakers some of the country’s, and sometimes the world’s, most popular sites and services are. I see top trending hashtags worldwide on Twitter in Arabic, but usernames must be in Latin characters. There’s a disconnect between the creators of services and spaces and today's current--and--potential audience. I'd like to address this from a personal perspective (Do you really need that accent on your name?) to a wider one, as well as point out some of these inconsistencies, and talk possible solutions.
Don’t let trolls define your experiences in work, in your communities and in your projects. If you've ever had to deal with an intellectual bully in an online community, on a project, or social media, you know that it's one of the most unpleasant aspects of the internet. An intellectual bully may be adding value, but is mostly condescending, rude and aggressive. Don't let your toxic users define your community. Do you want a "death star" or "rock star" community member? I will also touch on how to create inclusive experiences.
When you think of Latin America & Software, the first thought that comes to mind is nearshoring or offshoring. When building the engineering team for Ride, we decided to see if we could build a world-class engineering team from Latin America by giving opportunities to former consultants of nearshoring companies.
This talk goes over the decisions made, the lessons learned and the unexpected impacts we saw when we offered talented nearshoring consultants with low pay, and give them a high trust environment to flourish and a membership in a highly motivated team.
The most effective leaders are those who can rely on others to execute confidently and independently. Leaders are measured by how others perform. We will be using applied behavioral science strategies to understand why people do things and how we can prevent common issues when communicating, negotiating, motivating, and leading while working collaboratively on teams. Participants will gain action-oriented and research based tools that can be utilized in their everyday work and lives. Working with others and their work-styles doesn't have to challenging- it can be a learning and growing opportunity!
From tweets written by agency agency staffers, to tech talk slides and “witty” cafe chalkboard signs, the use of appropriated artifacts and slurs has been normalized in product and service marketing. In this talk, I identify examples of this issue and lead a brainstorming session. You’ll leave this talk with a list of practical strategies marginalized folks and accomplices can use to expose and eliminate these practices in their place of work.
Microaggressions. You know, the slights that sting but seem so small that you feel like you’re overreacting, even though they become more and more hurtful the more (dozens of) times you hear them?
This talk will make visible the microaggressions too regularly lobbed at non-binary people in tech, discuss how to combat them, and what self-care we can employ when on the receiving end.
Unconscious biases affect our perceptions, decisions, and interactions every day. How do we address biases if we don't know about them? In this talk, you will learn how to recognize and counter the biases that play a part in interviewing, creating a product, and day-to-day interactions. We'll go in depth on biases beyond sexism and racism and hopefully help the world become a more magical place!
Chatbots are re-emerging as a technology that can be used to automate businesses, give big brands more customer touch points, and help individuals better communicate. In her talk, Conversational Designer, Lauren Golembiewski will be diving into the exciting opportunities personal chatbots bring individuals, and how she believes they will ultimately make our lives better. She'll also be discussing Ghostbot for Burner, a chatbot she designed that aims to make dating better for those that receive harassment while online dating.
"Strength," "Courage," and "Bravery" are virtues often heaped upon individuals undergoing hardship. These compliments come from a deep-rooted cultural value that sacrifice should be praiseworthy and that performing in the face of difficulty is a sign of virtue. In tech, strength is valued to the point of caricature, creating a culture of depersonalization and overwork that disproportionately affects people who exist on one or more axes of intersectional marginalization. This talk explores the culture of strength through the lens of my 15 year journey through the STEM pipeline, intersecting on ability, gender, mental health, and race. I'll also provide tools for effectively recognizing, handling, and talking about hardship in the workplace or community.
Incredible Witness is a public laboratory that asks: how can people ever be “credible witnesses” when even the most basic perceptions, such as color vision or spatial awareness, differ drastically from person to person? We live in a historical period where many traditional binaries are breaking down. Some of the most basic assumptions about social life and hierarchies are fragmenting--ideas around gender, race, sexuality, and ability are being questioned and re-framed. Incredible Witness seeks to encourage this disintegration, and find ways of learning to accept each other fully, beyond the categories. In the Incredible Witness laboratory, we invite people into unusual perceptual worlds to bring home viscerally how different each person’s experience of the world can be, using games and game-based environments. Our talk will review the results of our participatory experiments and point to future activities.
Though both diversity and inclusion are important, it's not enough to be in the room where it happens (which is like diversity)--you want both the Adams Administration as well as Washington on your side, which is like inclusion. The latter breeds the former because even on a diverse team, you could still be uncomfortable and helpless.
Though I grew up in Silicon Valley as a non-STEM person, I am here today as a computer science student and developer advocado because of diversity initiatives. After attending and speaking at tech meetups and conferences on both American coasts, I realize now that companies should initially focus on inclusivity, which will in turn lead to diversity. I realize now that the diversity initiatives were successful because of the empowering and supportive atmosphere, and that that same atmosphere is also obtained through inclusion (and not necessarily diversity.)
So what's the difference between the two? Don't wait for it--I will use Hamilton lyrics to go over similarities, differences, and the importance of both.