Facets: Issue 26

November 25, 2016

When Nerds Collide

Meredith L. Patterson
"nerdiness...got culturally co-opted by trend-chasers who jumped on the style but never picked up on the underlying substance that differentiates weird nerds from the culture that still shuns them."

What are cool nerds? Weird nerds? Brogrammers? Geek feminists? Meredith L Patterson unravels their meaning and their intersection in this meticulously researched, incredibly thorough exploration of nerd culture— what it means, the people who create it (for better or for worse), and what happens to hacker values when they meet a wider political context. Two years old now, but still resonates.

Also: if you like Patterson's piece, read Zeynep Tufekci’s No, Nate, brogrammers may not be macho, but that’s not all there is to it.

The Merits of Diversity versus Culture Fit

Laura Montoya
"What these companies should be asking themselves is if the culture they have been cultivating is really the culture they want to uphold and continue to align themselves with going forward."

“We just can’t seem to find qualified candidates that also fit into the company culture.” After overhearing this statement, Laura Montoya asks why tech emphasises ‘culture fit’ to begin with, and how it conflicts with a desire for diversity. She points out these contradictions and delves into the broader issues of qualification, privilege, and resources— all of which contribute towards a bizarre desire for homogeneity in an industry that prides itself on innovation.

You can’t fix diversity in tech without fixing the technical interview. Here’s the data.

Aline Lerner
"unless you’ve been socialized to expect and be prepared for the game-like [technical interview], it’s not something that you can necessarily intuit."

Using data from thousands of technical interviews as a foundation, Lerner shows how the technical interviewing process itself is broken and often arbitrary. It fails to be a reliable indicator of aptitude and— perhaps worst of all— its flaws hit minorities the hardest. This, Lerner says, is why tech hasn’t made any meaningful inroads in hiring diverse candidates, stating that we won’t see diversity until we address the technical interview, making it a better indicator of aptitude rather than a biased system to be gamed.

After

EricaJoy
"For those who are looking for the “next great app” to build, you have a new mandate: protect those in danger who wish to stay, and help those in danger who wish to leave”

There have been countless responses to the election; this one by EricaJoy a call for empathy that reverberates and reaches far beyond the tech community. She gives us lists— things that need to be said, things that need to be done, people who need to be acknowledged. Most importantly, though, she challenges our industry to focus its vaunted problem-solving skills on the millions of Americans who are now potentially in danger as a result of the election’s outcome.

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