Facets: Issue 28

December 23, 2016

Welcome to Virtual Reality: Valid Identification Required

Veve Jaffa
"Facebook’s unethical policies regarding identity verification and data collection make for a dangerous collaboration with Oculus, expanding their reach to a new horizon of vulnerability in VR technology."

As VR starts to work its way into our daily lives, we’re urged us to take a step back, and look at the institutions which build it and their motivations. Jaffa points out that the freedom offered by virtual reality is inherently incompatible with Facebook’s desire to connect people with their data— often sensitive data. This ownership and desire to classify everyone undermines the critical benefits that gaming offers the marginalised community— escapism and empowerment most of all.

About the gender gap in motion graphics

Isabel Urbina Peña
"Education and upbringing are crucial to changing the way things work. Gender bias is definitely a problem larger than this industry."

As the founder of Yes, Equal, Peña's mission is to close the gender gap in creative industry. And to do so, we must first investigate and understand each aspect of it; this piece is the result of her study of 16 motion graphics studios around the world. Filled with data both qualitative and quantitative, it’s well worth a read.

Neveragain.tech

This pledge was born on December 13: the US tech workers who signed it would never work on software which facilitated the creation of databases of identifying information. They would be advocates for the minimisation and removal of sensitive data, raise awareness, and resign if necessary. To sign, Tweet or make a pull request— easy.

Some signed quickly. Others didn’t; questions arose around the efficacies of neveragain.tech and similar movements. Why ignore existing efforts? What is it truly trying to be— CTA, code of ethics, or something else entirely? Who are those running it? What are signatories truly committing to, other than the visibility of names on a web page? Some thought-provoking discussion from around the web, and continues even after organisers stopped taking further pledges on December 21st.

Twitter threads

Some regretted signing it. Amélie Lamont and LaToya Allen pointed out its problems in various Twitter threads (all worth your perusal).

Articles

Riley H wrote about tech’s obsession with posturing, while Christine Koehler described her own misgivings with the pledge, stemming from its lack of an identity, and elaborated further in a follow-up.

One of its biggest problems, perhaps, was that the databases of information already exist in the form of Google and Facebook— companies whose employees can be found on neveragain.tech. However, most can agree that what matters most isn't the act of signing, but the concrete action that follows the pull request.

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