22 Dec 2018 @ 5:14 PM 

There has been a lot of recent noise regarding the demographic makeup of typical software developers and people working in CS. There is a lot of “pushback” against it, which is a bit unusual. There is really no denying it. Look at almost any CS-related software team and you will find they are almost completely made up of nerdy, young white males. They think they got there through hard work and that the demographic dominates is because they are simply the best, but that is simply not true- it’s a self-perpetuating monoculture. Hell I’m a nerdy white male (Not so young now, mind…), I like programming and do it in my spare time but somehow that "feature" has become this almost implicit requirement. You need to find somebody who has this healthy Github contribution history and wastes a lot of their spare time fucking around on computers. That fits me but the fact is it simply shouldn’t be a requirement. a Team shouldn’t be comprised of one type of software developer. And that applies to both attitude as well as demographic.

There is also this weird idea that a software developer that doesn’t work on software in their spare time is some kind of perversion. "So what personal projects do you have?" is a question I can answer but if somebody cannot answer it or the answer is "none" I don’t get why that is an instant minus point. I mean bridge building engineers/contractors don’t get points taken off in interviews if they don’t spend their spare time designing and building bridges, but somehow in software development there is this implicit idea that we must all dedicate all of our spare time to it. Just because somebody doesn’t like to work on software in their spare time doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be absolutely spectacular at it. Hell if anything it’s those of us who finish work and basically just switch to a personal project that are trying to compensate by constantly cramming for the next workday. As if we have to constantly combat our own ineptitude by repetition at all times.

I think the relatively recent "pushback" to the idea of actually introducing any sort of diversity by trying to break up the self-perpetuating loop of young white guys only wanting to work with other young white guys really illustrated how necessary it was. You had people (young white male nerds, surprise) complaining about "diversity quotas" and basically starting with the flawed assumption that the reason that their team consisted of young white male nerds was because they were the most qualified. No, it was because the rest of the team was young white male nerds and anybody else being considered had to meet these ridiculous lengths to prove themselves before they even get considered as fitting the "culture" because the culture is one of- you guessed it, young, white, male nerds. A mediocre "young white male nerd" is often more likely to get hired than a demonstrably more skilled person of a different race or (god forbid, apparently), a woman.

Even an older guy is probably less likely to be brought on board. You can have some grizzled older software veteran at 50 who has forgotten more than the rest of the team knows put together but him not memorizing modern frameworks and buzzwords is going to prevent him from coming on board, even though he’s bringing on board countless skills and experience that no amount of github commits can hope to bring a "young white male nerd". Can you imagine how much ridiculous skill and ability a woman who is 60 would have to bring to the table to get hired as a software developer? You get these 24 something white dudes "well I wrote an expression evaluator" and the interviewer is like "Oh cool and it even does complex numbers, awesome" but a 60-year old woman could be like "well, I wrote a perfect simulation of the entire universe down to the atom, with a speed of 1 plank every 2 seconds, as you can see on my resume" And the completely unimpressed interviewer would be like "Yeah but we’re looking for somebody with CakePHP experience"

I think "young white male nerds" reject the idea that they have any sort of privilege in this field because they feel it means they didn’t work as hard. Well, yeah. We didn’t. get over it. We had things handed to us easily that we wouldn’t have if we were older, a different race, or women. We need to stop complaining that reality doesn’t match our ego and trying to stonewall what we term "diversity hires" and actually respect the fact that we aren’t a fucking master race of developers and women and minorities are fully capable of working in software, and cherrypicking racist and sexist statistics to support the perpetuation of the blindingly-white sausage fest just makes us look like babies trying to deny reality.

Posted By: BC_Programming
Last Edit: 22 Dec 2018 @ 05:14 PM

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 08 Dec 2013 @ 4:02 AM 

On this NSA thing

So this whole thing with the “leaks” and the NSA is becoming pretty ‘common knowledge’. To be honest though I’m not sure if people are really engaging their critical thinking skills when it comes to this sort of thing. Here are some things that bother me.

  1. All sources to the public are secondary.

    This seems pretty important. Every single “Source” of information is simply a newspaper or magazine article, claiming it came from Snowden. We have absolutely no way of independently verifying it’s source nor it’s authenticity. This doesn’t help when different articles claim that allegedly leaked documents say the exact opposite thing, either. Supposedly, Snowden wanted them to be made available to the public. I don’t believe this for a few reasons. First, if he wanted them public, it’s not hard. Upload the information as a torrent and soon it will have so many seeders it would be impossible to get rid of if somebody wanted to. The fact that there is no evident effort makes me wonder if this is some weird experiment.

  2. Adding to the above, Newspapers early on were calling Edward Snowden “Eric Snowden”. This seems a weird mistake given that there is information about an “Eric Snowden” planning a large experiment to determine how quickly information travels through social media, which also of course combines with the fact that the information only appears on sites that have social media connections (for sharing and whatnot).
  3. No source information. I mentioned this before, but it’s pretty important. Take that Slideshow “evidence”. Allegedly it is 36 slides long. Here are some problems. First, we are only ever shownb something like 6 slides total by all the websites that show them put together, we are only shown actual .jpg images that don’t contain ANY information that gives what is inside any credibility whatsoever, and we have no source verification. I would challenge ANYBODY to come with one good reason that these slides are not made up entirely; nothing in those documents points to any sort of authenticity and the fact that the actual document files aren’t being released makes me raise yet another eyebrow, because it prevents independent or third party verification.
  4. The NSA did not take plausable deniability. In their press releases, they decried the “public leaks”. If, however, they had a REAL leak, they wouldn’t mention it. They would deny it was actually leaked- just pass it off as fake information. The fact that they readily jumped right on the “yep, it’s legit” bandwagon makes me doubt the authenticity of the information further; either they know the information is inaccurate and want people to believe it is, or it ties in with the previous mention of an attempt and some sort of Experiment. The fact that they didn’t take the plausable deniability makes no sense.

The fundamental issue is- no source documents. Occam’s Razor. Claiming all the worlds largest technical companies are handing over our personal information to the U.S government is an extraordinary claim. It requires extraordinary evidence. ALl we have are a few slides and jpegs allegedly taken from some leaked documents. They prove nothing- anybody could have typed them, and there are numerous errors that seem to defy how the organization actually works. The poor design on the slideshow, and the inclusion of random Company logos in that slideshow for no reason; etc. It points to one-off hackjob.

Fundamentally, until the source documents are released for independent verification and examination, I see no good reason that anybody should take any of this information as true. Repeatedly I see references to “NSA this” and “NSA that”; how “Microsoft/Google/etc” are selling our information to the government. But before you say something like that, consider what evidence you have. The best evidence anybody has right now is third party- we have articles that supposedly cover parts of documents that were allegedly leaked by Edward Snowden, who used to work for the NSA. One has to ask the question for each step of the way. Did the NSA know he was going to cause trouble and only give him access to stupid looking documents with terrible wording? Did the newspapers supposedly covering the story and posting snippets and images of the leaked documents represent the information correctly? And do we really have any good reason beyond the word of journalists that any of this is actually true? No. sources. Without sources information is meaningless. Right now it’s a bunch of claims with no more legitimacy than if I declared I was Santa Claus. People are more willing to believe it because it makes them feel secure, ironically, in knowing the government actually knows what they are doing to some extent. Sort of like how conspiracy nutters who think the world is run by lizard-people can at least be reasonably secure in the ‘knowledge’ that the goverment is not run by your average human beings.

As far as I’m concerned, all the evidence points to this being fake or otherwise illegitimate somehow. The fact that despite wanting them public, Snowden went to old-style journalism instead of using modern information technology to disperse the information questions that motive. The fact that the NSA did not take plausible deniability and basically admitted that “yes those leaked documents are confidential documents that nobody else should see” questions their legitimacy. And the ridiculous focus on a person (Edward Snowden) rather than on the information makes me further wonder about the motives behind this.

Posted By: BC_Programming
Last Edit: 08 Dec 2013 @ 04:02 AM

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