Supporting diversity with a new approach to software

*
Accepted Session
Long Form
Intermediate
Scheduled: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 from 10:00 – 11:45am in B302/303

Excerpt

It’s time for a new approach to software, one that embraces differences (not just tolerates them), and sees diversity as a strength. The industry is primed for change, and there are huge opportunities to do better by valuing emotion, intuition, compassion, purpose, empowerment, sustainability, and social justice. This highly-interactive session includes discussions of current “best practices” and emerging ideas from projects that have focused heavily on diversity, issues and problems in today’s environment, imagining how things could be different, and figuring out concrete steps to make it happen.

Description

Update: see the wiki for references, links to the slides, and the results of the session.

Imagine an approach to creating software that …

  • embraces differences and sees diversity as a strength
  • values emotion, intuition, compassion, purpose, empowerment, fluidity, multiplicity, interconnectedness, sustainability, and social justice
  • has an explicit goal of helping diverse teams and communities create the apps, tools, and frameworks that shape the world – and define the power vectors and distribution of wealth in our society.

This approach is very different, to say the least, than today’s norms. Most software today reinforces existing power dynamics and works best for people who are similar to the teams who created it. Given the demographics and biases of the software industry, today’s dynamics tend to leave women, people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTAIQ people, and many others out.

Which means the industry is primed for a change. Today, the vast majority of people aren’t getting what they want. Software that truly embraces differences will have lots of people eager to use it. Who better to create this software than people and projects that see diversity as a strength?

There’s already a lot of great work out there on how to create software that works better for everybody (much of it described in past and current Open Source Bridge presentations!), and examples of teams like Dreamwidth and An Archive of Our Own that are already creating software in new and better ways. As part of the preparation for this session, we’ll collect current “best practices” and emerging ideas on the conference wiki, including accessibility; pseudonymity; flexible self-identification of gender, race, and pronouns; tools for people to protect themselves like muting, blocking, and user-driven content filtering; and research in aspects of human-computer interaction (HCI) like gender HCI and feminist HCI.

Building on that base, and applying techniques from participatory design, this highly interactive session will include discussions and brainstorming about:

  • Software we love: Who’s doing things right?
  • Software we hate: Issues and problems in today’s environment
  • Imagining how things could be different
  • Figuring out concrete steps to make it happen

Tags

diversity, software engineering, intersectionality

Speaking experience

Jon has spoken about diversity at conferences including Building Diverse Social Networks at Open Source Bridge 2015 with Lynn Cyrin, Cognitive evolution and revolution at Politics Online, and Dealing with Hate Speech, Flaming, and Trolls" at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy; with his software engineer's hat on, talks include the "Steering the Pyramids" keynote at ICSM, and "Analysis is necessary but by no means sufficient" at ISSTA. He has led participative sessions of 10-100 people at conferences and as part of my day jobs. See http://www.talesfromthe.net/jon/?page_id=3628 for links to slides (and a couple of videos) for these and other talks.

Tammarrian has spoken at several events, including Seattle’s Women In Tech event titled, “In Their Own Words: Stories of Underrepresented Voices in Tech,” ChickTech’s High School Program Kickoff event as a keynote speaker, and several panel discussions including Ada Developer’s Academy, Microsoft and SM Diversity events. Also, as a Manager in Engineering at Microsoft, she’s had many speaking opportunities on business related topics.

This session is new material that has not been presented before.

Speakers

  • Twitter avatar

    Jon Pincus

    A Change Is Coming, O.school, Get FISA Right

    Biography

    Software engineer / entrepreneur / strategist / activist, currently Tech DIVA (Technical Diversity, Inclusion, and Values Advisor) at O.School and Architect – Integrative Technologies + Communities at OPTYVA, also consults for and advises companies interested in software engineering and/or diversity. Previous positions include CTO and VP of Engineering roles at startups, Architect and Researcher at Microsoft Research, and leading the oppression-theory based Ad Astra project as GM of Strategy Development at Microsoft. With my activist hat on, I’ve worked with a broad coalition on Stop Real ID Now, as one of the organizers of Get FISA Right and Voter Suppression Wiki, started #p2 (the largest progressive hashtag on Twitter) with Tracy Viselli, was a board member of Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and am currently active in several Indivisible groups.

    More here

    Sessions

      • Title: Supporting diversity with a new approach to software
      • Track: Theory
      • Room: B302/303
      • Time: 10:0011:45am
      • Excerpt:

        It’s time for a new approach to software, one that embraces differences (not just tolerates them), and sees diversity as a strength. The industry is primed for change, and there are huge opportunities to do better by valuing emotion, intuition, compassion, purpose, empowerment, sustainability, and social justice. This highly-interactive session includes discussions of current “best practices” and emerging ideas from projects that have focused heavily on diversity, issues and problems in today’s environment, imagining how things could be different, and figuring out concrete steps to make it happen.

      • Speakers: Jon Pincus, Tammarrian Rogers
  • Tammarrian rogers

    Tammarrian Rogers

    OPTYVA, Microsoft, Ada Developer's Academy

    Biography

    Tammarrian brings over 25 years of experience in the tech industry. Driven and inspired by her curiosity, she enjoys exploring and learning new things whenever opportunities arise. Her passion is inspiring, mentoring and witnessing others make heart-born life goals and achieve or surpass them.

    Tammarrian has spoken at several events, including Seattle’s Women In Tech event titled, “In Their Own Words: Stories of Underrepresented Voices in Tech,” ChickTech’s High School Program Kickoff event as a keynote speaker, and several panel discussions including Ada Developer’s Academy, Microsoft and SM Diversity events. Also, as a Manager in Engineering at Microsoft, she’s had many speaking opportunities on business related topics.

    She is excited about this event and the subject matter because it is a phenomenal resource to accompany what she believes is imminently ahead – a complete rebirth of the programmer and the tools and languages used such that only through diverse thought, background and experiences can it be born, live, and thrive indefinitely.

    Sessions

      • Title: Supporting diversity with a new approach to software
      • Track: Theory
      • Room: B302/303
      • Time: 10:0011:45am
      • Excerpt:

        It’s time for a new approach to software, one that embraces differences (not just tolerates them), and sees diversity as a strength. The industry is primed for change, and there are huge opportunities to do better by valuing emotion, intuition, compassion, purpose, empowerment, sustainability, and social justice. This highly-interactive session includes discussions of current “best practices” and emerging ideas from projects that have focused heavily on diversity, issues and problems in today’s environment, imagining how things could be different, and figuring out concrete steps to make it happen.

      • Speakers: Jon Pincus, Tammarrian Rogers

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