Mike Monteiro has a very strange complaint about the internet – that it’s been built by a bunch of young, cis- and hetero- white men. It therefore doesn’t take care of the concerns of all of those who aren’t male, young, cis- and hetero-. This is, of course, an outrage, we should burn it all down and start again.
This is also all the most ghastly tosh. Pinterest isn’t produced by a team greatly any different than any other tech company or site. The usage of Pinterest leans largely female. It’s long been known, has actually been argued by the grievance mongers, that there’s something wrong with Twitter. That the penetration into People of Color is higher than that into other racial groupings but also that Twitter’s workforce is just as pale pink as all the rest. This is taken to mean that Twitter must hire more blacks. When logic actually tells us that this is proof that pink people can write stuff that appeals to those of darker or different hues.
Women are woefully under-represented in the tech sector; ethnic minorities and LGBT people are barely on the radar. So straight white guys build systems that enabled such horrors because as cisgender straight white guys, they haven’t experienced the things that women and minorities experience in life and online. Incidentally, nobody is saying there’s anything wrong with being a cisgender straight white guy. That’s not what Monteiro is saying, and it’s not what I’m saying. The point here is that people build stuff based on what they know.
Well, OK, take that argument for what it is.
When we refuse to let our own children use the fruits of our labor while still cashing the checks we’re earning by addicting other people’s children — all the while rending our garments over “what’s happening to kids today!” — we need to burn all our work down.
Nothing is happening to the children. We are doing something to the children. Let it all burn down, and let those that come after us sift through the ashes to learn from our mistakes.
Which is where the mistake is. OK, some people don’t like that current structure of the internet. Or the web. Or social media. OK then, that’s fine. Gazillions of other people are just copacetic about it. So, the gazillions win. No, not because this is a democracy but because this is a market, one which contains the right of exit. Don’t like what’s on offer? Don’t use it. Think it could be made better? Go make it so.
This being what Monteiro actually points to even as he doesn’t realise he does:
The prevailing wisdom of the era that produced this nightmare was that you build the things you and your team wanted to use. You’d sometimes hear this phrased as “eating your own dog food.” Charming. The problem is that when your team all have roughly the same experiences, and you end up building the tool that works for that team, you’ve marginalized everyone else.
Great, off you go. Go build those tools that you want to use. Guided by your experiences. The feminists, the People of Colour, the LGBTQ. No one’s stopping you, there’s some vast amount of VC money that will leap in to pay you while you do so. Get to it.
Well, what are you waiting for? Or do we have a deeper problem here? That those young white guys – cis- and hetero- though so many of them be – should be creating your tools for you? Just as you like them instead of their getting to do as they wish with their lives and working hours? You wish to coopt their world rather than create your own? How very liberal of you.