no ducks in a row by :
a long farewell to the tech industry
I suppose one could say that I’m losing hope. In fact, I’ve always been losing hope, one small papercut at a time. Yet, after the publication of the black hole image, the rate of loss of hope has accelerated dramatically. After news broke out of another ‘diversity manifesto’ incident – this time at Microsoft, it accelerated a bit more. Sometimes, I have to wonder, why I keep coming back to a place that clearly believes I can never be as good as my colleagues because of the way my body looks. In an industry that always makes a point to talk about “the future”, “progress” and that dreadful word that in practice means the complete opposite than what says in the dictionary, “meritocracy”, we get quite hungup on someone’s external characteristics that have no bearing on how they will do their job. I thought I could help us fix that, but it looks like no one truly wants to fix the problem unless it’s a quick brushup for an upcoming photo-op.
The point when those kindlings blew up into a fullblown fire was the day the image of the black hole was published. News outlets had stories of Dr Katie Bouman, the MIT researcher, who had written the algorithm to generate the image of the black hole from observations made by a global team. Within hours, internet message boards were full of messages discrediting her contribution. The supporting evidence was found when someone dug up the Github repo with the code and calculated the percentage of her contributions (in terms of lines of code written). Every person in software engineering knows that lines of code is a shit metric to measure someone’s contribution, but alas, the internet bros were at it again.
Shortly after this debate flared up, Mekka Okereke, engineering director at Google who I follow on twitter, wrote a thread about it. Dr Katie Bouman “survived” this challenge, to quote Mekka, because she had all of her ducks in a row – enough ducks and good enough ducks to satisfy the nasty commetators looking to discredit her – a PhD from MIT and a professorship at CalTech. That is how good, how amazingly excellent you have to be, to survive in this industry.
Do read the entirety of the article.
Some people, a minority, suck. They use social network services (SNS) to broadcast their suck. On SNS, their suck gets amplified.
Don’t contribute to their amplification. Pity them instead. They may not know better. If they do, pity them anyway. Let them know.