Working and Learning from Home with Young Children

March 15th, 2020

My partner and I both work from home, and here are the most important things I’ve learned as we’ve attempted to balance two careers and an inquisitive, extremely energetic child with much less than full childcare coverage, first in NYC and now in rural Oregon. (Read more ->)

Be More Careful on Facebook

February 15th, 2017

Here’s the short version of what I’m about to say: Immigrants and visitors to the US—along with anyone participating in protests or visible resistance to the current administration—are the targets of intrusive governmental surveillance, including surveillance of their social networks. Both immigrants and political dissidents are being vilified by the administration and targeted for draconian and unconstitutional attacks. If your “friends”—or friends of friends—network includes people vulnerable to these attacks, you should assume that your constitutionally protected political speech may be used in bad faith to characterize your contacts as terrorists or criminals, and act accordingly. Read more ⇒

Hard Reset

January 4th, 2017

Our pop culture mostly presents telepathy as a cartoony curse: The power arrives, the cascade of thoughts overwhelms the telepath, temple-grabbing and visual effects ensue. (Like other primarily mental superpowers, telepathy is a tidy figure for the hormones of adolescence that we pretend doesn’t follow us into adulthood.) In our narratives, only a few characters usually possess or gain the strength to wield their skills successfully; most dissolve under the flood.

Anyway, then some of the baby nerds raised on genre media grew up and made a giant real-life telepathy machine for all of us to plug into, and that’s been…illuminating.

Most of my internet sanity-retention tactics over the last couple years have been rooted in the assumption that the online roar of anxiety would lessen a bit, especially after the 2016 election. I did a few things to tune my experience, and they helped me stick it out. Then the worst thing happened, and now we’re facing down a whole ugly flock of existential threats, along with the usual systemic, ongoing wrongs. Terror blended with uncertainty is one of the mammal brain’s worst enemies, and the social internet—especially Twitter—is soaked in it. Read more ⇒

Talking & Listening about Conduct

December 23rd, 2014

I’ve written previously about why I think codes of conduct are important, and how we made one for SRCCON, and I’ve linked there to some of my favorite resources on the subject. I am heartened tremendously by the variety and sincerity of voices raised this week—of speakers and organizers, but most importantly of conference attendees—who have written and tweeted that they value codes of conduct and the larger mechanisms of support and care that are required to give them weight.

Others in our industry have expressed their skepticism about codes of conduct, for a variety of reasons and in a variety of registers. Those wishing to follow a blow-by-blow of debate will have little trouble finding reading material. I’ll concentrate instead on a few points that have become clearer in my mind since I initially wrote about our SRCCON code. Read more ⇒

Why You Want a Code of Conduct & How We Made One

September 12th, 2014

The day I drafted the code of conduct for OpenNews’ first conference, SRCCON, I mentioned it on Twitter and got some puzzled replies. Why would a conference need such a thing? Why not just say “don’t be a jerk?” The subtext was clear: a formal code treats professionals like unruly children, and surely isn’t really necessary, right?

So I want to go back to some basics and explain not only why codes of conduct matter, but also why you’re incredibly fortunate if you have the chance to make one. And then I’ll offer what I’ve learned about making one, and some advice I’ve received along the way. Read more ⇒

Three Minutes That Might Change Your World

August 12th, 2014

Pietro Vesconti’s world map from 1321 On August 16th at midnight, applications close for the 2015 Knight-Mozilla Fellowships. The Fellowships offer a chance for a handful of curious, code-friendly people to spend ten (paid!) months in a newsroom, working with journalists, designers, and technologists on all kinds of projects. We’ve collected posts from current Fellows, […]

Thinking About Mozilla

March 31st, 2014

Like many people inside and outside Mozilla, I was quite startled last week to discover that the board of the Mozilla Corporation—a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation, my employer—had appointed as CEO a man whose financial support of Prop 8 had already been a major topic of conversation a few years back.

In the days since, the conversation about Eich’s appointment has been incredibly encouraging to me, both within Mozilla and in the larger tech community. I’m a new Mozilla employee, having gone full-time as OpenNews’s director of content in January, and my day-to-day work is very much focused on OpenNews, rather than the wider Mozilla world, so I didn’t know what to expect from my colleagues when this news broke. At every turn, I have been heartened by the degree of passion and care that have been apparent as colleague after colleague steps forward to express nuanced opinions, and by the commitment to equality and fairness that runs through the group like the stitches in the binding of a book. It’s less that I underestimated my colleagues before this mess arose and more that I underestimated nearly everyone’s investment in this issue.

In the conversation outside of Mozilla, I have been surprised and encouraged to see so many people get angry in service of a cause that has only gained a plurality of support in the US in the last few years. And as much as I’d rather not see a boycott of everything Mozilla does (which, it seems, most people still think of as “Firefox”) based on the actions of a single person affiliated with the organization, I am completely psyched to see this many people this angry in defense of civil rights.

So that has been incredibly good to see. But then there is the thing itself.
Read more ⇒

Hello, Hello

February 26th, 2014

Last week, the Editorially team announced that they were closing up shop and began the process of an orderly shut-down. The loss has been difficult primarily because I loved the tool and the team, and I thought they deserved to succeed. I still think that, and I’m going to be sad for a long time, and I may eventually write more about why. But today I’m going to be selfish instead, because the secondary reason I took this loss hard is that Editorially had become indispensable to my work. Losing it feels like losing a cherished and necessary robot-arm.

Editorial work—reading, drafting, revising, reviewing, line-editing, copyediting, marking up, illustrating, and publishing—is what I do for a living. It’s also a good chunk of what I do for love. And like a programmer with very specific requirements for their dev environment, I care a lot about the details of my editorial tools: how they work, what they allow, how they look, how trustworthy they seem. Read more ⇒

I Am Here to Crush Your Dreams

September 12th, 2013

Let’s say you want to work in tech but you also want a civil, respectful working environment. You want to transcend professional mediocrity, but you also want family-friendly policies or sane working hours. And let’s say you yourself aren’t generally treated like an inferior simply because of who you are, but that you’d really rather not work with people who treat others that way.

But let’s be honest. Can you have all that and work at a buzzy startup or a giant agency, all the while immersing yourself in the squabbles of celebrity-style tech media? Maybe not. Read more ⇒

Advice for Outsiders

June 12th, 2013

It’s college graduation season, so there’s been a lot of advice circulating for young designers/coders etc. on how to get a first job and how to succeed at it. A lot of this advice is really good. I want to add a few things from a perspective that doesn’t get much direct attention: what it means to come to a professional world from outside, and how that outsiderness can be both difficult and helpful. Read more ⇒