San Francisco, CA December 10, 2017
Always Go Down Fighting: The Case for Failure as a Tech Community's Strength
This presentation is about facing fear, facing the odds and embracing failure, and how failure can strengthen, rather than weaken, communities. In the developing world, building communities can be difficult. Not everyone has access to technology, attrition rates are high, and they're afraid they won't fit in. But this can't be a reason for quitting, and sometimes it takes multiple tries to get a community right. This presentation builds from personal experience to talk about 12 years of community-building, of triumph and failure that help make our communities stronger, and that help make the ones who lead them more capable of doing the critical work of building those communities. We embrace success, but failure is something we can certainly embrace, and this presentation will make the strong case for it.
San Francisco, CA June 4, 2016
Outside Looking In: Working to Reshape the Cultural Memory of Tech

The promise of many online communities is that we have equality of opportunity—that because we’re online, the only thing that really matters is that to become one of us, you have the technical skill and the patience to help make your community’s dream a reality. All those barriers that divide us in the real world are supposed to magically go away, at least online.

But it’s not easy. Our own human biases will still naturally make their way down to how our projects—online or not, open source or not—ultimately behave. This manifests in many forms, chief of which are our struggles with bringing more women and people of color on board our projects, in things like how Wikipedia has a systemic bias towards "Western" topics and cultural norms, gaming's hostility to women, or Facebook's difficulty to effectively deploy Safety Check for events outside the West. As our projects become ever more globalized, we need to take them into account, and while we’re making some progress, we still have a long way to go.

This talk looks at the idea of "cultural memory" in technology, where projects are imbibed with a particular imprint of the dominant offline cultures that gave birth to them; more specifically, the cultural context to which the creator(s) of that technology was/were raised in. We'll look at how this works, how we can challenge these dominant narratives, existing trends, and how we can make our communities more diverse by making these cultures more accommodating to people from different backgrounds.