Tech

"On Tuesday, Twitter, General Electric, Google and eBay announced that they were joining an initiative called “Girls Who Code,” which they hope will increase the number of young women who become programmers and engineers. They want to create a mentoring and teaching program," reports the New York Times' Nick Bilton. "The Girls Who Code group was founded by Reshma Saujani, the former New York City deputy public advocate, who plans to begin the coding program in New York this summer."

"Quick. If I ask you to imagine the iconic face of technological innovation, who do you think of?" Melissa Harris-Perry asked during a recent episode of her eponymous MSNBC show. The answer is probably not a young black girl, is it? To that end, Harris-Perry talked about Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, a program for young girls of color that teaches valuable tech skills, as part of her recurring "Foot Soldiers" segment. Check out the segment after the jump.

Sexism in video games and gaming culture has been a big topic over the past couple of weeks – from the violent response to Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter project to the announcement of the new Lara Craft storyline, to the new Hitman trailer controversy. But these major blow-ups within the community are merely the most visible extensions of the small moments of misogyny that occur on a daily basis for women in gaming.
Microsoft and Yahoo are selling political campaigns the ability to target voters online with tailored ads using names, Zip codes and other registration information that users provide when they sign up for free email and other services. The Web giants provide users no notification that their information is being used for political targeting. The effort relies not on email but on advertisements that surfers may not realize have been customized for them.
Hate the Haters, or love them? This song and dance number by Clever Pie and Isabel Fey decides to thank the meanies of the internet who threaten to do bad stuff to you or your mother. The heroine says, "If I met you, you probably wouldn't rape me like you promised." The refrain goes like this, "Some might say you're a sexually aggressive, racist, homophobic misogynistic, cowardly, illiterate waste of human skin, but I say thank you!" Really, thank you.
"MEN invented the internet": that is, in the words of Boing Boing founder Xeni Jardin, the "steaming turd of an opening line" from a recent New York Times article about the much discussed sexual harassment lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins. Jardin notes that the article is "otherwise serviceable," but the lede is generating a lot of flack, especially among women in tech who know their tech history.

Late last week, Google representatives unveiled a significant enhancement to the company’s ubiquitous search engine. They’re calling it the “Knowledge Graph” and claiming it will support “more intelligent searching for real-world things on the internet”. And while it might be a while before Australian users have access to the Knowledge Graph, the US roll-out is expected to begin in the coming days. So what is it? How does it work? And will it change the way we find information online?

"We don’t normally consider playing video games to be the best things for our kids," writes Meghan Harvey at SheHeroes, who then cites the somewhat surprising results of a recent study from Brigham Young University. "Initial results showed that the time kids spent playing video games alone was associated with a number of negative behaviors.... But when the kids were playing video games with their parents, or co-playing they found decreased levels of internalizing and aggressive behaviors, and heightened prosocial behavior, but only in the girls."
At Mother Jones, Tasneem Raja writes about "the rise of the brogrammer." "Some developers insist that it's all just a big joke and doesn't represent any actual streak in tech culture," she writes, while pointing to numerous examples of brogramming in the wild: a SXSWi presenter referring to "nudie calendars" and "gangbang interviews," Klout's job ad looking for someone to "bro down and crush code," and on and on and on. Raja also issues a warning: "A bros-only atmosphere will hurt no one more than the startups that foster it."
"The handful of protesters that gathered in front of Facebook’s office on Madison Avenue at noon was disappointed when the company refused to accept a petition signed by 53,000 users asking the company to include women on its board of directors," SocialTimes' Devon Glenn reports. Activists from groups including UltraViolet and NOW, plus individuals like New York Congressional candidate Joyce Johnson, were addressed by a Facebook representative, though he ultimately ignored their 53,000 petition signatures.
Being a female entrepreneur in the male-dominated tech industry is challenging, and comes with a distinct set of barriers. Thankfully, there are several female-led organizations that are working to bring more women into the tech fold. A group of successful young female entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), share some of their advice--mentors, chutzpah and sharing are key. image: Susan lesch cc-by-3.0
How can you know when it’s time to end a romance? Well an algorithm can’t tell you. Your girlfriends can, but if they do, you'll be mad at them. Luckily, a new app, persuasively titled Should I break up with my boyfriend? helps you figure it out by tracking your own feelings—not serving up a one-size-fits-all quiz or an unreliable ouija board. Programmer Sarah Grey developed the tool to help her understand whether she should keep up a long-distance relationship or move on. (Spoiler alert, hers ended after being scrutinized.)

Jane Jensen's Pinkerton Road video game studio, which she runs with her husband, Robert Holmes, has launched a concept called "Community Supported Gaming." Taking a cue from Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), Jensen's CSG offers the gaming community a chance to directly support the work or a game creator. From the projetc's Kickstarter page: "Sign up as a Pinkerton Road CSG member, and you'll get all of the awesome games we produce for one year. The CSG model will help our studio survive financially so that we can make the kinds of games that YOU and WE want to play."

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