April 2009 Archives

It Is Not All About Individualism

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A couple of weeks back I made note of a survey that indicated, among other things, that 70% of those working in the web development field felt that there was definitely no gender bias in their workplace. The irony being that the sample audience responding to that question was 84% percent male.

Rich Bowen points out today an ongoing uproar in the Ruby community about sexism and a general lack of professionalism at a technical conference and the community as a whole.

So much for that lack of gender bias....

Here's the thing, this isn't about some hippy pie-in-the-sky can't-we-all-just-get-along. As I mentioned previously this is about the strength of an industry as a whole, "groupthink can lead to the lost of ... creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking."

As J Aaron Farr says in his own commentary, "in the long run, a large, diverse community of contributors provides ... stability and quality."

Tea and Taxes

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I get it, trust me, I get it.

I waited in line this morning to mail in my taxes. I owe money to the Federal government, to the State of Illinois and to the State of Minnesota. I "caught a break" in not owing more money to the District of Columbia, but I still had to shell out an additional $30 to find that out. So I get it.

I wasn't procrastinating. I knew I was going to owe money. I sat down in February and did a quick double check, confirmed I was going to owe money and decided to wait. Why pay just now? See in February I had just lost my full-time job. See, I get it.

This isn't about making you feel sorry for me. I knew it was coming. I left my full-time job back in July to work on the Presidential Campaign in Minnesota. Once November came I was out of a job. Then I caught a break, ended up in DC working on the Inauguration. Of course that just delayed the inevitable. I should have done my taxes right then a there, paid them while I still had a little wiggle room. Now I'm worrying about pulling in as many consulting hours I can, working on my own, knowing that the money I'm making is already spoken for. See, I get it.

I get the worry, I get the stress. I get the frustration. I get that we feel over burdened. That at times it seems, as individuals and as a nation, we have too many obligations. Trust me, I get it.

But I also get that it is not just about me. That I had have my say. That I voted and that a $13 Trillion economy doesn't turn on a dime. That change is not immediate.

What I don't get is this:

Not a Positive Trend


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A List Apart recently released their survey of web professionals "to shed light on precisely who creates websites." Overall the survey "jives" with what I would expect, but then again since the survey is, by its very nature, polling similar individuals, it would be more of a surprise if the results didn't.

In fact, if anything I think the survey suggests that a bit more diversity for this segment of the industry is called for. For example, I've spending over 10 years either working as or with web developers of various sorts, which means while I'm hardly in the majority, I fall within the largest segment.


Breakdown of Individual's Years of Experience [1]

So how homogeneous are the professionals that make up this segment of the industry, a bit too similar:

  • Over 2/3 of respondents are male. (Check)
  • Over 2/3 of respondents identify themselves and White / Caucasian. (Check)
  • Over 2/3 of respondents are 44 years old or younger. (Check)
  • Just shy of half (48.3%) of the respondents live in the United States of America. (Check)
  • A majority of respondents maintain their own blog and/or personal website. (Check)

So, a large percentage of those participating in this survey are white males from the United States. That makes the results of these questions quite interesting:


Perceived Bias

Yes, that's right, a large percentage of white males perceive no sexual or ethnic bias within the web development segment of the tech industry. Not exactly reassuring is it?

What's also interesting is that while only 40% are definitely sure they have not perceived an age bias, 75% of our largely white men are definitely sure there is no ethnic bias in the industry.

Does diversity matter, beyond "fairness". Well, yes.  Why? Well for exactly the reason why the results of this survey don't surprise me; there is a lot of "groupthink" going on here. Individuals within the group are trying to minimize conflict are agreeing with what they feel the group will agree upon, of course I maintain my own site, I'm a web developer after all! Groupthink can lead to the lost of individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking. This should be a major concern for an industry that prides itself on those very things; creativity, innovation and individuality.

Of course the real question is; Is this survey truly representative of individuals as a whole or is this nothing more than a survey of A List Apart's audience?

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[1] While the data represented in these charts are from A List Apart's 2008 survey, the charts themselves have been created by me.

Random Silliness

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Technabob, per its usual off the beaten path, hightlighted a few silly gadgets, that well I have to wonder a bit about. First off is the 35mm camera shaped like, the a 35mm roll of film. What's even odder is that it can only be found in South Korea.


I mean I know retro-chic is all the rage these days, but can one even find 35mm film for sale these days (no, eBay doesn't count). For that amtte can one even find 35mm film in Korea now?

Now what I do like is this quite pratical giant (6.5″ x 4.5″) lighter. I mean that is exactly what I need this April, not as "any one need a light?" gag, but more for a, "excuse me I need to light this grill"

Just wait, I'll have this lighter in one hand and a container of lighter fluid in another soon enough.....

About the Author

Paul is a technologist and all around nice guy for technology oriented organizations and parties. Besides maintaining this blog and website you can follow Paul's particular pontifications on the Life Universe and Everything on Twitter.

   
   


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