Thinking different in the web tech world

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Yesterday, I visited the Zeit.co day conference in Berlin with an odd feeling. The (web) technology is able to influence how the society can interact and express to each other. Lately, some of the web tech community have the feeling, they are not performing well in that context. Even, the WebDev conferences and the JS community are trying hard to make the speakers line-up more diverse, we (male, female, trans, latinos and other developers) keep stuck in our academic webdev filter bubble. We are talking about improving society, but we are not able to solve the problems within our community. Open-Source Maintainers burn out, open-source projects doesn’t get (economical) support, developers are yelling at each other about pull requests  and even technologies (JS vs CSS). More worse, even in 21 century people fight on gender

It is obvious within the web tech world something is wrong. Even a lot of industry leaders feel guilty of it and are kinda shocked by this shit. Luckily, they try to change it. In my opinion, a more diverse speaker line-up and a call for minority support won’t solve that problem. We as a community have to come down! We are not as smart as we believe we are! Our kind of specialization, which drives our industry makes us socially dumb for other perspectives.

I personally believe in a welcoming community, be open-minded to the other human, culture, thinking and even other technology approaches. If someone get harmed because the person is just different, but s/he does not violate the code of conduct, then we have to show moral courage and give support. Every community has its own group dynamics and interests conflicts. Human interaction and opinions are not as deterministic as our so well-defined algorithms. Therefore, our technical approach of describing complex system is kinda useless for our daily human interaction. This is fucking normal, we just have to deal with it! Instead of focusing on appropriate quote of speaker line-up, just ask what the underrepresented community members and visitors need. The platform Model View Culture is great resource for this. Adapt your communities design towards all(!) group members needs…

However, I gathered professional education in economics (as a banker), Computer Science (webdev and design) and later in Media Art (focus on society and tech – almost philosophy). That interdisciplinary set of knowledge made me aware that I don’t know much, but every discipline has its right of existence. Every discipline has its strength in describing human interactions and phenomens. Exploring a topic from different point of views enrichs every discussion.

Luckily, the internet holds some great talks, which enrich our ecosystems. I want to share this collection of talks with you, which provide values I personally share.

The relationship of paradigms, dogmas and programming

Anjana Vakil demonstrates in her talk very well how we can talk about different programming approaches without getting in an argument.

If we are talking about different ways of solving a problem, we arrive at the topic “evaluation”. Jeremy Keith hold a very helpful talk about how to evaluate technology:

Share, reuse, contribute and open source

Open Source Movement drives our industry driving force. The motivation behind is very different, but mostly meant in a good way. Nevertheless, some things has to be considered. From accepting different disciplines, different kind of peoples, and even sustain a good communication culture.

Jan Lehnardt sums up a status quo in social interaction within the JavaScript community.

Some pragmatic advices for open source projects are Charlotte Spencer. From communication towards how to deal with pull requests on Github. This talk is a great help for every open source contributor!

Making an open source project sustainable is very difficult. Sometime it needs money support sometimes another kind of support. Pia Mancini sums up this balancing act very well in her talk “A new way of sustaining open source” at Zeit.co conference in Berlin. Please skip the livestream to 04:01:17

If this video is not working for you, then please check the talk by Nadia Eghbal.

Jenn Turner’s talk “Open Source Beyond Software” addresses the the critical component of communication and welcome culture in open source projects. Especially, why it is so important for non-coders and and non-experts to contribute to open source projects.

Sometimes, people have got the impression that open source communities are driven by an open-minded culture. That’s is not always true. UX Designer and Interaction Designer can run in culture clash within an open source community. Great talk by Victoria Bondarchuk about “When Cultures Clash – Integrating UX with FOSS Development“.

At the Material Conference, Amber Wilson did a great job explaining, why people with a different professional background are a great addition for our community.

In the end, we have to ask ourselves, how do we get more different perspectives on our daily business. A more diverse landscape of people could be an answer. Anika Lindtner has some good points.

 

Moral courage in our daily routine

Sometimes, it is not all about behavior changes in our communication skills. Sometimes, we solve the wrong problems or we create bigger revenge effects, than we do expect. Moral courage exist also for our professional output.

Tristan Nitot provides 7 principles to build human-friendly information systems. We should integrates those in our daily work.

The same moral courage is called by Aral Balkan. His Ethical Design Manifesto is good orientation for our daily product development routine.

Ownership of your data is also a strong motivation of the Indie Web community. They provides APIs and guidelines, which enable social interaction in best free form of expression. They always happy about new members.

However, that is much about design in general. Our body and mind is in a steady change. Sometimes our mind and body works great and sometimes not. Therefore, inclusive design should be a standard. Much better, if your product (app) and community design even works under difficult conditions, it will be work amazingly better on good conditions. Inclusive design is a great way to establish a resilient product state.

Beyond that Internet is not always available. Some years ago the unhosted movement was an eye opener for me. Luckily, the OfflineFirst movement emerged and developed the idea further. Alex Feyerke presented the movement very well:

The even Google jumped on that offline ship under the term Progressive Web Apps and Service Workers.

I like the Hoodie Project regarding Offline First very much, because it is a community driven tool set. It is more open for extension. Check it out:

Summary

I hope that we as community appreciate each other with all our differences. It does not matter if the difference is gender, cultural background, physical limitations, mental limitations, age, education and so on. The only thing what matters is our kind of communication culture. We have to achieve is a way to communicate with each other in a constructive way. Then we are able to establish a safe environment for everyone, though as a result we all can learn from each other.

As usual, feedback to my post is always welcome. I am pretty sure that I missed some more circumstances and points… and I am ready for learning more about our community 🙂

 

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