SF/Oakland, CA January 31, 2015
Why There Is No Such Thing As Tech

“The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.” –Theo Jansen What is tech? What is social work? Why is there a difference? The primary reason “tech” doesn’t see a wider array of people involved is because there is a clear dividing line between social work and tech- between people who care about the community and want to do good, and people who just want to cash out and buy a loft in SOMA. Or at least that’s what we think. In this talk I explore and debunk the myths perpetuate this belief and discuss why it is not only advantageous, but IMPERATIVE that we smash this idea of separation. In this talk I explain why there is no such thing as tech. The talk focuses on 5 beliefs that I’ve observed in a multi-decade career that has vacillated between social service and tech startup. 1. Doing genuine social good is at complete odds with earning revenue. 2. Social work is the only way to do something good. 3. Tech people are full of shit, only concerned with marketing snake oil to raise V. C. funds. 4. Tech is a wealthy white boy’s club that can’t actually help marginalized communities. 5. A career in tech requires that I know a lot about computers/know how to code. I use examples from tech and social work to invalidate each one, propose a new sector landscape in which these “two” sectors are seen as natural extensions of each other, and make a case for why this is not only the key to diversity in tech, but the key to uncovering our best and most effective social innovation.