Diversity in Tech…

Who gets hired and promoted?

(and who defines a culture fit?)

Who speaks at conferences?

(and who do you retweet?)

Who do you work for?

(and who’s the target audience?)

Who writes the user profiles?

(and who’s use-case is too fringe?)

Those are necessary discussions, but…

I don’t want to moderate them

Let’s talk philosophy!

What do we believe?

How do our tools and processes reflect those beliefs?

This is a discussion

My lens:

Queer Theory

A Queer Primer

[the oversimplified version]

Strange” or “Peculiar

1800’s: becomes a (sexual) insult

1980’s/90’s: Reclaimed

A big tent movement

The queer and transgender movements came into their own in the early 1990’s in response to this sort of exclusionary “oneness” that was promoted my cultural feminists and many mainstream gay rights activists… These alliances were not based on a presumed shared biology or set of beliefs, but on the fact that these different groups faced similar forms of discrimination.


—Julia Serano, Whipping Girl

"We’re all the same"

We’re all different

“We’re normal too”

There is no “normal”

“Normal” is Suspect

Who defines it? Who benefits?

Queering The Web


  1. The Web as a New Medium

    (Tim Berners-Lee turns the creator/consumer hierarchy on it’s head)

  2. Defining User-Friendly

    (Douglas Engelbart, Steve Jobs, and how we got to now)

  3. Little Humans in Big Data

    (Capitalism, big data, and the problems of modeling humanity)

  4. A Sassy Vision

    (What does Sass believe? Where are Natalie, Chris, and Hampton taking us?)

1. The Web as a New Medium

Tim Berners-Lee, 1989

Regime change

Control is a limitation, adaptability is a strength

The fact we can control a paper page is really a limitation of that medium. You can think – we can fix the size of text – or you can think – the size of text is unalterable. You can think – the dimensions of a page can be controlled – or – the dimensions of a page can’t be altered.


—John Allsopp, A Dao of Web Design

2. Defining User-Friendly

Bootstrapping vs Plug-and-play

Douglas Engelbart

1968: The Mother of All Demos


(the mouse, hypertext, view switching, networked computers, early GUI)

Augmenting human intellect

Giving users the tools to build their own tools

The NLS was not about providing users with ready-made software and tools from which they choose or consume but rather it was about bootstrapping, or “the creation of tools for expert computer users” and providing the means for users to create better tools, or tools better suited for their own individual needs.


—Lori Emerson, From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly

Steve Jobs

1976: Apple I


(proprietary bullshit in my pocket)

Identical, easy-to-use, low-cost appliance

Invisible” closed interfaces (the “just work”)

At this point, customization is no longer in the service of building, creating or learning – it is, instead, for using the computer as one would any home appliance and ideally this customization is only possible through software that the user drops into the computer via disk just as they would a piece of bread into a toaster.


—Lori Emerson, From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly

Any barrier that exists between the user and some part of the system will eventually be a barrier to creative expression. Any part of the system that cannot be changed or that is not sufficiently general is a likely source of impediment.


—Daniel Ingalls, Byte 1981

3. Little Humans in Big Data

The world is not structured — data is

What’s unique is un-trackable

gender dropdowns & facebook interests

4. A Sassy Vision

What does Sass believe?

Brings community to CSS?

Brings bootstrapping to CSS?