Some patriarchal intervention at Google I/O a while back

About 11 years ago at Google I/O two dudes, Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman, presented The Myth of the Genius Programmer to an audience of mostly dudes. Well, we can surmise at the demographics because women were still being invented around this time.

Women are a very recent invention.

Ursula K. Le Guinn, The Wave in the Mind

Or, rather, *re*invented since they had been denied participation in Western STEM since at least the middle 1700s:

Women lost their security clearances very early in the stories of leading-edge science.

Donna Haraway, Modest Witness

Despite the missed opporunity to cite the origins of congressive world-making in non-human-men being experience, indigenous practice, cooperative economics, anarchism, feminism, liberation theologies, etc…the talk is a pretty good orientation for ingressive types to think congressively about working with other people.

That’s my subtext as I watch. I just wish men were erudite enough to understand they’re re-invention. Non-mens have to keep rewinding it back. For example:

The men who wrote the [Agile] manifesto are unclear on whether they invited any women. Even so, the thing I notice from both the manifesto, the accompanying principles, and the fact that these 17 men call themselves ‘organizational anarchists’ is that what they came up with is inherently subversive, anti-authoritarian, and feminist. There is an emphasis on self-organising, collaboration, experimentation, welcoming change, and building high-trust and supportive relationships.

Tech, like other industries, continues to produce the worst of/from man because its manifest teleology of Progress (what Donna Haraway calls “Euclidean tales…of tragic detumescence”, the “prick tale.” ) – sieved through history from the industrial revolution – is wrong for the precarity of the Anthropocene and a damaged earth. For richness of our symmathesies. We all suffer for it.

Racism and sexism are the key ingredients in the alchemy that has transformed “Don’t be evil” to solving the hard problems of “Controlling the explosion of child porn on the platform” (Youtube, to name a recent example. The darkest of whoops).

What these guys are hinting at is that an ingressive mindset can help us move us at the speed of trust, and therefore build better software together. So, yep, there was some movement going on a decade ago. Radical muds seeping into the granite of hard dick culture; white boys catching each other and putting together slides for the other boys.

The talk is an introduction and invitation in trust-based collaboration and vulnerability. Touchstones include:

  • you are unique but not special (meh, reinscribing in sad machismo Tyler Durden reference)
  • individual genius is a myth
  • ego is dangerous
  • stop hero-worshipping, Linus et al
  • coding is social
  • feedback is important
  • getting feedback early and often is good
  • being nice is important
  • code review is necessary
  • failing publicly is ok
  • keeping record of your failing is ok (keep documentation for failed designs)
  • being non-perfect publickly is ok
  • vulnerability at work is a strength
  • tools create a sociality
  • tools can unnecessarily restrict

From the progenitor of the terms “ingressive” and “congressive” that I’ve been flinging about wildly:

Ingressive is about going into things and not being waylaid by what people think or by emotions and congressive is about bringing people with you and bringing people together and unifying and making connections between things…. I’ve come to think that congressive behavior is basically better for society but that ingressive behavior is rewarded more by society because society is based on competition. It’s based on how you present yourself so for things like competing for a job, you have to be ingressive to put yourself forward for promotion and to talk about how great you are. Whereas, when you’re actually doing some work with people, then it’s really helpful to be congressive because then you bring people together, you understand people.

It’s devastating to think about the enormity of emotional intelligence training men needed/need/will need; how expensive it is to refactor patriarchy’s structural grammar; that ambition which pits men against one another in an end game for supreme master and commander. In this ever-war even order and peace means the seizing of power; power must be assumed by the individual. It is not shared.

Sure, there is a drip of undoing of Patriarchy when disenfranchisng the myth of genius; but the non-human-men bear the major brunt of burden for maintaining the moral center and possible salvation.

I’m reminded of another talk.

Hillel Wayne turns a similar gaze navel-y and spotlights the peril of “charisma-driven development” we suffer in engineering culture. We might say another symptom of cock-sure genius arising. I love this talk. Recognizing the artifice of loudness and leaning, he looks at the data and calls bullshit on men. The data is good. It’s a tool. Nonetheless, I’m not sure Hillel’s Empiricism will be as powerfully feminist as interventions like Thomas’ archeology. Of course, Cheng’s metonymic replacements are interesting in that they make it easier to implicate women’s complicit was in patriarchy. Hot take: overall let’s be skeptical of the neo-classical – logic can win – and neo-liberal – we can reach across the aisle tactics.

Ross Chapman @internetross