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Tech is always politics

Tech is always politics

Good morning! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from a look at the Asian American experience in tech to the problematic truth of NFTs.

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Best of Protocol

Asian Americans in tech say they face "a unique flavor of oppression," by Megan Rose Dickey

  • Last month's shooting in Atlanta brought a huge amount of attention to anti-Asian hate and violence. But for AAPI people in tech, all the (long overdue) attention ties back into the same "model minority" myth that holds them back. And as a few folks told Megan, the tech industry needs to rethink how it treats this community.

Inside Amazon's quest to build more lively gadgets, by Janko Roettgers

  • Gadgets that talk to you are cool, but what about gadgets that can shake their head, dance with excitement or wave goodbye at the end of the day? That's what Amazon is working on, as it looks for ways to build tech that feels even more human and personal. I find the whole idea very endearing … and slightly terrifying.

Understanding the death of Meitu's coolness, by Zeyi Yang

  • Meitu is big enough that it is to photo editing what Google is to search or Uber to hailing a ride. But as Zeyi writes, all that fame and use doesn't always make for good business. So now it's buying crypto, building smartphones and trying to become TikTok, because that's where the money is.

Tech workers want vaccine mandates. Will their bosses bite? By Issie Lapowsky

  • More than half of tech-industry respondents to a recent survey said they'd consider leaving their jobs if their employer doesn't require employees to get vaccinated. That's … a huge proportion, higher than most industries. But these mandates are tricky, and tend to ruffle feathers. What will your company do?

How Notarize plans to make online house-closings the norm, by Kevin McAllister

  • We're still just at the beginning of figuring out what it means for mission-critical work like contracts to be done entirely digitally. But the race to win that industry is hot and getting hotter, and it's making thrilling tech companies out of things as decidedly un-thrilling as notaries.

Richard Stallman's costly return to the Free Software Foundation, by Tom Krazit

  • Roughly 18 months after resigning from the FSF board, Stallman announced he was coming back. The uproar over his return has thrown the FSF into chaos, and caused something of an existential crisis for the organization. Stallman says he's not leaving again, but as Tom writes, it's hard to see what happens if he doesn't.

JOIN US

Technology has been the leading sector in trust since Edelman began its Trust Barometer 21 years ago. Since that time, trust in business has risen while trust in technology has declined – and this year, the decline has been dramatic. Join Edelman for a discussion with tech industry leaders on what's next for Tech & Trust in 2021. This event is moderated by Protocol.

Click here to RSVP.

Best of Everything Else

Inside a viral website — Not Fun at Parties

  • I love a good single-purpose website, and for a few days last week, istheshipstillstuck.com did its Ever Given job beautifully. This reflection on how the website was built, why it went viral and the only thing to do when your single-purpose website becomes irrelevant, is both fun and full of useful information. And of course the whole thing spawned an NFT.

"VC lives matter": Silicon Valley investors want to oust San Francisco's reformist DA — Mother Jones

  • Chesa Boudin is public enemy No. 1 among a certain set of tech execs. The fight between a progressive DA and some of the wealthiest people in his city, as this piece describes, is fundamentally about what a city becomes when it becomes a "tech city." And who gets to decide.

Why computers won't make themselves smarter – The New Yorker

  • Here's a brain teaser for anyone working on the future of AI. How will we make computers smart enough to make themselves smarter? If we can't do it for ourselves and each other, how are we going to do it for computers? And what are the "intelligent knobs" that make the whole system go?

NFTs are an art project gone awry — The Atlantic

  • There are some early signs that the NFT bubble — which, come on, we all knew was a bubble — might be starting to pop. Volumes are down, prices are down, excitement seems to be down. We still don't really know how they work. But Anil Dash, one of the earliest creators of NFTs, writes that where the tech is headed isn't what he intended.

Young, deported, and learning to code — Rest of World

  • A huge number of engineers and other workers have been deported in recent years, many of them to Mexico. And some companies, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, are looking to take advantage of the workforce in the country, as well as the fact that so many people have American experience and references.

It's hard to draw lessons from your own failures — David Heinemeier Hansson

  • It started as a Twitter thread on how Andrew Wilkinson blew $10 million on a productivity startup. Dustin Moskovitz took issue with the characterization of Asana's role in the ecosystem; Heinemeier Hansson took issue with the whole premise. The whole story is still a good one, and a cautionary one.

Learn More

Despite a rapid drop in trust, 83% of tech sector employees trust their employers. Still, tech sector employees are among the most likely to engage in some form of workplace protest.

Learn more and download Edelman's 2021 Trust in Technology report here.

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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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