Vaccine passports are hugely important — and a huge mess
Good morning! This Friday, everybody's trying to build vaccine passports and it's making everything crazy, companies are way behind on planning for hybrid work, Wikipedia is trying to fix its gender problems, a look at how anti-Asian bias affects the tech industry and more.
Vaccine passports are coming. Actually, sorry, "vaccine passes" are coming. Most people seem to agree the "passport" term is a loaded one and we're better off calling them something else. Anyway, there are security risks, and there are questions about how data is collected and stored post-pandemic. But everyone I talk to says those are mitigable issues, and that returning to normalcy a little faster is worth the work.
This is heading toward the contact-tracing mess all over again. If we end up with 100 systems that don't speak to each other and aren't compatible with the places we need to use them, that won't actually accomplish very much. But the alternative — waiting on governments to build them, or banking on yet another magical Apple-Google partnership — isn't going to go so well either.
So what's the right answer? I asked Eren Bali, the CEO of Carbon Health — which, yes, has its own vaccine pass system called Health Pass — what he thought. Ultimately, he said, verified vaccine records "will have to either be health care providers like Carbon Health, or they'll have to be government." In some cases, both: Carbon is providing its tech to local governments free of charge to build their own pass systems.
It's a classic tech problem, this one: The market is moving fast and the opportunity is enormous, so everyone piles in first and figures it out later. But increasingly, the industry seems to know it might be worth taking a beat and having a conversation, to solve this problem without having to solve it 100 individual times. And then get back to building as fast as possible.
Big Tech wants to go back to the office. A lot of startups are embracing the upsides of remote companies, but Google, Amazon, Apple and others have all made clear that they intend to remain office-centric companies. Even Facebook and Microsoft, which have embraced the idea of perma-WFH, are still pushing to open their HQs again.
Going back won't be easy, though. The summer months are going to be particularly messy, but in general companies are only just starting to grapple with what comes next. Conference rooms are now green-screened Zoom rooms. Long rows of shoulder-to-shoulder iMacs now have to be spaced out. Remember how terrible meetings were when a few people weren't in the room? How are you going to manage the team's schedule when virtual school is still going?
Anna Kramer writes: Until a massive internal fight broke into the open about whether 2020 Iowa Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield met Wikipedia's notability requirements for a biography, almost no one was paying attention to controversies about who gets a biography on the site, and who makes those decisions.
Women are massively underrepresented on Wikipedia. Of the more than 1.8 million English-language biographies on Wikipedia, only about 18% of them are about women. The Wikimedia Foundation has begun pushing a campaign to change that.
It's hard for Wikipedia to track exactly how it's going, but the organization is encouraged by the edit-thons and panels it has held over the last month. New bios for women like Myra Hindley, Judita Vaičiūnaitė and Judith Curry are showing up on the site as well. And hey, if you're looking for a weekend writing project? Check out WikiGap and WikiProject Women in Red for the long list of women still missing.
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.
On Protocol: Asian Americans working in tech are tired of the "model minority" myth and the way they're treated by the industry, Preston Cho told Megan Rose Dickey:
And Awaken's Michelle Kim said that everyone needs to acknowledge that anti-Asian hate and racism is not a new or isolated thing:
Want to compete with Uber and Lyft? Beat their UI, L.A. County's John Gordon said:
Jim Bridenstine is joining the board at Viasat. The former NASA administrator does know a thing or two about satellites.
Jesse Cohn is leaving Twitter's board, a marker of the end of the company's standoff with Elliott Management.
Coinbase is going public April 14, and will have the excellent ticker symbol COIN.
Keith Rabois has a new gig as a Barry's Bootcamp instructor. He's apparently all in on EDM and incline sprints, so next time you're in Miami get ready to rock.
Don Box is leaving Microsoft. He hasn't identified his new gig yet but said he has one.
Bill Wafford is Thrasio's new CFO, joining from the same role at JCPenney. Thrasio, which acquires small Amazon merchants, just raised at a $1.35 billion valuation.
Paying to put your name or logo on an athlete's jersey? Not new. Paying upwards of $5,000 for an NFT that gives you the right to "exclusive lifetime ownership" of part of Croatian tennis player Oleksandra Oliynykova's right arm, which you can ink up any way you choose (within reason, of course). And if she keeps ascending the tennis rankings, who knows? You can sell her arm to Gatorade or somebody. Why tattoo yourself when you can tattoo somebody else?
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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or our tips line, email@example.com. Enjoy your weekend, see you Sunday.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Preston Cho's name. This story was updated on April 2, 2021.