Why We Hate Technology

Yesterday Sen. Chris Murphy1 highlighted the disconnect between how Silicon Valley and America see technology. Murphy points out that constituents distrust technology. It overwhelms and vexes, with a feeling that we work for the technology instead of the technology working for us. This is a far cry from the bicycle for the mind that Steve Jobs envisioned. This thread foreshadows potential regulation, but before we regulate we should ask ourselves, why is technology perceived this way?

  1. Disclaimer: I have worked for Sen. Murphy both on his campaign and in his DC Office as an intern. 

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Ban Interactive Voice Response

One of the worst things modern businesses employ are interactive voice response (IVR) menus. When calling customer service the pattern is the same: you are forced to listen a large amount of irrelevant information until you are presented with some options you can select on your phone keypad, and in a large number of cases your need or issue will not map to the options. I have never resolved an issue with one of these systems, and see no reason companies can or should employ them other than to discourage people from calling their customer support lines. The government should ban these and require that a real person answer the phone if you call a company. Or in the absence of this, they should let you at least enter a queue for a call back.

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Coding is for Everyone as Long as You Speak English


It’s true that software programs and social media platforms are now often available in some 30 to 100 languages—but what about the tools that make us creators, not just consumers, of computational tools? I’m not even asking whether we should make programming languages in small, underserved languages (although that would be cool). Even huge languages that have extensive literary traditions and are used as regional trade languages, like Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, and Arabic, still aren’t widespread as languages of code.

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Hack Your Bureaucracy

I recently started reading Hack Your Bureaucracy by Nick Sinai and Marina Nitze. As a part of this I have decided to open a #book-club channel on the Code for Boston Slack. We have a few other folks reading the book and sharing their thoughts as they go through each of the chapters. I am hoping we can also setup a Slack huddle or Zoom call to discuss things after folks have finished reading. If you’re interested in Civic Tech and reading the book, you’re welcome to join us!

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Gov. Abbott Airlifts Migrants to Martha's Vineyard

From the Vineyard Gazette:

“We’re immigrants,” said Eliase, who said he was from Venezuela. “We came here because of the situation in our country, for the economy, for work, for lots of things. I came here walking. We went through 10 different countries until we got to Texas. There a refugee association put us in a plane and told us there would be work and housing here. I feel good, despite everything. We spent four days in Texas so it’s good to be here.”

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.