The 10 Best One-Eyed Reads in 2017
For the first time in my life, 2017 was the year I wanted to avoid reading the news. I hid from the headlines and the tweets awaiting me each morning. Usually, business and tech is a savior in a world of fake news, salacious allegations, and men behaving badly. But in 2017, tech became a mirror of the cultural ills that we see everywhere else.
In tech, we like to think what we’re doing today will drastically impact tomorrow. That said, I sincerely hope that we’ll learn a great deal from the stories of 2017. So as I reflect back on the year, I’m willing to pay the price of living through all this news — as long as it positively shapes our future.
No, Women Don’t Get Leather Jackets: Susan Fowler
Long before the Harvey Weinstein moment in the film industry, we had a Harvey Weinstein moment in tech: Uber. Susan Fowler’s blog post called out a culture of misogyny, mistreatment, sexual harassment, and inequality so pervasive at the tech startup that it led to an internal investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. (Not to mention the ridiculousness of those leather jackets) And just as Weinstein galvanized the #metoo movement, Fowler’s voice inspired many women engineers, VCs, and tech entrepreneurs to share their experiences. I feel that Fowler’s impact was clear: male entitlement was no longer business as usual.
In 2018, we want to see all women get leather jackets.
Misogyny or Dense AF? You Decide: Google Manifesto
When the Google Manifesto was released, women everywhere looked at their male coworkers differently. We wondered — Is this how you feel about me too? Google invested time, money, and lip service in distancing itself from James Damore, the author of the manifesto, even as they were mired in an investigation for “systemic compensation disparities.” And just as the conversation around discrimination and tokenism in tech was being explored, it was cut short by national tragedies. However, with the rise of the #metoo movement, we saw that misogyny is everywhere, and tech, by extension is experiencing its own reckoning.
In 2018, we won’t write manifestos about our colleagues, we’ll talk to them instead.
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming
I didn’t think we’d ever experience anything quite like the Cold War, but then 2017 proved me wrong. Every passing day we’re learning more about how the Russians influenced our elections, from contact with our politicians, buying ads on Facebook and Twitter, creating pro-Kremlin bots — really the list is endless. If anything, when it comes to data and security, we learned not that we are paranoid, but that we’re not paranoid enough.
In 2018, we’ll stop playing footsie with the Kremlin.
We Have Presidential Candidates Who Can’t Get 50% of the Population, But Equifax Did
Who didn’t furiously check their account every day for two weeks to see if they’d been hacked after the Equifax hack? Spoiler alert: It wasn’t just me. The Equifax hack was a moment of consciousness raising, where we all saw the consequences of unregulated markets and the direct impact they can have on our lives, and our wallets.
In 2018, forget hugging your haters, start hugging white-hat hackers.
How Can You Go Switzerland on Net Neutrality?
Today we lost the fight for net neutrality. Considering how this will effect content, media, digital advertising, social media, and cryptocurrencies, I can’t think of an industry in tech that won’t be impacted. For the time being, the vote doesn’t instantly eliminate net neutrality and Congress can still repeal the vote by the FCC. As 2018 is an election year, we have no way of predicting the way of the future, only the importance of staying informed on the minute by minute changes.
In 2018, instead of a Stella and Dot party, throw a “call your congressman” party.
ICOs, ICOs, ICOs Everywhere, But Not a Moment to Think
In 2017, everyone was hopping on the token sale bandwagon. From Kim Kardashian to Floyd Mayweather to DJ Khaled, it almost felt like you weren’t really a celebrity if you weren’t schilling for a digital currency. There were more than 200 ICOs this year, with so much hype around token sales that it was hard to tell the real deal from the fraudsters. We’re optimistic about the future of ICOs and hope it can win its war against the imposters.
In 2018, if it’s endorsed by a reality television star: head for the hills.
We’re All Officially Addicted: Podcasts
This year, podcasts broke out of being niche. Forget Serial, there’s now a podcast for everything and everyone, not just self-anointed geeks. In fact, according to Ad Week, “At 44 percent, 18–34 year-olds make up the largest share of podcast consumers, with 35–54 year-olds coming in second at 33 percent.” So if you need a little escapism, listen to S-Town, Pod Save America, and Missing Richard Simmons and catch up on the latest in the media landscape.
In 2018, we stop binge-watching Netflix, and start our own podcast.
Unicorn or Jackass: Juicero
As the Ringer recently mentioned, 2017 was the year Juicero became the “unofficial shorthand for Silicon Valley snake oil.” It served as a cautionary tale of what not to do for both VCs and startups. You couldn’t help but look at the Keurig of juice (which also looked like the midget version of R2D2) and ask yourself: who thought this was a good idea?
In 2018, Soylent makes a tasty comeback.
Searing Cultural Indictment: Sofar Sounds
A New Guest at Your House Show: the Middleman was a scene-stealer. It won a 2017 Excellence in Journalism Award and made me consider why we don’t find better technology and ways to support the artists that we love. The piece really points to the fact that you can’t spin every story.
In 2018, we go back to the era of mixtapes: we buy music and cut out the middleman.
Mad Max is Here: Tech CEOs Prepare for the End of Times
You know you’re living in a dystopia when techies are building bunkers and stocking up on ammo. And that’s the world we find ourselves in. Whether it’s the Reddit C.E.O. or a former Yahoo executive, the Valley’s penchant for survivalism really speaks to our cultural moment of trying to find ways to be invincible.
In 2018, we watch more dystopian movies than try to live them out IRL.