I know a few girl hackers. They do mention a lot of what might be called 'social friction'. In some cases, they stay around through undergrad because computers are a really magical, flexible medium.
The good news is that we like a lot of hackers and scientists and technical people. They're interesting. Other fields have their human debris, too. Lawyers have frat-boys. Lit-majors have bullshitters. But rarely do other fields have people getting together to make things, and that's just a lot of fun. :-)
"I read somewhere that the blockbuster title 'Gears of War' had only about half a million lines of C++ code"
"We're starting a startup in computer vision. We're deploying across the web, but that's just because it's the cheapest distribution mechanism."
"I asked: in principle, if these black-boxes handled all the trades, where would the decision to trade or not come from."
"I asked if it was moral to play such a risky game with the economy."
"my most productive periods (in the sense of producing something) have all involved some kind of death march"
"The concept of sending electricity wirelessly has been imagined, but nobody had come up with a decent way to avoid the losses except by using an actively controlled beam method."
All of these were in the last 3 weeks. I'd say they definitely qualify as insightful. Glad to have you, DaniFong.
This is kind of like architects who want to design buildings but would rather leave implementation details to engineers.
That's the way it should be.
To quote PG:
"In principle you could make any mark in any medium; in practice the medium steers you. And if you're no longer doing the work yourself, you stop learning from this."
I speak for myself, but this true almost everywhere. Small changes in the resistance of medium, and in the convenience of doing one thing or another, often lead to drastic differences in the sort of things people create.
I heard that someone actually managed to play 'Flight of the Bumblebee' on Trombone. I'm not sure I can impress upon you how difficult that sounds -- there are like 5 notes per second, each requiring precise intonation, and it never lets up long enough for the poor soul playing it to breath. Apparently, it can be done. But I'm almost certain nothing of the sort would have been composed on it.
Programs are often the same way. Sometimes, the idea doesn't occur to you until you understand how to implement it. Or, as the case may be, until you actually implement it. I read that Scheme was in part an attempt to implement an Actor model. When they implemented lexical closures and actors, they discovered that the implementations were the same!
For example, if writing by pen tends to force you to write a novel in a particular way that is undesirable, then fix the situation (e.g., use a word processor).
As a creative individual, you should be the one calling the shots.
I actually prefer writing by pen. It's more fluid. And since things can't be easily rewritten, you give a bit of thought before you commit something, and are always driven forward.
Knuth et al. notes, in an article on technical writing (http://tex.loria.fr/typographie/mathwriting.pdf):
"Towards the end of the editing process you will need to ensure that you don't have a page break in the middle of a displayed formula. Often you'll simply have to think up something
else to say to fill up the page, thus pushing the displayed formula entirely onto the next page. Try to think of this as a stimulus to research!"
A pen sometimes functions in the same way. And if I find it's results undesirable, then I'll try not to think of it as a problem to fix, and rather as looking for a new medium to explore.
If, for example, you can find a scientific study that demonstrates that people are more creative with a pen than a word processor, then I would be interested.
For me, one should strive for ideas that transcend the particulars of existing mediums. Such ideas are more likely to be influential in the long term.
It seems to me that you were making an assumption that didn't fit the parent poster's actual circumstances. (Not entirely fair, since I have the benefit of hindsight and having read her reply. ;-)
I have a lot of respect for people, regardless of gender, who actually know how to do things, so perhaps my bias is showing. (Don't worry: the "big picture" ideas guy, and the fluff-spinning Ph.D. who can't code to save his life, both earn an equal share of contempt. Partly because they're basically the same person. :)
But I really couldn't bring myself kowtow to either of them even if they happened to be female, which, frankly, is partly why reading your post leaves me feeling a bit repulsed. (Sorry, I know this sounds awful, but I can't think of a gentler way to accurately phrase it).
> This is kind of like architects who want to design buildings but would rather leave implementation details to engineers.
> That's the way it should be.
All the really interesting architecture of recent decades has been done by architects who could think like artists and engineers.
Your ideal architect reminds me of the stupid king in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, who disregards the "implementation details" and builds his castle on a swamp.
Definitely not the way it should be.
I wasn't referring to the poster's circumstances.
> All the really interesting architecture of recent decades has been done by architects who could think like artists and engineers.
Do you have a reference?
Sure: tautological by my definition of "really interesting" ;-)
She's about as used to "geek culture" as a person can get, but even she finds the people in CS to be overwhelming. Her take? CS departments need to focus a bit less effort on attracting women (a task which fundamentally defines them as different), and a bit more effort on repelling socially retarded men (who really are different). I can't say that I disagree. CS is the last refuge for some really damaged people; I get sick of it too.
IMO, CS101 should be a mandatory class on hygiene and social skills for people who already know how to program.
What would she suggest? Gaswagen?
A lot of what gets called "social retarded" behavior results from high-functioning autism, and isn't really curable. Working with computers is a final refuge for many people who for one reason or another are treated like revolting mutants by the rest of humanity.
The culture of computer science is currently unique, in that it gives the seed of antisocial behavior a fertile place to take root. That doesn't mean that antisocial behavior should be encouraged or accepted.
Also, computer technology may make most people anti-social. Consider for example flamewars that would never take place off-line.
My personal experience has been that the best programmers have a large personality overlap with the best visual artists and musicians. That's not necessarily well-adjusted (crazy intensity and burnout often go along for the ride), but it's not anti-social either...certainly, you can't very well argue that artistic careers are unappealing to women!
In any case, my gut instinct is that computer programmers tend to be anti-social, because anti-social people are drawn to careers that involve minimal human interaction. The computer gives anti-social tendencies room to grow, but I don't think it causes the problem.
Further, if you think that schools have an substantial share of the blame for women getting into programming, then your misunderstanding of the topic is even greater.
Your premise doesn't make much sense anyway. I think a lot of simple social skills are picked up early, at a young age, before you start fanatically devoting yourself to whatever occupation you choose. I can understand it if you're not a smooth talker and even a little rude, but some of the social mistakes I've witnessed are simple ones like following me back to my room when I've stopped making eye contact and responding to their conversation. Like--FTW, following me back to my room?! When I've stopped talking to you? I really do not think you have to sacrifice a deep understanding of recursion to grasp a basic point like eye contact.
I also disagree with your last sentence. Social retardation is relative, not absolute, and social skills exist online, too.
Out of the 26 coworkers, you mentioned the physical attributes of the one female.
Sorry to pick on your one quick post, but it is just very representative of our society's lingering gender gap.
Also, I think it would be nonsense to deny our human attributes. Men are interested in women's looks, and vice versa. Actually, isn't it another complaint of successful women that to be successful, they had to become like men (a ka Margaret Thatcher)? So if a successful women is still attractive, it might be a good role model after all.
I mean it is a matter of culture (ideas) not "humanity" (DNA).
There are many reasons to believe this. Two are:
- memes evolve orders of magnitude faster than genes, so once they existed, they responded to almost all selection pressures first. anything with complex social interactions that require intelligence couldn't have evolved before memes (ie, before we had intelligence).
- people sometimes make changes to how they treat women, how they interpret appearances, to all sorts of related ways of thinking and behaviors. this points to culture because our ideas are designed to be changeable at runtime, and our DNA isn't.
Of course there are cultural aspects to how women are being treated. Granted, there could be cultures where people would not automatically remark on the attractiveness of a female colleague. For example, if all women are hidden behind veils, and infidelity can get you killed, maybe people are much more careful about what they say (just guessing, I don't know).
With the advent of intelligence, came the ability for high-level interpretation of sense input -- we might say that events took on meaning. From a survival point of view, the ability to reinterpret arousal chemicals, and other things, was no serious danger: any culture that did that would die out. (And even if it was dangerous for the species, evolution doesn't do advanced planning of that sort.)
What we have today, and call sexual attraction, involves many layers of intelligent interpretation, which we (largely unintentionally) teach to the next generation -- ie, it is culture. If parents behaved differently, the meaning of sexual attraction would change.
Edit: By analogy, DNA = assembly language. We program in higher level languages. (Imagine programming in 500 years though, so it's much further removed from assembly). At some level of abstraction, the original details of DNA/assembly are totally irrelevant to the level we normally think in.
I definitely think one day we will learn how to analyze what parents do that causes men to turn out gay, and be able to copy it (or not).
However, I won't be surprised if the answer is: all present-day parents enact parenting strategies capable of causing homosexuality, but they only behave to cause it (unintentionally) when triggered in the right way (i.e., by some characteristic of young children other than homosexuality itself).
admit it kids! hanging around on yc isn't helping us get laid! ;)
Mentioning dating: within 1 hour of original post
Mentioning getting laid: within 7 hours.
I was afraid this would happen, I just hoped it would take longer. Please lets be polite.
Being a pirate is an end unto itself!
Now the use of "lady hackers" has raised my hackles as well. (See the American Heritage Book of English Usage for a deft explanation of why: http://www.bartleby.com/64/C005/021.html.)
I keep lurking because the community here is small enough to wash up a few pointers I wouldn't otherwise find. But, gentlemen, I take my insights where they're welcome.
Where is that? And... I would tell you to give the community a chance and all that, but I'll let you make up your own mind.
Certainly there are places where people focus narrowly enough on the topic for gender never to come up. But, that's probably true on YC too. Go to a different thread, make an on-topic post, and you can probably even post under a female sounding name with no one noticing.
There are 5 females in my company's R&D, comparing to about 30 males. That was way better than at my previous employer, where I was the only female in the 25-person team.
On the one hand you'll have members of a largely-male audience say that there should be more women in CS and that the industry is extremely sexist. They'll say women are wonderful.
Then you have the people who agree and say women are great and sexually attractive.
You have the people who complains at this objectification and say that it's people like these that are responsible for gross gender inequalities.
Then you have the people who point at IQ research.
Then you have people that question the validity and conclusions of the research.
You then have extreme self-righteousness. Then there's blatant sexism.
Then someone mentions Carla Fiorina as a good example, but someone says she didn't deserve her success.
You get people trying really hard to put a finger on why they think men are better hackers without sounding like bigots. They can lie on either sides of the spectrum of intellectual honesty. When scientific studies are mentioned, they can be rationalizations of bigotry or attempts at honesty and open-mindedness.
I hope I didn't overrepresent the point of view of any of the many sides of the argument. I've looked over this post and alternated the order of the points of view in the sentences and paragraphs above. However, I feel really weird about this discussion. I suspect that no matter how hard I try to talk about these issues without taking a stand with regard to politically incorrect subjects, I'm going to look like an asshole if I don't ultimately rule in favor of the politically correct viewpoint. But if you go so far as lying about your viewpoints in order to look politically correct, you're a bullshitter, and no less of a bigot. On the other hand, being too concerned about the dangers of political correctness might actually make me more prejudiced. What worries me is that there might not even be a safe zone between being a bullshitter and being a bigot. It might be impossible to add to this topic without being either a bullshitter, a bigot, or a little of both. But then, every person with an opinion on the subject would be an asshole in some shape or form, and that doesn't seem reasonable. There should be a safe zone. Of course, if you believed every politically correct statement, and you expressed those views, you'd be fine. But how common is this? Who can say they're totally unbiased? Should we only let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone? If we did things this way, though, guilty parties would avoid getting a stoning they may deserve.
It's a can of worms. There's not a lot you can say without someone going ad hominem on you.
It is not a bad idea to put this kind of question on Hacker News; it is supposed to be an open forum about what things interesting to hackers. But because it is an open forum, try not to wantonly go around chastising other posters.
As a reader, you should know what you're in for when you choose to read this link. People can say whatever they want, and they will. Sometimes they'll be too politically correct, sometimes they won't be politically correct enough. On top of that, there's the bullshit from both sides. You might end up reading something you'll find personally hurtful. But then, this is a forum. People have been asked not to be mean, and for the most part they'll try not to be. But if you don't want to risk being hurt, don't go into the forum.
I didn't write this very well. I apologize. I wound up being pedantic, too. And I said some things that might cost me. But I can't keep rewriting this and make semantic barricades that I can later hide behind. I can't censor myself based on what future employers and people like that might think when they google me.
I took only one course in CS, got a fluff degree in liberal arts, and can never call myself a "hacker" because I'm just a code monkey, but I've been attracted to the technology / computer field since I was 12. A lot of things here are interesting to me, so I read this daily (and sometimes resubmit to reddit if it hasn't already been submitted).
If a woman wants to make it in this field through her looks, wit and charm alone, she won't. She can't expect the fact she's female to give her any edge whatsoever, just like the men in this field do not expect to be given breaks because of their maleness. If she wants to make it through her skill, ingenuity, problem-solving ability and willingness to learn new things, she'll do just fine.
That's a very good point, one that I've made in the past. If you try it with a slightly less intelligent crowd than YC, you will get the following response:
"How dare you compare adult women to children?"
I'll bite. While we can't how much of hacking (or anything) is because of innate abilities and how much is from practice, most of the research I've read says that excellence in any field comes from sustained (years) of meaningful practice. This means that even if you're really smart, you need to spend lots of time to be really good. And no matter how smart you are, if you don't spend time on something, you won't accidentally get good at it. (nothing controversial so far)
So I'll make the claim that if men are statistically better hackers, it's because they're statistically more likely to have spent more time hacking (solve the children question). It also explains why people in their 20s who have hacked meaningful projects are better than older, more "experienced" 9-to-5ers who do the same types of things over and over again and don't expand their knowledge and experience.
As for women, I would say that women statistically find greater rewards for pursuing other interests than computers. More to the point, I would say that there is more pressure for girls to be attractive and popular than for guys, and greater consequences for not being so. This both cultural and biological, and I believe that much of it is because most girls have to be asked out by guys. So, average girl needs to be popular, and as pg explained in "Why Nerds are Unpopular" (http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html), being popular is a lot of work. So much work that it crowds out everything else.
Fast forward to college, and girls that would then want to learn computers are at a disadvantage to guys that have been hacking for years because they didn't bother taking the time to be popular. They're mentally capable but years behind in practice, and it makes them feel inadequate, so they choose a different major. Note: this also works for guys that didn't hack in high school - they're at a disadvantage to those who did, no matter how smart they are. Most people don't like discouragement so they go somewhere where that makes them feel better.
Taking this to a logical (although politically incorrect) conclusion - women would just not be as equipped as men (in the general case) to do stuff like hacking.
I don't know if stuff like this (http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2007/12/YE_sexy_...) is helpful or not. On the one hand, it shows that you don't have to be ugly or frumpy in order to like computers, but it also doesn't do much to lessen the expectation that women should always be beautiful.
I don't have any practical ideas, just stuff like 1) give every little girl a hacker/geeky dad, 2) give every elementary school kid teachers that love and can clearly teach math, and 3) convince high school kids everywhere that computers are cool. Gonna happen soon, right?
Anyone who has talent and is a hard worker will probably succeed anyway.
I don't think the industry is particularly sexist.
- i will seriously offend you
- i won't seriously offend you
so either you'll hate me, or think i'm wrong. i don't see how i can win.
However, many people's profiles are linked to their real selves, so this isn't a non taboo area for them.
At the other extreme, if you take ideas that are currently say 90% accepted, and you talk about them in such a way that the other 10% feel strongly pressured to change their minds, you can seriously offend them. You can generate resentment, by saying there is no reasonable middle ground, and the wrong view is wrong, and elaborating in detail on how bad it is, and why it's so bad, and how they are hurting their friends and family and themselves by not changing their mind, etc... Even if all that is true, and even if there do not exist any half-decent arguments for the 10%-and-declining view.
You can even offend people who agree with you, but who think you're putting it too strongly, or something. Even if they have no rational reasons for saying your claims are too strong. They may not even consider it a matter of truth, but instead a matter of being nice, or something. Most people think that way, some of the time.
What you are actually talking about matters too. On some subjects, it is easier to trigger defensiveness, on others, harder. So there are some "least possible to say" things, and they are a lot worse than discussing sexism.
PS I think you may have a typo with that double negative isn't + non.
He could be seriously offended, but then not hate you. He might realize you were right, and be glad to find out.
Or if he isn't offended, he might still recognize that many other people would be. He might also consider whether he would dare say it, and discover he wouldn't.
So those are two ways you could win. However, in both of those cases, while you'd win with yters, you'd lose with a majority of the audience. You could only win with a majority of the audience if you said something that can be safely said on Hacker News (and thus you were wrong).
you don't have to actually be right, you just have to have the truth as your only motivation, and then no one can fault you.
Larry Summers could give you a few pointers about that...
Meanwhile, you'll notice nothing all that bad happened to him. He wasn't assaulted. He wasn't put on trial or sent to jail. All that happened is some people he did business with found out that he and they disagree about a lot of stuff, and they realized they didn't want to do business with him anymore, and prefer he go do business with people more like himself. That reaction is so reasonable that it actually works whether you are in the right or wrong.
You might say his reputation was ruined. But that's not true. I think well of him now, and didn't think of him at all before. His reputation simply became more accurate, which, on the whole, tends to be a good thing.
BTW, I say all this while happening to disagree with him about one of his major points, about gender differences contained in our DNA. I think he's wrong about that, but I also think he was interested in the truth, so I praise him anyway.
Edit: According to wikipedia, both students and donors supported Summers more than not.
most people would characterize "getting smeared on pretty much all major media outlets" and "forced to resign" as pretty bad.
> He wasn't assaulted. He wasn't put on trial or sent to jail
"you probably won't go to jail" is a pretty far cry from your original post, that "no one can fault you."
He pretty much got ousted by the faculty. Harvard lost hundreds of millions in alumni donations because they were upset Summers was treated this way.
He clearly was in the wrong job, for a man like himself. He should aim his life more towards cooperating with people he considers decent human beings. A push in that direction, isn't so bad. The only reason he might not like it, is if he isn't focussed on the truth, and still has mixed feelings (sometimes preferring status, reputation with silly people, etc). Mixed feelings are not safe ground.
You basically give up your freedom of speech.
"Yesterday, I gave a talk to our new cohort of Computational Media undergraduates about the CS classes that they will be taking. One student asked me about 3-D modeling, and I told him about our computer graphics classes. Then a young lady asked me a question that bowled me over, "If we don't take computer graphics and we get a Computational Media degree, is all that we can do is become programmers?" The last word just dripped with disdain, as if that was a mid-level in Dante's vision of hell." --Mark Guzdial
That's dead-on. It is exactly that.
but she disappeared several months ago :) I assume she changed her nickname not to be abused by nice looking hackers using this site. I think the problem is that PG doesn't allow us to publish our photos, so your question could be inspiring for him :) YC.news => Hacker.news => YC.Hacker.Dating.news
We males tend to adjust our behaviors based on what women find sexy, which is partially why universities used to be male only. Geekiness correlates with good intellectual work, but as mentioned, women don't like it.
Which also makes me think that the key to guiding society is by defining what women find sexy.
I can't speak for other women, but I hate it when people exhibit a lack of social skills, and it especially infuriates me when they're not funny or overly shy.
Aside from confidence, health, social skills, and ability to entertain and amuse, I think the only thing society can define about male sexiness is the prestige of his financial prospects. Perhaps some other woman will have more input.
I understand what you're going for, but it doesn't accomplish your goal, and it just continues a stereotype rather than working to create an environment that's conducive for discussion.
edit: unless, of course, you were trying to be meta-ironic too...
It might be the first time you do this, and you think it's funny, clever, and 'meta-ironic' (oooh). I suppose it's somewhat like lists of jokes that people forward around: funny the first few times, and "I'm going to auto-killfile this" after a few years of hearing the same ones.
Just imagine what would happen if you create a user whose name was "Laura". Try it.