May 2020 Lead Dev AMA

AMA_Camille

In case you missed it, here is everything I said in my Lead Dev AMA the other day

Kollaps und Mutualism

1906-san-francisco-earthquake-blend-shawn-clover-2
“1906 + 2010: The Earthquake Blend”
Website: shawnclover.com | via Laughing Squid

Since the lockdown/”PAUSE” order was issued here in so-called New York nearly a month ago, a group of friends and I have come together to discuss the current collapse/failure of the state and what we radicals might make in and of it. For our first session, we discussed technologist Vinay Gupta‘s concept of resilience maps (video below) and were lucky enough to be joined in discussion by Vinay Gupta himself. In one of the many fortuitious moments that have been sparked by the global pandemic, my friend tweeted at him and he just happened to be awake, quarantined at his home across the pond, and happy to walk us through the finer points of his SCIM threat modelling framework.

I quickly noted that this model could likely be spiffed up and fashioned as a response to (or furthering of — to be less of a shadethrower here) the current mostly-grassroots and largely apolitical disaster charity efforts that have been posing as “mutual aid”. By creating groups of actual mutuals and doing regular wellness checkins, maybe we could identify gaps and quickly help each other address them. Rather than wasting tons of food when what people might actually need is medicine or masks or bandages, maybe we could take the time to talk through needs and identify if there even were any for that particular day.

statefailuremap

The basic ideas that I have boiled it down to are twofold.

  1.  A daily checkin with 6 discreet questions:
    – Is anyone in your home too cold?
    – Is anyone in your home too hot?
    – Is anyone in your home hungry?
    – Is anyone in your home thirsty/needing water?
    – Is anyone in your home injured?
    – Is anyone in your home ill?
  2. A regular cadence to do more extensive mapping and addressing of threats beyond the domestic sphere (infrastructure challenges, transportation and logistics, security)
SCIM-1
The infrastructure map

We discussed this all for several weeks, and came up with many questions and few answers to how or if we wanted to proceed. So I figured a logical next step would be just to “open source” the thinking via this blog and see whether it would gain any traction. I will also share a few more resources unearthed during our brainstorming.

Questions 

  1. Are these the right questions?
  2. Is computerized technology an appropriate way to address this?
  3. Should this be an app or an SMS bot or something else?
  4. Where should the data live?
  5. How should the data be shared? (For my part, I liked the idea of anonymized time series data)
  6. Who should be able to join?
  7. Should it be a community of folks that know each other or just a geofenced open community?
  8. What about privacy?
  9. If privacy was coupled with anonymity, how do we meet needs? A centralized drop off point? A dating app-like mutual reveal and chat?
  10. Are frameworks developed for state purposes appropriate for autonomous mutual aid?

Resources

I’d love to continue this conversation with you either in the comments or via email. Drop me a line!

Gratitude – December 2019

I can’t believe the year is almost over. What a whirlwind it has been! Before it come to a close, here is some stuff that has given me life in the last month or so….

Interview on Pleasure Activism with adrienne maree and autumn brown

I don’t even know where to start. adrienne maree brown is just a badass bruja, and this interview (conducted by her sister Autumn) had me alternately laughing and thinking deeply and tearing up and punching my fist in the air. Our struggle for liberation isn’t just about stopping injustice and pain, it is about making/taking more spaces for true pleasure.

art by Ashley Lukashevsky

Succession on HBO

The people on this show are so cringey and oh so petty but I cannot get enough. Also, Shiv’s wardrobe this season was inspirational.

Jerry Colonna and angel kyodo wiliams on On Being

Queerness gave me the language for everything I know about liberation and freedom.” –  angel kyodo williams on On Being

it’s an epidemic challenge in our society that we reward, collectively, we reward with approbation, with money, with fame, with success — behaviors that can be so destructive; destructive to the individual, destructive to our communities, destructive to our planet. ” – Jerry Colonna on On Being (https://onbeing.org/programs/jerry-colonna-can-you-really-bring-your-whole-self-to-work/)

I am a sucker for this radio show. Nearly every episode give me lots to think about. williams is an inspirational queer Buddhist leader whose work I’ve been aware of for a while, but this interview was enlightening and inspiring. I’ve been constantly spinning the episode with Colonna. He is a coach to many Silicon Valley leaders, but also actually seems to be a spiritual person with a conscious. A lot of what he brings up is stuff that I’ve long ruminated on.

Pan-African Social Ecology – Modibo Kadalie

While my allegiance to social ecology holds strong, I’ve continued to struggle with its lack of intersection with struggles for and scholarship on black liberation.  So it was with great enthusiasm that I celebrated the release of this fantastic book — a collection of speeches and interviews with Pan-Africanist and social ecologist activist Modibo Kadalie, a movement elder that I was not familiar with until a friend reviewed the book for(the also fantastic!) ROAR magazine. The book is full of gems like:

“It’s important to understand that we are all, each of us, scientists and the task of science should be to integrate technology into society in such a way that it provides for an ecologically sound world…”

and also

“…the civil rights and Black Power movements were based upon the inaccurate premise that we were struggling to force America to live up to the true meaning of its creed. America has always lived up to the true meaning of it creed. Its creed is genocide and slavery…no freedom loving person wanted to be a part of the creation of America. They were quite literally resisting or running away from America.”

I am so inspired!

 

Rewrite The Docs at ATO 2019

solidarityforever

If you’re here because you saw my talk at All Things Open 2019, thank you!! If you are here just because, thank you too! 🙂 The original blogpost that my talk was based on is here and below are links to some of the organizations I mentioned. The ones that accept donations are indicated with a $ sign:

Solidarity!

Gratitude: August 2019

Before the month is out, I just want to share a few things that gave me life as of late.

The Last Black Man In San Francisco

This movie was stunningly beautiful. When I saw the trailer I thought it was going to be sort of the same thing as Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melancholy but it was more like Atlanta if Atlanta was replaced by San Francisco. It was eerie but exciting to see streets I walk so very often these days through the eyes of “natives”. Spoiler alert: It’s not just about San Francisco 😉

Tiny Desk Concerts: Lizzo and Jeremy Dutcher

Two of my faves recently had TDCs. So queer, so visually engaging, such music to my ears. What is it about that damn tiny desk that conjurs such sweet magic?

Me! on No Manifestos Podcast

Audio-Technica-AT2020-USB-Podcasting-Mic.jpg

I had a really fantastic conversation with my old coworker Stuart Sierra about tech and activism and other things for his new podcast No Manifestos. I am super pleased with how it turned out! Please do listen.

A Few Things to Consider Before Becoming A Remote-Friendly Company

A few years ago when I was at Clubhouse I blogged about our process of becoming a geographically distributed team. In that case, the first stumblings towards global domination were not made to acquire talent but rather in an attempt to retain talent vital to our team (talent = people we really loved working with and didn’t wanna lose!). In that article, I outlined some of the ways we tried to bridge the gap and some of the things that were still just tough.

I’ve also written about some of the reservations I have about working from home, especially as it pertains to underrepresented people in the workplace.

Since moving to Nylas and serving on the top-notch leadership team here, I’ve been even more privy to some of the business-side challenges of having a team where people are working from all over the place. SO I thought I’d pull together a quick blogpost of my learnings.

Things to Consider Before Opening Up Satellite Offices or Having Remote Teammates

People In Other Places Are Often In Other Timezones Too

I know it sounds obvious, but it needs to be stated. If you employ someone somewhere else, their day may overlap with yours a lot, a little, or not at all. You need to think about how that’s going to affect everyone’s ability to get things done. If your SF-based team is making most of your decisions synchronously in meetings or Slack, how will that affect your support folks in Berlin, your UX designer in Medellin, or your developer in New Zealand? Will they have to work odd hours just to keep up with HQ or can you start relying more on async tools?

When working across large distances across the globe, it is important to establish a baseline in every area for when they should be online and working and when they should stop and go live their lives. While you might sometimes need a teammate to work before or after their formal working hours, it is useful to know, clearly define in the calendar, and respect those agreed-upon working hours.

If you’re going to be working across significant time differences, I recommend trying to move meetings to times that work better for people and leaning more heavily on tools like Clubhouse and email that allow people to communicate on a more humane timeline.

Flights and Hotels Are Expensive

Cohesion across teams does require some amount of time spent together in fleshspace. Getting people together often means flights, hotels, and expensed meals. Just make sure you have the money for this — and that you earmark it especially for those purposes.

A/V Is An Investment…Good A/V Even More So

I am of the opinion that videochat software is painfully immature and being relied on too heavily for important communication. I use videochat every single working day and it is very much in the “can you hear me now?” phase. This is unfortunate because around the world in so many contexts people rely on it to make crucial decisions (read how Skype Trial has tragically become the norm for US immigration court).

Despite videoconferencing’s weakness as a replacement for “the real thing”, it is what we got. So doubling down to make it work is important. Headphones, good mics, fast wifi, and good webcams can cut down the distance between co-workers and enable you to have vital conversations with less muffle, crackle, and static.

When these all fail you — as they inevitably will — try to keep your teammate’s phone number nearby and just call them on the phone. I’ve had so many hours wasted fighting with videochat. Don’t let that be you and your team.

Employing People In Other States and Countries Can Be Costly and Time-Consuming

Different states and countries have different employment regimes. If you intend to employ people there, you will need to be in compliance with those requirements. HR companies like Gusto can likely help you with red tape, but it will still require some time and money to make sure you are following the rules of (and engaging the insurance market of!) the state or country where your fantastic new potential teammate lives.

Benefits Can Be Lopsided

If your company offers special perks to people in the office, you’ll need to carefully consider which of those you can/want to extend to people working from home or a satellite office. Things like free lunches and free office massages or whatever are often there to entice people to come in to the office and stay there. They tend not to be as feasible to make available to people who are working from home.

It is important to think about offering a benefits regime that doesn’t cause lopsidedness or ill-will when your HQ folks and your remote folks compare their cards.

None of this is intended to discourage you from doing what you need to do to attract and retain great people for your company. The last 10 years of my career have been spent working in organizations and teams that span state and national borders, and I’ve rarely had to rule someone out because of their location.

Remote workers do work; geographically-distributed teams can and do work—even on a small scale. They just work best when you go in with your eyes open to the challenges.