Tag Archives: technology

Cab Drivers, Uber, And The Costs Of Racism

Uber’s Home Page.

Can disruptive technology provide a fix for social issues?

Silicon Valley darling Uber may be on to something. The service–which provides town car, SUV, or luxury vehicle service with a few taps of a smartphone–is considered the killer app for inefficient taxi service. Sitting pretty on close to $50 million dollars in venture funding, Uber is rapidly expanding its operations.

Uber is not without controversy. It’s a premium service with a premium price tag. The New York Times, in reporting on Uber’s new lower-priced hybrid option shows the high cost of convenience:

In San Francisco, for example, the hybrid cars will cost $5 for the base fee, and then $3.25 a mile after that. By contrast, the town cars cost $8 for the base fee and then $4.95 a mile. Taxis in San Francisco cost $3.16 a mile including a tip of 15 percent.

In addition to the steep cost, Uber is currently embroiled in lawsuits around skirting consumer protections, ran afoul of taxi laws in a few states, and is having problems fitting their tech into areas with safety rules about handheld devices on the road. Combine that with shady “surge pricing” practices that increase the price of a car in real time with demand, and there is a huge problem. (Also, see Paul Carr’s discussion of the ethics of hypercapitalism and Uber here and here.)

However, most analysis of Uber’s costs and benefits leave out one huge piece of the appeal: the premium car service removes the racism factor when you need a ride. Continue reading

New York Magazine Deems Naturally Curly A Bad Investment For No Reason

Kevin Roose, over at New York Magazine, decided to launch a column called “Dumb Money: Exposing Silicon Valley’s Stupidest Investments.” He writes:

But Silicon Valley, like any other industry, has its share of truly dumb ideas. For every start-up that changes the world and makes its founders rich, a thousand die quick, anonymous deaths.

Some of tech’s clunkers never get off the ground, but others manage to get big, high-profile investments despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (For example, what kind of genius decided to throw $1.2 million at NaturallyCurly, the “leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair?”)

Roose provides no actual evidence as to why NaturallyCurly is a bad investment. He doesn’t cite a thing – not their traffic numbers, no advertising sales, and no discussion of the exponential growth in the market they offer. But why should he? NaturallyCurly doesn’t fit the pattern – and Roose’s casual dismal underscores exactly why minorities, women of color in particular, have such a hard time breaking into the consciousness of the tech world. Continue reading

TechnoRacism: White Supremacist Site Hijacks Dr. King’s Legacy with SEO Chicanery

MLK Memorial

Over at the Click the Toad Blog, the Chief Toad explains how the MLK Jr. official legacy site was outranked by white supremacists with a good grasp of SEO:

My hands are shaking with anger as I type this. A sick, cowardly, and racist website (hereafter referred to in insult-laced bold type) that trashes the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr is outranking the official Martin Luther King Jr website on Google. I will not provide a link to the racist site, as I will not directly contribute a single visit to them. However, I will show exactly how the official Martin Luther King website (found at http://www.thekingcenter.org) got beaten in the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) battle. My dream to improve The King Center‘s SEO and Google Rank may not be as lofty and inspirational as Martin Luther King Jr’s, but I do have a dream. [...]

One of the best ways to beat a web competitor is to look at their metadata and their successful keywords… and then outdo them at their own game. So here is what The Racist Pukes have going on for their SEO (and the official Martin Luther King Jr website could simply borrow and improve upon all of these):

Racist Pukes’ Homepage Title: Martin Luther King Jr. – A True Historical Examination
Racist Pukes’ Meta Description: The truth about Martin Luther King: Includes historical trivia, articles and pictures. A valuable resource for teachers and students alike.
Racist Pukes’ Meta Keywords: Martin Luther King Jr, Civil Rights, Black History, Slavery, Reparations, Kwanzaa, Anti-Defamation League, ADL, anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, hatred, prejudice, bias, Holocaust, Israel, democracy, terrorism, militia, Jews, Jewish, diversity, anti-Semitic incident, racist, discrimination, Holocaust denial, neo-Nazi, Nazi, Nazis, tolerance, civil rights, Black, extremism, extremist, hate crimes, skinheads, Middle East, Islamic Extremist, education, White supremacy, minority, bias, religious freedom, tolerance, religious right, Martin Luther King Jr., free speech, MLK, school prayer, religion, justice

We often talk about the legacy of civil rights being hijacked to suit the needs of those who would undo those gains in a heartbeat – this is a literal manifestation.

Activists need to up our tech game. Because this is just ridiculous.

(Spotted on Chris Rabb‘s facebook wall)

Welcome to East Willy B! [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Sometimes there’s love in laughter. And the cast and crew bringing the new web series East Willy B have a lot of love for the real-life neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn, and (most) of the fictional characters.

The series’ heart is Willie Reyes, Jr. (Flaco Navaja) the 30-something Puerto Rican-proud bar owner who inherited the business from his dad, including the barfly crushing on him, Giselle (Caridad “La Bruja” de la Cruz). Wille is trying to keep his bar, which has served as the nabe’s hangout and nerve center, from closing down due gentrification in the form of his ex-girlfriend Maggie (April Hernandez) and her new white beau (and Willie’s longtime rival), Albert (Danny Hoch), and the incoming white hipsters looking for cheap(er) rent.

Transcript of the premiere episode after the jump.

Continue reading

Reclaiming Pocahontas: Once Tongue Tied

Via Sociological Images, student Samantha Figueroa created an awesome mash-up of Adriel Luis’ Slip of Tongue, and images from Pocahontas.

You can read Luis’ full piece here, but my favorite excerpt is:

“Fine. I’ll tell you bout my ‘ethnic makeup.’
I wear foundation,
not that powdery shit,
I wear the foundation laid by my indigenous people.
It’s that foundation that makes it so that past being globalized,
I can still vocalize with confidence that i know where my roots are.
I wear this foundation not upon my face, but within my soul,
and I take this from my ancestors
because I’ll be damned if I’d ever let an American or European corporation
tell me what my foundation
should look like.”

Vote for Our Race, Tech, and Social Justice SXSW Panels!

by Latoya Peterson

I don’t know what happened to August, but September is staring us in the face and it’s the last week to vote for our South by Southwest Panels! (Voting Closes Friday, argh!)

Here’s my idea for this year:

Tech Power to the People! Digital Community Engagement

Latoya Peterson, Racialicious.com

How do we ensure no one is left behind in the tech revolution? This panel is designed to provide a look into the best practices for using media to engage with communities, particularly minority outreach and low income/low access areas. This panel will feature a variety of activists explaining the ways in which they have used mobile campaigns, apps, blogs, and other methods to engage their communities and transfer skills, as well as tips for evaluation and measuring results.

Questions answered:

1. How can I ensure that the community I am working with can actually utilize this technology? Continue reading

How To Be Black, By Baratunde

by Latoya Peterson

I’m extremely late in getting around to summarizing my experiences at South by Southwest Interactive 2010, but one of my favorite presentations was this panel by friend of the blog Baratunde. “How to Be Black” isn’t a discussion of identity and performance, but rather a discussion of how people utilize the internet, and how there are trends by race and class in terms of use. And, considering it is Baratunde, it’s typically hilarious. I’ve also got some really rough notes in the Cover it Live box below, for those who can’t hear/play the video – but I believe we were drinking and laughing to hard to get anything coherent.

What’s up with the Spanish-language version of “Yahoo! Answers”?

by Guest Contributor Andrés Duque, originally published at Blabbeando

What’s up with the Spanish-language version of “Yahoo! Answers”?

As the moderator of a couple of online news lists on LGBT issues, I sometimes rely on Google Alerts to keep up with the latest news on the LGBT community. Once in a while the results will highlight links to some homophobic content on the internet, but that’s to be expected.

A few months back, though, I noticed one interesting trend: While LGBT-related questions to the “Yahoo! Answers” English-language service rarely popped-up and were inoffensive when they did, questions submitted to Spanish-language versions of the service (mainly to “Yahoo! Responde Mexico” & “Yahoo! Responde Spain“) showed up frequently. And, more often than not, they were also tinged with homophobic drivel.

So I geeked out and started keeping those Google Alerts last February. I probably missed a few, and there are probably a lot more questions submitted that were not captured by the Google bots, but I’ve posted the “Yahoo! Response” questions that came my way during that period of time (below I’ve included the original question in Spanish and provided a translation. I have also provided a link to the question if they are still on Yahoo!’s servers).

Results:

Obviously, there are some questions that might have been submitted from a lack of knowledge on LGBT issues rather than homophobic intent (questions about homosexuality and religion or whether gays are ‘born or made’), or those posed by people making sense of their sexual attractions (“How do I know I’m Gay?” “Does this make me a lesbian?”), or those that might be from people just joking around (“Is My Cat Gay?”).

Surprisingly, though, I’d say that roughly half the questions I collected seemed to have a specific homophobic intent which seemed rather high to me and, of those, only a few had been removed from the site after being posted. Continue reading