When smart people get important things wrong

Using Snow’s essay as a jumping off point, I want to consider a problem that’s been on my mind a great deal since joining the MIT Media Lab five years ago: how do we help smart, well-meaning people address social problems in ways that make the world better, not worse? In other words, is it possible to get beyond both a naïve belief that the latest technology will solve social problems and a reaction that rubbishes any attempt to offer novel technical solutions as inappropriate, insensitive and misguided? Can we find a synthesis in which technologists look at their work critically and work closely with the people they’re trying to help in order to build sociotechnical systems that address hard problems?

Ethan Zuckerman was so upset about content marketing platform “Contently” co-founder Shane Snow‘s somewhat insane essay on prison reform – “How Soylent and Oculus Could Fix the Prison System” that he wrote a response – an intelligent and coherent take down of the cult of technology solutionism, which is often hollow and clueless. This is not an opinion piece from someone on the fringe, but from a technologist who has spent a lot of his life in understanding technology and its impact. #MustRead!

What a week that was

Photo by @Om (http://om.co)

What an emotional week! I have been unable to comprehend the impact of United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. It was not how I expected to end my week – considering I spent the first three days in uncharacteristically warm Stinson Beach, in the company of my colleagues from True Ventures

24 Hours Outage

As you might have noticed, the site was offline for about 24 hours. I was offline as well and didn’t notice it till late last night. This morning, when trouble shooting, it became obvious that I was out of disk space — I had uploaded too many photos to the server — and needed to upgrade the available disk space. Sorry about the outage!

Set Adrift: Goodbye of P.M. Dawn

…at the dawn of the 90s, P.M. Dawn enjoyed a brief moment where they captured a truly new sound and the attention of the world and it seemed they would be able to ride that wave of success almost indefinitely.

Diabetes has claimed another life. One of the pioneers of hip-hop, Prince Be, one half of 1990s group, P.M. Dawn passed away last week after diabetes led to renal failure. Anil Dash, a technologist who is known for his sharp essays on technology culture, has penned an heartbreakingly beautiful homage to one of the forgotten talents of the genre. It should be on your must read list, and for the record Anil missed his true calling — a rock/music critic of infinite understanding for music.

A New Look (for the blog)

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It has been a few years since I spruced up the look and feel of Om.co — it has been very sparse and minimal, mostly because I didn’t feel excited enough to write with a regular cadence. I wanted to put a distance between me and GigaOm. I wanted a clean cut with the idea of constant deadlines. Frankly, I just felt burned out and wrote when (and if) I was highly compelled.