For years, I was in the top 50 users by karma on Hacker News.

That ended in 2020, when I complained about how silent the site was being on the murder of George Floyd. The result was a pile of angry messages telling me that it was "just a tech site" and its operators should "keep politics out of it."

When a community tells you who they are, believe them.

@chris Tech's insistence that it is somehow separate from or above social responsibility reminds me of how lots of physicists felt about their discipline in the first half of the 20th century. It's pure science!

It took the creation of the atomic bomb to convince them of the folly of that position -- and even after that, some doggedly held on.

@jalefkowit Agreed. So much modern tech is based on avoiding inconvenience much less responsibility with its libertarian “I can do no wrong" attitudes. The damage it has done to so many is insane.

@jalefkowit @chris I find it most jarring when tech execs breathlessly tell people that their product/platform will be everything for everyone (I'm particularly thinking of Zuckerberg/Meta and their so-called "metaverse") but turn around and testify in Congress or in response to regulators that they aren't responsible for what goes on in their products/platforms. Wanting to have it both ways seems like tech's original sin, and honestly, they HAVE had it both ways for so long, it's no wonder why.

@jalefkowit And keep in mind that those who turned against the Bomb, and called for moral awareness in physics were also castigated.

They won the fight, yes.

But there was a fight.

And it was not won easily.

And the fight never ends.


Birdsite Link; holocaust; data collection 

see above 👆

@chris @jalefkowit

Birdsite Link; holocaust; data collection 

@rgegriff @chris If you are interested in this subject, Edwin Black's 2001 Book "IBM and the Holocaust" is also worth your attention. It documents how IBM worked with the Nazi government to employ its tabulating machines in maximizing the efficiency of the Nazi project of ethnic cleansing.

Birdsite Link; holocaust; data collection 

@jalefkowit @rgegriff That's one of few non-fiction books I've read multiple times and would recommend it to anyone in tech. Thanks for sharing!

@jalefkowit I thought there was a limit on how much karma you can lose on HN from downvotes

@84b08ef8 I told them to delete my account (which it turns out they can't actually do, but they can hide it).

I voluntarily burned all my karma.

@jalefkowit I think that the consensus has changed (at least a little) seeing the Roe v Wade discussions. HN is now a place for politics and it seems to me to be fairly liberal (US scale, not European)

@84b08ef8 In my experience, the site got more welcoming to political content the closer the issue was to one that would affect the "typical" programmer (e.g. college educated, well paid, male, white).

Women are still under-represented in tech, but male programmers have wives, girlfriends, sisters, etc., and abortion is an issue that crosses income lines, so Roe is an issue they are more likely to be sensitive to.

Floyd was poor and black, so they cared much less.

@84b08ef8 (Though I will cheerfully note that I've been away from there for 2+ years now, it's possible things I have changed for the better. I sincerely hope they have.)

@jalefkowit @84b08ef8 Things have not gotten much better I'm afraid. Still very (Bay area) techno-libertarian, basically concerned with Haskell and why SlateStarCodex peaked in 2014.

@jalefkowit I got shadow banned there because I dared to to criticize their great leader

@jalefkowit the site's always had a libertarian bent but it really feels like it's shifted significantly rightward socially over the last several years. Thanks for standing up for what's right.

@jalefkowit FWIW, the mods on HN don't feel that way.

Former YC CEO Sam Altman is getting roasted by some, supported by others, for proposing a $25 minimum wage.

And for what it's worth, I'm hovering around the 50 mark on the leaderboard, Some recent falling off, mostly as I've been less active there.

The site isn't owned by one side or the other, it's in play. I see plenty that annoys me, some that is heartening.

@NSonic79 It's the points you get on the site when someone upvotes a comment you made or a story you submitted. Reddit has a similar system.

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