Today in smackdowns: Matt Yglesias rolls his eyes at Pax Dickinson’s ‘pernicious nonsense’

Pax Dickinson, whose employment as CTO at Business Insider was abruptly terminated when the board’s attention was drawn to some of his bigoted jackass tweets and the potential liability risk they could present to the company, had an interview in nymag entitled Pax Dickinson on His Regrets, the Media ‘Witch Hunt,’ and What Women Need to Understand About Men (so not doubling down in any way at all) where Pax shares his fear that “turning [tech] into a politically correct wasteland” will take away “the freewheeling nature of [tech that] leads to innovation [which is] really important to this country and to the world”.

Matt Yglesias calls bullshit on misogyny-toleration aka freewheeling being key to technological innovation, especially in IT, and points out what the crucial differences between IT and many other less “freewheeling” industries actually are:

At the end of the day, the innovative nature of the digital technology industry isn’t some great mystery. Hiring some programmers and buying them a few computers is really cheap compared to, say, building a factory. What’s more, when your computer program crashes nobody dies. Engineers who build airplanes are held to a much higher standard and need to proceed much more cautiously. And this, fundamentally, is where the innovation comes from. People can tinker around. They can launch services without being 100 percent sure they’ll be able to scale them properly or handle edge cases. When the servers get overloaded, there’s no explosion, no oil spill, no wreckage, nothing but an error message. It’s nice! People can try a lot of new stuff, and talented people don’t necessarily need to spend years paying their dues to give their big ideas a shot.

But none of this has anything to do with people being jackasses to women.

Just because it’s possible to tinker around in an asocial manner and still make money doesn’t mean that it’s the asociality which is the crucial money-making factor. It’s the tinkering around that makes the money. Therefore the broader the range of tinkerering types you’ve got tinkering around the more chances they’ll come up with something good, surely?

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, technology

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5 replies

  1. Dickinson’s doubling down sort of gives the lie to the whole “but he’s a satirist/performance artist!!eleventy1!!” codswallop, doesn’t it?

  2. So true. It reminds me of something that I’m pretty sure I read on Hoyden about taking out one of every current IT high flyer and how that would slow the pace of development dramatically and then to think about how this has already happened with women being discouraged from pursuing IT in general (except for a few hardy ones we know and love).

  3. I hope there are a few men objecting to what Dickinson thinks women need to understand about men. Yet another round of Feminsts Don’t Hate Men As Much As Sexists Do.

  4. I hope there are a few men objecting to what Dickinson thinks women need to understand about men.

    There are a few threads over at Freethoughtblogs about this dudebro, with plenty of male humans objecting to pretty much everything about him (and, as usual, a fair number of chew-toys defending him.)
    Me, I have not bothered to read his article, let alone posted a response, so you could say that I am not among “the men objecting ….” I saw some screen shots of his tweets, and that told me all I need to know about him. The world is full of misogynistic [epithet deleted]s, I don’t have time to listen to, let alone argue with them all.

  5. Not to mention, of course, the 100% increase in your potential market if you start making things that also take women’s needs and desires into account.

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