Undergoing Remodeling

When the report comes out in the next few weeks, Makers All is going to change its focus. So, we’re in the middle of redesigning the site; please pardon the mess!

To give you a feel for where Makers All is headed, here’s the draft title of the report:

Makers All: How to Help Communities Transform Emerging Tech So They Can Shape their Destinies

Posting More Sporadically Until Report is Finished

I used to blog one substantive piece every week, and I almost never missed a week. That hasn’t been happening for the last few months as I’ve been working on the report. I keep trying to get back to it, and I keep blowing my own deadlines.

So, from now until the report is out — probably mid- to late January — I’ll be posting sporadically. I may also try to fill in a bit more with interesting tidbits that aren’t a serious post, but no promises.

Citizenship Schools, Part 1: Roots

I’ve been reading a marvelous book by Katherine Mellen Charron called Freedom’s Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark. Described by Martin Luther King, Jr. as “the Mother of the Movement,” Septima Clark was the architect and creator of one of the most remarkable inventions of the civil rights movement: Citizenship Schools.

To block as many African Americans as possible from voting, most Southern states required voters pass a literacy test. Citizenship Schools were an amazing, massive effort to train African-Americans across the South to read and write in a relatively short period of time. They also served as a means for identifying new grassroots leaders for the Civil Rights Movement.

I think techies who want to democratize technology can learn some really valuable lessons from Citizenship Schools. I’ve already mentioned Citizenship Schools in my framework and several posts I’ve written. But since most techies haven’t heard of them, I’m going to use Freedom’s Teacher to write a series of posts that explain how Citizenship Schools worked and what they can teach us. And since Clark already had decades of experience as a teacher and activist before she created Citizenship Schools, in this first post I’m going to follow Freedom’s Teacher and use Clark’s early history to paint a portrait of forces that shaped the Schools’ creation.

The fight in the South over literacy went back far before when Clark was born in 1898.

Freedmen and -women [i.e., freed slaves] well understood that their future economic and political security depended on securing basic literacy skills and pursued them with equal fervor in both the city and the country. How else could one be certain of the terms of the annual labor contracts he or she signed? How else might one retain the privilege of owning property by identifying the letter in the mailbox as a tax bill? (p. 40) …. More broadly, disfranchised African Americans in South Carolina and across the region viewed education as a primary battlefield in the struggle to undermine white supremacy and to reestablish themselves as citizens. (p. 52)

Schools also eventually became an important site of struggle because of some of their unique properties. In the decades before the 1960s civil rights movement, a direct confrontation with white supremacy, such as multiracial union organizing and/or strikes, was almost always met with terrorist violence and death. In contrast, by the early 20th century, schools were a place where African-Americans could win victories inch by inch without taking on as much risk.

One of several reasons why there was room to maneuver with schools was how Southern white elites treated public schools for African-Americans. They made no bones about the fact that they didn’t want black schools to flourish.

“The objections to negro education arise chiefly from the feeling that it unfits the negro for the place he must fill in the state” as a manual or agricultural laborer, one white South Carolina educational official reported in 1911, “and that the so-called educated negro too often becomes a loafer or a political agitator.” (p. 53)

But there was also an opportunity African American teachers could take advantage of.

From afar and in theory, white concern for black education remained hostile; up close and in practice, it manifested itself as indifference. As long as these circumstances prevailed, black teachers in rural southern schools operated with a considerable degree of autonomy. (p. 69) … [Black schoolteachers] “knew that the supervisor or superintendent only came around every five or six months and when they came everything had to be exactly so,” [Clark] recalled. “Any information we were learning about black people would be set aside and all teachers made sure we were working on the official curriculum.” (p. 70)

But as Clark discovered when she had her first job as a as a teacher in a rural one-room schoolhouse on John’s Island in 1916, to take full advantage of these opportunities, black teachers couldn’t use a standard approach to education. Like many rural African Amercans, most black folks on John’s Island were very poor and had virtually no access to services — there wasn’t even a doctor on the island. Making progress on literacy

required teachers to tap the community’s primary resource, its people. Visiting and listening came first. Only then could teachers motivate children and adults to want to learn and help them devise strategies for applying that learning. (p. 79)

Clark spent several years teaching on John’s Island, and her experiences there shaped many of the ideas behind the design of Citizenship Schools.

Another strong influence on Citizenship Schools were the networks built by black teachers’s organizations and black club women. As Clark experienced through a series of teaching positions and activist work throughout South Carolina,

Over the next few decades, women in a growing number of local clubs built an extensive network that reached into every city, town, and hamlet across South Carolina (p. 134) … Former teacher and Charlestonian clubwoman Mamie Garvin Fields observed, “The point was to have the next generation come up knowing how to organize themselves and take their rightful place in the community” (p. 135).

For example:

In 1931, Modjeska Simkins became a field worker for the South Carolina Tuberculosis Association, charged with the duty of raising health awareness through education. She approached teachers first, addressing them at state and county meetings and parent-teacher association gatherings. Next, Simkins organized a two-day institute in the summer teacher training sessions at South Carolina State…. Simkins’s success depended on tapping into preexisting networks. Teachers who attended county PSTA meetings and summer sessions or who, as Septima Clark had on Johns Island in the 1910s, organized local parent-teacher groups buttressed that statewide infrastructure…. Among black Carolinians, African American teachers and clubwomen helped contribute to a 53 percent decline in the tuberculosis death rate between the wars. (p. 136)

The recurring lesson from this work:

“Real leadership,” Etta B. Rowe asserted, “does not mean standing at the head of an organization—real leadership is that technique . . . that induces others to work and perform in a like manner.” (p. 137)

Clark also spent several decades working with and eventually for the NAACP. The NAACP’s membership “increased ninefold” during World War II, and from the late 1940s through the 1950s it was involved in a series of efforts to desegregate a variety of institutions. Although “the majority of African American teachers chose not to risk their livelihoods by publicly supporting the NAACP” (p. 175), the NAACP was the central player in the fight for the right of black teachers to work in public schools and the fight to inch towards parity between black and white teachers’ salary. By 1956, Clark became the vice president of the NAACP Charleston chapter.

By 1956, southern whites were once again mounting a counter-attack against efforts to win equality for African Americans, triggered this time in no small part by the 1954 Supreme Court Brown V Board of Ed decision. Some of their response was the violence and physical intimidation most of us have heard of.

“Since those nine buzzards on the Supreme Court have abolished the Mason-Dixon line,” one anonymous [KKK] member told an interviewer, “we had to establish the Smith & Wesson line”…. Reflecting on [one] incident, [a] beaten man’s pastor succinctly stated, “Fear covers South Carolina like the frost.” (p. 237)

And some of it was by employing the full force of Southern white elite’s legal and economic power.

Portraying the NAACP as a communist front, southern state legislatures passed laws requiring the association to hand over its membership lists and financial statements to white officials or be shut down (p. 238)…. Banks began to require African American loan applicants to sign statements swearing that they neither were nor planned to become NAACP members (p. 239)…. [In 1956, South Carolina] Governor Timmerman signed into law a bill that that barred city, county, and state employees from belonging to the NAACP (p. 243).

To survive against these brutal pressures, black civil rights activists had to rely on the deep networks that tied their communities together. Even so, many activists paid a high price — when Clark refused to resign from the NAACP, the school district fired from her teaching position and robbed her of her 40 year pension.

After Clark was fired, she eventually ended up at an institution that she’d been trained at several years before and had built a relationship with: the Highlander Folk School. Highlander’s early history is the last piece in understanding the forces that shaped Citizenship Schools.

Highlander was opened in late 1932. It was influenced by a variety of movements, from Denmark folk schools to the efforts in the US at citizenship education.

Clark had been moving in educational circles that specifically addressed matters of “citizenship education” for twenty years. Yet what had in the 1930s been a strategy for fighting fascism became in the 1950s a way to win the Cold War, endorsed by no less than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Beginning in the fall of 1951, for example, Charleston’s city school board launched its Citizenship Education Project in two white high schools. (p. 247)

When Highlander first opened its doors, it was driven by the goals of “educating ‘rural and industrial leaders for a new social order’ and preserving and enriching ‘the indigenous cultural values of the mountains.’ Initially, it focused on the Depression era southern labor movement. But over the next 20 years it began to shift its focus, and by 1953, its board decided to make race relations the center of its work (p. 220).

Highlander gave Clark tools to build on her already impressive work. For example,

Like black clubwomen, [Highlander] defined leadership not as standing at the head of an organization but as assuming the responsibility to get others involved. Yet the [Highlander] concept of leadership emphasized ordinary people—not necessarily self-conscious community leaders—taking part in the decision-making process and devising plans on their own terms and according to their own needs. (p. 216)

Highlander also helped Clark deepen and strengthen her skills as a mentor, and it taught her new strategies for employing data to guide decision making — “Highlander helped me to consider numbers when thinking of memberships, to interview for concrete data, and to survey for reliable facts” (p. 222).

By 1958, Clark had so impressed the Highlander staff that she was hired as the director of education, where she oversaw Highlander’s educational fieldwork. Over the next few years, she developed and implemented the first Citizenship Schools.

Up Next: how Citizenship Schools worked — and why.

What Emerging Tech Coding UX Can Learn From Cookbook Recipes

I have a confession to make: I’m a recovering cookbook addict. I still buy cookbooks, but only two or three times a year (okay, maybe four or five times). While I was a cookbook addict, I acquired a pretty good sized collection.

And of all the cookbooks I own, not one of them uses pictures instead of words to describe their recipes.

Some of the cookbooks do contain pictures. Most of those pictures show what the food will — in theory — look like once you finish the recipe. A few use pictures to walk you through a particular cooking technique. But the recipes themselves are described using words.

Despite that, many people who aren’t professional cooks can figure out how to make these recipes. How many actually make the recipes they read is a question for another day. But if my and my friends’ experience is any indication, when recipes don’t get made it’s not for lack of being able to read them.

Cookbook recipes use words whose meaning aren’t obvious to beginners. For example, here’s a recipe for a black bean and sweet potato chili (minus the ingredients list):

In a large pot heat the tablespoon of water or vegetable broth. Add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly so it does not stick. Add the salt, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. Cook for 30 seconds.

Add the sweet potato and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato, water, and beans. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Ensure the sweet potatoes are cooked.

And here’s a recipe for chocolate pudding:

In a small pot, combine sugar with 3/4 cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

Put all ingredients except for chocolate shavings in a blender and purée until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down its sides if necessary. Divide among 4 to 6 ramekins and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you like, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.

(By the way, in this recipe author Mark Bittman shows you how to make really good chocolate mousse where one of the main ingredients is… tofu. I kid you not. It took me two years before I was ready to try making it — not because I couldn’t read the recipe, but because combining tofu and chocolate sounded absolutely disgusting. Turns out it tastes ridiculously good, which a friend of mine is convinced is one of the signs of an impending apocalypse)

If you’re an absolute beginner, you won’t know how to read these recipes. You’ll need to learn a few things before you can use them. In the chocolate pudding recipe, for example, what does it mean to “bring to a boil” and how do you know when the “sugar is dissolved”? What is “stirring” and how often should you stir the ingredients so you’re “stirring occasionally”?

But figuring this out isn’t rocket science. There are millions of beginners who with some help from family or friends, classes, or just messing around learn how to become good cooks.

That doesn’t mean that the degree of complexity or weirdness of the terms used in recipes doesn’t matter. It took a while for the world of cookbook authors to figure out what kind of words and what degree of complexity worked for beginning cooks, let alone to standardize the meaning of the terms they used.

It’s certainly worth exploring if coding using a visually oriented system is a better way to go than writing text. But as the decades of experience with cookbooks shows us, sometimes a picture isn’t worth a thousand words. And sometimes only a handful of the right words is all beginning cooks need to rock it out.

What Emerging Tech Can Learn From Minecraft

In an interview this week for the report, a designer said that if we are trying to make coding easier, we could learn a thing or two from the game Minecraft. Although there have been some experiments at making programming Minecraft more accessible, it’s not the easiest platform to code. And yet Minecraft has almost 75 million monthly players, some of whom are kids who’ve tried their hand at coding it.

It’s not too hard to understand why. Minecraft is a hell of a lot of fun, and many kids become obsessed with it. And learning to code on it is almost like learning to cast spells. In his intro to Minecraft coding, for example, Minecraft Education Manager Peter Olofsson says he likes to start off by teaching students how to create a command to teleport their “agent.” Any coding class where the first thing you learn to do is how to teleport is a class that’s gotten off on the right start.

Given that so much user experience design work is focused on usability testing, it’s easy to forget that easy to use is only one part of the user experience ecosystem. As discussed previously, here’s how the Nielsen Norman Group defines the objectives of user experience design:

The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use.

Minecraft coding has a fair amount of fuss and bother, and you probably wouldn’t call it elegant. But when it comes to “a joy to use”, it knocks it out of the park.

If we want to ensure as many people as possible in every community have access to emerging tech jobs and business/startup/co-op opportunities, we’re going to need a lot of usability work to make coding as easy as possible. But we also shouldn’t underestimate the power of play.

When a Picture Is Worth Less Than Words (A Little Geeky)

Two years ago, I was managing a team of developers and analysts who were creating a “metadata driven data warehouse” that would make it easy for our many different types of users to slice and dice their often complex data to satisfy their unique needs. We’d finished the core system, and we were just about to start cranking out a series of custom mini-data warehouses when we discovered a tool called Alteryx. Alteryx was expensive, but it promised to remove most of the need for any coding; any “power user” who is comfortable with Excel could do very sophisticated analysis by dragging and dropping to their heart’s content.

Given how complex our needs were, deciding either way it was a pretty big risk. So, we decided to do a quick and dirty bake-off. I felt sick, because from the outside it looked like making a big change in our strategy and going with Alteryx was the way to go. But much to my surprise, Alteryx’s shiny drag-and-drop approach got its butt kicked.

A lot of the reasons we stuck with our original approach were because of the unique problems and constraints we faced. But the bake-off also uncovered a fundamental weakness with a drag-and-drop approach. Something graphical works great when you’ve got a simple problem. But to do just about anything our users wanted, first you needed to prep the data by joining together a bunch of tables of data and sift it using complex logic. And that level of complexity produced a graphical picture that looked like a scene out of a rat’s nest or an episode of Hoarders. Paradoxically, if you used text — i.e., code — to capture that complexity, it was much easier to understand.

So as I begin my deep dive into the research on improving the user experience (UX) of coding, it’s worth remembering that sometimes a picture isn’t worth a thousand words. Or to put it another way, sometimes a bunch of words are worth a lot more than a picture.

What is User Experience (UX)?

Although there are many ways to describe user experience (UX) design, one of the simplest and best definitions comes from the Nielsen Norman Group, whose founders were pioneers in the UX movement:

The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features. In order to achieve high-quality user experience in a company’s offerings there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.

A core part of UX is the concept of usability:

Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use…. Usability is defined by 5 quality components:

  • Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?

There are a bewildering array of techniques you can use for usability studies, but one of the most powerful is user testing. Here’s how the Nielsen Norman Group describes what it is and how you do it:

  • Get hold of some representative users, such as customers for an ecommerce site or employees for an intranet (in the latter case, they should work outside your department).
  • Ask the users to perform representative tasks with the design.
  • Observe what the users do, where they succeed, and where they have difficulties with the user interface. Shut up and let the users do the talking.

Although usability testing can be pretty elaborate, even very simple approaches can provide very useful results:

To identify a design’s most important usability problems, testing 5 users is typically enough. Rather than run a big, expensive study, it’s a better use of resources to run many small tests and revise the design between each one so you can fix the usability flaws as you identify them. Iterative design is the best way to increase the quality of user experience. The more versions and interface ideas you test with users, the better.

In the world of web/mobile, UX has had a deep and profound impact on how designers work. You can go to conferences about it, take courses in it, even get a job doing it. If a corporation, nonprofit, or government is serious about reaching their audience, they’ve got staff and/or consultants who live and breathe UX. As you know from surfing the web, not everyone takes it seriously. But for anybody serious about designing websites and apps, UX is a critical tool in their arsenal.

But in the world of the tools, languages, and frameworks/libraries for coding? There are certainly some folks who are using UX, but my guess is that either it’s not widespread or the users most coding UX efforts target aren’t regular folks; that’s one of the issues I’m researching. Either way, as someone who’s taught a lot of adult beginners I think there’s a tremendous amount of room for improvement.

The one area where you can see the impact of UX work on coding is tools aimed at little kids. The best example of this is Scratch, an MIT project that’s been wildly successful.

Better UX for adult coding won’t by itself solve the gap in the accessibility of coding jobs and creating wealth via coding; for that I think we also need a more deeply community-oriented approach to making coding accessible. But better coding UX can make a critical difference.

August Is User Experience (UX) Month!

For the report I’m writing — on making developing emerging tech accessible to as many people as possible in communities from Compton to Harlan County — in August I’m going to do a deep dive on the User Experience (UX) of coding. As I learn interesting tidbits, I’m going to blog them. So that means this month’s blog posts will be geekier than usual.

For those of you who aren’t from the geeky side, apologies in advance; I’ll try to make what I’m learning as accessible as possible but it’s going to take a couple of weeks before I know how to really break it down. In September I’ll switch back to writing about community-oriented approaches, starting with several posts about what efforts to make tech accessible can learn from the 1960s civil rights movement’s Citizenship Schools.

1949 NY Ag Extension Services to Today’s Techies: Step Up Your Game

As part of learning more about the history of Agricultural Extension Services, I’ve been reading Ruby Green Smith’s The People’s Colleges: A History of the New York State Extension Service in Cornell University and the State, 1876-1948. Cornell University was a leader in Agricultural Extension Services. Although the national program wasn’t created until 1914, Cornell University started doing extension work way back in in the 1870s. Writing in 1949, Smith says that “the most common definition” of what Cornell did is that it took the knowledge and research of academia and “translated it into life through its application to farms, homes, industries, and communities.” [p.xxx] But the actual history was a complex dance between top-down and bottom-up.

A home Bureau leader, Grace Austin Powell, wrote: “the Home Bureau is a door in the walls of a home — a door swinging both ways. It swings in word so that from the State Colleges instruction and inspiration may enter; it swings outward so that from the home may come the rich experience and wisdom which years of home life have given to many a wife and mother.”
There is vigorous reciprocity in the Extension Service because it is with the people, as well as “of the people, by the people, and for the people” it not only carries knowledge from the State Colleges to the people, but it also works in reverse: it carries from the people to their State Colleges practical knowledge whose workability has been tested on farms, in industry, in homes, and in communities. In ideal extension work, science and art meet life and practice…. Thus the Extension Service develops not only better agriculture, industries, homes, and communities, but better colleges.” [p. xxxi]

That sounds pretty interesting, and there are certainly lessons we can learn from their experience. But it isn’t that far from some traditional progressive thinking about how to democratize tech. What blew me away was the next paragraph:

In 1948, more than 32,000 trained volunteer local leaders and community committee members supplemented the agricultural and home economics work of the salaried staff of 383.” [pp. xxxi-xxxii]

Let’s say that again: in 1948, New York Agricultural Extension Services had 32,000 volunteer local leaders. Not members. Leaders.

If you think the idea of making jobs/work in emerging tech accessible to many people in every community seems like a pipe dream, that’s one reason why. I’m not saying we need that many volunteer leaders — or that many paid staff — to succeed. But it’s a useful reminder how much we are used to thinking on a small scale.

National Jobs Guarantee, Volunteer Bucks, and the Future of Work

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s amazing victory in the 14th congressional district Democratic primary this week got a lot of people talking about the progressive ideas she ran on, one of which is a Federal Job Guarantee. According to her website:

Alexandria endorses a Federal Jobs Guarantee, because anyone who is willing and able to work shouldn’t struggle to find employment.

A Federal Jobs Guarantee would create a baseline quality for employments that guarantees a minimum $15 wage (pegged to inflation), full healthcare, and paid child and sick leave for all. This proposal would dramatically upgrade the quality of employment in the United States, by providing training and experience to workers while bringing much-needed public services to our communities in areas such as parks service, childcare and environmental conservation.

Furthermore, a federal jobs guarantee program would establish a floor for wages and benefits for the nation’s workforce. This program would provide a baseline minimum wage of $15 an hour and guarantee for public workers a basic benefits package, including healthcare and childcare. By investing in our own workforce, we can lift thousands of American families out of poverty.

She isn’t the only one pushing for a national job guarantee. Senator Cory Booker, who has close ties to Wall Street, has introduced a bill to test out the idea.

Even in lefty circles, the idea has its critics. Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein, two of the most highly respected progressive economists, recently argued that a national job guarantee may have serious problems and that there may be better ways to tackle the very serious problem that “even in year nine of the current expansion that boasts a 17-year low on the unemployment rate, there are far too many people and communities left behind.”

The package on offer from the one popular version of a job guarantee could be an improvement for at least 50 million currently employed workers. Even if the employers of half of these workers raise their pay to match the package offered through the job guarantee (a great outcome), that would still leave 25 million currently employed workers for whom the guaranteed job would be an upgrade.

Add in the unemployed and underemployed, and this gives us more than 35 million workers in this program and, quite possibly, many more. The federal government’s current workforce, outside of the Postal Service, is 2.2 million, meaning the job guarantee would increase the size of the federal workforce by a factor of 10.

Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) recently introduced a three-year pilot program offering a guaranteed job in 15 urban and rural places. That’s a smart way to proceed, one that should allow us to see if our concerns are justified. If so, local governments in the pilot areas will find themselves having to essentially re-create the private low-wage labor market by undertaking a huge expansion of public-sector jobs.

Therefore, it makes sense to also try a less interventionist approach to job creation. Various members of Congress, including Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D–Md.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.), are rolling out ideas for subsidized jobs programs that target long-term jobless workers and/or those with persistent poverty-level earnings. The job would have to pay at least the minimum wage, and employers, who could be in the public, private or nonprofit sector, would receive a subsidy to cover wages, overhead and training costs. Unlike many earlier versions of such plans, these subsidies would last for a significant period: at least 18 months, and possibly as long as 30 months (with the opportunity for subsidized workers to “re-up” with a different employer if necessary).

I definitely think we need to do something about the fact that our economy has left too many individuals and to many communities behind. I’m not convinced a national job guarantee is the answer — I think we’d be better off with a more inclusive version of the strategies the US used to create jobs right after World War II, where we used both subsidies and shaped the rules of housing, agriculture, autos, electronics, healthcare, and other industries to create the greatest mass-based prosperity the world has ever seen. But it this point, I’d settle for anything we can get signed into law in the next few years.

But in the longer term, if robots and AI end up wiping out more jobs than they create, I don’t think the solution is to create more jobs. It just seems crazy to me that as we create the capacity to automate away a lot of crappy work we wouldn’t take advantage of this and reduce the need for people to work full-time.

For example, why not push for something like Volunteer Bucks? The idea is that anyone could earn a few hours of pay each month for volunteering in the community, and people who were having trouble finding enough paid work could earn more hours per month. Volunteer Bucks would provide income security and give people more flexibility in how they spent their time — especially if it was combined with a small amount of Universal Basic Income.

In the short term, I don’t think it would make sense to implement Volunteer Bucks plus a UBI. It’d be too expensive today, and we aren’t facing mass unemployment. But if we fight to create an economy where as many people in every community can generate wealth from robotics, AI, and other emerging tech, we should be able to create a level of prosperity where we could easily afford that kind of safety net.

I don’t know if Volunteer Bucks + UBI is the long term right policy. But whatever we decide to fight for, the coming revolution in emerging tech offers us a unique opportunity to rethink the world of work. Let’s not waste it.


UPDATE: this piece wasn’t intended as a criticism of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I’m big fan of hers: she’s exactly the kind of politician our country needs right now. And I’d have to be pretty out of it to expect anyone running for office in 2018 to have a platform that was focusing on long term questions like how what robots/AI might do to our communities in 10+ years. I was using the idea of a national jobs guarantee as a springboard for talking about where we want to be headed down the road.