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chasing movement

Category: technology

pinterest: a sexist social network service

I created an account on pinterest these days, as soon as I knew that Jure Leskovec, a big name on big data is the new pinterest’s chief scientist. I was excited to see how his work would progressively change a platform.

My first impression was horrible, not to say terrifying. There was an entry selection for gender, as soon as a click on female, suddenly all these images of clothing, fashion, cooking, marriage poped up on my screen. I felt so disturbed that for a second I didn’t know what to do, I even felt embarrassed for something I didn’t do (horrible socially constructed feeling). I searched for a place where I could select my interests and among the list of things they offered me in this search, I couldn’t find engineering, science, physics. Yes, I found dance and ballet there. It was something. Scrolling down, again, again, and again, and nothing. I had to use the search tool and type engineering, science, etc, one by one.

Well, I was confused and disturbed but finally my feed looked like something I could relate with. But, one of these days, I receive, by e-mail, a suggestion of trends supposedly design for my interests and (again) supposedly using tools of data science. The results was this:

pinterest

Tips for cleaning, recipes etc. Don’t take me wrong, as an independent human being, I do like those things but I do not consume them as information.

If in the beginning I was curious about the results of Jure’s work on it, now I wish him good luck. Whatever data processing they have there, it’s garbage, it’s gender centered and sexist. I’m mad. I think I won’t wait improvements to come, even if I love the street art pictures, science anecdotes, ballet pictures etc.

We need better data science! All technical decisions are also political, therefore we need to keep discussing privacy and respect, otherwise we will end up in a fugazzi cloud of information, which will require new spam detection tolls to filter them out. (uhh… looks good… data science creating the next generation of data science jobs, now I get it). And yes, by the way, we should finally design tools that do not require gender definition whatsoever.

inspiration

It is certain that I can potentially enjoy any project whose idea inspires me. It can be from a simple buzzing system that prevents me from slamming the fridge’s door with an open drawer to a sky rocket algorithm that quantifies soft tissue deformation during pitching. 
I’m an engineer and researcher. Therefore, I can do anything. Including doing nothing that I’ve done till now. How that sounds? Beautiful uh? If technology was broken for a certain research question, it was worth to evaluate how much I could put it together and how much I should wait for my beloved colleagues to come up with better material science that will hopefully fix the broken technology of today. 
I wonder how senior researchers and professors deal with it. I know some that keep a straight line of thought since the first derivative line in their phd. Some others are widely open to their students’ abilities and drives. The latter perhaps would hear me when I say that you can do whatever you want. 
Holstee and so many other inspiring texts claim you should do what you love. People may break nuts while figuring out what the hack is the thing they love. Maybe the answer is not a single topic or drive. It’s a realm. But watch out, you should not entitled yourself to a task that you don’t have the correspondent knowledge and qualification to do, this would be totally irresponsible. But yes, given that you have the background knowledge, that you know the right tools for the job, you can do anything. Do not ever ever ever step on someone else’s domain. Give value and admiration to your peers is essential and efficient. Also, do not deliver bold statements based on superficial knowledge and low fidelity data. Be critic. About your work, your mentors’ work and anyone else’s work. Do it, but find the line between being critic and wasting your time pointing out at others’ work. A nice way to show limitations of a given work is not pointing at it loud, it is indeed to do it yourself… better. 
Not only you should do what you love, but do what you know you do well! Know your weakness and find competent people to pair with, given value to their work. Remember that is always hard to give value to details or preciosities if you ignore the topic. Respect and admiration should fill your knowledge gap for this purpose. 
And yes, be in fucking love with yourself. This is essential, but do not ever ever diminish other people and do not put yourself on a tabernacle from where you are not be able to see what is underneath your feet or the dust around you. If you don’t love yourself, you can be ridiculous competent but you won’t be seen and recognized. Don’t wait or work for recognition, do what you think is needed and give yourself recognition for your strengths, efforts, and your processes of learning by failure. 
Be bold. 
Do what you think the world needs and if it is not prepared for that, build a communication tunnel which you could use to offer the world something, even if this is limited or far from your ideal capabilities. It is worth. Don’t attach and satisfy yourself with the minimum though. The sky is not the limit, but it’s a nice place to be looking at. 
Be bold. Mean it!
Driving, I’d tell my mom. If you are willing to turn, mean it, otherwise people won’t see your intention. If you don’t turn the wheels enough, you’ll either find an obstacle or be an obstacle to someone else. Mean it. 

a humble confession/collection of insights to my pupil that inspires me a bunch. Thanks g.

technological means

John Cage

Invade areas where nothing’s definite (areas – micro and macro – adjacent the one we know in). It won’t sound like music – serial or electronic. It’ll sound like what we hear when we’re not hearing music, just hearing whatever wherever we happen to be. But to accomplish this our technological means must be constantly changing.

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