The Stack Overflow Podcast

Web3 won't save us

Episode Summary

Not to get too meta, but there is a lot of buzz in the tech world and among software developers about the advent of Web3 and the opportunity blockchains provide to write new rules for a future internet. In today's episode, we discuss what these emerging tools and platforms might bring. Cassidy and Ceora throw a much needed glass of cold realism on Ben's sunny techno-optimism, and old man Ryan shouts at a cloud.

Episode Notes

What is Web3? The Decentralized Internet of the Future





Thanks to our lifeboat badge winner of the week, Tadeck, for showing us how to design a : Function for Factorial in Python

Episode Transcription

Cassidy Williams When you are a white man, when you are straight, when you are the gender that you're assigned at birth, you kind of have a good time on the Internet generally. You live in a different world than the rest of us do.

Ben Popper Are you saying I'm blindly optimistic about everything because I'm a cis white man? [Cassidy laughs] I really resent that. I'm just naturally optimistic...

Ryan Donovan Entirely possible.

CW I think it's a bit possible, Ben!

[intro music]

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BP Hello everybody! Welcome to the Stack Overflow Podcast, a place to talk all things software and technology. I am Ben Popper, the Director of Content here at Stack Overflow. And I am joined, as I often am by my wonderful crew of co-hosts, Ryan, Cassidy and Ceora. Hi, everybody. 

CW Hello!

Ceora Ford Hello!

RD Hello!

BP So today, I was thinking just for fun, we would talk about DAOs and Web 3.0, what do you think Ceora? Does that sound like fun? [Ryan & Ceora laughs]

CF I am going to do start off by saying—before I even answer that question. I think that I missing a baseline of like knowledge, as far as the difference between all these like, I guess decentralized things, right? Because I think a lot of times when we talk about these things, like Web 3.0, crypto, NFTs, we kind of group them all together. And now I'm thinking to myself, it's so funny that we're talking about this, I just had a conversation with a bunch of people on Twitter about this whole thing. And I realized a lot of people don't really know the difference—myself included. We just talk about them, like we know what we're talking about and maybe we really don't.

CW That's my entire career. [Ceora laughs] 

BP We're all faking it till we make it here, me especially.

CF That's very true. But I kind of had to take a step back. So before I like, totally derail the conversation, to give some context, someone was talking about Web 3.0, and how Web 3.0 is going to change the internet. And it's just going to like help so many, like people can do all this, like Web 3.0 stuff, without their identity being attached to it, which is going to be a huge advantage for people from—and I hate using this term—but like people from underdeveloped or third world countries was what the person was saying. 

BP Right.

CF And they received, like a lot of backlash for this whole statement. But someone retweeted what they said. And they were like, I just want to hear from people who aren't huge fans of the Web 3.0 thing. And I want to hear like why. So I like took the time to like read through the replies to kind of get like a better picture on both sides of things, right, like of people who are really for it, and people who are against it. And I still feel like even though I still feel like I don't have like a full picture of what these things really are, based off of like, the way people talk about it, I'm still very cautious is what I'll say.

RD I don't know what Web 3.0 includes at all.

CF Yeah, like, I don't really have a good idea of what these things are. But I can say, I think we had a similar enthusiasm and attitude toward AI and machine learning, thinking that this was a technology that could solve human problems that were like systemic, and just huge issues. And, like, let's use AI, like, you know, solve the whole bias thing and all that kind of stuff. And it just ended up making the problem worse. And I feel like we might be doing the same thing with these decentralized technologies, right? 

RD It's a hype train. Any new technology gets on the hype train until it starts getting real life applications.

BP I think 100% to what you said earlier, I remember the CEO of Coinbase was very bullish early on. He was like, decentralized finance is going to help people who are unbanked around the world, you know, the 1 billion people around the world who don't have access to a bank account, you know, decentralized finance and crypto is going to finally bring those people stability, the ability to save, and you know, like DeFy and crypto is going to be such a, you know, great boost. None of that, as far as I can tell has come to pass and Coinbase is basically just like Wall Street for crypto. Like all the big banks invested in them, and they did a traditional IPO. So like, to your earlier point, this savior mentality, I think is kind of is misplaced and a little bit kind of offensive. But, I do think one thing I've seen and maybe you've noticed this as well, because you mentioned a bunch of friends on Twitter with trying NFTs and art, is that it does seem like there is a youthful, diverse community of people who are experimenting with crypto blockchain, NFT art, DAOs, and that there is really a sort of permissionless feeling there where it's like, hey, we're early on, we don't know what this is going to look like. We don't have mainstream traction. But if you're a creator or an entrepreneur or a coder like, you can come in, we'll write these rules, these smart contract rules. And we'll try to all build something together. Now, obviously, it's not totally permissionless to join this Friends With Benefit DAO that a16z just invested in, you have to buy $8,000 worth of their coins. 

CW Oh dang.

BP So that's a baseline of, you know—but on the other hand, there are a lot of young people who maybe didn't come from wealth, who in the last year easily may, you know, in the last three, four or five years easily got $8,000 worth of crypto, like you don't have to have come from money to have participated in this community over the last five years and to have, you know, that kind of stake maybe. But let's step back, because I don't really know 100% what a DAO is, or a Web 3.0. I feel pretty like, I'm on solid footing with crypto and blockchain. But yeah, I guess maybe Cassidy, you can help me out a little. My sense is a blockchain is just a ledger, a public ledger where we can trust each other because we know that to write and read from it, you know, you have to participate with a bunch of decentralized nodes. And so we agree that we can trust the ledger. And you can use that for various things. You can write smart contracts. A DAO is basically like a corporation, an organization, where you agree to take money in, disperse money out. have voting rights, kind of like an open source idea. But it's all organized around a blockchain system, essentially as like the central source of truth. And the place to write your operating code, which are like your operating guidelines for a corporation. And Web 3.0, is this idea that just like the internet was, you know, big, and then mobile was big, blockchain and crypto will rewrite the rules and give new opportunities for people to do all kinds of creative things. And in 10 years, we'll look back and be like, you know, this was the start of Web 3.0. Like, we don't know what Web 3.0 is yet, but people who are bullish on it, like the folks at Andreessen Horowitz, who invested in Friends With Benefit, the next web will be built around blockchain and decentralized computing. And we want to invest in the hip young creators and the, you know, sort of like nodes of excitement and entrepreneurship that are happening around this space. So that's my thing, but Ceora is shaking her head. [Ceora & Cassidy laugh] Let me get Cassidy, because you haven't spoken. I want to hear your take. And Ceora, you could just rain fire on everything I just said.

CW So I also admittedly don't know a lot. But here's how I've made some sense of it. And so it's called Web 3.0, because there's Web 2.0 and Web 1.0. The first, quote unquote, iteration of the Web was basically the read-only web where it was people just kind of putting up websites, probably mostly academics, because that's what the web was first made for, being able to share documents and research and stuff. And then Web 2.0 is what pretty much everybody knows of today, where it's kind of like, the interactive web where you you can actually use it, interact with it, chat on it, it's very social, and stuff. And when you think about Web 2.0 and its flaws, you kind of think about, basically security and monetization. 

BP Content moderation.

CW Yeah. Content moderation. Yeah, no, exactly. And so with Web 2.0 applications, websites, things that are present and prevalent today, you see a ton of data breaches, people often worry about, like their own free speech and things depending on the sites that you're on and the countries that you're in. Your data is very much owned by the companies that run these social media platforms.

RD You're all locked into all of the platforms, right?

CW Yeah. And then on the monetization side, kind of plays into the security aspect of it, where it typically is like, some company launches an application. And I'm talking about the big social networks of today, most of the Google Apps and stuff like that. It accumulates a ton of users, and then monetizes the users rather than anything else, like subscriptions and stuff. And granted, there are websites that have subscriptions, but it's definitely based on selling the data of the users from ads based on the users and stuff. And so with Web 3.0, it's trying to get rid of those problems. And again, this is probably like just scratching the surface. And I don't fully understand it. But the point of it is supposed to be like very self governing, where it's not like these big companies owning your data and stuff. You're supposed to own your data, because it's on the blockchain and decentralized and stuff, payments are built in so you don't have to think about that kind of monetization aspect of your data being sold. And it's robust in a way because it's on the blockchain. It's not relying on a company somewhere and their data to keep your information active, I think. [Cassidy & Ryan laugh]

CF Okay, I have lots of thoughts and I'm honestly speaking, I'm really trying not to just be a hater. Like, I don't want to be one of those people that just like--

RD Let the hate come through you.

CF Right. I'm trying not to be that person who just like skeptical and super like cautious because it's something new, but at the same time, I do feel like if this is something that's supposed to be the next phase of the web, right, something this big of a deal. I do think it deserves to be criticized, critically.

CW Yeah, agree.

CF I do. Like it's not just like—it's not just something, there's a side project or even a new product or something like that that's revolutionizing tech alone. We're talking about like totally redoing how the web works. Because of that, I think when people get on Twitter, or when they write these articles, or even when they start companies, preaching like this decentralized utopia, I think we deserve to add some realism into the mix. Because like with Web 2.0, right, I'm sure when that first came out, everybody thought it was going to be amazing, this was going to be great. And look what like the problems that we created are like huge and have had huge impacts on like, people like in general. And I don't think that Web 3.0 is going to be any different. I don't think that—like I hear decentralized and I hear like your identity, you're like anonymous.

CW Same.

CF I'm totally like, not for that.

BP Just to take that thread that you put out there. So I don't know—do you guys remember Arab Spring, that was like one of the first big sort of social uprisings that was organized on social media as we know it. And people looked at that as a watershed moment. They said, this is great, like people in a country who were dispossessed, or under a dictatorship, can now use social media to organize. And this is like a new dawn for democracy, and citizens rights and citizens ability to organize. And now we're a decade later, and people's view of social media is the complete opposite. Like it's destroying democracy, and it's all feeding us disinformation, it's making us all hate each other. So in that brief span of time, relatively speaking, it went from being this savior to this villain. And that I think often happens, because power becomes centralized in a certain area, and people are putting profit above other interests. So the only thing I would say back to you, Ceora is, I'm sure there will be problems with this as well. And I can think of one right off the top of my head, which I'll mentioned. But if it was truly decentralized, and people did have this earlier vision of the web, but it was really hard to execute, you know, a semantic decentralized web where everybody owns their own data, and we sort of collectively power it, then you don't end up with operating system owners, device owners and, you know, social network owners, who are kind of controlling everything and making the decisions instead of the users making the decision. So that's like, the vision for the future of the DAO.

CF I just don't know if it's gonna pan out like that.

BP Sure, it wont. [Ben laughs]

CF That's an ideal world scenario, I think.

BP Yeah, yeah.

CF And I think another thing is that a lot of people are into like the crypto, the NFTs not because they think this is something that unbanked people are going to be able to use, and it's going to change the world for the better. They're into it for profit. And I think we should just leave with that. Like, if you're gonna tell me that you're into NFTs and you're into crypto because it makes you money, fine. Like, that's totally fine. But to preach this like savior mentality of like, "I want to change the world. And I want to make it a better place through like decentralized finances" or whatever. That's usually like—you just mentioned Coinbase earlier, that's usually not how it really pans out. Like, if you're into it for the profit, fine.

BP You don't think the venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz are into this for the goodness of their hearts? They're in this to make money? [Ceora laughs]

RD Saving the world $1 at a time, right?

CW Whenever I think of anonymous, and that sort of thing, and everyone owning everything, you got to think about the people who are disadvantaged in the world, and the categories of people who are more prone to harassment on the internet, and stuff. And unfortunately, they're bad actors everywhere. And when I hear anonymous, I hear people getting away with stuff. And unfortunately, that's very cynical, but that's what I see.

CF That's how it pans out everytime. 

BP That's how you'd have to write the rules. Like you could create a DAO that was for a social network or any idea where you would share money or share information or join together and say, the rule of this one is it's not anonymous, like you have to bring real names or proof and that's how we're running this DAO, and to participate, that's like one of the ground rules like things would still be decentralized and so everyone would vote with their CPU or their token or whatever it is to make the decisions but a DAO or a Web 3.0 activity doesn't have to be anonymous by nature, I don't think.

RD Right but I don't think we're worried about, you know, Cassidy or Ceora's DAO, I think we're worried about the Hitler stans putting together a DAO of all their anonymous stuff and being like "Let's just share the documents of our enemies." 

CW Yeah and it's verifiable.

BP There will always be Jedi like us there will always be Sith. Yeah, everybody's going to use these tools, some for good and some for bad. So in this discussion, let's maybe we could just say like, are these tools interesting? Could they be useful? How could you use them? Like maybe a slightly more neutral way to discuss it. And it's fine to say like, what could the bad outcomes be, Ceora, I agree.

CF I just think we should talk about this more.

BP And it will turn to shit because it did for this, this and that. True, that is the history of the world, but I'm a glass kind of half full guy, you know?

CF Oh, I so am not. I so am not that person. Like I just was thinking about—Cassidy you probably know this, but Ryan and Ben, maybe not. I'm really into KPop, right? Like, it's like a huge obsession of mine as of late. But I have gotten onto the KPop side of Twitter. And it's a mess there. And one of the reasons why it's a mess is because there's so much anonymity. People don't go by their real name. They don't have like, their real pictures up. So they feel really comfortable saying anything to anybody about everything. And these are like, a lot of times like, they're like, girls who are like 15 and 16, maybe like 18, 20, 21. And they're being like horrible people. Because I think one of the major reasons is because your identity is not really tied to it. Like, on my Twitter account, that's my identity, my profession is tied to it. So I'm very mindful of what I say and do. Not just because I want to be a good person, but also because people know that it's me, but like for our social media where anonymity is not like built into it, people still like us that to be horrible people. 

BP Absolutely. 

CF So that's the kind of thing that I'm thinking about.

BP Yeah but Web 3.0 is our chance to reinvent this. We could start a DAO tomorrow, the four of us, we could start soliciting new members, we could hand out tokens and we could build a better social network that does not allow anonymity. I mean, that's like the vision of Web 3.0 is like, hey, we got some new tools. We've got some new options for how you can build, govern and monetize things like build what you think is better. I mean, I guess that would be I guess, my rebuttal, my optimist rebuttal.

RD I mean, I'm definitely excited about the possibility of decentralization. I think people have tried a decentralized social networks with things like Mastodon—

BP Truth. 

RD Yeah, right. And it's tough. It's tough getting like federating all the sources, and somebody still has to vet who gets in there, right. And I think this where there's some sort of buy in, where there's some sort of skin in the game, that may tune out some of the bad actors, except for the state actors, which have unlimited money.

BP Cassidy, what do you think? We can't DAO it up and make a better social world?

CW So here's where I bring up kind of what I said before in terms of the disadvantaged. If we make it anonymous, let's just say, unfortunately, I have seen enough of the world. Most people can be mostly decent, but people have their own worldviews and those clash with other people. And that happens. When you are not a white man, when you are straight, when you are the gender that you were assigned at birth, you kind of have a good time on the internet, generally. You live in a different world than the rest of us do.

CW When you are a white man, when you are straight, when you are the gender that you're assigned at birth, you kind of have a good time on the Internet generally. You live in a different world than the rest of us do.

BP Are you saying I'm blindly optimistic about everything because I'm a cis white man? [Cassidy laughs] I really resent that. I'm just naturally optimistic...

RD Entirely possible.

CW I think it's a bit possible, Ben! And when you see certain people call things out and speak their minds and say something somewhat controversial, if you are a white man, you are probably going to be totally fine saying those views, and you won't get much flack for it. If you are not, you're gonna get flack for it. And if you do use real names and aren't like have your identity verified, then it's kind of exposing you in a way. And it could be something even as simple as there have been times where I've tweeted an opinion about a web framework. And oh, my gosh, I get so many responses. People are like, "well, actually, that's not how that works," or "are you sure you know what you're talking about?" And then my coworker, he'll post something incredibly similar, and everyone will just agree with him, no one will question him. He has hardly any responses. And that's just it. And we have around the same number of followers, around the same type of audience. So that's just how it is in our lives. And so just, again, this is me being a cynical person on the internet, I guess.

BP No, we'll do a DAO from the ground level, we'll build it so like, you have to pay more depending on your level of privilege. So I'll pay the most. 

CW I'm listening.

BP Ryan and I will pay the most just to be on board. [Ceora & Ryan laugh] I would vote for reparations, but I don't control the federal government. But we can build the DAO however we like. So I'm just saying like, I'm ready to try to build it better.

CF I know for myself, one thing I always look at with anything is like the identity of the people who are in support, and the identity of the people who are a little more cynical. And I feel like with Web 3.0, DAOs, crypto, blockchain stuff in general, I feel like people who were usually of groups that are oppressed are the ones who are like, oh, I think we should think about this a little bit harder before we jump into this. And that to me says a lot. And even like the whole Cassie, you mentioned like who are the people who are in power and those power structures usually transfer no matter what things are looking like, like, no matter if we change the web, and a lot of times when we try to like solve these very human problems with technology, we end up just making the situation worse, and I don't see any convincing evidence yet that that's not going to be the case with Web 3.0, or all this stuff. So that's why I'm very cautious. I'm not going to like hate on anybody who wants to get involved in it, I think, you know, everyone has a right to do what they want to do. But I do kind of have to be like, hmm, I don't know.

BP To do the research here, we should reach out to Friends With Benefits. It's interesting, because in the investment thesis for Friends With Benefits, like part of what they were saying was talented engineers with just an internet connection can contribute to important blockchain projects, regardless of their age, gender, location, pedigree, etc, right? Like anybody can go in—and the same is true for open source software, like anybody can go in and throw something against the wall and see if it sticks or I'm trying to make a comment. Now we know from Stack Overflow and asking questions and answers, like, obviously, there are gatekeepers, and there are ways in which the community may not be as friendly or inclusive as you—may not be as open.

CW Like, if you look at any web framework, authors, unfortunately, you don't see a lot of diversity there. It's possible for anybody to contribute to open source, to contribute on StackOverflow, and things like that. But I know, for example, on Stack Overflow, a grand majority, maybe not a majority, a large number of people that I know, have fake names on Stack Overflow, because they want to hide the fact that they're a woman. 

BP Hmm, interesting. The world is terrible. You guys are right. The world is a horrible place. Well Cassidy and Ceora, let me ask you a different question. Because I'd be curious to know, like, we had actually I thought was like a really interesting conversation last time about like, 10 years in, you know, coding, it wasn't really 10 years, but like our journey, you know, through from beginning till now. Ceora, you had mentioned, you know, right, like just sort of joining a class that was online, and then getting in touch with social networks and creator communities that kind of helped you to find a way into the industry. Are there things that you see as being positive or hopeful at this moment in technology of being in the software industry? Where you're like, it seems like things might be moving in a better direction, or it seems like things might be, this industry might becoming more accessible, or again am I—I could be totally lost in my like, dreamy, white guy, like, it seems like things are getting better, I can be totally off base, I'm sure that's probably true.

CF I'll say that it feels like sometimes—and again, like this is totally me being a pessimist. Just in general in life forever. I've always been this way. But I feel like every time we take a step forward, we like take five back. So in some ways, we have someone who's making or trying to make a whole lot of impact in the tech industry to change things for the better. But then there are people who have more power, who are making them exponentially worse at the same time. So I don't even know if I mentioned this during the last podcast, but like over the summer, one of my like, kind of techie jobs was that I was teaching at a camp for girls, where we would teach them how to code for two weeks. It was called Kode With Klossy and the whole point of it is that we're trying to like introduce young girls and to computer science so that we can like help improve the pipeline later on down the line. And one of the things that I had such a hard time with doing this was because I was so involved with the tech industry, I could see like I'm a person, because a lot of the people who are like staff members are college students or actual teachers. So they're not like really in the tech industry. So as someone who's really in the tech industry, or getting involved in the tech industry, I saw how things could really be. I saw how bad things could get like. I had just come off of like being harassed online, just for like, building projects. I felt so bad encouraging these girls to join into the tech industry, knowing how things really are. I felt like I was trying to do something wrong and right at the same time, which was very like, I don't know, I don't know the word for it. But it was really a really strange feeling. Because I feel that way sometimes now. Like, I'm a big proponent of people of all backgrounds getting into tech, making tech as accessible as possible. But at the end of the day, things are really bad. That sounds so pessimistic. But they are. Like in reality, let's be completely honest. This is why we have this idea of Web 3.0 in the first place, because things are not going the way we want them to. So am I excited about or do I think things are getting better? I can't really say yes. I think that we're taking baby steps to making them better. But I think we're taking even bigger steps to making them worse. And this is something I think about a lot, about my contribution to whether or not things are getting better or worse and how much that means in the grand scheme of things. Sorry to take things in like a dark, you know—

CW It's very true because like there are some things where like, for example, I do think a lot of events in tech are so much better. Like if you talk to me six or seven years ago, there would not be a lot of conferences out there that even have a code of conduct or anything and now you can't get away with that. So like luckily there's been a lot of awareness around a lot of these problems which is very true. But I've also been in that situation Ceora, where I've been harassed on the internet so hard, where I'm just like, why am I in this industry? Why am I encouraging people to get in this industry? This is awful. I want to quit. But then there's so many good opportunities where I see people literally turning their entire lives around because they're able to get a job in it. And so it's very much a double edged sword. And I tried to think of the positive side of things. And I would love for Web 3.0 and this kind of stuff to solve a lot of those problems. I think that's great, but I think a lot of them are, first of all human problems, you have to look at the humans who are building this kind of technology. And there's a phrase that Kim Crayton says a lot, where tech is not neutral or apolitical. You can build as much as you want to try to make it neutral and apolitical. But it always will be because humans are running it. And so yeah, there's there's so many pros and cons to this industry.

CF And that's why I always point to when I'm talking about like, the decentralized technology as a whole. I always point to AI and machine learning, because we thought, as humans are the biased ones, let's let the computers make the decisions. And there will be no bias, everything will be perfect. But we keep seeing time and time again how this is just not true. Because if humans are building the technology, it's inherently going to be carrying the bias of those humans who are building it.

RD At some point a human makes a decision, a human picks the set of images, you know?

CF Right, exactly.

BP Once the machines are building the machines, it'll all be better. [Cassidy laughs]

CW Well, just a small example of this that's, that's very, very real. A friend of mine worked on one of the first iterations of Xbox way back in the day, and she joined as a tester. And it was when the what was that camera thing called? The Kinect. Yeah, she was going to be like a software tester for the Kinect, and she was the first woman and the first person of color on the team. So she goes up to the Kinect. And first of all, it's not detecting her because of her skin. And it couldn't actually hear her voice activation stuff, because like, the fan was operating at the frequency of her higher voice then all of the men on the team who had been building it and stuff. This is just a very small example of the larger problems at hand, if they hadn't hired her if they hadn't had someone that is different from them building it, they would have been completely blind to that problem. And so diversity is good, because I think right now, the crypto space, there are some people in it who are not white men, or men in general, but it's something that I think needs to be looked at by a wide variety of people to be able to really solve some of these problems.

BP Tell me what you think of this, because I'm curious, like, when I look out at government, you know, he said, these are human problems, you know, these are problems of organization and society and structures. And how do we like right the wrongs and build things for the future, that would be better, like Cassidy and Ceora, like, take a good step forward. And don't take a step back or two steps forward for every one step back as opposed the opposite or something like that. You know, like government, to me generally seems to be pretty inefficient. I try to like tune it out after a certain point, where as so much has happened in technology and business over the last, you know, 20 years, while I've been paying attention. So like, let's take Stack Overflow as an example, we know we still have a ton of work to do to make the community more welcoming and inclusive, like you were just mentioning something I've never even heard of before, which is that people are sort of like they want to use it, but they feel like they can't use it as themselves. But our senior leadership team, or our, you know, podcast hosting group here are considerably more diverse than they were five or 10 years ago. Right? And I'm curious, like, do you think we have the some of the tools now or the optionality? Because the way things are more open, interactive and distributed to like, build the change you want to see in the world? Like, I'm not saying there's not a lot of evil, you know, pushing down on us or people with power pulling us in our direction? But do you have the ability to build things better, or build things that you would want to see because of the open web and open source and open networks, decentralized blockchain?

CF I would like to say yes, I'll use my previous work experience at Kode With Klossy as an example. I think this is like a nonprofit organization that's trying to do really great things, right. Like they're trying to get young girls. And like, diverse girls, we had Black girls, Asian girls, like we had people of all backgrounds, from different places different, like economic backgrounds. And I think that's like a great thing, a great change they're trying to implement. But then, like, that's one company, first of all out of the slew of like, many that don't care at all about women in tech or diversity in tech. Then there are also things like one of the statistics that we push is that like, there's a high percentage of the girls who participate in Kode With Klossy who go on to study computer science in college, who become, you know, they studied they get a degree in computer science or they try to and that is a very hopeful statistic, but that doesn't factor in the girls who actually graduate with their CS degrees. Because if you think about the way, I've seen this statistic pop up every now and then of how, like, a lot of women who enroll in the CS degrees, like to get their CS degree, either changing majors, and things like that, because of how bad things are in that phase of things, in that phase of the journey.

CW I experienced that firsthand. 

CF Exactly, exactly. And like you're one of the few who make it through, right, you're one of the few who actually push through and like get your degree and like go on to do great things. But there's this one company, Kode With Klossy, who's trying to do such great things. But that impact is probably a lot smaller than we would hope because of the way things work in college, and then even further, the way things work, when you actually start to work in tech. So I think about these things, again, about like, this company is trying to take five steps forward. But because of the college world, and because of the tech world in general, it's like, we're still 10 steps behind. So how far do we really get? Because having that organization is better than not? Right? But it's going to take a really long time to see the real impact of these things. 

RD It's a bigger problem than tech. 

CF Right. Exactly, exactly.

CW If you look at like the CEOs and the leadership teams of a lot of companies—there's some companies, including my own, where we have particularly diverse teams, but look at the leadership team. Being just like, yes, we have this percentage of women, non binary people of color, etc. But the CEO, CTO, CEO, etc. are white men. So great. You're starting to hire, but like, as you get higher up the chain, there are less and less because people don't want to deal with crap. It's something where you start to question after a point like, do I really want to stick with this? And that's definitely pessimistic of me. But as someone who did go through a computer science program, multiple times, I was the only girl in the classroom or one of a couple. Multiple times, I was told I only got the job because I look the way I look. Multiple times, I was told that people went easy on me because of how I look, so on and so forth. Where I was just kind of like, I know, you're wrong, I'm going to keep pushing forward. But I know a lot of people who are just like, fine, you know what, I'm done with this and left. And I can't blame them because that's how the world still is. I think it's important to encourage people to continue to get in the industry. But it's also incredibly important to educate and have consequences for the people who don't understand the importance of it and who aren't willing to allow that change to happen.

BP Right. It's just so interesting to me—this is more like a personal issue. But I agree with everything you're saying. And I feel like it rings true. And I also recognize that I can't, I could try to be empathetic, but I can't share your perspective, because I didn't have to go through that. I guess it's funny, I'm often I often think of myself as an optimistic person. Like, I guess I keep trying to ask, like, do you think we could build it better? Or do you think we have the right tools? If I felt the way you did, I would just like, go jump off a bridge. Like, it's just so funny. Like, I keep saying things are okay, and you keep telling me, well, you don't really know. But then, what motivates you? I mean, Ceora, I'm so interested, like, if you really feel that way, like what's motivating you to get up and come on the podcast and go do your job and go teach these, you know, girls at this camp? Like if I really saw the world the way you saw it and that was like, my lived experience. Like, I can't imagine getting out of bed in the morning.

CF There's a lot going on here. And I definitely, like if you follow me on Twitter long enough, there have been times where I'm like, I don't know if I'm gonna stick around. But there's a few things that do keep me around. And, again, I just talked about how low impact all the diversity work we do is and that sounds so horrible to say out loud, because it's not really that true. Because if you impacted person's life in a way where they like, are able to make a living wage and all that kind of good stuff, that's not really low impact. But on the grand scheme of things, that's how it feels sometimes. But despite me saying all that, there have been times where I gave a talk with my natural hair and someone sends me a tweet, like, my daughter walked past the computer while I was watching you. And she said, like "Mom, she has hair just like me." That kind of stuff, really like that is the kind of stuff that like literally makes me like, okay, maybe this isn't so bad. And then also at the same time, like I just said, like, things are really bad. And it's also like, where else am I going to go? Like on the days that are really bad where I can't even think about like those tweets that I get every now and then. I'm like, there's not really anywhere else—because these are like we said, these are like society problems, right? They're not necessarily like unique to tech, so it doesn't really matter where I go. I'm probably going to run into some of these issues to a certain degree. So I'm just like, I might as well stay here, I've invested in enough time I mean effort at this point. Like, I might as well keep doing—it's almost like when you read a really bad book and you're like halfway through and you're like, I might as well finish it. [Cassidy laughs]

RD Yeah, yeah. Gamblers fallacy. [Ceora laughs]

CW I really just, again, there have been times where I'm like, I'm gonna leave this industry and I'm done. But seeing people being able to change their lives, because they've learned how to code and get opportunities that they never would have dreamed of, that honestly makes it worth it for me. And sometimes it's few and far between. And then sometimes when it rains, it pours and there's there's a ton of people doing it. But being able to help people get to that point, is probably my biggest motivator.

CF Yeah, it's very fulfilling. That part of it really is. When you help someone, like get a job, where they're able to, like, you know, take care of their family, pay off debt, things like that. That is actual, like, real impact right there. And I know I just said how it's like really not, but it is. I need to redact that part. It really is.


BP Alright, it is that time of the show, I'm gonna shout out a lifeboat badge winner, somebody who came on Stack Overflow, they found a question with a score of negative three or less, they gave it an answer that got a score of 20 or more. And now the question is a score of three or more. So the knowledge has been saved from the dustbin of history. Today, the award goes to Tadeck, awarded October 25. The question is, how do I go about competing a factorial of an integer in Python? So thank you Tadeck for giving us an answer. Alright, everybody, I am Ben Popper, the Director of Content here at Stack Overflow. You can always find me on Twitter @BenPopper. You can always email us with questions and suggestions. And if you liked the show, do leave a rating and a review. It really helps.

RD I'm Ryan Donovan, I'm Content Marketer here at Stack Overflow. I edit the blog and newsletter. You can find me on Twitter @RThorDonovan. And if you have a great idea for a blog post, please email me at

CF I'm Ceora Ford. I'm a Developer Advocate at Apollo GraphQL. I spend most of my time on Twitter and you can find me there @ceeoreo_.

CW I'm Cassidy Williams, Director of Developer Experience at Netlify. You can find me at @cassidoo on most things.

BP Alright everybody. We will talk to you soon.

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