Podcast: A Conversation with the Author of Black Software

This week we chatted with Charlton McIlwain, a professor of media, culture, and communication at NYU. He is the author of the new book, Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter. We discuss how a demand for more diverse clip art helped lay the foundation for some of the first black owned and operated software companies in the United States, and the ways in which social media has helped to empower a new generation of voices to demand change in the tech industry and beyond. 

You can check out some of the pioneering work on building digital community at Afrolink, NetNoir, and UBP.

McIlwain also draws attention to the history of computer technology as a tool of police surveillance, going all the way back to the Police Beat algorithm in 1968.  

We also spend some time this week talking about our new community initiatives. 

Sara Chipps, along with Juan Garza from our community team, wrote a big post outlining all the work we’re hoping to do in 2020 and how we’re using data to inform the changes we are making. 

Keep an eye out for future posts in this series, The Loop, and let us know what you want to see by lending your voice to Through The Loop survey.

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  1. Thank you very much

  2. What about stopping this insane focus on “diversity” and forcing race quotas everywhere and just starting to treat everyone as equal as long as they have the same skill set?

    I know it’s a new thing, not at all professed by the likes of MLK back in the 1960s.

    1. I think you should better educate yourself on the views of Dr. King


  3. Not sure how to feel. On one hand it’s a historical book which is nice on the other hand it sounds like it gets into modern day events which the author has a clear position on bringing judgement and bias into question.

    Also I have to disagree with the hosts on “White” software. This would imply they gave any thought to the matter and weren’t just making software the way they perceived things. Not denying there may have been enclaves of white supremacist programmers saying “No representation!” but just think it’s very unlikely to have been a large or moderate number. It’s just software and “Black” software is just software meant to fill in a gap and help the black community.

  4. I was expecting a conversation about this https://black.readthedocs.io/en/stable/ 🙂

  5. We’ve reached a stage where we appoint race to software. Would the next stage be appointing sexuality to software? Seriously…you’re just diversifying everything!

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