What We Talk About When We Talk About Tech

Rich Gall & Jennifer Riggins

A podcast about tech storytelling. Jennifer Riggins and Rich Gall explore the way words and narratives shape the technology landscape with the people who define, explain, and sell it.

Open technology in the UK with OpenUK CEO Amanda BrockWhy we need digital anthropology: culture, ethics, and power in tech with Caitlin McDonald
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk with digital anthropologist Caitlin McDonald about what it means to be a digital anthropologist and why it matters in helping us to understand the way we build and use technology today. Caitlin begins by talking through how her work intersects with questions of agency and digital literacy, providing some useful context on how perceptions and understanding about what techbology does and how it's made can have an impact on the way it influences our lives. She also explains why there's a growing need for anthropological thinking in the tech industry, and why businesses and governments are starting to see the value in the disciplines specific ways of thinking about culture and communication. She also talks about digital anthropology in the context of the emerging conversation around ethics, and how changes in legislation and compliance rules is increasing demand for work that can help companies tackle these issues head on.We also discuss ethnography, and compare it to quantitative research. Caitlin notes that there's an emerging scepticism of quantitative methods and its ability to deliver value. Finally, we talk about Caitlin's work outside of digital anthropology, such as her work as a coach and her personal technology projects.  She emphasises the value of having a space to adopt a more playful and less productive approach to technology and to "reconnect with technical skills in a low-stakes way."Follow Caitlin MacDonald on Twitter: @cmcd_phdExplore Caitlin's techy projectsLearn more about EPIC and ethnography in industryLearn more about Microsoft's ethics game, Judgment CallRead Tricia Wang's Why Big Data Needs Thick Data
Aug 18 2021
48 mins
Responsible technology and ethical venture capital: Reimagining possible futures with Sarah Drinkwater
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk with Sarah Drinkwater, the Director of Responsible Technology at Omidyar Networks to discuss how we can cultivate organisations and people that will enable a more equitable, responsible - and ultimately compassionate and exciting - technological future. We talk about the challenges the tech industry faces, and why it can be difficult to talk about responsibility and ethics. Sarah explains how the work she does at Omidyar Network attempts to support projects that will help us to reimagine the way that we build and use technology in society. We also discuss the ways storytelling can help us improve accountability in the industry, and how it can restore some sense of agency in an environment where it can feel like it's impossible to create change on a personal level. Sarah also talks about the Ethical Explorer project she put together, which offers tools to people in the industry - from engineers to product managers to founders - for tackling a range of ethical issues seriously.Finally, we touch on a theme that exemplifies Sarah's work - joining the dots between different domains, and getting different groups of people talking to one another. We discuss the limitations of the core institutions that shape tech - large corporations and universities - and explore what could replace them and offer us a more effective way forward.Follow Sarah Drinkwater on Twitter: @sarahdrinkwaterLearn more about Omidyar NetworkGet the Ethical Explorer pack (it's free!)Watch the Ada Lovelace Institute event mentioned in the episodeListen to the conversation between Claire Stapleton and Ifeoma Ozoma that Sarah references towards the endRead Casey Newton's comprehensive piece on Basecamp (an incident mentioned a couple of times in the episode)
Jul 28 2021
47 mins
We need to talk about EdTech: Online resilience and privacy with Michelle Wolfe
Jul 21 2021
56 mins
From technical stories to user stories: APIs and the evolution of the tech industry with Lorinda Brandon and Mike Amundsen
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to Lorinda Brandon and Mike Amundsen about APIs and the evolution of the tech industry in the last 30 years in a very special episode - the first to feature two guests. We discussed issues of equality in the industry, in particular how 'women in tech' has emerged only in recent years - Lorinda offers her perspective on what it was like working as a woman in tech in the eighties, and also explains what frustrates her about the way we talk about toxicity in the industry today. We also talked storytelling, and how the stories we tell about technology - and the way we explain technologies - have moved from the purely technical to the user-centric. In the context of APIs, Lorinda and Mike explain, this is particularly important, as it demonstrates not only their ubiquity but also the fact that they are things for which the value is today obvious to many. It wasn't always that way - Lorinda and Mike undoubtedly played a huge role in getting us to where we are now. The episode also looks at the nature of the information ecosystem, and how established experts like Mike and Lorinda transfer and share their knowledge. For Mike this is often about presenting and narrativising problems in books: for Lorinda it's about building relationships with teams in a way that allows her to guide people, to support them to uncover their own solutions. Not only was this a wide-ranging conversation, it was also exceptionally fun, so thanks to Lorinda and Mike. Enjoy!Follow Lorinda Brandon on Twitter: @lindybrandonFollow Mike Amundsen on Twitter: @mamundRead Mike's takes on the MuleSoft blogLearn more about BetterCloud
Jul 14 2021
1 hr
Telling the stories of tech's trailblazers and laying the foundations of a more equitable future with Saron Yitbarek
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) are joined by Saron Yitbarek, Founder and CEO of audio learning platform Disco and co-host of the brilliant Command Line Heroes podcast, to discuss the virtues of audio learning in age of excessive screen time and the importance of highlighting the stories of the people that have shaped the technology and software landscape today. Saron talks about her background and some of the challenges she faced when starting out in the software industry, explaining how they informed the work she has done since. She describes the thinking behind Disco, and how her earlier venture CodeNewbie (which has now been acquired by the team behind Dev.to), has laid the foundations for the types of work she is doing today. She also explains why she believes audio learning can be an important addition to the wide varity of formats available for people learning technology skills. We also discuss Command Line Heroes, with Saron talking about one of her favourite episodes, and touch on some of the parallels between that podcast and this.Saron also explains the importance of thinking carefully about how we onboard people into the tech and industry: she points out that we need to  better support systems for people moving into the industry from any background and at any point in their career.Follow Saron on Twitter: @saronyitbarekLearn more about DiscoLearn more about Code NewbieListen to Command Line HeroesWatch Saron's talk on CodeNewbie at Codeland 2020
Jun 30 2021
40 mins
Psychology and storytelling in cybersecurity and skill development with Yin Mei [Clubhouse Special]Serving coding skill realness: How coding drag queen Anna Lytical teaches techImpostor syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger effect in tech: The anxiety of curiosity with Jessica RoseMeme wrangling and the rough edges of software: Neal Ford on tech publishing, software architecture, and consulting at ThoughtWorks
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to author, software architect, and meme wrangler at ThoughtWorks about the importance of storytelling, language and communication in his worker as both a consultant and an educator.Neal discusses his career in tech publishing, with 8 books already under his belt (the most recent being The Fundamentals of Software Architecture, published in January 2020), and explains what makes it so challenging but so vital in today's saturated information ecosystem. He shares his useful criteria for evaluating whether a topic or an idea should be a book and not something else. He also discusses the importance of being multimodal and flexible about the media through which you share ideas. He explains why he's missed in-person conferences, and describes how the switch to remote events has forced him to change the way he tells stories to an audience. We also discuss the role of a software architect, and the importance of communication skills. Neal explains the importance of ubiquitous language, and how software architects should attempt to build a common mental model across an organization. Finally, Neal talks about ThoughtWorks role in today's software industry, and explains how ThoughtWorks Radar gets put together. He highlights how its quantitative and almost ethnographic nature provide context and detail around emerging tools, platforms, and concepts.Follow Neal on Twitter: @neal4dVisit Neal's websiteLearn more about (or buy) The Fundamentals of Software ArchitectureFind out more about ThoughtWorks Radar
Jun 2 2021
54 mins
How to fight your way into the tech industry: Nikema Prophet on bootcamps, job searching, and authenticityContent and community at Red Hat: How Matt Broberg helps software architects tell their storiesOpen source developer advocacy at Facebook: Dmitry Vinnik on supporting and growing Facebook's 700 open source projects
May 12 2021
48 mins
Belonging begins with discomfort: Building and measuring equity in tech with Abadesi OsunsadeMachines made of words: Tech journalism from print to SEO to PR with Dylan TweneyThe scent of Hashicorp: Talking experiential marketing with Jana BorutaBringing early stage startups to life: Go-to-market and telling founder stories with Austin GunterJust shut up and listen: How podcasts connect people and create conversations with Mandy MooreListening and enabling: Talking DevRel and neurodiversity with Wesley FaulknerWhy APIs are a storytelling technology: Talking open ecosystems and open data with Mark Boyd