The Geography of U.S. Hate, Mapped Using Twitter
May 20th, 2013
12:37 PM ET

The Geography of U.S. Hate, Mapped Using Twitter

By Matt Peckham, TIME

(TIME) - Skim the zoomed-out surface of Humboldt State University’s alarming “Hate Map” and you’ll encounter angry clouds of bright red framed by smears of gloomy blue, as if some giant freak storm were raining down hell across the the United States.

What you’re looking at is actually a map created by pairing Google‘s Maps API with a hailstorm of homophobic, racist and other prejudicial tweets. It’s part of a project overseen by Humboldt State University professor Dr. Monica Stephens, who, along with a team of undergraduate researchers, wanted to test for geographic relationships to hate speech.

Above the map, the words “homophobic,” “racist” and “disability” define alternate “hate storm” views, each describing a range of highly offensive terms. Click on the keywords or any of their subcategories and the map shifts, the splotches reorganizing to reflect occurrences of the selected term: Bright red areas describe the “most hate,” while light blue ones describe “some hate.”

Creating a map like this is essentially about data-plotting: In this case, HSU says the data was derived from “every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 – April 2013″ that contained keywords related to hate speech. How’d HSU collect all of that Twitter data? Through DOLLY, a University of Kentucky project that maps social media according to geography, allowing researchers to then comb through the data for patterns or correlations. But what about tweets that used the keywords in a positive (that is, “critical of them”) sense? HSU’s researchers read through the tweets manually, categorizing each as positive, neutral or negative — the map only displays the tweets categorized as negative.

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Filed under: Discrimination • History • How we live • Technology • Where we live
Black, female, and a Silicon Valley 'trade secret'
Silicon Valley is reluctant to shed light on the diversity of its workforce.
March 17th, 2013
08:00 PM ET

Black, female, and a Silicon Valley 'trade secret'

By Julianne Pepitone @CNNMoneyTech

(CNNMoney) - How diverse is Silicon Valley? Most tech companies really, really don't want you to know, and the U.S. government isn't helping shed any light on the issue.

In an investigation that began in August 2011, CNNMoney probed 20 of the most influential U.S. technology companies, the Department of Labor, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and we filed two Freedom of Information Act requests for workforce diversity data.

A year-and-a-half, a pile of paperwork, and dozens of interviews later, we have a little more insight - but not much.

Most of the companies stonewalled us, but the data we were able to get showed what one might expect: Ethnic minorities and women are generally underrepresented, sometimes severely so - particularly in management roles. White and Asian males often dominate their fields.

Our investigation demonstrated how difficult - and sometimes impossible - gaining any insight into Silicon Valley's employee diversity can be. It shows a general lack of transparency in an industry known for its openness.

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Filed under: Diversity • History • Technology • Where we live
'Don't feed the trolls': Racism on YouTube
On YouTube's "Black Nerd Comedy," Andre Meadows often focuses on '80s and '90s pop culture such as the Power Rangers.
March 11th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

'Don't feed the trolls': Racism on YouTube

By Doug Gross, CNN

Austin, Texas (CNN) - In five years on YouTube, Francesca Ramsey says, only one of the nearly 200 videos she's posted has been explicitly about race.

Yet when the actress, comedian and video blogger hosted a meet-up with fans here at the South by Southwest Interactive festival, only three out of about 300 of them were white.

Of course that one video, "S**t White Girls Say ... to Black Girls," has accounted for nearly 10 million of the roughly 18 million views her videos have gotten, combined.

"It's a double-edged sword," said Ramsey. "It's opened a lot of doors for me, but I know that because of that video, there are some people who are never going to watch my videos and are never going to give me a chance and see that I'm so much more than that video."

Ramsey spoke Sunday on a panel addressing racism and race issues on YouTube, the Web's No. 1 video site. Viewing of online video has surged, with YouTube attracting 800 million unique visitors a year. In 2011, the site saw a mind-boggling 1 trillion-plus views.

But among the content creators posting to YouTube who are ethnic minorities, race remains a troubling issue. Drawing a large fan base is a challenge, and commenters on YouTube videos can be vicious.

Of the top 100 most popular YouTube channels that aren't industry-sponsored, there is one black creator, four Asians and one of Middle Eastern descent, according to Web researcher Jenny Unghba Korn. Expanding that to the top 200 adds two more African-Americans, two Asians and one user from India.

"Everyone gets hate comments on YouTube," said Andre Meadows, the creator of the Black Nerd Comedy channel. "You can make the most wonderful video in the world and you will get 'Fake!' and 'Gay!'"

But for minority creators, "when you get comments, it seems to be targeted toward race almost immediately. A lot of people get 'dumb video, stupid video' - but with mine it immediately goes to racial slurs."

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Filed under: How we live • Race • Technology
You're 'not a racist, but...' you're getting called out on Twitter
November 2nd, 2012
01:00 PM ET

You're 'not a racist, but...' you're getting called out on Twitter

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Every now and then, Logan Smith likes to search Twitter for things he thinks people would never say. Just for his entertainment.

Like when astronaut Neil Armstrong died, Smith typed in: "Who is Neil Armstrong?" Who in America doesn't know about the man to who took a giant leap for mankind? Sure enough, he found, there were a bunch of folks who had no idea.

In the midst of all his searches, Smith made a startling discovery: a lot of people like to start tweets with this line: "I'm not a racist, but..."

What followed seemed clearly racist to Smith, a 25-year-old white man from Columbia, South Carolina, who writes a politics and policy blog called The Palmetto Public Record.

Smith was shocked. Dismayed by what he read.

"It's ridiculous to think that people don't think they are racist when they say these things," he says. "Some people say we are living in a post-racial society. Now we have a black president, somehow that made everything OK. But that is completely not the case."

So Smith decided to call some tweeps out.

About a month ago, he started a Twitter handle called @YesYoureRacist.


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Filed under: Ethnicity • How we live • Language • Race • Technology
Summer camps try to solve Silicon Valley's gender gap
Shimme Siddika attends Girls Who Code, a New York summer camp introducing young women to the world of technology.
August 17th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Summer camps try to solve Silicon Valley's gender gap

By Erin Kim @CNNMoneyTech

New York (CNNMoney) - Most school-aged girls spend July and August catching some Z's and sun. But for some girls, summer is all about learning HTML and developing mobile apps.

A growing handful of summer camps are popping up around the country with the mission of teaching young women core skills in technology - a field dominated by men.

Girls Who Code, an eight-week New York summer camp, immerses 20 high school girls in a tech training boot camp. Eight hours a day, Monday through Friday, the young women learn about a wide variety of tech topics from robotics to website design.

Guest speakers include an eBay executive, a venture capitalist, and a technology entrepreneur among some other in-the-know tech personalities. But participants don't spend all day in the classroom: They also take field trips to Facebook, Google, Twitter, the United Nations and Gilt.

For their final project, Girls Who Code students develop and present an app.

"All the field trips have been so interesting and I can always find myself relating to parts of the topics presented," said 15-year-old Mahlika George, who's heading into her junior year at Medgar Evers College Preparatory School.

Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani said the organization hopes to get more girls interested in technology and consider the field as a real career possibility.

Read the full post

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Filed under: Gender • Girls • Technology • Who we are • Women
Opinion: Girls are taking over Comic Con
Take a good look, publishers. These ladies are buying comic books.
July 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Opinion: Girls are taking over Comic Con

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is a business analyst and consultant specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. This is an excerpt from his latest book, "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012) which focuses on the nerdy audience at the largest comic book trade show in the Western Hemisphere. Follow him @robsalk.

I don’t think it will come as a big shock that, for most of the history of comics fandom, conventions have not been distinguished by high numbers of females of any age. That began to change in the 1990s, when strong and emotionally authentic female characters like Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the cheerful Goth-girl personification of Death in Neil Gaiman’s popular "Sandman" series activated the recessive fan gene on the X chromosome.

The trend accelerated with the mainstream popularity of manga, which had developed numerous styles over the years to appeal to all genders and was sold in bookstores, beyond the boys-club direct market comics shops. The rise of the Internet poured gasoline on the fire, creating spaces for feminerds to come out of the woodwork and share their passions. Many of today’s best online comic and fantasy-genre news sites and discussion groups were started by, and remain powered by, women.

Today, there are increasing numbers of proud girl geeks of all ages; I count myself fortunate to be married to one. Crowds at conventions and even some comics stores now reflect a much more equal gender balance. As for the comics industry itself, not so much. But that’s a different conversation.

Read the full post on CNN's GeekOut! blog

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Opinion: Meritocracy in Silicon Valley a worthy goal but not a reality
Marissa Mayer, who is pregnant with her first child, created a buzz this week when she became Yahoo's new CEO.
July 20th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Opinion: Meritocracy in Silicon Valley a worthy goal but not a reality

Editor's note: Freada Kapor Klein is a venture partner at Kapor Capital , the founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and author of "Giving Notice: Why the Best and the Brightest Leave the Workplace and How You Can Help Them Stay."  She says her career has been devoted to helping create fair workplaces, beginning with co-founding the first group on sexual harassment in the United States in 1976.

By Freada Kapor Klein, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I look forward to the day when a pregnant engineer becoming CEO of a major tech company isn’t news.

Wouldn’t it be great if the hottest deals were done in the nursing mothers’ lounge as often as they were done on the golf course?

If this possibility strikes us as odd, perhaps it’s a sign that Silicon Valley has not yet achieved the perfect meritocracy it claims to be.

Opinion: Silicon Valley is no meritocracy for minorities

Despite the best intentions, Silicon Valley bears little resemblance to the America it depends on for talent and customers.

This gap between aspiration and achievement is worth serious exploration.

Recently, I was part of a panel with Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo, and Angela Benton, the founder of NewMe Accelerator who was profiled on CNN’s Black in America 4: "Silicon Valley, the New Promised Land."

If Mayer can have it all, can you?

Their stories reflected two different paths to success. FULL POST

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Filed under: Ethnicity • Gender • Race • Technology • What we think
July 17th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Marissa Mayer: From Google 'geek' to Yahoo CEO

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Google's first female engineer, Marissa Mayer, has made a career out of bucking expectations - and she did so once again on Monday by announcing she will leave Google to be the new CEO of Yahoo, the struggling company that once was Google's main competitor.

10 most powerful women in tech

The tech world reacted with shock to the news. But it's perhaps time everyone got used to the idea that Mayer, who was Google's 20th employee and who is credited with the success of many of its most famous products, isn't the kind of person who does only what people expect her to do.

"There is such a stereotype of the hacker - the pasty-skinned guy with the thick glasses, the pocket protector, the blue glow coming off of the monitor ... people think if they're going to be good at this, that's what they need to be," Mayer told CNN in an interview earlier this year.

"You can be good at technology and like fashion and art. You can be good at technology and be a jock. You can be good at technology and be a mom. You can do it your way, on your terms."

New Yahoo CEO Mayer is pregnant

Mayer, sometimes referred to as the "Googirl," certainly has charted her own course, often weaving seemingly disparate worlds and interests together.

Open letter to Marissa Mayer 

Raised in Wausau, Wisconsin, the 37-year-old joined Google in 1999 when it was a fledgling start-up, not an Internet titan. She danced in "The Nutcracker" ballet at Stanford and earned a degree in computer science. She espouses a love for cupcakes - but, according to interviews with other news organizations, once created a spreadsheet to determine the perfect recipe.

At Google, Mayer was responsible for overseeing the launch of some of the company's most iconic products, including Gmail, Google Maps and iGoogle.

Read the full post

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Opinion: Latino voices necessary in mobile internet debates
CNN Contributor Maria Cardona says Latinos should be more involved in shaping the policies of the technology industry.
July 14th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Opinion: Latino voices necessary in mobile internet debates

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - There has been a lot of talk about how Latinos need to come out and vote to have their voices heard.

But what we haven’t heard enough of is the importance of Latinos becoming active participants in shaping the policies of the technology industry.

I have been interested and involved in helping to ensure Latinos are better versed in telecom and technology issues since I worked for the late Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown. He understood minorities had a big stake in our digital future. His work with one of the department’s agencies, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, underscored the early benefits of the internet to minority communities.

Currently, I work with Dewey Square, a public affairs firm that has advocated for telecom policies that will make broadband access more accessible and universal.

Now, a report underscores why this is so important.


April 24th, 2012
02:01 PM ET

'Awkward Black Girl' creator Issa Rae responds to racism

By Sarah Springer and Sarah Edwards, CNN

(CNN) –After “The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl," won the Shorty Award for best webshow last month, creator Issa Rae saw racist comments and the N-word lobbed at her via social media.  The show hadn't won the popular vote, but the judges selected it to win; some commenters said media attention around the death of Trayvon Martin was at the root of the win.

“The backlash was pretty intense,” Rae said about the comments made by fellow competitors. “I’m glad they didn’t win, they didn’t deserve to, by any means."

Although negative comments are nothing new for the 27-year-old actress, Rae said, what others had to say never bothered her until now, especially with the recent social media furor over some of “The Hunger Games” characters being black.

“Everything is so clear right now, after ‘The Hunger Games,’ I started taking it more seriously," she said. "In a sense that’s what they wanted, for me to be all beat up by it, but I refuse.”

Knowing this issue was much bigger than her alone; Rae said she was compelled to say something about it. So, a few of weeks ago she took her thoughts to xojane.com where she wrote about the influx of racism floating around the webisphere.

“Users hide comfortably behind their computer screens and type the most obnoxiously offensive things they can think of and thirstily WAIT for an angry response; a validation of their modest efforts," she wrote.


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