Is Ellen Pao too radical for Silicon Valley? Reading Hillary Clinton’s emails; and the high-tech comeback of the humble pen: Best of the Web

Is Ellen Pao too radical for Silicon Valley? Reading Hillary Clinton’s emails; and the high-tech comeback of the humble pen: Best of the Web

Social media platform Reddit has been in meltdown this week amid ongoing protests over the dismissal of one of its key team members, director of talent Victoria Taylor.

But while Reddit has apologised for a “long history of mistakes” and chief executive Ellen Pao has promised to take action, some commentators are suggesting it’s Pao’s leadership that is really in question. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Reddit users have signed a petition calling for her to leave the company adds weight to that theory.

Writing for the Guardian, Chitra Ramaswamy suggests that Pao’s quest to improve gender equality in Silicon Valley, based in part on her sexual discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Caufield and Byers, may have put some people offside.

“Since the trial, Pao has become either the reckless CEO intent on destroying the freedom of the internet, or the tech generation’s figurehead for speaking out against gender discrimination in the workplace, depending on who you talk to … Her move to Reddit, at first glance, seemed incongruous. Maybe that was the point. After taking on Silicon Valley, where only 4% of senior investing partners at venture capital firms are women, could it be that Pao wanted to clean up what some regard as the biggest online mess of them all?”


Reading Hillary Clinton’s emails


Josephine Wolff says her guilty pleasure is reading other people’s emails. In this case, the New Republic writer is referring to one person’s emails in particular: US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Far from attempting to uncover examples of political wrongdoing or corruption, Wolff says her interest is more personal: she is fascinated by the tiny glimpses into Clinton’s daily life and routine contained in the thousands of pages of email correspondence. Broken fax machines and all.

If anything else, Wolff says reading someone else’s emails is “a welcome escape from our own emails”.

“Reading these messages is a rare way to understand the texture of someone else’s daily life, the rhythm and tone of their most trivial and off-hand interactions, the eccentricities and frustrations of their most honest and unguarded moments.”


The high-tech comeback of the humble pen


The days of the touchscreen or even the keyboard are far from over, but over at Wired, David Pierce makes a compelling case for why pens are making a high-tech comeback.

Pierce spent time with Steven Bathiche, director of research at Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group, who showed a new prototype of a pen that is used with a computer with zero latency. When the user writes using the pen, the computer reacts instantly. It is one example of how the pen in your pocket could also be a powerful computing tool.

“We’ve spent literally hundreds of years perfecting these implements – they’re comfortable and natural in our hands, and you instantly know how to use it. Even as technology has morphed the shape and size of everything from our cars to our thermostats, the pen’s form hasn’t changed. What’s changing, dramatically, is what we can do with it.”



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