The Perils of Lack of Diversity (TitStare, Circle Snake)

Last night I learned of the opening demo at TechCrunch’s Disrupt, “TitStare”. An app that takes a photo of you (and you are of course a heterosexual male) staring at a woman’s breasts with or without her consent, doesn’t really matter. Also, an app Circle Snake that ranks your (male) masturbation technique.

Got a voicemail from my boyfriend this morning offended and that I should write about it something like, “Anna Billstrom finds this kind of app horrifying…” (he tends to think I’m more influential than I am). My reluctance to tweet about it last night is perhaps another post altogether. Something about fatigue, desensitization, laziness in trying to find yet another way to talk about this issue. When it happens so often, is it new to you or other people, and therefore interesting anymore?

One switch up to this situation as compared to all the other conferences where I have to sit through boring brogrammer apps… there was a 9-year old girl presenting her app. Did the developers of TitStare or Circle Snake know that? If they did, did they care? Like me, did they assume all the audience was young, white, heterosexual men?

Well, how did these two offensive apps get in? The apologies from TechCrunch say that they didn’t screen or vet- the Twitterverse has been wondering how dumb they are to let “titstare” – even just in the title it’s obvious – get through.

To me, screening isn’t the answer. Diversity is the answer. Opening up the playing field. Because it’s really not a good competitive contest if it’s just one section of the population. When we start getting new, fresh ideas from other sections of the population- racial, age, gender, sexuality- then we start getting some interesting apps, interesting concepts, truly “out of the box” concepts. I’ve stopped going to Silicon Valley-only tech conferences. instead I like mashups with schools, museums, government, heck anything than *just* tech guys. Making it so the audience, the participants, the judges, everyone is a healthy mix of our population (and really, our eventual customers). It’s just so myopic and provincial to think geeky guys are the only consumers. For top bikes, yes. For Google Glass, sure. But for a mobile phone? Absolutely not. And technology, as we see here, is not what was offensive. Both of these apps were relatively simple technical concepts, but *applied* to a very narrow market.

The TitStare guys were followed by Adria Richard’s demo- Adria was well known for her blog post – also from a conference where guys behind her were opening making chauvinist remarks. Methinks these brogrammers like the attention. “Fun aussie hack,” the TitStare devs apologized. How is that an apology is beyond me #badapologies.

More Reading
Developer Adria Richards was fired from her job after tweeting about sexual comments at a technology conference.2011, MSN
An Apology From TechCrunch 2013, TechCrunch
TechCrunch Disrupt Kicks Off with “Titstare” App and Fake Masturbation 2013 TechCrunch
*this* woul dhave been funny – an app for Forehead Tittaes, by Marion Cotillard
Really, I Have To Write This Article Again? 2013, Women2
How To Prevent Inappropriate Presentations 2013