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OneZero
The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

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Open Dialogue

Evan Selinger in conversation with Mary Berk

This is Open Dialogue, an interview series from OneZero about technology and ethics.

I’m thrilled to talk with Mary Berk. Mary has a PhD in philosophy, a degree that includes a specialization in ethics, but spent her career working in Silicon Valley. Most recently, Mary was a product manager at Facebook and Instagram. Previously, Mary worked at Amazon, Google, Microsoft, eBay. Given Mary’s many years of experience and her disposition for critical thinking, she’s the perfect person to discuss whether Big Tech can care about ethics.

Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Evan: What got you interested…


An industry veteran on why recent moves from the tech giants should be the impetus for a federal privacy law

Street view of New York City featuring a billboard that reads “DoubleClick Welcomes you to SILICON ALLEY.”
Street view of New York City featuring a billboard that reads “DoubleClick Welcomes you to SILICON ALLEY.”

Jules Polonetsky remembers the moment that shattered his naivete about the internet.

“I was the consumer affairs commissioner for New York City 20 years ago when some company I’d never heard of came in with a big billboard,” he recalls. “It said, ‘Welcome to Silicon Alley,’ sponsored by DoubleClick.” I’d read in the headlines that DoubleClick was in trouble for using something called cookies. And something to do with “appending your identity” to your web-browsing history.

DoubleClick was a pioneer in targeted advertising: It used cookies to track people around the web for the benefit of advertisers across its vast…


Into the Valley

Ambivalence.com

This article is part of Into the Valley, a feature series from OneZero about Silicon Valley, the people who live there, and the technology they create.

In one of my final interviews for a job at Google, I was asked why I wanted to join the company. It was a softball question after a bunch of harder ones, the kind of thing you prep an answer for and sail right through.

It was a particularly easy question to answer back then. It was 2006, and the media was in rapture over Silicon Valley. …


Yes, women are less interested in tech, and that’s why we need diversity more than ever

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be spending my free time watching YouTube videos of former Google engineer James Damore, some 15 months after his memo was released, I would have said they were deluded. Damore, if you don’t recall, argued that women are underrepresented in tech not because of bias or discrimination, but because of inherent physiological differences between the genders.

As a former director at the nonprofit Girls Who Code, with a background in electrical and computer engineering and nearly 15 years of tech experience, I couldn’t even look at coverage of the memo…


Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple are facing increasing government scrutiny over competitive practices. They’ll fight back, but there is precedent to take action.

In 1998, the U.S. Justice Department and attorneys general from 21 states brought an antitrust monopolization lawsuit against Microsoft. At that time, Microsoft controlled how most consumers and businesses worked on their desktop computers. Its Windows operating system provided the connection between all sorts of software and the central processing units of our PCs, and its Office software was critical for the majority of office workers.

The core of the complaint against Microsoft was that it used practices that deliberately strangled an upstart competitor called Netscape, then in its infancy. Netscape’s new “browser” software allowed desktop PC users to access…

OneZero

The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

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