No big surprises-no actual discussion at Techie/Activist happy hour

You might want to read this before you continue:

Tech workers, activists clash at happy hour

The best part of this article on the San Francisco Chronicle’s web site today is that the heckling from the protesters is interspersed with the quotes of speakers.

Assuming it’s an accurate representation of the meeting one thing stands out. The activists seemed to be voicing concerns about the effects of gentrification on entire communities. However, most of the self-identified tech workers¬†either¬†spoke about a) how it wasn’t their personal fault or b) their own personal guilt at living in the city. They did not, it seems, offer solutions or arguments countering the claims of the protesters that it was their fault as a collective phenomenon.

I’ve tended to find many of the bay area activists I’ve met (especially in Berkeley and SF) to be both a little overlydramatic about their causes (regardless of how worthy I think the cause is) and generally more interested in hearing their own voice than in finding solutions. But here it sounds like ideas were being offered by some protesters and met with a shrug by some of the tech “representatives”. Maybe it was just very poorly moderated. Perhaps not surprisingly, it seems like people in both camps had very different agendas. Justified or not, if your only reaction to a structural problem you are at least vaguely a part of is “It’s not me!”. There’s not a whole lot to discuss.

Partensky, the Police and Public Apathy

Something is really smelling fishy about this alleged case of police misconduct by Paretz Patensky: http://boingboing.net/2014/02/14/san-francisco-police-beat-up-a.html
First, from what I can tell this incident occurred in January and apart from the Cory Doctorow diatribe there seems not to have been any media attention at all, not even the local outlets like the Bay Guardian that eat up anything that might embarrass Mayor Ed Lee. In fact, the Doctorow piece itself seems to be almost exclusively based on Partensky’s own account on Medium (written in the bizarre tone of the great white savior of SOMA): https://medium.com/p/9f53ef6a1c10/

Partensky appears to be a serial dot-com personality. A bit of a poster child for the new entrepreneurial type that has taken over the SF Bay in the past couple of decades. He’s been involved, according to his LinkedIn profile, in a number of ventures in biotech, health and good old consulting and “synergy”. Fine. No problem there. And no reason based on that to necessarily doubt him. And I’m not saying that Police brutality isn’t a problem in SF and other communities in the Bay Area. Just google the words police brutality and san francisco to get a taste of what I mean.

What I find odd is the notion that this treatment of citizens, normally reserved for people of color and the homeless, would suddenly and irrationally lash out at white middle class techies without some provocation or justification. And as we have only Partensky’s side of the story to go on for now, maybe we should reserve judgement.

Better yet, maybe we should ask why Partensky’s story is motivating so many people to outrage when this:

http://blog.sfgate.com/crime/2013/11/18/video-prompts-cries-of-s-f-police-brutality/

had very little effect. Ask yourself if you had known about these too if you would have realistically been as outraged and as motivated to retweet/share/comment so quickly. You probably should have, but if you didn’t, why is Partensky such a poster boy?

“What’s the harm?” you say? “At least we’re paying attention now.” You mean at least we’re paying attention FOR now. Let’s be upset even after Partensky’s story fades away. Let’s ask Ed Lee about why Partensky is the least of SFPD’s problematic behavior.