The best, most thoughtful tech creators engage deeply and sincerely with the communities that they want to help, to ensure they address actual needs rather than indiscriminately “disrupting” the way established systems work. But sometimes, new technologies run roughshod over these communities, and the people making those technologies have enough financial and social resources that the shortcomings of their approaches don’t keep them from disrupting the balance of an ecosystem. Often times, tech creators have enough money funding them that they don’t even notice the negative effects of the flaws in their designs, especially if they’re isolated from the people affected by those flaws. Making all of this worse are the problems with inclusion in the tech industry, which mean that many of the most vulnerable communities will have little or no representation amongst the teams that create new tech, preventing those teams from being aware of concerns that might be of particular importance to those on the margins.
Over the last few decades, society has greatly increased in its respect for the tech industry, but this has often resulted in treating the people who create tech as infallible. Tech creators now regularly get treated as authorities in a wide range of fields like media, labor, transportation, infrastructure and political policy — even if they have no background in those areas. But knowing how to make an iPhone app doesn’t mean you understand an industry you’ve never worked in!
Many like to claim that Los Angeles has no culture. As someone who was born in the city… all I can do is scoff at the idea. Part of me doesn’t even want to address such a claim, because it’s rooted in ignorance. Brubaker didn’t even have to address it. He could have moved forward and just told a beautiful story set in the City of Angels… but no… He goes the extra mile. A smile came to my face when after the end of the first issue, there was a guest article posted in the back of the issue, written by Devin Fraci. The article is about the suicide of Peg Entwistle… the failed actress who infamously jumped off of The Hollywood sign and died in the hills below. I’ll let you read the account yourself, but what Brubaker does here by including the article really got to me. I may be reaching here… but it’s like the writers are saying, “this is real, this is the Los Angeles that we live in. Sure, it might be all smoke and mirrors to the people who don’t appreciate it, but people lived and died on these streets in pursuit of stardom, significance, and love.” And it’s right there and then, that I saw that this wasn’t simply about telling pulp fiction — This was about telling L.A.’s story… again. And again and again until all of those naysayers that say there is no culture in that land, finally shut up. Which, obviously… they won’t. But hey — this isn’t a world of happy endings, right?