It’s not the perfect writing assistant, but it’s close

Astrohaus’s Freewrite Traveler
Astrohaus’s Freewrite Traveler
Photo illustration, source: Naomi Day

For writers who struggle with the endless distractions of connectivity or the intimidation of the blank page, Astrohaus’ Freewrite Traveler might be the perfect device to encourage the focus and creativity needed to finish a first draft. The Freewrite Traveler is a portable writing tool that looks like a miniature laptop but removes all internet-related writing distractions. It comes with writing software and only enough Wi-Fi access to back up documents.

After using Astrohaus’ latest writing tool for a week, I’ve decided that while the Freewrite Traveler has neither the sleek power of a modern laptop nor the attractive simplicity…

Correcting language instead of responding to an argument reflects a much deeper hierarchy of superiority

Serena Williams with tournament referee Brian Earley at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament on September 8th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. Photo: Tim Clayton/Corbis Sport/Getty Images

“You don’t need to get all worked up over this.” “You’re too angry for me to understand the point you’re making.” “Calm down.”

These phrases are all examples of tone policing, or responding to the presentation of an argument rather than the content of the argument itself. At its best, tone policing is an irritating behavior pattern that blocks meaningful conversation. But at its worst, tone policing is an insidious and sometimes hard-to-grasp method of reinforcing elitism and structural racism.

Tone policing is as rampant online as it is in person. As workplaces, schools, friends, and family groups continue to…

The revolution for Black lives will not be televised — but it probably will be tweeted

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

“This is a movement, not a moment.” While activist Tarana Burke originally said these words in reference to the #MeToo movement that she created, the message is equally relevant in the fight for Black lives. As the media-fueled outrage begins to dissipate, it’s incredibly important to maintain the momentum. One effective place to do this: Twitter.

Yes, the social media platform has a reputation for being an echo chamber where memes flow more freely than meaningful dialogue, and it’s unusual to see a Twitter debate where anyone changes their viewpoint (as Joshua Adams noted on OneZero, Facebook is likely a…

Internet should a right, not a privilege

Digitally generated image of data.
Digitally generated image of data.
Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

In the past few months, nearly everything that can move online has moved online. But not everyone is lucky enough to have fast and secure internet access at home. Plenty of folks have historically relied on libraries, cafés, and other public spaces for their Wi-Fi access. As communities across the country have mass-migrated online in an attempt to prevent the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the great divider of internet access is suddenly receiving renewed attention.

Internet access is unequal across the United States

Government and social policies in the United States have fostered a deep digital divide when it comes to internet access. Folks in low-income and…

Businesses should use the remote work upheaval to finally adopt four-day workweeks

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

Company-wide remote work — once the dream of only a few companies — has become the new norm for many firms. For employees able to work from home during this crisis, there are far more distractions and challenges during the workday than before. Childcare, homeschooling, housekeeping, and working full-time jobs often have to take place in the same space and with frequent gear shifting (after all, a bored toddler doesn’t care if you’re on a Zoom call with your boss). …

How to help

Dark photo of tech workers on tablets.
Dark photo of tech workers on tablets.
Photo: AzmanJaka/Getty Images

Nearly everyone in the tech industry, from engineers to designers to CEOs, is better off in this pandemic than those in most other industries.

When I say “nearly everyone,” I leave out the contract workers (cleaning staff, shuttle bus drivers, landscapers, café workers, contract engineers on H-1B visas, and so on) who keep the tech industry functioning. They’re in a different category when it comes to privilege. A 2016 study from UC Santa Cruz revealed incredible disparities between these blue-collar workers and the rest of the industry in Silicon Valley. For example, 58% of blue-collar workers are Hispanic or African…

I still work in tech, but I’ll never go back to the Valley

A photo of a Google bike parked on a grassy lawn.
A photo of a Google bike parked on a grassy lawn.
Photo: digidreamgrafix/Getty Images

I spent the summer of 2016 as a Google intern, working in Mountain View and living in San Francisco. It was my second summer working for Google. After having experienced the Google New York office (a relatively normal nine-to-five experience), I wanted to work in the Silicon Valley office to get to the heart of Google and to what felt like the heart of the tech industry.

I had never seen the TV show Silicon Valley, though I heard it was hilarious and alarmingly close to reality. …

Older folks are poorly represented in tech — and it shows in its designs

horthair businesswoman sitting on the back seat
horthair businesswoman sitting on the back seat
Photo: MixMedia

It’s becoming increasingly popular for tech companies to design for accessibility when it comes to disabled users. There are intro to web accessibility lists all over the internet. The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has easy-to-follow tips for getting started with accessible design and accessible development.

Google is just one example of a company giving accessibility more of a platform. The Silicon Valley-based company has an entire accessibility team whose job it is to envision a world made for everyone, “without limits or barriers,” and give guidance, incorporate accessibility, and build products with this vision in mind. They built Lookout in…

Why I think social media can be good for your mental health if you curate your communities

A side view of a non-binary African American person using their smartphone.
A side view of a non-binary African American person using their smartphone.
Photo: Bobby Coutu/E+/Getty Images

An increase in the use of social media directly corresponds to a decrease in overall mental health and well-being, according to a number of studies conducted in the past 10 years. This seems to be particularly true for teens. One study from 2013 suggests Facebook may erode subjective well-being, or moment-to-moment happiness and overall life satisfaction. Another from 2017 studied looked at the relationship between social isolation and social media use and found that young adults who spent significant amounts of time on any of 11 well-known social media sites — including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat — had far…

Tech hubs are becoming less diverse as they get more expensive

Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Tech companies embraced the diversity train in a very public manner in 2014, when the release of the first diversity reports set off a wave of calls for change. Arguably, not much has changed in the last five years. The percentages of racial minorities in technical positions have hardly budged. Women see slightly higher increases, but they are still a significant minority. Minority groups face significant challenges around the diversity and inclusion mentality prevalent in the workplace. …

Naomi Day

Speculative fiction and Afrofuturist writer. Software engineer. US-based; globally oriented. I think and write about building new worlds.

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