College Admissions Will Never Be Fair

I wrote a new Bloomberg View essay about the Harvard admissions kerfuffle:

College Admissions Will Never Be Fair


My other Bloomberg columns are listed here.

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Facebook should be testing election results

June 11, 2018 Comments off

I wrote a new Bloomberg View essay about the upcoming elections:

Let’s Send Facebook Some Election Observers


My other Bloomberg columns are listed here.


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Guest post: Teaching programming with zines

June 3, 2018 Comments off

This is a guest post by Julia Evans, a programmer who blogs and tweets.

What’s a zine?

A zine is a short, usually self-published booklet. Most people who are familiar with zines probably know them from punk zines, art zines, literary zines, feminist zines, or anarchist zines. I love zines like that, but I’ve been doing something a little different — for the last 3 years, I’ve been writing zines about programming concepts!

To get an idea of what I’m talking about in this post: I have a bunch of zines you can read for free at If you love those you can buy my latest Linux zine at

Here’s one page from the current zine I’m working on, which explains 18 important Linux command line tools in 24 pages. This is a quick introduction to grep.


The amazing thing to me about this comic, and other comics like it, is how many people told me that they learned new important facts about grep (you can grep with regular expressions! You can grep recursively!) by reading this tiny comic.

So suddenly comics aren’t just for fun– they’re a tool that you can use to teach new ideas!

Why use zines to teach programming ideas?

Zines and comics are fun, but more importantly I think they’re actually an incredibly efficient way to teach busy professionals new ideas. It turns out that most people don’t have time to read long programming books. And a lot of useful ideas can be explained really quickly!

Fun, accessible content works. People understand it. In the zine “Linux debugging tools you’ll love” (, I explain netstat, netcat, ngrep, tcpdump, wireshark, strace, eBPF, dstat, and perf and a bunch of its subcommands. This is a lot of material, and it’s material that folks often find intimidating. But because it’s presented in an adorable illustrated 24-page zine people are like “oh how interesting and cute!” and don’t hesitate to pick it up, read it on their commute to work, and learn something.

What I end up finding is that people will read my zines who I wouldn’t expect. Even though they often have pretty advanced content, people will read them even if they’re new to programming or new to Linux! And they’ll often learn something and tell me “yeah, sure, I didn’t understand 100% of it but a lot of it made sense!” To me this is a HUGE WIN.

Printing out hundreds of zines is easy!

The other magical thing about zines is that because they’re so cheap to print (I can get 500 zines printed & stapled at my local print shop for about $300), you can distribute a lot of them easily. Every time I speak at a tech conference these days, I’ll ask the conference to print 500 to 2000 of my zines (usually related to the talk I’m giving) to give out to attendees.

This is amazing because it gives people something fun & useful that they can take home after the talk and give to their friends!

You don’t need to know how to draw to draw comics

If you think this format is cool and you’d like to draw comics to teach people, drawing skills aren’t that necessary! I’ve self-published 7 zines and printed and sold thousands of them, and these are literally all the things I know how to draw.


So you could do it too! When trying to teach, information content and organization is a lot more important than drawing skills.

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ORCAA featured in Fast Company!

May 21, 2018 Comments off

Fast Company’s Katharine Schwab wrote up ORCAA and it’s seal of approval:

This logo is like an “organic” sticker for algorithms

The food we eat has quality certifications. Why shouldn’t the algorithms that shape our world?

Here’s the picture of the seal of approval, designed by our friends at GoodGoodWork:


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Let’s Not Forget How Wrong Our Crime Data Are

May 17, 2018 Comments off

I’ve got a new post up in Bloomberg Opinion, inspired by the New York Times analysis on pot arrests that came out recently:


Let’s Not Forget How Wrong Our Crime Data Are

When marijuana is legalized, we’ll lose our only reliable barometer of bias in arrests.


There’s no complete list right now of all my Bloomberg columns, because it’s transitioning from Bloomberg View to Bloomberg Opinion. It will be fixed in a manner of a few days or weeks.

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ORCAA featured in MIT Technology Review

MIT’s Technology Review has a feature called the “Download” and subtitled “What’s up in emerging technology” that featured my company, ORCAA last week:

This company audits algorithms to see how biased they are


This and the Wired piece last week have led to a bunch of inquiries for ORCAA, which is super exciting! Fingers crossed.

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ORCAA was written up in Wired!

I’m psyched to announce that my algorithmic auditing company, ORCAA, has been written up in Wired by Jessi Hempel, in an article that talks about how we audited Rentlogic, our first customer. Take a look!


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