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To Protect and to Serve?
June 03, 2020

We were going to send our normal newsletter this week. A new title, something new and cool to learn. Business as usual, or at least as best we can as we all struggle with the new realities of life during a global pandemic. But now we discover the virus is only one devastating disease. Racial and class hatred is being cultivated, harnessed, and turned into a weapon against us all. Violent extremists and thieves are using the protests as cover. Our checks-and-balances have failed, allowing wholesale, unchecked discrimination against whole groups of people. This weaponized hatred will destroy more lives than any sticky virus.

The motto "To Protect and to Serve" is what we expect of law enforcement, and often (if underreported) that is how it works. But with the escalating violence and disregard for human rights this week, voices rise to ask the clarifying questions, Who do you protect? Who do you serve?

And that's what I ask you to reflect on today.

As software development professionals, we have an awesome ability and responsibility to steer the daily workings of civilization. Our assumptions make a difference. Our training data makes a difference. We can marginalize and exclude vast swaths of Earth's citizens, or we can choose to be inclusive.

Let me suggest that inclusivity is not merely a matter of social justice. It's an economic necessity. You need wide cognitive diversity on your team and in your organization. If everyone you work with was brought up the same, with similar schooling experiences, similar early work experiences, and a similar relationship to power, then all of you will generate similar ideas and have similar problem-solving styles. And that's not enough brain power.

We need cognitive diversity because we need the help. We need the ideas. We need the brain power of everyone—the more broad and diverse their history, the better. If your team isn't structured that way, ask yourself: Who are you protecting? Who are you serving? Can you do better? Will you?

"But it's not under my control," you say. Perhaps not. But you can listen. Listen to those you may not be familiar with. Raise your voice. You can be heard. You can drown out the hate, drown out the division.

As for us, the Pragmatic Bookshelf protects and serves our authors and our readers. Our goal is to make your lives—all your lives—easier.

Be safe. Be kind. Make it better.

Andy Hunt, Publisher.

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Andy Hunt
Publisher, Pragmatic Bookshelf

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