Is technology good?

“Who are we doing this for?”

I think we have to ask ourselves that question whenever we’re working on a project—and I think it’s a question a lot of people in the tech industry (and those who fund it) have been forgetting to ask themselves.

Technology can be an amazing and powerful tool that can help solve global problems, spark joy in people, and literally save lives. But it can also do the opposite, which is a part of why tech has gotten a bad reputation over the last few years. Russia used social media to meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections. Facebook provided Cambridge Analytica with 87 million users’ private information. Google gave a $90 million exit package to an executive after he was fired due to sexual misconduct. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—think about how your own views of tech have changed.

These kinds of things happen when the focus of those developing technology is solely on growth and creating value for shareholders, with none on the wellbeing of the user. Sure, you have to consider that companies need money to survive, but there needs to be a balance between that need and protecting the interests of consumers.

The double (or triple) bottom line

In New York City, and around the globe, there is a growing interest in the idea of “tech for good” enterprises, which not only focus on profit, but also on social value—a so-called double bottom line. This is not a new idea in general, but one that is nascent in the tech community. A triple bottom line model—one that combines user, social, and economic impact, is also common in the tech-for-good conversation.

One way companies are declaring their double or triple bottom lines is by registering as certified B-Corporations (operated by the nonprofit B Lab), which are “legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.”

Civic Technology

One slice of the tech-for-good pie that I’m specifically interested in is Civic Technology, which is “technology that’s spurring civic engagement, enhancing citizen communications, improving government infrastructure, or generally making government more effective.”​*​

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Why software development?

Welcome to the first entry in my Flatiron School blog! I’ll follow their recommendation in writing about why I decided to take a software development course at this point in my life.


The short version: coding is one of the only things I can just sit and do for hours, without realizing how fast time is passing by. And I am a big believer in the mantra of “do what you love.”

The long version

In hindsight, it was not a good idea to combine roller hockey and baseball into a single sport. But it was the summer of 1999 and my brother and I were 9 and 10 years old, respectively. And we had just transitioned from spending our days at a baseball camp to a roller hockey one, so the combination seemed natural!

I sprint-skated down the base line, rounded first, but realized I should not advance. So I tried to quickly stop, fell hard backwards, and broke my wrist. I wound up leaving the hospital in a cast and doctor’s orders not to continue playing hockey. But that might have been a lucky break!

In our search for a camp I could attend without needing to use my arm that much, we settled upon ACE Computer Camp. I was already pretty into computers—I had convinced my parents to get that newfangled “Internet” thing—but knew nothing about programming. But I instantly fell in love my first day at camp, when I first started learning BASIC.

I ended up attending ACE for 10 weeks over the next three years, until it unfortunately ceased operations in 2001. Over those three years, I learned BASIC, Java, and C++. My final project was a C++ implementation of BattleShip in which you could play against a computer player that was actually good! I even teamed up with a few of my friends to start a “company” called LavaWare, which released games and utilities for free online. In writing this blog, I was sad to find out that even the Wayback Machine couldn’t render any of our pages from ~20 years ago. However, I was able to find some glorious images!

Lava Ware was the parent company of “daibouken software productions”

Anyway, as I went on to high school, coding kind of faded away—what was offered at my school was less advanced than I already was—and I focused on science and math. I was on the track and swimming teams, and did theater. By the time I got to college, it had been more than five years since I had done any coding…

I majored in Biology, but I kind of wish I had done Computer Science—I think I would have enjoyed it much more. I did end up taking classes in Java, C, C++, which were great, but for some reason it never occurred to me to switch majors.

I left Stanford in 2011 for a job with President Obama’s reelection campaign (politics are another passion of mine), doing major-donor fundraising in San Francisco. After we won in November of ’12, my team founded Tech4America (, a nonprofit that convened public sector leaders with tech-sector leaders with the goal of creating public-private partnerships. In 2015, I moved to New York, where I continued working in politics through 2016. With a heavy heart following my campaign’s loss in November, I went through a long period of soul-searching and thinking about my future.

When I thought about what I really loved to do, I couldn’t stop coming back around to coding. So here I am!