Chris Wiggins, Chief Data Scientist at NY Times and professor at Columbia and cofounder of hackny came to D&S to talk with us about two areas he’s been thinking about.  Hard, unanswerable questions got us thinking and discussing the future of online communities and the ethics of data science.


Chris cofounded hackny, an organization that supports student hackathons where young people come together to do play, build, and create with other like-minded people. We discussed how to broaden who attends, thus broadening the future of tech.  It’s something we all agree is important, but how do you do it without insulting, demeaning, or forcing something to happen in a volunteer, self-empowering environment like hackathons?


After gamer gate and other recent controversies in the tech world, how do we foster a healthier community when adults online are not being a good example for young people?  These are not easy questions.  I did wonder if libraries may be able to help a community in this way.  We are hearing more and more about hackathons happening in libraries and I wonder if a place like a library might not be as foreign for those who are not typical hackathon attendees.  They may have experiences going to their community library for reading time, to pick up young adult books, to do research, or just to have a quiet place away from their dorms.  Could an all-inclusive community center help to create a more health online community in the future?  Could the library supplement and instruct on the skills needed to keep developing code skills and/or and entrepreneurial spirit?