Graydon Hoare: "I donated because I'd like to see the culture change."

Photograph of Graydon Hoare

Graydon Hoare, used with permission

Q. Tell us about yourself

I’m a tools and language engineer, currently at Mozilla and working on the Rust language. I was at Red Hat before, and a few other places. I’ve worked primarily on lower-level things: compilers, crypto tools, version control systems, profilers, simulators, debuggers, diagnostic systems, etc. Not usually all that successful, but I keep myself busy. I’m Canadian: grew up in Toronto and live in Vancouver.

Q. Why did you donate to the Ada Initiative?

Because I’d like to see the culture of Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities change. I’ve long found it demoralizing to watch the community fail to talk sensibly about racism, sexism, economic injustice or other forms of systemic oppression, especially its own practices. Denying that the culture has any exclusionary practices and yelling at marginalized people to “grow a thicker skin” is not ok; we can do better. So I was happy to see the Ada initiative form, and I’m hopeful that having full-time people advocating, educating and organizing for change to such broken norms might help. If they can influence things in a positive direction, I’m on their side.

I’m also interested in the larger effects FLOSS culture has on various “open culture” communities inspired by FLOSS, taking cues from it and also taking it in new directions as new people become involved, new projects open up. Wikimedia, OCW, OTW, OSM, IA, OAI, PLoS … there are a lot of pieces of our future culture watching and learning from each other, sharing techniques, knowledge and norms. That interplay is interesting and I know it’s something the Ada Initiative is trying to play a role in shaping the discourse of, I’ve talked to them a bit about this and it’s part of their long term ambition. The society I’m going to be living in over the next few decades seems likely to be heavily populated by open culture movements, and I think those have the potential to be a lot more socially progressive than they currently are, if they can do the necessary work reflecting on, talking about and correcting existing patterns of exclusion.

Q. How did you decide how much to donate to the Ada Initiative?

At the suggestion of an old friend, a few years ago I started taking the question of charities seriously, and considering whether I was actually donating to charities an amount commensurate with my salary: 5%, 10% a year, you know, substantial chunks, not just pocket change. Software folks are well paid, especially for our generation. When I reflected on this — and how little I was really giving, charity-wise — I started to make a much more serious habit of supporting things that mattered to me.

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