Introducing Cake

Introducing Cake

After a terrible event in November 2016 (I'll let you fill in the blanks), I was left wondering how to help others. I joined so many groups, signed petitions and up for newsletters. I protested. I called representatives. I had to wonder whether the things I was doing were making any impact at all. I thought if we could measure impact across a range of areas and tailor them to activist's strengths, we might have a chance. A chance at healing and progress for everyone.

That was 31 months ago, although it feels like 31 years. Cake has shifted a lot in that time, most notably the name which started as Data to the People (based on the brilliant book by Andreas Weigend) in 2017 when I did the Social Good Accelerator. An advisor for a women's entrepreneurship retreat suggested I name it Cake after myself. A name which arose after my niece and nephew decorated my face like a cake when we were making gingerbread houses.

I decided to adopt Cakelin completely when I started coming out as non-binary. Being non-binary is just one of the identities that have thrown roadblocks in front of my dreams and goals. This is a collective struggle, I've watched friends, colleagues, mentees and students grapple with many of same issues. We don't have the same resources, tools or opportunities. This is a problem for everyone. Humanity needs diversity for our new evolution: survival of the fittest ideas.

Meanwhile corporations and the government have more data on each of us than we will ever see, let alone use. It's used to study us, sell to us and hijack our attention - the currency of the dopamine economy. All of the human and systemic biases we are trying to overcome exist in this data and are then encoded into algorithms. The lack of diversity in STEM is only accelerating this cycle.

As a software developer and scientist, how do I help? The solution I keep coming back to is giving people their data and tools to use it. In the past few years, I've managed to use data to vastly improve my health and life. I hope some of what I've learned can be helpful to others.

I can't do this alone, which is why I'm working in public (oh yeah, it's terrifying, come and get me fear gremlins) and will be open sourcing all of Cake's code. As a writer, I'm particularly interested in what I read and write over time. I'm starting by looking at how much and what topics I read and write about in Journey (journaling app), Google Docs, GoodReads, Pocket and Medium.

It's time people with various marginalized identities can experience a world tailored for them. If you're interested in joining, you can find me most places @thecakelin .

“Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.” - Tim O'Reilly