Tech bosses talk kids' books! Could they show a glimmer of humanity? You only get one guess

Damn, that mask is stuck fast


Comment A recent New York Times profile portrayed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as the megacorp's human side – in contrast to reptilian boy emperor Mark Zuckerberg.

While Zuck once chose to deny, quite categorically, being a lizard – "I'm gonna have to go with 'no' on that," he replied – Sandberg often plays the caring, human half of Facebook leadership.

But startling new evidence casts doubt on the theory that Sandberg is humanoid.

Fast Company magazine this week asked top tech CEOs what books influenced them and inspired them most as a child. Now what do you suppose they chose, dear reader?

One by Roald Dahl? Or by Dr Seuss? Or Biggles?

Don't be daft.

Sandberg nominated Girls Who Code: The Friendship Code by Resmas Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.

"Lucy is super excited about coding club at school. She has an idea for an app, and can't wait to get started!" the blurb burbles. According to Fast Company: "The book cleverly weaves together a story about friendship with actual snippets of code."

It was only published last October, when Sandberg was 48 years old, so it's a stretch to call it a book that inspired her childhood.

Book cover

"Rosie lowered her voice to a whisper. 'And when I grow up,' she confided, 'I want to gather all the personal data in the world and sell it to advertisers.'"

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, appears to be another executive having a late childhood. Pichai chose The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, published in 2016, when Pinchai was (by our calculation) 46 years old. Why did he choose this classic. Was it for the riveting plot, or memorable characters?

Give your silly head a shake. It's because (as Pichai's representative on Earth tells Fast Company) it's about "how automation interacts with creativity. This resonates with what Pichai does at Google, which involves ensuring that technology adapts and responds to the human needs of users."

Of course.

Melinda Gates doesn't deviate either. She chose a 2013 book, Rosie Revere, Engineer. That has an Inspiring Message too, and you can guess what that may be.

Today's tech CEO cannot slip out of a narrowly defined character. The PR mask must remain fixed in place, even if it takes superglue. They must remain aggressively on message.

At this point, it is worth noting that the most coveted school in Silicon Valley is the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, which is coveted precisely because it bans the casual use of digital technology.

"Today's children spend far less time than earlier generations engaging with other children, caring adults, and nature," the school's marketing material purred. "The lure of electronic entertainment in our media-infused society influences the emotional and physical development of children and adolescents on many levels, and can detract from their capacity to create a meaningful connection with others and the world around them.

"Waldorf educators believe it is far more important for students to interact with one another and their teachers, and work with real materials than to interface with electronic media or technology. By exploring the world of ideas, participating in the arts, music, movement and practical activities, children develop healthy, robust bodies, balanced and well-integrated brains, confidence in their real-world practical skills and strong executive-function capabilities."

So remember: when it comes to advice from Silicon Valley, it's do as we say, not do as we do. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading
  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading
  • To multicloud, or not: Former PayPal head of engineering weighs in
    Not everyone needs it, but those who do need to consider 3 things, says Asim Razzaq

    The push is on to get every enterprise thinking they're missing out on the next big thing if they don't adopt a multicloud strategy.

    That shove in the multicloud direction appears to be working. More than 75 percent of businesses are now using multiple cloud providers, according to Gartner. That includes some big companies, like Boeing, which recently chose to spread its bets across AWS, Google Cloud and Azure as it continues to eliminate old legacy systems. 

    There are plenty of reasons to choose to go with multiple cloud providers, but Asim Razzaq, CEO and founder at cloud cost management company Yotascale, told The Register that choosing whether or not to invest in a multicloud architecture all comes down to three things: How many different compute needs a business has, budget, and the need for redundancy. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022