Saturday, August 9, 2014

Silicon Valley's Race To The Bottom

What is it with Silicon Valley and apps that allow you avoid "ethnic" neighborhoods, and why does anyone think this is a good enough idea to throw actual money at?

SketchFactor, the brainchild of co-founders Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, is a Manhattan-based navigation app that crowdsources user experiences along with publicly available data to rate the relative "sketchiness" of certain areas in major cities. The app will launch on the iTunes on Friday, capping off a big week for the startup, which was named as a finalist in the NYC BigApps competition. 
According to Ms. McGuire, a Los Angeles native who lives in the West Village, the impetus behind SketchFactor was her experience as a young woman navigating the streets of Washington, D.C., where she worked at a nonprofit.

Now, I can totally understand why you would want an application that would allow women to avoid street harassment.  That is a noble goal.  This app doesn't do that.  What SketchFactor does is just say "Hey, this whole neighborhood is scary, don't go there."

 It's less racism as it is classism, but there's still a pretty awful component to it.

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