March 1, 2012

"The Tech Industry’s Asperger Problem: Affliction Or Insult?"

Question asked in a blog post that ends with a bigger insult: "As always in business, some of this behavior inevitably boils down to greed and immorality."


rcocean said...

Is that old age or Asperbergers? I often find myself at work staring at people saying stupid, boring stuff and not saying "Yeah thats right" or "uhhuh".

That's usually because I'm thinking "God, how years till retirement" or "I'm too old to care this crap anymore".

So, maybe that's it- and not asperbergers.

m stone said...

Asperger's is rapidly becoming a catch-all for that which "afflicts" people with odd behaviors.

Anyone who's successful, driven, stumbles occasionally, and is not socially graceful is getting the label.

My Asperger's classmate recites pi to the 100th place, but couldn't run a company like Gates or Zuck or even work there getting them coffee.

Is this a new trend?

YoungHegelian said...

When a diagnostic category like Asperger's syndrome comes into fashion every behavior that's even close gets shoehorned into it.

What these successful geeks have in common is the capability to utterly shut out the world & CONCENTRATE, and to live with the social drawbacks that come with that skill. People don't take being ignored kindly.

Aspys in the business world I can live with. They're actually quite predictable, and so one can work within the limitations.

Successful sociopaths are another story, and there's no shortage of them. They are bombs waiting to blow up in your face.

edutcher said...

Agree with stone.

Asperger's is the new ADD.

Revenant said...

I somehow managed to suffer through to the end of that pointless article. The throwaway "greed and immorality" bit at the end was the icing on the cake.

I've seen interviews with Zuckerberg, and it is obvious that he's mentally normal. He's just an ordinary computer geek, that's all.

A particularly good interview was one where he was asked about "The Social Network" and its portrayal of him. He made an excellent point, that Hollywood screenwriters simply cannot understand the idea of a guy building something because he likes building stuff, instead of "because of his inner demons" or "because of greed" or some such cliche.

If a guy considers a computer (or a machine, or a sculpture) more interesting than you, pause to consider that maybe you just aren't all that interesting. Most people aren't.

chickenlittle said...

A bunch of geeks congregate in one corner of the world for a few generations and then wonder why their traits amplify?
Then someone comes along and blames it on "business"?

These people should get out and mix it up a bit.

chickenlittle said...

Unless of course someone has a theory about something being "in the water."

Synova said...

Ugh... I couldn't read it carefully but I tried to skim to the end.

I got the feeling it was essentially a complaint about successful people who don't have great social skills.

And then the comments ignored the article entirely and talked about how creepy it was when Zuckerberg's eyes blinked.

I also don't think it's by accident that the proof of these Aspie blooms are hear-say only. The article very carefully made no factual claim.

Alex said...

Hollywood screenwriters simply cannot understand the idea of a guy building something because he likes building stuff, instead of "because of his inner demons" or "because of greed" or some such cliche

These Hollywood screenwriters know that they are just bugs, insects compared to a giant like Zuckerberg who actually builds the future.

wyo sis said...

If this is accurate. (I don't believe it is.) The next question is how are these driven people being used by others with their own agenda? That's more likely to be where the greed and immorality come in.

Anonymous said...

Let's just say that all the great industrialists have been mentally deficient. If that's what it takes to make losers like Ryan Tate to feel good about himself, where's the harm?

ElPresidenteCastro said...

My science club and chess club were full of socially awkward boys. They are millionaires today.

SteveOrr said...

Nice contrast with the earlier post on meetings. The bullshitting schmoozers are promoting a meeting culture which lowers our collective IQ.

Meanwhile, the innovators behind these groundbreaking companies are essentially being labeled "retards".

Alex said...

Meanwhile, the innovators behind these groundbreaking companies are essentially being labeled "retards".

Meanwhile those billionaire "retards" like Zuckerberg will buy out the lamestream media, fire their fucking asses and then when the lamestream reporter who finds himself lying in a ditch facing his Maker will be laughing you think?

There will be HELL to pay.

Henry said...

Here's the lead in to the Althouse quote: Even seasoned Silicon Valley watchers have begun to balk at the mounting frequency with which tech companies and their founders make decisions that advance their obsession of the moment — like a new technical feature, for example — in ways that seem utterly antisocial.

As way of support of this blanket accusation, two words are linked. "begun" is linked to an article that explains that Steve Jobs was a major-league asshole (nooooooo!). "balk" is linked to an article about a social media company that aggressively sucked up user data (noooooo!).

In other words, Ryan Tate has got nothing. And yet he smears everyone.

If you were to write an article about selfish obsessives who are strangely apathetic to the people they impact with their work you might write about silicon valley programmers. Or you might write about journalists. Like Ryan Tate.

Human frailty is general, not clinical.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about writing an article myself:

The Journalism Industry’s Poorly Paid Asshole Problem: Stupidity Or Douchebaggery?

But it doesn't pay well enough to bother.

bagoh20 said...

It just ain't normal to be normal anymore.

Henry said...

Seven Machos says it in 10 words.

Jane said...

I read a snippet of something somewhere suggesting that the reason for the increase in Autism/Asperger's is that there's a much more pronounced tendency now than in the past for highly intelligent people to marry other highly intelligent people, and that this mix of genes produces Spectrum-types. (Maybe it only appears that there's a correlation between being highly intelligent and having a Spectrum kid because they're the most visible.) Anyway, if Silicon Valley/IBM/ Apple company towns are producing heavy concentrations of labelled kids, it would tend to support this theory. (And I say that as an actuary, married to another actuary, with a borderline Asperger's kid and another with ADHD.)

pst314 said...

Wouldn't Gawker be the last to have any business writing about other people's social dysfunctions?

John Lynch said...

See, disorders always become insults.

This is why people who say Asperger's or autism spectrum is simply a way to get more goodies or to avoid criticism have it wrong. No one thinks any more of someone who's autistic. It gains the afflicted nothing at all.

My personal theory is that human intelligence comes with a lot of baggage. Have a few generations of smart people breed with each other and you get autism. Not every time, but much more often. There's a reason we're not all Alpha Double Pluses.

What matters is what people do, not who they are inside their head. I don't care. Actions matter. Everything else is supposition.

As for Facebook, I don't go there. I figured out in about a minute that the customers are the advertisers and the people logging in are the product being sold. I'm not a commodity.

Don't Tread 2012 said...

"...a disorder characterized by obsessive and rigid behavior, poor communication skills, clumsiness, and a lack of empathy and reciprocity."


This describes any number of politicians as well.

I guess we'll have to wait a long time for that article.

roesch/voltaire said...

My best friend is a math whiz with a mild case of Asperbergers, but has a great sense of humor; there is a spectrum here that includes a range of traits and talents.

Paco Wové said...


Mmmmm... can I get fries with one of those?

prairie wind said...

Another reason for the increase in the number of Asperger diagnoses increase in the number of Asperger diagnoses. Parents with oddball children are encouraged to get their kids "evaluated." Schools know that the best way for the kid to get more individual attention at school--and the best way to get more federal money--is to give him a label: ADD, Aspergers. Presto! Another diagosis-labeled kid.

Somewhere along the way, we lost our love for the oddballs. We think everyone should be "normal," so now parents worry more about their quirky kids. Socially awkward? Aspergers! Ants in his pants? ADD!

Peter said...

Referencing all sorts of things to Asperger's brings to mind the previous age, when everything and anything was "explained" with reference to Freudianism.

Freudianism has laregely been exposed as pre-scientific nonsense, in no small part because it has that "just so story" quality of explaining anything.

But is this not just more of the same- a convenient "theory of everything" that is based on just about nothing?

Which is to say, wouldn't we be better off if Asperger's could just be un-invented?

Joe Schmoe said...

Yeah, people like Zuckerberg are so greedy and immoral that they employ tens of thousands of people, and have made hundreds, or even thousands, of their friends and investors into millionaires.

I have small kids in elementary school and I will say Aspergers is a real phenomenon and distinct in many ways from autism. It's not just social awkwardness. They just are wired differently. They just don't get social interaction the way most kids do. It poses real difficulties for Aperger kids and their teachers. They can also be easily overwhelmed by noise, lights, and activity. One of our kids' playmates is autistic and another is an Aspy. Each has their own distinct behaviors that their parents say are typical of their diagnosis. With therapy, they can 'learn' how to deal with things and people, but it's difficult work.

But yeah; it's real and not a trend. Ask any teacher with an Aspy in her or his class. Aspergers requires different treatment than autism and many schools aren't up to speed yet on what to do. Our friends have been educating the teachers quite a bit.

Joe Schmoe said...

One thing I love about these Aspy techies is how they leap-frog the established academic proscriptions of school & college. There's so much emphasis on learning and minimizing risk in our system. Just get your advanced degree and go get a government sinecure, seems to be the recommended path.

These Aspy men and women are just focused on doing something. And some of them have succeeded beyond wildest expectations, and have changed the world in the process.

And can't you see the irony in that stupid blog post? All this anti-social crap written about them, while people like Zuckerberg and Jobs have used technology to create history-changing social paradigms. Maybe they're not so good face-to-face, but they really get the big picture of social interaction, and they can conceive of ways to make it happen.