Star Trek Voyager: A Model for a More Inclusive Community

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Audio: The greatest asset of open source software is the ability to fork and improve. When it comes to our community’s culture, could we be better? I know we can, and Star Trek: Voyager gives us our blueprint. This talk explores the principles surrounding Gene Rodenberry’s creation and how we can craft a culture of inclusiveness and diversity to achieve even more. We'll use scientific studies, research, and mathematical models to prove the idea of diverse collective intelligence over individual intelligence within a group. We’ll explore the ground-breaking symbolism of characters like Captain Janeway, Lieutenant Tuvok and Seven of Nine. Learning Objectives & Outcomes: We’ll also get into reasons why the show was successful and how we can adapt those principles to our own work and open source communities. What is the significance of casting the first female captain? How did their collective intelligence as a diverse group supersede their individual intelligence? How were they perceived within their communities given their backgrounds and interests? Did their unique points of view add value to the overall narrative? What can we learn about assessing value, both short-term and long-term? Why was diversity important to their ultimate goal of finding home?

Transcript of Star Trek Voyager: A Model for a More Inclusive Community


Star Trek: Voyager A Model for a More Inclusive

Community2014 Fox Valley Drupal Camp

September 20, 2014



Unabashedly an engineer

Eiciency over everything

Senior Dev @Phase2

Continuously striving to do better




What Were Talking About

Journey to a better experience (User and Developer)

The allegory of Star Trek: Voyager and its characters

Context and Blind Spots

The Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem


Talent hits a target that no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.

German Philosopher

Arthur Schopenhauer


Superheroes love the journey@fredricmitchell

Software is Hard@fredricmitchell

Star Trek: Voyager@fredricmitchell

Photo Credit:

[A great show] has to teach you how to watch it.

TV Critic

Alan Sepinwall


Captain Janeway First female captain

Bullheaded, simultaneously

dogmatic and impulsive

Melded together a dynamic crew,

including Maquis rebels


Photo Credit:

The Janeway


Keep your shirt tucked in; go down with the ship; and never abandon a member of your crew.

Am I open to unorthodoxy?



Black Vulcan

Calm, logical, and expert botanist

Keeps the peace through his

wisdom, experience, and vitality


Photo Credit:

Its not easyOn the contrary, the demands on a Vulcan's character are extraordinarily diicult. Do not mistake composure

for ease.

Is logic guiding my decisions?


BElanna Torres

Half Hispanic Human and Klingon

Chief Engineer

Tough, knowledgeable and


Brash, bold, and extremely complex


Photo Credit:

Hidden PotentialIf I sprain my ankle, at least I feel something [] I'm not

trying to kill myself! I'm trying to see if I'm still alive.


How am I evaluating talent?



Former assimilated Borg

Forced to adapt after separating

from the collective

Logical, pensive, and extremely


Lightning rod


Photo Credit:

Signal to NoiseBut that is irrelevant.


What are the facts?


Math. Science.


Emotional Intelligence of Groups

Source (HBR):

Teams who develop greater emotional intelligence (EQ) boost

their overall performance

EQ: Trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a

sense of group eicacy

At the heart of these three conditions are emotions, like the

ability to listen


Women are Key to Smart Teams

Published in HBR 2011:

Little correlation between a groups collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members

If a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.


What do you hear about great groups? Not that the members are all really

smart, but that they listen to each other.

Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon

Anita Wooley


Points of Clarification

Emotional Intelligence != Being Emotional

Men can have high EQ

Correlation and Probability are implied

Gender is not limited to two choices


The Dierence

Scott Page

Professor of Complex Systems,

Political Science, and Economics

Published 2007


Perspective, Heuristics


How one looks at a problem


Tells a person where to search for a solution


Diversity Trumps AbilityConditions

1. The problem must be hard

2. Each solver has a local optima to the problem

3. An improvement can be made to a non-optimal solution

4. Large pool of solvers to form a decent-size collection


The context of perspective and heuristics are key


Problem solvers with diverse perspectives may have trouble

understanding solutions identified by other agents.

Professor at Univ. of Michigan

Scott Page


And thus, EQ comes full circle


Star Trek: Voyager@fredricmitchell

Photo Credit:

So, what can I do?


Get o the its a pipeline



Who is the the most qualified



Keys to Live By

Be an ally

Recognize my privilege

Remember the science!!

Stay bold in the compound interest of action

Strive for maximum group collective intelligence


How great can our community be?


How will I help get us home?


SourcesDiversity Articles

Groups are smarter with women -

EQ (HBR link) -

Group Intelligence Correlates More with Social Aptitude than IQ -

Being an Ally as a Person with Privilege -

Risk of Speaking Up -

21st Century Talent Spotting: Potential Trumps Brains, experience, and competencies -

Mathematical Model of Diversity -

Scott Page: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Schools, Societies -


Diversity Trumps Ability -

Scott Page Research -

Voyager Articles



Thanks for Listening

@fredricmitchell !

2014 Fox Valley Drupal Camp September 20, 2014