On the 62nd floor of One World Trade Center, Lorghoth the Decayer is waiting. A party of brave coders and digital strategists gathers around a conference table to slay the wicked beast -- praying the D20 rolls their way. Every other week, a team of developers and designers hops into a conference room (with a stunning view of Manhattan) to participate in a unique, after-hours exercise: a Dungeons and Dragons game night. Timm Woods, a professional dungeon master, leads each session, guiding the colleagues through intricate adventures filled with gypsy-camp raids, vindictive scarecrows and the cruel mists of Ravenloft. Woods, an energetic and scruffy Brooklynite, has been a professional dungeon master for about five years, running everything from after-school campaigns to private parties and events.
Welcome to Engadget's new series, Hitting the Books. With less than one in five Americans reading just for fun these days, we've done the hard work for you by scouring the internet for the most interesting, thought provoking books on science and technology we can find and delivering an easily digestible nugget of their stories. "Boys will be boys" doesn't cut it anymore. For anybody who isn't a cis-het white guy, the internet can be a xenophobic hellscape filled with racist trolls, misogynists, creeps and *shudder* tech bros. Women and PoC are being put through a societal meat grinder on a daily basis both in social media and Silicon Valley itself.
Mike Cagney, co-founder of the fintech unicorn Social Finance Inc., recently announced he is stepping down from his role as SoFi's CEO in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Nearly a dozen employees, across different departments, told the Wall Street Journal the company had a history of mistreating women, including former CFO Nino Fanlo allegedly making inappropriate comments about women's bodies in front of peers and touching female employees in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Cagney himself has been accused of fostering a culture of "male bravado." Reuters reported Cagney offered the following explanation for his resignation in a company-wide memo: "I want SoFi to focus on helping members, hiring the best people, and growing our company in a way consistent with our values. That can't happen as well as it should if people are focused on me, which isn't fair to our members, investors, or you."
Better Life Lab is a partnership of Slate and New America. Employers across the country are locked in a rat race to out-dazzle one another by providing lavish perks like in-house chefs, wellness centers, and wine bars at the office, and there's one benefit rising to the top of everyone's wish lists: the unlimited-vacation policy. From Netflix to Dropbox, the roster of companies that offer employees unlimited paid time off from work has steadily grown over the past few years. While many workers embrace the idea of taking vacation whenever they want, it's a tricky benefit to introduce in practice. "It's all about how [unlimited-vacation policies] are rolled out," says David Burkus, author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas.
Few people are as knee-deep in our work-related anxieties and sticky office politics as Alison Green, who has been fielding workplace questions for a decade now on her website Ask a Manager. In Direct Report, she spotlights themes from her inbox that help explain the modern workplace and how we could be navigating it better. With cold and flu season in full swing, you might be surrounded by coughing, sniffly co-workers. Every year around this time my inbox at Ask a Manager fills up with complaints about colleagues who shouldn't be at work, putting everyone else at risk of getting sick, too. Sometimes, of course, it's due to a martyr complex--the feeling that work cannot possibly go on without them, or a notion that they'll get points for dragging themselves into work while sick.