I don't often write on this blog, and when I do, it's either tech related, or light life stuff.

Over the next few weeks, it's going to get a lot more political. If you currently follow this blog for its technical content, you may be tempted to tune out. I would encourage you to stay and listen. I'm passionate about the technology that I work on; but the greatest problems facing our world today are not ones that will be solved with software.

American democracy is in bad shape, and it's because of what we're doing to it. This is not a problem of the Right or of the Left; it is not a problem that began with the election of Donald Trump, and it's not a problem that will go away at the end of his term. It is partly a structural problem with the way our elections work, but more than that it's a problem of how we're splitting into separate tribes, isolating ourselves from those who don't agree with us.

As Russ Allbery wrote the morning after the election, everything about how we organize ourselves online today - and how we let Facebook and Twitter organize us - leads us to surround ourselves with people who already think the same way we do. That leaves all of us with huge blind spots for other people in our country, and it stifles the free exchange of ideas that is so essential for a healthy democracy. We need leaders who will work to make America a better and more just place for all our neighbors, not just a two-party system that plays tug-of-war using two different sets of voters that feel shut out. And the way we organize ourselves today (online and off) does not let us recognize those leaders.

There's a lot of talk now about Facebook changing how it decides what to show people; and maybe they can manage to help everyone's online experience be a little less of a bubble. But part of the change needs to come from us. We need to be willing to engage, civilly, with people whose perspective is different from ours, and make the effort to understand where the other is coming from.

So for the next few weeks, I'm going to talk. And I'm going to listen.

I have no unique qualifications to speak about the country's issues. But I do have a perspective of my own, which might be different enough from yours to be useful. I was born and raised in Iowa, and graduated from college there. This election cycle, I learned that Iowa holds the distinction of being the state with the lowest percentage of college-educated whites. I'm part of that statistic, because a few years after graduating I moved to Portland, Oregon - a place that's notoriously so far to the left of what we think of as the middle, that it actually has anarchists who would shamefully use a peaceful protest as cover to commit property crime. So I know a few things about the people in each state, that I think the other should hear.

I'm also that rarest of creatures, a Portlander who goes to church (Catholic). But I still choose as my neighbors the weird, wonderful, and welcoming community that we have here, whatever Glenn Beck might think.

I have a son, and I worry about what kind of world he'll grow up to live in. I work in software, which means I'm doing a lot better than a lot of people in the country right now; it also means that from where I sit, I see trends already in progress that will have an effect on the working class and the middle class that makes NAFTA look like a gnat's fart in comparison. And so I worry for what kind of world we will all live in, if we don't make some changes fast.

Let's have a conversation. No comments enabled on this blog, but you can find me on G+ or on Facebook.