Kathy Wang on Using God Mode in Tech… and Novels
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On Podcast
Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now.
In this episode, Andrew is joined by Kathy Wang, author of Impostor Syndrome: A Novel, to discuss women in the workplace, the power of Big Tech, and the looming threat of foreign espionage.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: One of the things I loved about the book was your use of something you call God Mode. This was a feature or a power at Tangerine. Tangerine is really, I think—I can say it, you’ll probably deny it—but it’s kind of based on Facebook as it is a ubiquitous social media platform which everyone uses to do all forms of communication. And what Julia Lerner has is, along with the male founder and CEO of Tangerine, is God Mode. She gets to see everything and everyone. Kind of like a novelist, right?
Kathy Wang: Yes, totally, 100 percent.
Andrew Keen: Tell me more. Why are those two things alike? And why is it so shocking to have God Mode in tech, and yet no one is shocked about it when it comes to writing novels?
Kathy Wang: You know, it’s funny because I had just always assumed that people at Facebook or Google, especially in the early days, had God Mode. And God Mode is a term that I guess is actually used in the world, but I actually came up with it because when I was a kid I used to play Doom all the time, and I was very lazy and I’d always play in God Mode to have unlimited lives. And so that’s how that name came to me for the book.
I mean, if I founded a company or I was responsible for generating billions of dollars a year in revenue for a company, I would want God Mode. For me, I just kind of assume that Mark Zuckerberg still possesses God Mode. I mean, if he doesn’t, good for them, because they’ve really instituted some some great controls. But for myself as a novelist, you always think about the human side. You assume that these people have that power to look at all of our activity, all of our viewing, our location. You just simply assume that someone within those companies is looking at that and using it.
Kathy Wang grew up in Northern California and holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard Business School. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children. Kathy’s debut novel Family Trust was a Costco Pennie’s Pick, Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, and the inaugural selection of the Buzzfeed Book Club.