Author Archives: ktempestgf

Final Day To Win An eReader and Support The Octavia E. Butler Scholarship

Technically, one can donate to the scholarship fund at any time. But today is the last day that one can buy tickets to win an eReader or an autographed copy of the Dark Matter anthology while simultaneously supporting the scholarship. In lieu of giving you a long-winded plea for participation and money, I’m going to linkspam you a bit.

Win An eReader And Support Speculative Fiction Writers: Carl Brandon Society Fundraiser

The Carl Brandon Society, an organization dedicated to racial and ethnic diversity in speculative fiction, will hold a prize drawing of five eReaders to benefit the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship, a fund that sends two emerging writers of color to the Clarion and Clarion West writers workshops annually.

In keeping with the Society’s support of literature from and about people of color, the prizes include five eReaders: two Barnes & Noble Nooks, two Kobo Readers, and one Alex eReader from Spring Design. Each eReader will come pre-loaded with books, short stories and essays by writers of color from the speculative fiction field, including: N. K. Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Terence Taylor, Ted Chiang, Shweta Narayan, Chesya Burke, Moondancer Drake, Saladin Ahmed, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and more.

The drawing’s tickets will cost one dollar US ($1) and can be purchased here. Entrants may purchase an unlimited number of tickets, which will be available from November 5, 2010 through November 22nd, 2010. Sales will close at 11:59PM EDT on November 22nd. Winners will be drawn randomly from a digital “hat” and announced online.

To purchase tickets, read details about the eReaders, or to learn more about the Carl Brandon Society, or to see the full rules, please visit the Carl Brandon Society website.

Help Me Make A List Of The Most Important Women In Tech

Following from the recent discussions about women in tech, I’ve been charged with putting together a list of the “Most Important Women” in tech for the magazine I work for. The measure of who is important comes down to several factors. Notability is a big one, but also a personal actions/activities or influence in the tech world. Women spearheading promising start ups, women involved in research and development of important technologies, even women who work within systems to make them more accessible or friendly to those outside of the majority.

Obviously there are a lot of women who fit these descriptions, and I’m sure there are other criteria for what makes a woman “important” in tech. Which is why I’ve come to you.

I have a preliminary list, but I welcome any suggestions from the GeekFeminism community. I spend a lot of time working with consumer electronics, so I don’t always know who the superstars in the Linux community are, for instance, or who is working on tech projects that haven’t yet made it to the consumer level.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments with links, if you have them, to pertinent information about the women you’re suggesting. The only overarching criteria I have is that the women have to be current — so no Ada Lovelace, even though she deserves to be on the list!

On Influence, Lists, Women, and the Confluence Thereof

Shira Ovide over at the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch wrote a blog post on Friday that’s got a few people in a tizzy over the visibility of women in tech. Ovide’s piece is specifically about the lack of women in tech start ups, but at one point ranges into some criticism of male-heavy tech conferences. Mediaite’s Rachel Sklar namechecks Techcrunch Disrupt in this light, which Michael Arrington took exception to.

Don Dodge also called the slight an unfair one (because TechCrunch’s CEO is a woman! Enough said, right? Yeah, the mansplaining over there is pungent.), but his post accidentally reveals one of the major aspects of the problem Ovide is talking about. In his post he says: “All the top women in tech get more invitations to speak than they can possibly handle.”

All? Really? That’s surprising. It’s been my experience as a person with multiple intersections of minority that in situations like this, all of the individuals that belong to the underrepresented faction of a group are not in the spotlight so much. More often a sub-section of the minority that gets called upon over and over and over — to the point where they cannot possibly say yes to everything — while many other deserving and qualified people go unnoticed.

This is not always a purposeful repression, but the result is the same, nonetheless.

How does this stuff happen? I think it starts with lists. In Dodge’s post, he helpfully lists 30 Top Women in Tech, including Twitter lists. But his numbers are sad when compared to Engadget’s recent Who Should I Follow? focusing on women in tech, which includes over 70 women (including myself, I say proudly). There’s some crossover, and Engadget’s list includes many writers/journalists, but I still feel like Dodge doesn’t go deep enough.

Then there are lists that aren’t about gender but more about overall influence in the tech world, like this piece on the 25 Most Influential People in Mobile Tech at Laptop Magazine. Of the 25, there are just 2 women, which struck me as complete bollocks the moment I noticed it.

At this point you might be saying to yourself, “But K, didn’t you have something to do with…” and I would stop you and say: Yes, but for a lot of silly reasons I didn’t notice this until it was too late.

It’s not as if there wasn’t awareness that there should be women on that list, and perhaps that there should be more. But when measuring the nebulous concept of “influence” a lot of gut decisions are made that have more to do with personal perceptions than other factors.

I feel like that’s what’s happening on a larger scale in the continuing conversation around women in tech and getting more of them in the field. Yes, we need more, we always need more. But you know what else we need? Some extra acknowledgment for those of us already here.

Part of the solution is lists.

I see merit in having a TEDWomen conference, though I do understand why some people take exception to these types of events. I feel the same about lists. I’m glad that there are lists that highlight women specifically, but we need more balance in lists that have nothing to do with gender. It’ll be several months before Laptop Magazine puts together their Most Influential list again, but that’s no reason not to start building a list of women to include in it right now. Who would you suggest?

I’d love for the list to include some of the start-up stars we don’t hear much from, but who have great ideas nonetheless. Not just in this one instance, but across the media.

Kathryn Cramer Is Oppressed!

Nick Mamatas is always trying to get me to start some shit so he sent over this link to Kathryn Cramer’s blog*. Normally I would ignore this crazy person, but I figure many others are going to comment on this or may already have, so I’ll throw in my 2 cents.

For those of you unaware, Kathryn Cramer is an editor who does an annual year’s best with her husband, David Hartwell, and also works on the New York Review of Science Fiction. Her role in the online discussion/debate known as RaceFail came at the tail end of everything when she decided that it was very, very, very important for everyone to know the real name behind the screen name of a blogger who used to work for the publishing company that puts out the aforementioned year’s best. Once people objected to this pointless outing, she continued to link the fan/screen name to this person’s real name and spread wank across as many sites on the Internet as she could. This behavior is of a piece with her other online and offline antics in the past year and over the course of decades. She comes off as a bit imbalanced, as the blog post I pointed to will attest.

Cramer is apparently bored or something because she’s decided to stir the fires of RaceFail again. This time she’s proposing a panel for WisCon (a convention she no longer attends because of its “encouragement of Fail fandom”) called “More Oppressed than Thou.” Because, don’t you know, there are two kinds of oppressed people: those who have actually been beaten up by cops and those who only have a theoretical understanding of their oppression. You think I am kidding but I am not.

I’m sure that I, a black woman living in America, have never, ever experienced oppression. Oh no. But I read about it in a book and that makes me all self-righteous and stuff.

I know the answer to this, but I can’t help asking why it is that people like Cramer are always the ones to start up the Oppression Olympics. Next she’ll be whining about how her Irish ancestors couldn’t get a job or something.

You would think that attitudes like Cramer’s wouldn’t even require a response because they’re so ridiculolus. However, going by reports I’ve heard about a certain other convention* that I know Cramer and those who agree with her view of RaceFail attend, I know that we can’t just trust that right-thinking people won’t be taken in by this nonsense.

If someone really, really needs me to explain why her position is a load of horseshit I will.

[crossposted from my blog]

————

* I did not anonymize the link because I don’t care if she knows I’m talking about her. If you’re clicking from your FList and don’t want to even have your screenname show up on her stats, use this link.

** Yes Fourth Street, I am talking smack about you.

Samsung N140 Promo Vid: Netbooks Make Better Companions Than Men

In my day job I write and read tech news and one of my beats is netbooks. This is no hardship as I love netbooks. In many ways it’s the machine I’ve been waiting for. However, I don’t always love the way netbooks are marketed. Early on advertising people had the idea that these small laptops would make great computers for women because they’re small and cute and fit in a purse and you can use them anywhere, like the kitchen. You know, for recipes.

Ugh.

I suppose tech companies are always trying to figure out ways to market effectively to women and sometimes they do it well, like the Vivienne Tam or Studio Tord Boontje Minis from HP, and sometimes it’s just patronizing bullshit, like the “Della” campaign from Dell. Yesterday I came across a video that falls somewhere in-between. It’s a promo from Samsung advertising the N140 netbook. If you click over to LAPTOP Magazine’s blog you can see a full exegesis on this vid, but the point comes down to: what the hell is going in this little movie and how is it supposed to make me want a netbook?

The idea of a netbook as an accessory to your busy or even not-so-busy life is a fine one. But the video’s plot, such as it is, doesn’t highlight that very well. Brad Linder of Liliputing guessed that it’s meant to show off the long battery life (it’s supposed to get 11 hours). All it seems to show off is that model’s ability to stretch her lanky body and possibly to warn young ladies from trusting that their boyfriends will pick them up at the train station as promised. Seriously, go look (and please comment there, I am eager to watch you all apply your creative minds to the plot and message).

When I compare that video to this one Nokia did for their new netbook, I find myself much more drawn to the Booklet 3G. This video tells me what this device is, what it does, what makes it special, and even includes some heart-tugging music that makes me want it even more.

I have to wonder if the ad people who put that together sought to appeal to men or both men and women. I’m not sure who the Samsung video is meant to appeal to. Regardless, the use of models to peddle netbooks just doesn’t seem like a great idea. Models don’t ever seem to use things, they just look good. What use is a netbook that just looks good? (Yes, I am talking smack about you Eee PC S101.)

But if we must have some beautiful women selling these things, here’s what I’d like to see: women actually using netbooks in some way that shows off what netbooks are good for while providing the eye candy that someone is convinced consumers need. That way it appeals to those of us to buy tech for what it does and those of us who buy anything because hot women are peddling it.

One of the reasons I’m not particularly looking forward to Stargate: Universe

I can’t remember how I found this post (probably looking at linkbacks from FeministSF), but I’m so glad I did. It breaks down the number of women who’ve directed episodes of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis and reveals that, behind the scenes, women don’t play much of a role. Some years there were only one or two eps directed by women and, after SG-1 Season 8, none. Fantastic.

I used to love Stargate SG-1 and would still sit and watch many of the episodes in the first 8 seasons with happiness. (Seasons 9 through whatever do not exist because they are filled with shame and stupidity.) I even gave Atlantis a try for a season or so. But both shows slowly chipped away at my love for them due to their portrayals of women and people of color.

The fact that both shows have women and POC in lead roles is great, believe me. I am a fan of Samantha Carter and definitely heart me some Ronon. But in the end I loved them despite what the Powers That Be did in terms of writing and directing. Looking at their dismal record of including women behind the scenes, this is not surprising. And though they have a very smart and competent guy as a creative consultant (John Scalzi), I am not sure even he can stem the tide of ickiness that has flowed from the Stargate franchise lo these 6 years at least.

Geeks Love Lists: Awesome Science Fiction By Women

As this is my first post, I’ll offer an introduction before I begin. Hi there, I’m Tempest, and am indeed a geek. A rare unicorn of a geek since I am not only a woman, but a Black woman besides. I’m a writer,  both of science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction and of non-fiction. During the day I write about laptops, web apps, Linux, eReaders, gadgets, and other such exciting subjects. At night (or, really, any time I can spare) I write or write about or read or read about or watch spec fic. And that is mostly what I’ll be talking about here.

Anyone who has ever been involved in the SF community knows that there are issues surrounding women and people of color in media and in fandom. I’ve spent the last, oh, four or so years dealing directly with it, often to the detriment of my zen state. Ranting and getting angry is satisfying, but I find it much more so to then make a positive step toward change. Thus, after a recent heated debate about an anthology that included no stories by women or people of color, I decided to ask genre fans to tell me what science fiction stories, books, or authors blow their minds. Then I took those suggestions and collated them into this massive list.

People are still adding to the original posts and to the one at Tor.com, which makes me happy. It shows that even when you’ve named dozens of works and authors, there are still more to name. It shows that we are out there creating amazing stuff and to ignore us is to cut out a huge swath of great fiction. Helping people understand this is a major goal of mine. But it’s heartening that more and more people are noticing, speaking up, and creating positive change themselves.