Author Archives: skud

Dreamwidth invite codes

As many of you know, Dreamwidth is a fork of the LiveJournal code base and community, and is one of the few open source projects with a majority of contributors who are women. I blogged about it on Ada Lovelace Day and again in dispatches from the revolution where I interviewed developers about their experiences in open source more broadly, and on Dreamwidth and AO3 (another majority-women project) in particular. If you were at OSCON or ALF you may also have seen my presentation about it.

The Dreamwidth project is explicitly welcoming and diverse. Here is part of their diversity statement:

Platitudes are cheap. We’ve all heard services say they’re committed to “diversity” and “tolerance” without ever getting specific, so here’s our stance on it:

We welcome you.

We welcome people of any gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, size, nationality, sexual orientation, ability level, religion, culture, subculture, and political opinion. We welcome activists, artists, bloggers, crafters, dilettantes, musicians, photographers, readers, writers, ordinary people, extraordinary people, and everyone in between. We welcome people who want to change the world, people who want to keep in touch with friends, people who want to make great art, and people who just need a break after work. We welcome fans, geeks, nerds, and pixel-stained technopeasant wretches. We welcome Internet beginners who aren’t sure what any of those terms refer to.

Dreamwidth is one of the best projects I know for mentoring and training developers. If you’ve ever wanted to get involved in open source but don’t know where to start, or find it hard to break into a project, this might be the place for you.

As well as being an open source project, Dreamwidth is a blogging/journalling platform (currently in open beta), and if you’re interested in being part of the project you’ll probably also want to sign up for a journal. However, to prevent spam and manage server resources, signups are limited to those with an invite code or who pay for an account (which start at $3, btw.)

Here are 10 invite codes:


Please, if you take one, comment below to let us know which one you took, and try to use them in order from top to bottom.

You can create your account at Once you’re signed up, and if you’re interested in becoming a Dreamwidth developer, take a look at the following resources:

  • dw-dev, the main developer community
  • dw-dev-training, for people who want help getting started as Dreamwidth developers
  • changelog, if you like drinking from the fire-hose
  • dw-news, for general news about the service and new features (more end-user oriented)
  • Bugzilla and the DW wiki, which has a bunch of information for developers

You might also like to get on the IRC channel, which is where much of the developer/volunteer chatter happens. If all the invite codes listed above run out, you can also show up on IRC and let them know you’re interested in becoming a Dreamwidth developer, and someone’s sure to give you one.

Open Letter to Mark Shuttleworth

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED ON THIS POST. There is a followup post here.

Another conference, another sexist comment in a keynote speech by a leader in the open source community. And September was going so well!

I just sent the following to Mark Shuttleworth, founder and leader of the Ubuntu Linux project.

Hi Mark,

I’m writing to you as a woman who has been involved in Linux and open source for more than 15 years, and who has been very involved in discussions around women in open source of late; I recently keynoted OSCON and Atlanta Linux Fest on the subject, and I also run the Geek Feminism wiki ( and blog (

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it to LinuxCon this year; I hear it’s a pretty good event. I’ve been listening with some interest to people’s reports of what’s going on there, and this afternoon I heard from multiple sources about your keynote, in which you referred to our work in Linux as being “hard to explain to girls”.

I wanted to bring this up because I think what you said in that talk was pretty dismissive of the skill and dedication that many women have already brought to Linux, not only as designers and documenters (which I gather you mentioned in your talk) but as coders, release managers, sysadmins, and more — and of those who might be interested in the future.

2009 is shaping up to be a watershed year for women in open source. We have seen numerous high profile incidents where men have made remarks in conference presentations which have dismissed, marginalised, or upset women; we’ve seen an increase in discussion on blogs, mailing lists, and twitter/identica; many conferences have invited speakers (including myself) to keynote on the subject of inclusivity and diversity; and a number of efforts towards recruiting and supporting a more diverse open source community have been launched. In light of the attention the subject has been getting of late, your comment at LinuxCon seems oblivious at best, and only serves to further damage the Linux community’s reputation.

I’d like to invite you to think about the message you’re sending to women in the Linux community, and, if you didn’t mean to convey the message that we’re technical illiterates and hard to educate, consider apologising publicly.


Kirrily Robert

Just a note to new readers here at we have a comment policy that you should read before commenting.

COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED ON THIS POST. There is a followup post here.

Geek Feminism interviews the OTW’s Francesca Coppa

A couple of weeks ago, we asked you to give us your questions for an interview with Dr. Francesca Coppa, one of the founders of the Organization for Transformative Works. Thanks to those of you who suggested questions, and here are her responses…

The OTW is mostly by/for women, and most of the participants in its projects seem to be women. Do you have any interest in reaching out to primarily-male parts of fandom? How might that work, if you did?

The OTW’s mission is to provide a nonprofit space, and organized advocacy, for the kinds of transformative fanworks (fanfic, fan art, vids, podfic) that are a) potential targets for commercial exploitation (as in the case of FanLib), B) being squeezed out as Web 2.0 “business models” expand (as in the case of vids on Imeem or erotic fan art on LJ), or c) subject to takedowns or other legal challenges. Many, if not most, of those fanworks were and are made by women, but gender isn’t a central criterion; we protect these sorts of fanworks when men make them, too!

That being said, there are some secondary ways in which gender seems to be influencing the populations we serve and the work we do. First, male fans are somewhat more likely than female fans to be making fanworks that have commercial implications or aspirations (e.g. some machinima, some fan films, some video game design, the commercial version of the Harry Potter Lexicon, etc). Second, not all fanworks are subject to the kinds of economic or legal challenges I’ve just described: for instance, nobody’s doing takedowns of forums or wikis or fan films; male-made movie “parodies” are more clearly understood to be fair use than female-made shipper vids; video game designers mostly approve of and even help out machinima makers, etc. Moreover, in terms of financial support, many male or mixed gender areas of fandom are more economically stable than female-dominated areas, either because more guys are willing to turn their fan-ac into a fan-run business rather than depending on external companies or services, or because they’re willing to support their sites with ads. Women making transformative works have tended, rightly or wrongly, to be wary of ads or other forms of commercial support, fearing that it would give ammunition to copyright holders who already don’t like them or their works.

So the OTW’s goal is really to focus on 1) noncommercial works that are 2) currently subject to marketplace or legal pressures. It may be socially significant that most of those works are made by women, but we want to advocate for them no matter who makes them!

Continue reading

So tired of this trope.

Hey Taylor, I’mma let you finish, but I just wanted to say that that shit with taking your glasses off and omg you were beautiful all along is fucking tedious. (Incident occurs at 3:04 in the following video.)

Not being a 13 year old girl, I never would’ve watched this at all if not for the Kanye ruckus (though my 13 year old self would have been watching it intently and taking self-hating notes). Must say, I prefer Beyonce’s video qua music video; my geek librarian ex-roomie Erica sat me down last year and made me watch the Fosse choreography that Beyonce’s video is referencing, and it’s awesome. Anyone else here a dance/choreography geek?

Your chance for geek feminist fame! Build us a cookie generator.

Liz and I think there should be a LOLCOOKIE generator so we can give cookies to people who deserve them, but we’re too lazy/tired/busy/spoonless to do it right now. But hey, GF readers are a bunch of nerds, right? There’s gotta be someone who’ll take this on.

Your mission:

1. Take this picture (click through for full size version)…


2. Write a script which will superimpose a message of the user’s choice, similar to the cookies shown in this Flickr set. Mimicking icing as closely as possible would be ideal, though straight text will do.

3. Add a web front-end, so people can easily build their own cookies. It should run on any halfway decent web host with minimal extra installs, please.

4. Bonus points: figure out a way to allow hotlinking within reason, but prevent DDoS. (Yeah, I know.)

Were you a LEGO girl?

This Youtube video made it worth my while to get out of bed this morning despite the cramps that are starting to sneak up on me, damn them.

1500 hours of moving LEGO around and filming it. It’s a stunning job, and it hits all my fond memories of childhood geekiness. I used to have LEGOs spread all over my floor… when my Dad wanted me to learn to use chopsticks me had me use them to clean up LEGO… we went to the travelling LEGO show where they had enormous dinosaurs and spaceships taller than I was, taller than grown-ups, all made out of LEGO. But the music video also hits my C64 memories too, as Liz posted about the other week. PRESS PLAY ON TAPE indeed. *sighs wistfully*

How about the rest of you geeky women? Did you have LEGO, or some other kind of construction toy? Did you have to share it?

Quick hit: Marvel writer defends rape in Spiderman comic

Via Hoyden who link to IO9′s post on the subject.

When is rape not rape? When it’s a supervillain pretending to be Peter Parker and having sex with Parker’s roommate, who thinks she’s having sex with Parker himself, according to one of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man writers.

The writer, Fred Van Lente, responds:

My understanding of the definition of rape is that it requires force or the threat of force, so no. Using deception to trick someone into granting consent isn’t quite the same thing.

Which is not to say it isn’t a horrible, evil, reprehensible thing that Chameleon did. He is a bad man.

He insults parapelegics[sic] and dips people in acid too.

‘ware rape apologism in the IO9 comments :-/

Upcoming conferences

I’m going to be keynoting two conferences in the next month or so with extended remixes of the talk I gave at OSCON about women in open source, Standing Out in the Crowd. I’m very pleased to be have the opportunity to expand on some of the subjects I had to rush past in the fifteen minute version.

The first event is this coming Saturday the 19th of September. Atlanta Linux Fest is a free, grassroots event for the Linux and Open Source community and will feature lots of other great speakers including Ellen Ko, Rikki Kite, Michelle Hall, and more. If you’re in the Atlanta area you should come on by! Register here!

The second is ZendCon, a PHP conference in San Jose on October 19-22. My keynote’s on the 21st. Other women speaking include Sara Golemon and Elizabeth Marie Smith. If you’d like to attend, I’ve got a discount code for readers of this blog: enter “YDSK9″ at registration time and you will get 5% off whatever package you choose.

If you’re at either event, please come and say hi!

Geeky things to do with bits of string

I knit. Sometimes I crochet, and sometimes I sew, but mostly, lately, I knit. My Nanna taught me when I was a kid, and I’ve done it on and off ever since.

Sometimes people look at me funny for liking textile crafts, as if it were a strangely un-reconstructed 50s housewife sort of thing to be into. I disagree, but let’s save that for some other time.

Instead, have some geeky things made out of string:

Got any more to add to the list?

Women in tech/women near tech

I subscribe to a lot of blogs related in some way to women and technology, and skim through them at least daily in my feed reader. Lately I’ve noticed that there’s some vital mismatch in terminology going on. And I’m not the only one.

Image credit: Dori Smith

Image credit: Dori Smith

Dori Smith posted about it a couple of months ago with the above image, and Sarah Mei’s comment (which I only just read today, when I revisited the post) really struck me:

… as a programmer myself, I remember a time not so long ago when “women in tech” meant “technical women” – programmers, chip designers, system administrators…etc.

With the mass popularization of tech, starting in the 90s, “women in tech” started to mean “women who work in the technology industry,” which is a very different (and much broader) group.

In the process, the issues faced by technical women, which are quite different than the issues faced by women in other parts of the industry, have fallen off the radar. And that’s sad, because we do need more women actually *doing* tech.

At OSCON, I gave my keynote on women in open source first thing in the morning. As people filed in and took their seats, this video — “Her Code: Engendering Change in Silicon Valley” — was playing on the big screens:

In the video, those women who have technical backgrounds aren’t identified as techies: Leah Culver talks about open source, but is identified as the founder of Pownce, not as a programmer, although she is one. Marissa Mayer (who has a degree in computer science) says she thinks of herself as a geek at Google, but the job title the film shows on screen is VP. All the rest of the women profiled are company founders, venture capitalists, and the like.

We absolutely need more women founding tech companies, investing in tech companies, in management at tech companies, and all of that. But… there really is something missing when you treat those women as if they represent all “women in tech”. Where are the women who actually, every day, build technology? Not just use it. Build it.

We see this time and time again. Look at this post about Geek-ternships (a new trend? really?) on the Girls in Tech blog. The only one that mentions any technical skillset suggests HTML and Excel proficiency would be helpful, but aren’t required. All the contributors to that blog are in marketing, except one who is a designer. Dori also pointed out the Technically Women blog, and HuffPo’s Cracking the Boys Club: 10 Pioneers in Tech and Web 2.0.

“Women in tech” articles and blogs like those make me feel invisible. Not cool.

Here are some “… In Tech” groups that are actually for women *IN* tech, not just near it:

  • Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology: We are women technologists. We use technology to connect our communities. We create technology because it is who we are — intelligent, creative and driven. We lead with compassion and a belief in inclusion. We develop competitive products and find solutions to problems that impact our lives, our nation, our world. Together, through the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI), we are inventing a better future.
  • Women In Technology Project: Our mission is to build and strengthen the education to workforce pipeline by encouraging girls, women and other underrepresented groups into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
  • NCWIT: We believe that inspiring more women to choose careers in IT isn’t about parity; it’s a compelling issue of innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability. In a global economy, gender diversity in IT means a larger and more competitive workforce; in a world dependent on innovation, it means the ability to design technology that is as broad and creative as the people it serves.
  • Girls in Technology: The mission of Girls in Technology is to support academic and community programs that engage school-age girls in technology and computer-related learning. Currently, GIT furthers its mission by supporting summer camps and after school computer clubs for girls that provide technology/math/science enrichment and promote leadership skills.

(And, for the record, none of their websites are pink, and the only one with “girls” in the name is for school-aged children. Just sayin’.)