Tag Archives: internet

A photograph of luridly lit bookshelves surrounding a table and chairs

When your misdeeds are archived

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question for our readers. It’s the last for this round.

This one is actually from me, it’s related to some questions I’ve been asked by various people who will remain anonymous (and who didn’t formally write to Ask a Geek Feminist). I have my own thoughts on this, and I also think it can vary (helpful!)

What do you think people and groups should do about sexism in their “archives”? By this, I mean for example, older stuff on their blog, or Facebook postings from years ago, or similar? A lot of people have sexism in their past, varying from “I used to be a pretty committed sexist actually” to “um, I didn’t really think about it, and I wanted to fit in, and I went through a ‘Your Mom’ phase for a while there”. Things you do on the Internet are pretty long-lived now, and your sexism sticks to your name while it remains visible.

Assuming someone or someones have control of their content, and they have sexism they don’t like in there, and they have reason to think it’s going to hurt someone. Should they remove the content? Should they edit it with warnings and apologies?

Have you seen this in a real situation? What did they do? How did it work for them and for women near them/involved in their community?

At least for systemic stuff, I tend to be on the ‘edit’ side of the fence. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. even if you’ve totally changed and are ashamed and sorry, being a reformed sexist is something that may make people, women in particular, cautious about you. Living with that is part of the deal. You don’t get to get access to Has Always Been The Best Person Ever cred because you weren’t.
  2. it also serves as a guide to How To Do It, for other reforming sexists (or How Not To Do It, if you apologise but don’t actually change)

And while writing an apology that is short and not self-serving is a challenge, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try.

On the other hand, I, in general, do wish that much informal discussion on the Internet yellowed and started to curl at the edges and be difficult to read as time passed, sometimes. I realise that the invention of writing was some considerable time ago now, but even so, having to stand by your casual thoughts for years is a big ask. I can’t see that one should make a special effort to preserve evidence of one’s sexism if that same set of archives is going to disappear in its entirety.

ICANN nominations open

ICANN nominations are open. The ICANN controls domain names, among other services that create a globally coordinated Internet. Maria Farrell, a member of the nominating committee points out:

So far, there are about 35 applications for 8 open positions. Half of them have applied to be Board Directors. None – not a single one – is from a woman.

The reason why I’m not applying:

I must say up front the positions are unpaid and take up more time than most people expect, much of it on anti-socially timed conference calls. But it can be rewarding in personal and professional terms to be involved in setting the policy for the Internet.

I’m already working on a project that will take all my work cycles.

Many women already work the second shift, so what I’d like to encourage our readers to do is (after getting over your impostor syndrome) talk to your manager about spending some of your work time on ICANN duties. Many employers would be excited to have an ICANN member on staff and it’s a great networking (ha) opportunity. Before you decide you aren’t qualified, go read the suggested qualifications. Sample:

NomCom seeks women and men who have demonstrated the maturity, experience, knowledge, and skills to handle the tasks and make the judgments involved in fulfilling these important leadership roles.

NomCom seeks persons of the highest integrity and capability with experience and talents for problem solving, policy development, and decision-making involving diverse perspectives regarding how best to accomplish the mission and responsibilities of ICANN. Those selected in the NomCom process will also be expected to place the public interest of the global Internet ahead of any particular interests.

In NomCom’s selections, such qualifications are more significant than is deep involvement in technical aspects of the Internet. The NomCom selectees are expected to be knowledgeable, or committed to becoming knowledgeable, about the environment in which ICANN operates and the technical functions for which it is responsible, but strong technical knowledge of the Internet is not the determining factor in the NomCom selections.

In other words, it’s okay if you don’t know the answers to the TCP/IP Drinking Game – no one else in ICANN does either!

Deadline for applications is April 4th, 2011. Go get ‘em!

Wikipedia and non-mainstream views

I was cynical about Wikipedia’s openness to minority views in the comments of a previous post, I’m a woman, and I’ve edited Wikipedia. Based on past experience as a former, obsessive Wikipedia editor several years ago, I felt that Wikipedia’s notability guidelines amplified mainstream views while suppressing non-mainstream views. This works for dealing with quackery, but it also frames white, male worldviews as objective and universal.

However, it’s not all hopeless.

David Sindel has edited the Wikipedia article on Rape culture (trigger warning) by including prominent examples of rape culture: people defending Roman Polanski, Julian Assange, and Penny Arcade because they are famous. I thought that the protests of feminist and survivor bloggers (and microbloggers) would be considered non-notable, but his edits remain.

(David Sindel had e-mailed me to ask about other examples of rape culture criticisms that have received press coverage. Do you know of others?)

I also checked out the unfortunate Nice Guy Wikipedia article just now, and it now includes a criticism of “nice guy” from Heartless Bitches International (HBI)*. Things are getting better, even if there was a notability fight.

It is possible to edit Wikipedia with non-mainstream views and not have your edits reverted. The Geek Feminism Wiki also works as an alternative to Wikipedia for some topics.

* Fun fact: Heartless Bitches International was started in 1996 by a Canadian, female software developer named “Natalie P”, and “It was one of the earlier websites catering specifically towards women at a time when the World Wide Web was largely a male domain.”

Geek Feminism and Mideast Youth

Guest Post by Esra’a from Bahrain. She enjoys hardcore acoustic noise-terror music, and is fortunate enough to be a TED Global Fellow, Echoing Green Fellow, and on the Advisory Board for the European Summit for Global Transformation and the Meta-Activism Project. She gave a keynote at BlogHer about the group blog and about kicking ass and free speech in general.

I’m the geek who founded Mideast Youth. I have been aggressively expanding it with my friends for the past 4 years and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life.

Mideast Youth is first and foremost a group blog shared by a growing number of young activists and bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa who want to be heard on a variety of different topics, from religion to free speech to politics to gay rights (and more.) Aside from that, we run a network of about 15 sites that deal with: Baha’i human rights, Kurdish human rights, migrant worker rights, underground activist musicians, free speech for bloggers, and a few other campaigns that deal with free speech and minority rights.

Mideast Youth currently operates in English, Arabic and Farsi, featuring podcasts in these languages as well.

We’re all volunteers – and the core Mideast Youth team consists of about 5 people (Me from Bahrain, Fatima from Saudi Arabia, Ali from Iran, Ahmed from Egypt and the 5th person is a frequently rotating team of other volunteers who help with design, development and video editing.)

We love running our projects and making people aware of things that not many people talk about – but most of all, we love helping others set up their own projects, which we design and host for them, for free:

http://www.mideastyouth.com/services

Our latest project is CrowdVoice.org, which is a user-powered service that tracks voices of protest from around the world by crowdsourcing information. This site rocks. We believe you might think so too, once you look at it.

As you can see, we are an active bunch, but we need your help to continue. Some bird told me that geeks enjoy helping other geeks out. That is a lie actually (birds don’t talk.) But I want to believe it’s true.

If you support our community, our mission, and believe in it as much as we do, your help would be highly appreciated.

Some of my best friends are linkspammers (2nd November, 2009)

  • The Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision 2010 awards, honouring “women making significant contributions in the areas of Innovation, Social Impact and Leadership” are taking nominations until December 11.
  • the f word looked at salaries of men and women in science, engineering and technology on October 30, Equal Pay Day.
  • David Eaves examines the alleged structurelessness of FLOSS through Jo Freeman’s The Tyranny of Structurelessness
  • Felicia Day is taking all the fun out of galaxies colliding.
  • Sun Labs has a technical report out on the success of their mentoring programs.
  • Matt Zimmerman, who writes here, was interviewed by Amber Graner, and mentions his goals regarding women’s participation in the Ubuntu community.
  • Mary Alice Crim reports on a workshop at the National NOW conference to explore feminists’ roles in shaping Internet policy: The Internet is a feminist issue
  • Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was called away from the SOAR conference (a professional event) by family needs, and she’s not buying any pressure for a mother not to complain about having to do that.
  • Casey Johnston (herself a woman gamer) wrote 10 Reasons NOT to Date a Girl Gamer aimed at heterosexual men. The wow_ladies community on LiveJournal tried to figure out what was up with it; tongue-in-cheek?
  • Australian video game review TV show Good Game replaced host Jeremy Ray with Stephanie Bendixsen and Ray alleged that his gender was the primary reason. Sarah Stokely had a look at the PR issues involved.
  • MindTouch has a list of the most influential people in Open Source (from an executive/business perspective) which doesn’t include any women. Mozilla Corporation’s chairperson Mitchell Baker (herself a woman) was not impressed at either women or Mozilla as a whole not appearing.

If you have links of interest, please share them in comments here, or if you’re a delicious user, tag them “geekfeminism†to bring them to our attention. Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.