Tag Archives: otw

Two more women-learning-python things

First up, via Nat at O’Reilly Radar, I found a link to Julie Learns Python, where Julie Steele is blogging her experiences learning the programming language.

She’s meeting regularly with a group who are working through an introductory Python book together, and her most recent post describes a recent programming effort, her trials and failures and eventual success, and what she came to realise:

The point is: it’s in me. I wasn’t sure that is was, and now I know—it is.

And what, exactly, is “it� It is the bug. It is the combination of native curiosity and stubbornness that made me play around with the code and take some wild guesses instead of running straight to Google (or choosing to stay within the bounds of the exercise). That might sound like a small thing, but I know it is not. I was determined to make the program do what I wanted it to do, I came up with a few guesses as to how to do that, and I kept trying different things until I succeeded (and then I felt thrilled).

As much as I have to learn, I know now that I really am hooked. And that I’ll get there.

Elsewhere, on Dreamwidth1, Elz, one of the lead programmers on the OTW’s Archive Of Our Own2, decided that there were some gaps in her education that she wanted to fill, and is drawing together a group who will study MIT’s Open Courseware Introduction to Computer Science over the next few months.

The course teaches basic CS concepts using the Python programming language, and doesn’t require any previous programming experience.

The community’s at intro-to-cs.dreamwidth.org. You’ll need a Dreamwidth account to join and post, but anyone’s welcome to follow along without signing up. If you want a DW invite code, let me know in comments — I’ve got a heap still to give away! I’ve signed up, because I’m sure my education’s got a lot of the same gaps.

I love hearing about women teaching themselves programming. Got any other links or stories like that to share?

Notes:

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!

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Ms Geek’s Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Link Roundup (15th September, 2009)

Link Roundup from Outer Space (11th September, 2009)

When I Became a Mom I Put Away Childish Things

Today’s guest post is by aca-fan Kristina Busse. She is the co-editor of the journal Transformative Works and Cultures and blogs at ephemeral traces.

My name is Kristina. I am a mother and a fan.

On my blog I have a variety of designators I use to try to articulate my identity–academic, teacher, wife, expatriate–and yet none of these may get as close to the center of my being these days as the two with which I started this essay. And maybe none of the others are as contested and in as much constant turmoil as these two. Oddly enough, I took on both these identities nearly simultaneously–I fell in love with my son Gabriel and with Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) at about the same time over long nights of extended nursing. It wasn’t that I hadn’t behaved fannishly in the past–the fannish gene reveals itself in different ways at different times and my fannish engagements had mostly been both more private and less creatively oriented. But my entry into fandom proper, and media fandom to be exact, coincided with my entry into motherhood.

And I found that both were strange new worlds indeed. Not worlds that can always smoothly coexist, although for me personally each of those realms have allowed me to balance and manage the other. Life with newborns and even toddlers (especially the highly difficult variety that my firstborn turned out to be) can be immensely isolating. Living in a city as I did where I knew no one, the Internet was often my one connection to the larger world. Moreover, the asynchronic conversations of email and blogs as well as the global, multi time-zoned aspect of online fandom allowed me to talk to people when I was able to find the time–be that at three in the morning or three in the afternoon, whenever the kids were asleep or otherwise occupied. This is not an unusual experience and, in fact, many a mommy blog has been created and found an audience for these very reasons.

Online fandom, however, is slightly different. I didn’t follow my fellow solitary and isolated moms as they turned to one another, via blogs or newsgroups or bulletin board, as groups revolving around the ages of their kids, parenting philosophies, or particular challenges. Those moms are sometimes chided for spending time on the computer rather than tending to their kids but they still focus on their children, thinking and talking and writing about them. I however had the gumption to be selfish and occupy my time with things that were for my own pleasure and leisure only–even if my fannish pursuits did give me balance and refuel me to better deal with motherhood.

Janice Radway, in her groundbreaking book Reading the Romance (1987), describes the anxieties and guilt many women romance readers experience for taking time away for their own enjoyment–and the small triumph and moments of resistance that pleasure can bring. Of course reading has long been a contentious issue–whether literacy and access was used to keep minorities in control (be they based on class, race, or gender) or its dangers were sexualized (there’s a long discourse that connects reading, especially among young women to masturbation as Thomas Laqueur suggests in his Solitary Sex [2003]), reading has always been dangerous.

I found that my fascination with fan fiction, and with a culture of other women reading and writing stories about fictional characters, brought together a number of issues that were in direct opposition to my role as a mom: reading to and for myself, connecting to other people on subjects unrelated to motherhood, and at times discussing non child-appropriate topics all raised the stakes in the competition of my hobby competing with my sole socially sanctioned role as wife and mother.

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GF interviews the OTW’s Francesca Coppa: question time!

Francesca Coppa is one of the founders of the Organization for Transformative Works. She’s also…

… director of film studies and associate professor of English at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches courses in dramatic literature, popular fiction, and mass media storytelling. Her writings on media fandom have been included in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet and presented at MIT’s Media in Transition conference. Coppa has been attending conventions and buying zines since the early 1980s, when she and her friends wrote fanfiction by hand and circulated it by snail mail. She has been involved in online fandom since the mid-1990s as a writer, list administrator, vidder, archivist, and community moderator. (bio link)

If you haven’t read any of her work on the history of fan culture, take a look at Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding or Celebrating Kandy Fong: Founder of Fannish Music Video. There’s also a great interview with her at Reason Online and another on gender and fan culture over at Henry Jenkins’ blog. There are more links to related reading at fanlore.

And now it’s time for Geek Feminism to interview her! I’d like to open this up to our readers and commenters. What would you like to ask Francesca about the OTW, fan culture, vidding, and so on? Post your suggestions in the comments, and in a few days we’ll send them through to her to answer.

Edit: I’m shutting down comments now (Wednesday 9th September) and passing your questions through to Francesca. The interview should appear soon!