Tag Archives: video


Open thread: Bill Nye the Music Guy

I found this great source of Bill Nye music videos and this one made me laugh:

I don’t know if he’s known world-wide, but the Bill Nye The Science Guy was an inordinately popular kids’ science show in North America when I was still in public school.

User NyeTunes on youtube has uploaded a large number of music videos from the show, so if you’re not as amused by rocks as I am, go find the one you like best and let us know in the comments!

This is an open thread, so nothing is off-topic here as long as you stay within our comment guidelines. We have these open threads so that you can comment on older posts, get in touch with us to ask questions or suggest links, etc. Feel free to reminisce about great educational TV!

Wall of Spam, by freezelight on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Hubris, thy name is linkspam (12th July, 2011)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious, freelish.us or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.


Open Thread: Maru the cat

Today’s open thread is brought to you by Maru the cat, who recently turned 4 and his famous for his love of jumping into boxes.

We have open threads every few weeks so that people can comment on older posts (our regular posts stop accepting comments after 2 weeks), suggest links, or talk about whatever as long as it fits within our comment guidelines. Nothing is off-topic for this thread, so feel free to share more adorable cat videos.

Open Thread: Turtles!

Today’s open thread is brought to you by turtles.

You're a turtle!

I feel the xkcd comic above is much funnier if you read it then watch this terribly educational video about turtles:

Now that you know all about turtles… it’s time for an open thread! We have these every few weeks so that people can comment on older posts, make suggestions, and talk about feminist stuff. Nothing is off-topic for this post as long as you fit within our comment guidelines. Have fun!

(PS – That’s a tortoise.)

Open thread: Super mario bros accapella by Jimmy Wong

There are a lot of covers are the mario bros theme, but Jimmy Wong’s version is especially cute and singable because it goes beyond the source to make something really fun:

And as if the song itself weren’t amazing, the artist himself is a pretty neat guy. Check out the NPR story on him: Jimmy Wong Saves The Internet:

Jimmy Wong reminded me that the tools that can be deployed by the so-called cyberbullies are also freely available to those they harass.


The lyrics are funny and good-spirited, and effectively turn the tables on the original rant. And the song itself has a catchy hook, has been viewed about 800,000 times, and is now for sale on iTunes.

When I was a kid, here’s one thing I never thought of saying to a bully who was about to pummel me:

“Hey, don’t mess with me. I’ve got a quirky sense of humor, a great singing voice, and I know how to code!”

But Jimmy Wong and many others are proving those types of creative skills could be a decent way to put up a defense.

Jimmy’s Mario song is available on iTunes along with a bunch of his other music, and proceeds are currently going to the Japanese relief efforts.

Those of you who follow me elsewhere may notice I wrote this post originally for cuwise, but I love the song so much and we’re overdue for an open thread so I’m re-using the post for this open thread. We try to have these regularly to give you a chance to talk about whatever you’d like. So nothing is off-topic here as long as you stay within our comment guidelines. Talk about music, games, or whatever else you think you’d like to level up in…

Roll a D6

As a tabletop gamer who carries dice in her bag, I’m highly amused by this d&d roleplaying parody of the Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” :

Roll a D6 from Connor Anderson on Vimeo.

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the Far East Movement even un-parodied, mostly because of Rocketeer, but even She Owns the Night sounds to me like a “geek girl loves to dance” kinda anthem:

The only question is,
Watchu know about these stereotypes?
FM, come on.

So innocent you can tell by the clothes,
College girl with a 4.0,
Good girl by day,
Damn, who would have known?

Harassing photography and recording; ethics and policies

We’re starting to collect some examples of photography/recording harassment experiences (still open , and some of the kinds of problems people mention there and elsewhere are:

  • photography/recording conducted in a way that is designed to hide the fact of the photography/recording from the subject both before and after the shot/recording happens
  • photography/recording that is indifferent to or careless of the subject’s feelings about being photographed/recorded
  • photography/recording that is othering: “wow, women! *click click*” or “hey, babe, smile for the camera!” or later posted with othering, sexist or creepy commentary
  • failing or refusing to stop photographing/recording on an explicit request or appearance of discomfort (eg turning away or frowning or covering one’s face, etc)
  • publishing photographs without the subject’s consent, or after the subject’s explicit refusal of consent
  • use of photographs to implicitly or explicitly endorse an event or community, eg, using pics of smiling participants from the previous year in publicity materials, without consent

Now most of these things are legal in my region (see NSW Photographer’s Rights, which as you will guess from the title is not focussed on subject’s concerns, but which is informative) and in many others. I believe the only exception (in NSW) may be the last, because the use of someone’s image to promote a product requires a model release, that is, consent from the subject. Whether/when using someone’s photo on a website is considered promotion I don’t know but that’s a side point.

For that matter, I’m not even arguing that they should be illegal or actionable (in this piece anyway, perhaps some of them are arguable). I’m sympathetic to many of the uses of non-consensual photography, even (art, journalism, historical documentation). I’m arguing more narrowly that in the context of geek events, which are usually private and which can therefore impose additional restrictions on behaviour as a condition of entry, that restrictions on photography could prevent some harassment. (As a short and possibly sloppy definition for people who haven’t seen many harassment discussions, I would define harassment as “unwelcome interpersonal interactions, which either a reasonable person would know are unwelcome, or which were stated to be unwelcome but continued after that.”)

I’m arguing that this collection of behaviours around photographs makes geek events hostile to some participants, especially women. After all, even though it’s (I think) legal to sneak-photograph a woman’s face, write a little essay about how attractive you find her and try and get it on Flickr Explore even as she emails you to say that she’s upset and repeatedly request that you take it down, that doesn’t mean it’s ethical.

Now, obviously it would be nice not to have to spell ethical behaviour out to people, but the need for anti-harassment policies (and, for that matter, law) makes it clear that geek events do need to do so.

There’s quite a range of possible policies that could be adopted around photography:

  • the status quo, obviously, which at many geek events is that any photography/recording that would be legally allowed in public spaces is allowed there;
  • photography/recording should be treated like other potentially harassing interpersonal interactions at an event, that is, when one person in the interaction says “stop” or “leave me alone” (etc), the interaction must end;
  • photography/recording shouldn’t be done in such a way as to hide from the subject that it’s happening, and upon the subject’s request the photo/footage/etc must be deleted;
  • subjects cannot be photographed/recorded without prior explicit consent; and/or
  • the above combined with some kind of explicit opt-in or opt-out marking so that one doesn’t need to necessarily ask every time if one can see the marking (in various conversations on this I have to say my main concern tends to be the need to peer closely at people’s chests to see their “PHOTOS/VIDEOS OK” or “NO PHOTOS/VIDEOS” marking on their badge, however, Skud says it works well at Wiscon).

There might be certain additional freedoms or restrictions regarding crowd photography/recording and/or photography/recording of organisers, scheduled speakers and people actively highlighted in similar formal events.

What do you think? Whether a photographer/videographer/recorder or subject of same, what do you think appropriate ethics are when photographing/recording at private geek events, and what do you think could/should be codified as policy?

Note to commenters: there are a couple of things that tend to come up a lot in these sorts of discussions, which are:

  1. “but this is perfectly legal [in my jurisdiction]”
  2. some geeks, including geek photographers, are shy and asking strangers for permission to photograph them is a confronting interaction, and thus very hard on shy people

I’m not saying that you need to totally avoid discussion of these points in comments here, but you can safely assume that everyone knows these points and has to some degree taken them into account and go from there. (My own perspective on the last one is that it’s odd at best to pay an enormous amount of heed to the social comfort of photographers at the expense of their subjects. You could, of course, consider both together.) Also if talking about legal aspects, do specify which jurisdiction(s) you are talking about: this is an area where laws vary substantially.

Harassing photography and recording; collecting your experiences

This is an anecdote gathering exercise, hopefully creating an opportunity for discussion around photography at geek events.

At present, the confererence anti-harassment policy (which, as a reminder, is designed to be edited to be made more appropriate for individual conferences) includes this text:

Harassment includes… harassing photography or recording

Discussion after the application of this policy at linux.conf.au 2011 (see my entry Powerful people: Mark Pesce’s linux.conf.au keynote) focussed on this to an extent, with considerable pushback from people who like taking candid portrait photography after some proposals of making portrait photography opt-in at conferences. (I don’t want to focus on specific people’s opinions in this post or its comments, but see the linux-aus threads beginning with Some Anti-Harassment Policies considered harmful and Designated Photography Space at LCA? for some examples. Warning that a considerable number of commentators are unsympathetic to the idea that either Pesce’s talk or any candid photography can be harassing, and sometimes to feminist conceptions of harassment in general.)

It was fairly clear to me that, as is usual in these kinds of situations, people are picturing the most vindictive and trivial possible uses of the policy by overly powerful presumed-women photography subjects against poor defenseless presumed-men photographers. The real situation is of course considerably less sympathetic to some photographers and videographers, and viewers of their output. Recall my entry Conference recordings and harassment which shares a couple of stories about harassment by viewers of event imagery:

S gave a talk at a professional conference and related the following experience in chat:

S: linkedin pm I just got: “wow- you’re alot more younger and attractive than I imagined!.Thanks for showing your picture!”
S: I don’t like photographs and don’t let my likeness out much online. But a professional talk I gave a couple weeks ago was videoed (with my knowledge and consent). This was the result.

C gave a talk at a technical conference and a recorded version was also published with her consent. She subsequently received an anonymous email with a list of time offsets for the video and sexual commentary on her appearance at those time offsets.

The main point of that entry was to talk about official recordings, and how reluctance to appear in them might not just be due to “I hate sharing! I want to control my image for monetary gain!” as some event organisers seem to assume.

It seems we now need to talk about unofficial images and recordings, and how reluctance to appear in them might not (is usually not) “I hate people having pleasant memories and mementos of an event! I wish to end all event fun right now, and wipe people’s memories when they leave! I also hate art!”

There’s also the issue of harassment by photographers/recorders themselves. I’d like to gather stories of experiences if possible. If you’ve been photographed or recorded in a harassing way at a geek event, or have been harassed by viewers of the photograph/recording, you are invited to share your story here, including impact on you and follow-up if any.

Stories here will hopefully be useful to activists, policy designers and event organisers, to give them a sense of what real harassment scenarios are, and the impact they have on attendees.

Notes for commenting:

  1. participation in this thread is totally voluntary. Do not feel obliged to share experiences.
  2. this post is focussing on peoples experiences of being photographed and recorded. That means one’s experiences of being a photographer, videographer or recorder, even if you think your practices are far more ethical than those of photographers described by commenters, are off-topic for this entry, as are comments like “I take photographs in [some particular way] do people think that’s OK?”. I will probably put up a companion piece in a day or two for more general discussion of photography, harassment, artistic freedom and ethics, and intersections of same.
  3. responses are not limited to women (nor do you have to identify your gender in your reply): if you’re not a woman and you’ve been subjected to harassing photography/recordings or responses to them, you are welcome to share
  4. you are welcome to use a new and one-time pseudonym for this post if you like. Check carefully before you do so that the pseudonym you choose has not already been used in the thread so that there’s no chance that you and someone else are assumed to be the same person. Comments must otherwise adhere to our comments policy.

Notes for using/interpreting comments here: these are not necessarily representative experiences and of course we have not verified them. They have the status of anecdotes.

Vi Hart’s Math class doodles

Despite the fact that I grew up to earn a degree in mathematics, I remember math classes in my elementary school as pretty much the dullest subject on earth. Which is probably one of the reasons I love Vi’s doodles so much. Experiencing mathematics through doodling while bored seems way more fun than paying attention did. Here’s a video of binary tree and fractal doodles:

Check out the other neat stuff (including more in the doodle series) at vihart.com.

Dot Diva: The Webisode

This is an amended version of a post I wrote for the CU-WISE blog (my local Women in Science and Engineering group). See below for additional comments to geek feminism readers.

Dot Diva logo

This Wednesday fun is actually something connected to CUWISE: We met the fine folk working on Dot Diva at GHC09 and got to hear about some of their plans to make computing seem like a cool career for girls. While most of us seem to focus on fun outreach science programs, they took things in a different direction: seeing as crime shows like CSI have increased the public interest in careers in forensics, they thought perhaps TV would be the best way to make younger girls realise that computer science is actually pretty cool.

They’ve released the first episode of Dot Diva:

KATE, a sarcastic fan of alt- and indie-rock. ALI, a lover of kittens, chick flicks, and the mall. Two girls with NOTHING in common… except for being ace programmers at a seriously-crazy video game company.

As they work to launch Rocklette’s first-ever game, these two Dot Divas have to outwit their smarmy boss, Kate’s doofus boyfriend, and the spy within their midst.

If the video embed doesn’t work for you, click here to view the video

I wasn’t too sure about the first episode initially, since it seemed like they were throwing a lot of the stereotypes in there, but I think they dealt with them ok for a first look, and I expect we’ll be seeing more nuanced stuff as the characters develop. I found myself caught up in their story despite my initial feelings of awkwardness. One thing I really loved was how different the two women main characters are, while still both being programmers.

Now, I’m actually guessing some of our readers here on Geek Feminism are going to be irked by this video because it’s once again conventionally pretty young women depicting geeks, but I’d really like to hear comments about more than their appearances here. Would this show have appealed to you as a tween (their target demographic)? What else would you want to see? What other stereotypes would you like to see them deal with and maybe overcome? What else do you think could make the career of programmer appeal more to girls? Do you think this actually does make it more appealing to girls? Have you shown it to girls you know? What do they think?

Please be constructive in your comments — remember the women who produced this are genuinely trying to help the image of computer programmers in a way beyond Barbie, and that they actually have a decent amount of media savvy but likely had to choose their battles to make something appealing to both their sponsors and their target demographic.

Note: I’ll be taking a heavier hand to moderation here than I usually do because I don’t feel like hosting a whole lot of hate towards this project, though I do think readers may have interesting suggestions, criticisms and ideas for future episodes. If you’d like to rant, you may wish to keep a copy of your post for your own blog, or find a way to balance it with constructive ideas.