Tag Archives: women’s voices

One year ago today: what have your formative geek experiences in the past year been?

Girl With Computer (Ashley McClelland) has a post titled “One year ago today — Learning to Embrace the Tech Community”.

One year ago today, I also had a very pivotal experience. I attended my first technical conference— an unconference, a barcamp — at the Rochester Institute of Technology… up until that point, I had only ever seen HTML and CSS (sparingly.) I was familiar with HTML and in-line styles. And I knew how to use things like myspace and facebook. My background was exclusively education and English (literature and writing.) I was interested in programming, but I felt a severe barrier to entry: I thought it was too technical for me…

That day, despite my intimidation, I was inspired by the things I saw. I attended an excellent talk on Haskell during which the presenter admitted he had very little experience with the language… I saw another talk on the OLPC/XO by an awesome woman, Karlie Robinson, who detailed the effort and reached out to the tech community to engage their skills towards a cause for education. I could relate. I even brought myself to go up to her after the talk and give her my e-mail address, given my experience in education, thinking maybe I could help. For the first time, I thought, maybe there is something worthwhile that I can contribute to the tech community.

I started programming one year ago today, because I was inspired by the technical talks I saw that day, and because I realized I am not any different than any other extraordinary geek…

I gave a talk on learning programming today at BarcampRoc 2010… I no longer feel limited by what I don’t know. Because I know I can learn. I didn’t know this small, and seemingly obvious bit of knowledge, one year ago today.

Today, I know.

What formative geek experiences have you had during the past year? Post your stories in the comments.

With a name like linkspam, it has to be good (8th March, 2010)

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. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on del.icio.us (yes, I know they don’t care about the old-school URL anymore but I miss it).

Linkspamming ’round the clock (9th January, 2010)

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. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links in comments and on delicious.

From comments: I’m rubber, and you’re glue

I thought this point was worth bringing up from the comments: as we talk about tech conferences enforcing standards against use of sexualised imagery, we’re hoping to replace the “ho ho ho, we’re all het men here, what we have in common is coding and finding women attractive, don’t we all feel closer now, boys, for having shared our two great joys?” vibe.

But Melissa Gira Grant left a comment on Selena’s post reminding us that these kind of structures can be easily turned and used against women, as follows:

I think I get the thinking around these guidelines — and the totally male-dominated conference circuit that needs to hear this sort of guidance — but I just am stuck on this:

How do we keep guys (or anyone) from non-sensically using sexual or sexualized imagery and language in their presentations and preserve the right of people to use that information when it’s actually really, really what the presentation concerns?

This might be beyond the scope of these guidelines, but I am thinking back to the first BlogHer, during a “Birds of a Feather†session organized by self-identified mommybloggers, who were irritated that when they discussed the biological particulars of childbirth and childrearing, they were told they were being unprofessional, NSFW, or “overshare-y†— or, obscene.

It’s hard to address intent in this stuff. And I don’t want to sit through anymore stuffed-shirted dude “presos†on boring web marketing that just have some naked women sprinkled throughout to “sex things up†— because usually, those are the same dudes who don’t actually want to hear women talk honestly about sex, either.

In the FLOSS community, this may be a more specific concern with a history of problematic presentations, I know, and I’ve followed some of that through this blog — but tech/geek conferences can be pretty influential in establishing norms, and I’d not want to see a very flattened idea of what “safe†is promoted when those kind of norms can end up used to curtail women’s speech & expression, too.

I think one of the big problems here is that conferences will be very reluctant for various reasons to use any phrasing of guidelines that itself sounds exclusionary. It’s much easier to say “unprofessional content is banned” or “no naked pictures” than it is to try and draw a line between annoyingly exclusionary and usefully challenging or even just usefully informative, especially if that line may have anything to do with differentiating “men talking about women’s bodies” and “women talking about their own bodies.”