Tag Archives: writing

The Responsible Communication Style Guide: Technology and Beyond (Kickstarter promo image)

Kickstarting a responsible communication stylebook as community infrastructure

I haven’t been writing very much on Geek Feminism in the last year – most of us haven’t. I’ve also slowed down on posting to my personal blog. And one reason is that when I think about writing anything longer than a couple of paragraphs, anything particularly nuanced, I need to budget the time and energy for pre-editing, to make sure it hits my and our standards for sensitivity, and editing after the fact in case it turns out I got it wrong.

(That is not the only reason — lives change, new commitments emerge, people come into and out of group projects and each others’ lives, new venues like The Recompiler and ladybusiness and The Bias come onto the scene, and so on. But it’s one reason.)

You know what I would love? I would love a style guide that helps me write accurately and sensitively when talking about communities and identities, especially when it comes to identities I don’t know through my own personal experience. GLAAD’s reference guide helps with one facet (QUILTBAG people and communities), and there are similar references published by other advocacy organizations, but I’d love a more all-in-one stylebook that covers race, gender, sexuality, religion, and health and well-being, especially in the context of technology.

I’m in luck!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/961164339/the-responsible-communication-style-guide/widget/video.html

Audrey Eschright and Thursday Bram are crowdfunding to edit The Responsible Communication Style Guide. It’ll be a stylebook for writers and other media creators, covering race, gender, sexuality, religion, and health and well-being, and it’s the first book project by The Recompiler. The Kickstarter deadline is in less than two days.

The Responsible Communication Style Guide: Technology and Beyond (Kickstarter promo image)

The Responsible Communication Style Guide: Technology and Beyond (Kickstarter promo image)

In my opinion, a style guide like this would be a great piece of infrastructure to have — not just a tool for individual pro-inclusion activists, and a guide for any blogger, marketer, podcaster, or maker who ever pauses before publishing and tries to look over what they’ve written for accidental ableism, cissexism, racist or sexist microaggressions, and so on. It would be that, yeah. But it would also serve as a shared reference, so we can say: “Here’s a standard we want to hold ourselves to, and we’ll ask our allies to hold themselves to as well.”

I’m a programmer — heck, you saw me grow as a programmer here on this blog, from talking about the learning styles that suited me, and what I needed, to finding a place where those needs were met. Other technologists, maybe you’ve had the experience of working on a codebase where there aren’t any tests, and you have to inspect changes with your eyes all the time to see if you’ve introduced a new showstopper bug. And maybe you’ve also had the experience of working on a codebase with great test coverage, where you can move faster, because you know that if you make a change that would break something, you’ll find out fast, before it has a chance to hurt anybody. As Bram writes, “I want a linter for writing!”

HOWTOs and checklists and playbooks are part of how we make inclusivity more automatic. I’d love to see what The Responsible Communication Style Guide can do to further this trend.

So, please join my household in backing this before its deadline, which is this Friday, September 30th at 2:59 AM EDT. (As I write this, they’re 65% of the way to their goal, and need about $7,000 USD more.) I’d love to be able to write faster and with more confidence, and to see what emerges when a whole lot of people with high standards for responsible communication feel the same way.

Eat, pray, linkspam (2 September 2015)

  • [Video] Maggie Nelson, GitHub Director of Infrastructure Engineering: “Maggie Nelson, Director of Infrastructure Engineering at GitHub, shares her story at the GitHub Girl Geek Dinner on August 19, 2015”
  • Black Lives Matter Inspired This Chilling Fantasy Novel | Wired (August 29): “Her new novel The Fifth Season is set in a world wracked by natural disasters that threaten to destroy civilization. In this world sorcerers who can harness the power of earthquakes and volcanoes are both feared and valued, and such people, known as orogenes, are subject to brutal oppression. Jemisin says that real-world events in Ferguson, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, helped inspire her story.”
  • I’m Obsessed With Slam City Oracles and You Will Be Too | Autostraddle (August 29): “Jane Friedhoff’s Slam City Oracles is a smash-em-up game […]  like you’re wandering through an imagined world full of blocks and, like we all did when we were four or five, pretending to Godzilla things over with absolutely no consequences.”
  • Kickin’ Rad, Super Bad: Interview With ‘Hiveswap’ UI Artist Veronica Nizama | FemHype (August 28): “One key member of the development team is Veronica Nizama, user interface designer and texture artist for What Pumpkin Studios. Veronica has a wealth of experience with both mobile and mainstream game development, having worked directly on over forty projects, and has carved a name for herself on the adult comic book scene. I had the chance to sit down with her and discuss her work on Hiveswap, as well as some of her own personal experiences in the industry.”
  • Don’t let them label you a demon kitty | Stormy’s Corner (August 28): “if your organization is labeling you as a “demon kitty”, it’s not your fault, not any more than it was the fault of a six week old kitten. So, hold that knowledge, that it’s not your fault, and decide if you want to work it out with them or if you want to find a better home.”
  • Call It the ‘Bechdel-Wallace Test’ | The Atlantic (August 25): “Bechdel reiterated her debt to Wallace for coming up with the test. “I feel a little bit sheepish about the whole thing, […] because it’s not like I invented this test or said this is the Bechdel test. It somehow has gotten attributed to me over the years.””
  • Letters to Tiptree: what does it mean to “write like a man”? | Hoyden About Town (August 26): “Letters to Tiptree was released this week from World Fantasy Award-winning Australian small press Twelfth Planet Press, and I’m rather excited about it. […] In Letters to Tiptree, forty writers, editors, critics, and fans address questions of gender, of sexuality, of the impossibility and joy of knowing someone only through their fiction and biography. They reminisce about the impact of Tiptree’s work, about teaching her stories, and about what it means that a woman can write “like a man”.”
  • Diversity Panels I’d Like To See | The Bias (August 31): “generic panels don’t so much add to the conversation as recap it. It’s impossible to go into a subject as broad as “Race In Science Fiction” in any depth in a one-hour slot, and without knowing how well the audience has educated themselves on the topic, the panelists generally just end up summarizing the background reading.”
  • Diversity Panels: Where Next? | I Make Up Worlds (August 25): “These days, more conventions & comiccons feature panels on diversity: what it is, why it matters, how we can support it. I’ve seen examples of these being absolutely packed, especially when they first became features of the con and library landscape […] Now, however, without in any way suggesting that the need for discussion is over or that we have solved the problems, I am wondering to what degree the “diversity panel” may be beginning to become less effective and perhaps even to exacerbate the problem.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; 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.

Linkspam Directory Access Protocol (25 August 2015)

 

  • TechFestNW: Zoe Quinn on turning her body into a cyborg lab | Malia Spencer at Portland Techflash (21 August): “Quinn, an independent video game reviewer (many know her as one of those harassed in the Gamergate debacle) has two elective implants. One is an NFC chip in her hand, a procedure she did herself. The other is a magnet implanted into her left ring finger.”
  • Women in Tech: It’s Complicated | Natalie at The Bias (18 August): “Now, despite the fact that most of my work does involve writing some sort of code to manipulate and display or transform information, I usually don’t feel like I’m a “”woman in tech.”
  • Nerd Culture Has a Problem | Justin Denis at Everyday Feminism (20 August):”Because nerd women have been around for as long as nerd men have been around. They’ve just been shoved to the sideline and not included in anything as the result of some very systematic misogyny. The gaming industry and other parts of nerd culture have, by and large, been run by and for men. And when you act surprised that a woman is into something nerdy, you’re insinuating, whether intentional or not, that it’s unusual or weird.”
  • On Queer Deadpool and Bisexual Erasure in Comics | Megan Purdy at Women Write about Comics (20 August): “What we talk about when we talk about a queer Deadpool, queer Storm, or queer Hercules, is the pattern of bisexual erasure in comics; the foreclosure on the possibility of inclusion. For all the on page proof-of-queer that readers and even other creators assemble, there is always a counter-narrative working against it. Sometimes it takes the form of a straight-wash side-step in the form of a sudden and definitive heterosexual romance, designed to crowd queer romance off the stage. Sometimes it takes the form of a speech from on high, a reminder from creators or editors that they decide who lives and dies.”
  • Interstellar Cinderella | Meg Hunt (2015): “Interstellar Cinderella is a galactic riff on the classic fairy tale in which the magenta-haired heroine dreams of being a space mechanic who fixes robots all day. Inspired by classic sci-fi and couture fashion, the world of Interstellar Cinderella is filled with rich details. There’s a fairy god-bot, cute aliens, a dashing prince, and stars and galaxies swirling around. Throughout it all Cinderella zips throughout the story with a can-do spirit, a DIY attitude, and loads of charm.”
  • Women In History | craftykryptonitealpaca: “I grew up believing that women had contributed nothing to the world until the 1960′s. So once I became a feminist I started collecting information on women in history, and here’s my collection so far, in no particular order.”
  • Exquisite Corpse | New Criticals (30 April): “Nonetheless the potential of the Internet, as a past proposition or future projection, is still very much up for grabs. Online, women are still subjected to many of the inequalities that exist ‘in real life’. In fact the Internet may not ‘leveled the field’ but in many ways intensified, accelerated, and extended material embodied inequalities into a so-called immaterial disembodied Internet.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, or Diigo; 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.

Wednesday Geek Woman: Carrie Patel, Author and Game Designer

Carrie Patel

Photo courtesy of Carrie Patel

Carrie Patel writes both prose fiction and video games. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her first novel is out this week from Angry Robot books. She’s also a narrative designer for Obsidian Entertainment, a game studio known for story-driven games.

I caught up with her via email to chat about how writing for video games compares to writing prose fiction. This is what she told me:

Storytelling in games is so varied – you have some (like Journey) that are beautiful and fabulous without telling their stories through words, and you have others (like Pillars of Eternity, the game I’m working on) that do most of their storytelling through text dialogue. To more directly answer your question, both media force you to examine and incorporate story structure in slightly different ways.

Books are completely linear and games, to varying degrees, are less so. With an RPG in particular, you need to strike a balance between giving the player agency and telling her a cohesive narrative that still hits interesting beats. You’re also free to define the protagonist of a novel in a way that you often aren’t with story-driven RPGs where the goal is to allow the player to define (or become) the protagonist. As a result, a lot of RPG companions and key NPCs tend to be pretty colorful–as a writer, your pour most of your big, bold characterization into these individuals. It’s fun, and it helps you provide certain reference points for the player–which NPCs do they find most sympathetic, and which do they tend to align themselves with? To sum up, working in both media has given me a greater appreciation for story structure–structure comes out differently, but it’s still critical to both media.

Her novel, THE BURIED LIFE, is a science fiction thriller set in the post-post apocalyptic underground city. Fans of steampunk, mystery, and awesome lady detectives should be sure to check it out.

Pillars of Eternity, her first complete computer game, is coming out from Obsidian in a few weeks. It’s an RPG in the style of Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment.

You can catch up with Carrie on her blog, Electronic Ink, or on Twitter as @Carrie_Patel.

Great links, less spamming (27 February 2015)

  •  You’re Excluding Stories By Straight, White, Cis Men? J’accuse! J’accuse! | K Tempest Bradford (February 22): “Reading only women for a year takes some thought and effort. And if you do that, people hardly ever assume that it happened Just Because or On Accident or because you were Just Reading The Best Books Regardless Of The Identity Of The Author. […] A reviewer who makes the choice to focus exclusively on marginalized voices is making a good choice. There are plenty of places for the privileged to get and gain attention. Making a space for everyone else is not bias, it’s a step towards balance.”
  • Teachers’ gender bias in maths affects girls later | Sue Wilson at The Conversation (February 25): “The researchers followed nearly 3000 students from 6th grade to the end of high school. As a measure of teacher bias, they compared school 6th grade test marks given by teachers who knew the students’ sex, with external test marks for the same students, but with no identifying characteristics provided. The researchers identified that a worrying number of teachers gave boys higher maths test results than girls of the same ability. They also studied the long-term effects of this bias. The study found that the effects of teacher bias (measured by giving lower marks in mathematics for the same standard of work as boys) persisted for girls, leading to poorer results through their high school years. However, many boys whose teachers over-assessed their performance in the early years went on to be successful in mathematics and science.”
  • JamForLeelah: Trans Positive Game Jam | Matthew Boucher and Kara Jayne (February 22): [warning for discussion of abuse and suicide] “JamForLeelah is a month long trans positive game jam to raise awareness on LGBTIQ issues, specifically trans youth issues and Leelah’s Law as well as an attempt to raise money for trans specific charities such as the Transgender Law Center, Camp Aranu’tiq, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. […] Leelah expressed an intense interest in not only gaming, but game development as well. She made this clear on both her Tumblr and Reddit accounts, so an indie game jam felt like a possible way to raise awareness for Leelah’s plea for social change, in a method she may not have only approved of, but also taken part in.”
  • The Future’s Been Here Since 1939: Female Fans, Cosplay, and Conventions | Uncanny Magazine (Jan/Feb): [warning for descriptions of violence] “Cosplay has been around since the very first science fiction fan conventions in the 1930s and before the word “cosplay” was invented. The first recorded cosplayers, Myrtle R. Jones and Forrest J. Ackerman, wore what they called “futuristicostume” during the first Worldcon in 1939.”
  • I tried tracking my period and it was even worse than I could have imagined | Maggie Delano at Medium (February 23): “yet another example of technology telling queer, unpartnered, infertile, and/or women uninterested in procreating that they aren’t even women. It’s telling women that the only women worth designing technology for are those women who are capable of conceiving and who are not only in a relationship, but in a sexual relationship, and in a sexual relationship with someone who can potentially get them pregnant. Read: straight, sexually active, partnered, cis women with enough money for a smartphone to run the app.”
  • Man Who Terrorized Brianna Wu For Months Says He Was Just Kiddin Around | Jezebel (February 24): [warning for discussion of threats and harassment] “The problem with Gamergate is you can’t satirize these people. I can’t stress this enough: the wider point here is the gamification of the harassment of women.” It’s already hard enough to get law enforcement to take threats against women online seriously. Wu worries that Rankowski’s hilarious joke will give police yet another excuse not to investigate violent threats online.”
  • The Harassment Game | Mikki Kendall at Model View Culture (February 23): [warning for discussion of threats and harassment] “And it dawned on me, there is no life after being harassed if you’re a marginalized person speaking up on the internet. Whether my harassment comes from talking about race in 2009, abortion in 2011, feminism in 2013, or some brand new topic in 2015, it’s clearly a part of my life. My choices are never speak, or be harassed for speaking. The topics really don’t matter. Because none of this is about ethics in game journalism, protecting the unborn, or defending feminism, comics, or science fiction from the perceived threat of people wanting them to be more inclusive.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; 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.

Is there life on linkspam? (21 March 2014)

  • Reason #140 Why Sexist Bullshit in Academia is Not Okay | Isis the Scientist (March 21): “Professor Righetti is continuing to publish his hilarious graphical abstracts and I suspect it is but a matter of time before we get more titties. He is also on the editorial board of several journals, including the journal with his hilarious graphical abstracts. He’s essentially using his leadership to be a huge creeper.  Worse, the leadership of the journal is letting it happen.”
  • Women-only Calls and Non-Binary Authors | Polenth’s Quill (March 3): “I’ve talked before about the issue of non-binary gender in genre. Specifically that it’s difficult when the only gender or sex identity calls going out are for women. […] This doesn’t mean woman-only calls are inherently a problem. Much as it’s not a problem when we have race-specific calls or separate calls for different sexualities. The issue is the woman-only calls don’t happen alongside more general calls for marginalised sex and gender identities. It’s assumed that the way to counteract cis man dominance is to provide opportunities for cis women, rather than to provide opportunities for anyone who isn’t a cis man.”
  • How to break games out of the “act like a man” box | Dennis Scimeca on ars technica (March 19): “According to the boys Wiseman polled, strong people didn’t “act like a girl.” Being easily upset, awkward, or having disabilities were also things the boys identified as making someone weak. […] Empowerment is tied to “high status” traits like those within the “act like a man” box, but it doesn’t have to mean encouraging players to act like assholes.”
  • Why I Was Part of Creating a Thing Called Transtech | Lukas Blakk (March 19): “Last night I helped hold the third local meetup of trans and genderqueer people who are interested in getting together to hack on our projects. This is the third event since the amazing Trans*H4CK  Hackathon (the first one of its kind!) that took place in October 2013.”
  • Debate vs Inquiry and “Reasonable Debate” as a silencing tactic | tigtog on Hoyden about Town (March 18): “[…] latest iteration of the pattern whereby people with uteruses are asked to respond to anti-choice arguments “as if they were just another interesting political topic for discussion and debate – as opposed to the grotesque violation of the right to bodily autonomy that they are”.”
  • Why I Don’t Want My Daughter to Work in Silicon Valley | Sascha Segan on PCmag (March 17): “[…] we’re talking about my daughter, right? I want her to go somewhere she’s valued, not somewhere she’ll have to fight every day against forces trying to grind her down. Yes, that’s what billions of people struggling on this earth do daily, but the goal of civilization is to lessen that particular struggle. I want her to live a life where kindness and understanding are important. And if she chooses tech, fortunately, she’ll have options.”

We link to a variety of sources, some of which are personal blogs.  If you visit other sites linked herein, we ask that you respect the commenting policy and individual culture of those sites.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on Pinboard, Delicious or Diigo; 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.

The Velveteen Linkspam (13 Aug 2013)

  • “If I Can’t Have a Hugo Fan Award, Then No One Can!”: “This campaign to dismantle the Hugo Fan Awards lest they fall into enemy fans is not just toxic, selfish and reprehensible, it is an attempt to slam the doors of fandom shut in the face of yet another generation of passionate and devoted fans.”
  • Snarky comebacks for sexists in academia: Captain Awkward takes apart “you’re only here because of affirmative action”.
  • Sexual Harassment Conversations, in Comic Form: Jim C. Hines hits the nail on the head with the responses women receive when reporting (or not reporting) sexual harassment [Warning: the comments contain exactly the apologia the comic is mocking]
  • My experience with game industry hiring: “The final answer was that culture matters most and I didn’t fit into their culture. What would that culture be, if not being a gamer, technically-inclined, and caring about their company’s products or audience. Looking around the room, it seemed that fitting into that Kulture they were talking about would mean being white and male.”
  • Why Are Female Developers Offered Such Low Salaries?: A company which allows bidding on tech employees by potential employers finds that women generally receive lower bids than men.
  • Sorry, Mario Bros!: … but Princess Toadstool can rescue herself. “The game spans three of Super Mario Bros’ original levels, this time from right to left, as the Princess jumps, stomps, floats, and warps her way from the dark castle dungeon up to the bright and wonderful Mushroom Kingdom, proving that female protagonists can be just as awesome as male protagonists.”
  • Debunking the ‘gender brain’ myth: ” ‘In the majority of cases, the differences between the sexes are either non-existent or they are so small so as to be of no practical importance in, for example, an educational setting’ “
  • On The Border: An Interview with Heather Logos: The Border House interviews Heather Logos, who has worked in the games industry as a contractor, an academic and a game designer at Telltale Games.
  • The Banal, Insidious Sexism of Smurfette: “Today, a blockbuster children’s movie can invoke 50-year-old gender stereotypes with little fear of a powerful feminist backlash.”

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on 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.

All those linkspams will be lost in time (8 January 2013)

  • Why do you write strong female characters?: “The heart of the question implies that if a male character is ‘strong’ that’s to be expected, because boys and men are strong. Normal. Default. Go about your business. But if a female character leads a story, does stuff, has a voice and a purpose and changes her life or others’ lives or starts or stops a war or makes a stand or has power then it’s newsworthy, because that’s not expected, not true to life. Not normal. Not our default assumption about girls. So stop and take note.”
  • You can’t determine an author’s gender from a sample of their writing: Summary of 10 sample stories and over a thousand guesses at authorial gender.
  • Play with my V spot? | VentureBeat: “Guys, this is why we don’t have more women in tech: It’s a cesspool. As long as we’re passing offensive schlock like this off as marketing for a major technology conference, we don’t deserve more women in tech.”
  • Don’t underestimate Viking women: “‘To assume that Viking men were ranked above women is to impose modern values on the past, which would be misleading,’ cautions Marianne Moen. She has been studying how women’s status and power is expressed through Viking burial findings. Her master’s thesis The Gendered Landscape argues that viking gender roles may have been more complex than we assume.”
  • A Remarkable Number of Women: “You can tell you’re in a male-dominated discipline in the sciences when a gathering of three or more women working, standing, or sitting together in a professional setting in that field is considered ‘remarkable.'”
  • Take the pledge: Don’t serve on all-male panels: “A hopeful new trend is growing: People are noticing when conference speakers are all or mostly men (and often all white as well). And they are asking questions: What kind of selection process results in an all or mostly male speaker lineup? Is it true that all the best speakers just happen to white men, or are there other qualified speakers who are getting passed over? No one thinks these conferences are deliberately signing up only men, but they do think that all-male lineups are a sign of not trying very hard to get the best speakers. One solution is for men to publicly pledge only to participate in panels that have at least one woman on them, as Rebecca Rosen proposed in The Atlantic last week.”

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious 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.

Linkspam smash! (13 November, 2012)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious 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.

Why subscribe to their feeds when you can get the linkspam for free? (21st November, 2010)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious 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.