I’ve lived in Sydney for sixteen years and I am living in the tenth residence I’ve had in Sydney. So I have a lot of experience of moving houses, and a lot of experience of drowning under a deluge of mail directed to the previous residents of my current home, sometimes several “generations” of them.
You’re not supposed to open or throw out other people’s mail, you’re supposed to mark it “return to sender, no longer at this address” and put it back in a post box. And doing this does — eventually — help as slowly the banks, governments, ex-lovers and debt collectors sending mail to the previous residents get the picture.
But it’s also a total pain in the neck. At the best of times, writing “return to sender, no longer at this address” exceeds my weekly pen output quota, and that’s before you get to trying to write on shrink-wrapped mail and other such things.
founding and for a long time running the Ask a Geek Feminist, Wednesday Geek Woman and Cookie of the Week series
doing a linkspam post by myself multiple times a week for about a year
recruiting the initial team of Linkspammers and setting up their manual, mailing list and of course, the script that supports them
recruiting several other bloggers, including Tim, Restructure! and Courtney S
a bunch of sysadmin of the self-hosted WordPress install (it’s now hosted on WordPress.com)
My leaving the blog is delayed news. I initially told the co-bloggers I was leaving close to a year ago now (mid-August, if I’d waited much longer on writing this I could have posted on the one year anniversary), because my output had dried up. I feel in large part that what happened was that I spent about ten years in geekdom (1999–2009) accumulating about three years of material for the blog, and then I ran out of things to write about there. I also have two more children and one more business than I had when I was first writing for it, and, very crucially, one less unfinished PhD to avoid. But I had a handover todo list to plod my way through, and Spam All the Links was the last item on it!
I remain involved in Geek Feminism as an administrator on the Geek Feminism wiki, on which I had about 25% of total edits last I looked, although the same sense of being a dry well is there too.
The blog was obviously hugely important for me, both as an outlet for that ten years of pent up opinionating and, to my surprise, because I ended up moving into the space professionally. I’m glad I did it.
Today, I would say these are my five favourite posts I made to the blog:
Terri mention[ed] that she had resisted at times working on things perceived as ‘girl stuff’. In Free Software this includes but is not limited to documentation, usability research, community management and (somewhat unusually for wider society) sometimes management in general. The audience immediately hit on it, and it swirled around me all week.
I do not in fact find writing the wiki documentation of incidents in geekdom very satisfying. The comment linked at the beginning of the post compared the descriptions to a rope tying geekdom to the past. Sometimes being known as a wiki editor and pursued around IRC with endless links to yet another anonymous commenter or well-known developer advising women to shut up and take it and write some damned code anyway is like a rope tying me to the bottom of the ocean.
But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers.
(I’d be very interested in other people’s takes on this in 2015, which is a very different landscape in terms of the visibility of geek sexism than 2009 was.)
This is the kind of advice given by people who don’t actually want to help. Or perhaps don’t know how they can. It’s like if you’re a parent of a bullying victim, and you find yourself repeating “ignore it”, “fight back with fists” or whatever fairly useless advice you yourself were once on the receiving end of. It’s expressing at best helplessness, and at worst victim-blaming. It’s personalising a cultural problem.
You are not helpless in the face of harassment. Call for policies, implement policies, call out harassment when you overhear it, or report it. Stand with people who discuss their experiences publicly.
Let’s recap really quickly: wanting to and being able to use your legal name everywhere is associated with privilege. Non-exhaustive list of reasons you might not want to use it on social networks: everyone knows you by a nickname; you want everyone to know you by a nickname; you’re experimenting with changing some aspect of your identity online before you do it elsewhere; online circles are the only place it’s safe to express some aspect of your identity, ever; your legal name marks you as a member of a group disproportionately targeted for harassment; you want to say things or make connections that you don’t want to share with colleagues, family or bosses; you hate your legal name because it is shared with an abusive family member; your legal name doesn’t match your gender identity; you want to participate in a social network as a fictional character; the mere thought of your stalker seeing even your locked down profile makes you sick; you want to create a special-purpose account; you’re an activist wanting to share information but will be in danger if identified; your legal name is imposed by a legal system that doesn’t match your culture… you know, stuff that only affects a really teeny minority numerically, and only a little bit, you know?
But I’m mostly listing it here because I always have fun with the design of my bingo cards. (This was my first time, Sexist joke bingo is better looking.)
… why girls? Why do we not have 170 comments on our blog reaching out to women who are frustrated with geekdom? I want to get this out in the open: people love to support geek girls, they are considerably more ambivalent about supporting geek women.
Thanks to my many co-bloggers over the five years I was a varyingly active blogger at Geek Feminism. I may be done, at least for a time and perhaps in that format, but here’s to a new generation of geek feminist writers joining the existing one!
Image credit: Cheers! by Susanne Nilsson, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike. The version used in this post was cropped and colour adjusted by Mary.
I recently ran a “photo circle”, consisting of a small group of people sending prints of their own photographs to each other. It was a fun way to prod myself to take non-kid photos.
My four photos were:
I took Sun in the eucalypts in the late afternoon of Easter Sunday, as the sun was sinking behind the eucalypts at Centennial Park’s children’s bike track. I tried to take one with the sun shining through the trees but didn’t get the lens flare right. I like the contrast between the sunlit tree and the dark tree in this one. It feels springlike, for an autumn scene.
The other three are a very different type of weather shot, taken during Sydney’s extreme rainfall of late April and very early May:
This one has the most post-processing by far: it was originally shot in portrait and in colour. I was messing around with either fast or slow shutter speeds while it poured with rain at my house; I have a number of similar photos where spheres of water are suspended in the air. None of them quite work but I will continue to play with photographing rain with a fast shutter speed. In the meantime, the slow shutter speed here works well. I made the image monochrome in order to make the rain stand out more. In the original image the green tree and the rich brown fencing and brick rather detract from showing exactly how rainy it was.
This was shot from Gunners’ Barracks in Mosman (a historical barracks, not an active one) as a sudden rainstorm rolled over Sydney Harbour. The view was good enough, but my lens not wide enough, to see it raining on parts of the harbour and not on other parts. All the obscurity of the city skyline in this shot is due to rain, not fog.
This is the same rainstorm as the above shot; they were taken very close together. It may not be immediately obvious, but the saturation on this shot is close to maximum in order to make the colours of the ferry come up at all. I was the most worried about this shot on the camera, it was very dim. It comes up better in print than on screen, too. The obscurity is again entirely due to the rain, and results in the illusion that there is only one vessel on Sydney Harbour. Even in weather like this, that’s far from true. I felt very lucky to capture this just before the ferry vanished into the rain too.
Anyone who has spent Thursday night/Friday in NSW is probably in need of some winter warmers, at least! What’s warming your innards this season? Here are a few recipes of ours, household style (that is, very imprecise measurements).
Cream of mushroom soup
Ingredients: A few handfuls of button mushrooms.
Half an onion.
About 800mL of stock, possibly somewhat more if using a stove top.
About 100mL of cream or sour cream, or some mixture thereof.
NB: I prefer and recommend sour cream but my co-cook despises it, so we tend to make it with cream.
Preparation: Chop up the mushrooms and onions. Fry the mushrooms and onions together. Add the stock and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer briefly. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth.
Alternative preparation: Chop up the mushrooms and onions. Place in slow cooker with cream and stock on low for 4 hours. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth.
Optional additions: we don’t cook anything much in our house in winter without thyme and bay leaves. Be sure to remove the bay leaf before blending.
Serving suggestion: grind pepper over the result.
Slow cooked chicken drumsticks
Ingredients: An appropriate number of chicken drumsticks.
A 400g tin of diced tomatoes for about every 8 drumsticks.
About 100mL of stock for every drumstick.
A splash of white wine.
As many olives as you think sounds good.
Optional: onion garlic, thyme, bay leaf, etc.
Preparation: roll/dip/immerse the drumsticks in plain flour and briefly brown them in a fry pan (perhaps with onions and garlic). Place them in a slow cooker with all other ingredients and slow cook on high for 4 hours.
Serving suggestion: we serve with couscous.
Red lentil daal
For this we follow a recipe pretty closely, namely Stephanie Alexander’s recipe in The Cook’s Companion. It’s very similar to her published recipe in Fairfax’s Cuisine, except we haven’t been using chilli or mustand seeds.
I’ve also tried this in a slow cooker (don’t pre-soak the lentils, have all the pot ingredients in for 8 hours on low) but it ended up being too smooth for my tastes (I have a very strong aversion to some types of very smooth food, namely well-mashed potatoes, ripe avocados, and a few other things, and this daal went into that range).
Another dish where we follow a (simple!) recipe closely, specifically Donna Hay’s recipe for individual portions. We had great luck also, when we had some passionfruit to spare, juicing several of them and mixing the juice with the apple slices for passionfruit crumble.
Let’s recap really quickly: wanting to and being able to use your legal name everywhere is associated with privilege. Non-exhaustive list of reasons you might not want to use it on social networks: everyone knows you by a nickname; you want everyone to know you by a nickname; you’re experimenting with changing some aspect of your identity online before you do it elsewhere; online circles are the only place it’s safe to express some aspect of your identity, ever; your legal name marks you as a member of a group disproportionately targeted for harassment; you want to say things or make connections that you don’t want to share with colleagues, family or bosses; you hate your legal name because it is shared with an abusive family member; your legal name doesn’t match your gender identity; you want to participate in a social network as a fictional character; the mere thought of your stalker seeing even your locked down profile makes you sick; you want to create a special-purpose account; you’re an activist wanting to share information but will be in danger if identified; your legal name is imposed by a legal system that doesn’t match your culture… you know, stuff that only affects a really teeny minority numerically, and only a little bit, you know? (For more on the issue in general, see On refusing to tell you my name and previous posts on this site.)
Anyway, in honour of round one million of forgetting about all of this totally, I bring you anti-pseudonymity bingo! Text version at bottom of post.
In collaboration with Hoydenizens and others, a bingo card for arguments in defence of sexist jokes, specifically, the variants on “but it was FUNNY”.
Text version at bottom of post.
the catch-all “it’s just a joke”
“why the fuss? it was one itty bitty teeny weeny joke!”
“you don’t understand my culture at all”
Don’t forget your bingo basics, that is: “One only gets to yell BINGO! if somebody on the internet is advancing an assortment of those arguments simultaneously.” Sometimes, for extra Internet points, you might be able to play (‘ware, porn images) porny presentation bingo or general anti-feminism bingos I and/or II simultaneously.
You can use this bingo card under Creative Commons Zero, that is, public domain (without credit and freely modifiable). Here’s the SVG. There’s a version at the Buzzword Bingo generator that randomises the square placements and uses full sentences, if you are so inclined.
This bingo does assume a male joke-teller, the management acknowledges that it is not only men who tell sexist jokes.
I gave a 5 minute lightning talk at OSDC entitled Women in FOSS groups (meaning groups for women involved in Free Software, rather than about women in Free Software groups, I could have done a better title I know). It was mostly an attempt to jam Adam Kennedy’s lightning talk about Acme::Playmate, which featured lingerie shots of women (and maybe topless shots, I didn’t want to watch it, being quite firmly and viscerally of the belief that there’s a very small amount of sexual desire I like at my open source conferences). So mine featured pictures of women, fully clothed, with labels like Linux user and AI researcher.
For more on Kennedy’s talk, see Richard Jones’ entry about it: Jones was the chair of the session that Kennedy gave his talk in.
I’m not putting my slides up for a few reasons: bits of them only make sense in the context of that particular jam; other bits only make sense if you hear me say the words that went along with them; and finally while I got permission to use them in the talk, I didn’t get permission from all the women whose pictures I used to stick said pictures on the ‘net.
However, the last couple of slides were a list of links to groups for women using and developing Free Software, and Paul asked if I could provide them in a place where people would have a chance to write them down. Fortunately, these were even prepared earlier:
I gave a thirty minute presentation at the Open Source Developers’ Conference yesterday about the Planet software and the associated communities and conventions, focusing more on the latter since one of my reviewers suggested that the social aspects are more interesting than the code. My slides [PDF format, 2.1MB] are now available for the amusement of the wider public.
Much of the discussion of history was a recap of my Planet Free Software essay and the discussion of Planet conventions was a loose recap of accumulated wisdom, including:
using bloggers’ real names, or at least the ones which they attach to email (usually real names) in addition to common IRC/IM handles is useful for putting faces to blog entries to contributions;
once the convention of using real faces and real names is established, people get upset when the conventions are broken (quoth Luis Villa: I’m not sure who/what this ubuntu-demon is, but ‘random animated head without a name meandering about doing a lot of engineering work to fix a problem that should not exist’ was not what I was looking for when I was looking for information on planet ubuntu); and
life blogging is of interest to an extent, many developers would actually like to feel that they’re friends with each other, but the John Fleck case on Planet GNOME shows that there are limits.
Mostly it was a fun experiment in doing slides in a format other than six bullet points per slide, six slides per section, six sections per talk format; incorporating badly rescaled images in various places; and using Beamer so I was surprised to end up hosting a Planet BoF (Birds of a Feather) session, discussing it from the point of view of someone running a Planet (the editor). Some of the topics that came up were:
trying to start communities via Planet sites, rather than enhancing them, by, say, starting a environmental politics Planet;
the possibility of introducing some of the newer blog ideas to the Free Software world (like carnivals);
allowing a community to edit a Planet, and editorial policies in general;
potential problems with aggregating libellous or illegal content (another reason some editors apparently insist on real names);
banning RSS in favour of Atom;
whether it is possible or wise to filter people’s feeds without their consent;