Code of Conduct, Code4Lib, Lib Tech Gender, and My Vagina – Oh my!

Judith Beheading Holofrenes by Caravaggio
Judith Beheading Holofrenes by Caravaggio

Dear Internet,
Before I go forward, I must warn you the bloodwolves have arrived at House Rabey yesterday and I’m feeling a leetle like the above image.
This week has been insane as I prep for an author’s lecture and Q & A at the college that I organized, getting started on one of my departments accreditation process (well there went holiday break!) and a whole other load of work and personal stuff. I haven’t had time to do much of anything and I’m thankful I took Friday off or else I would die from exhaustion. Good job, me!
Before ALA’s annual conference happened this summer, several people linked me to a conversation at a public librarian Facebook group that started out with asking about hooking up at the conference and the conversation, of course, degraded from there.  I made my views  fairly well known on the topic.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 11.13.01 PM

It took nearly 5 months after I started making the noise, and in ALA parlance that is ultra fast, but ALA FINALLY has a Code of Conduct in place. Huz-fucking-zah! Andromeda Yelton wrote up a really great piece on the whole process.
Since talking about my vag has become one of my favorite topics, here are other things going on this week in that area:

  • I massively updated the landing page for #libtechwomen/#libtechgender that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I’ve pulled everything I’ve written into one tidy location. If you have any links or suggestions you think I should add, let me know.
  • I’ve just put together the proposal for a Librarianship, Technology, Gender pre-conference at Code4Lib. If you’re planning on attending this year, might I suggest you sign up?
  • I’ve been approached by a in-profession magazine and a book publisher to start putting my words to print. This is SEEKRIT for the moment, but I will reveal when I can on both topics.

Now I slumber.

This day in Lisa-Universe:

anatomy of a website: part ii

Lisa, circa 1973 or 1974.
Lisa phone hacking, circa 1973 or 1974.

Dear Internet,
Yesterday I started out putting together an entry on the process and design of the site, only it turned into nearly 3100 wordy behemoth. I’ve split the entries into half, the first half concentrating on the backend, landing page and design thought, with the second half below getting more into the nitty gritty, process, and promotions.
Individual Entry Pages
For the individual entry pages, all of the previous design for the landing page is true plus with the added following:

  • Breadcrumbs – Located above the title and are crucial! I will not design a site without them and it is also good SEO and information architecture practices. I use Breadcrumb NavXT.
  • “Estimated reading time” in the byline metadata. General consensus of the internets said they liked this feature because it gives them time to pause to continue reading now or come back later. Plus I can be wooordy and days like today, you need to know how much time to invest. The plugin I use is Post Reading Time, which is customizable.
  • Share the love – I use unobtrusive small icons, no text, of print, email, and top social sharing sites via the Jetpack plugin. I also turned on the “follow me via Google+” option available in the same plugin. I also only selected social sites I personally use, hence why there is no LinkedIn.
  • Below the footer metadata are named links to previous post and after post
  • Next is the comments section, which I use Disqus plugin to handle that feature. Additionally, in the landing page version, comments are located at the top by the byline entry so readers can comment on the landing page instead of clicking to the full entry itself to do so.
    • I currently do not turn off comments on any of the content, so if you wanted to comment on an entry from 10 years ago, you could.

Individual Page pages
Since these are rarely updated and are static, the styling is a bit less structured:

  • I’ve turned off commenting and direct people to my contact page
  • Each page is either a top level page as a landing page for a project or a child page
  • SEO is also applied to all pages as I now create them
  • Breadcrumbs are also used on pages
  • The sidebar remains the same

Process and Promotion

  • Currently I write the day before it’s due and I almost never know ahead of time what I’m going to write. It literally is, some days, begins with a sentence and I’ll end up with 900 words an hour later.
  • I can write a 750 word entry, complete with formatting and editing, in about an hour.
  • I schedule the entries to post mid-morning ET the following day. I will also set up a tweet mid-afternoon with the same information
    • The initial posting format is: [blog] TITLE OF ENTRY short link EXPLANATION
    • Further promotion on Twitter will contain a slightly reworded version of the original to prevent going to Twitter jail
  • Promotion of the entry is done in the following
    • Automatic cross posting to TwitterFacebook, and Tumblr
      • The Facebook page is the blog’s page. I also cross-post from the page to my personal Facebook
    • Posting to LiveJournal via LiveJournal Crossposter
    • Posting to Google+ manually
    • Repost to Twitter later in the afternoon
  • On the rare occasion, I’ll post a link to the entry more than twice in the same day
  • It is utterly important to me that I am available, findable, and read in a variety of mediums, hence the cross-promotion to major sites as well as some not so major ones in addition to the RSS and email feeds.
  • SEO is applied to all entries with descriptions and proper keywords to enhance findability

What’s currently powering my site:

  • Akismet – Spam blocker. Between this and Disqus, there has been almost no comment spam on this site.
  • All in One SEO – One of the definitive SEO plugins, easy to use and pretty customizable.
  • Breadcrumb NavXT – One of the better breadcrumb plugins, also easy to use and customize.
  • Broken Link Checker – The best client I found to scan the entire site, check links and report back errors. Especially useful as I add in the old content.
  • Disqus – I’ve been a long user of this commenting system for a number of reasons: It allows people to comment by logging in via any number of existing OAuth systems such as Facebook and Twitter without having to create an account at EPbaB. I also liked that you can consolidate all of your sites into one admin account.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress One of the three analytics software I use, highly robust and full of rich features
  • Google XML Sitemaps If you are not practicing SEO, you should have a site map of your site for search engines to index. I really like this one.
  • iframe Plugin to allow the use of iframe HTML because sometimes old tags don’t go away, they just continue to be used.
  • Jetpack This plugin is produced by the makers of WordPress and contains some of the top features they implement on the site and made them available for self-hosted users. Frankly, this is by far the best plugin I use and while I know some despise it for a variety of reasons, as someone who just wants shit to work, it’s brilliant. Here are the features I use (and be mindful this is not ALL the features available):
    • Notifications – notifies of activity from users and sites on your site
    • Stats – One of the three analytics plugins I use
    • Publicize – The social arm of the plugin, it auto publishes to selected sites when you publish your entry as well as is the configuration for the Share the Love social sharing
    • Subscriptions – Subscribe by email
    • Sharing – See Publicize
    • Spelling and Grammar – Yes to the first, meh to the second. The grammar function is often wrong
    • Omnisearch – Search Every. Single. Page on your site, deeply, from within the dashboard
    • Contact form – So you say you have a message from your people to my people? This is where you go
    • Widget visibility – Control what pages / posts your widgets are on
    • short links – Yep
    • Google+ Profile – See Publicize
    • Tiled galleries – If I ever feel the need, it is here
    • Shortcode embeds – Always important
    • Custom CSS – Sometimes designers do NOT know best. Also a lot of theme designers sell their “premium” themes based on the fact you can customize the CSS. Why bother to pay for something you can do for free?
    • Mobile theme – I know a lot of people don’t like this version, but I don’t see a problem with how it renders or allows navigation on my site. Works great!
    • Extra sidebar widgets – Always a necessity
    • Connect – Allows you to login to your sites using your login – which is more secure than just a username/password!
    • Enhanced distribution – There is no clear description to what this does exactly, but what the hell. It’s turned on.
    • Jason API – Also needed
  • List category posts – Another favorite! Allows you to post links to entries on any page/widget from specific categories or tags – automatically! Example of it being used, multiple times, on the To:Be Project page. Each section is its own tag getting updated automatically when I post with that tag appended.
  • LiveJournal Crossposter – Some sites do not die, they just become LiveJournal.
  • Organize Series – A neat plugin that allows you to easily set up posts of the same subject to be easily read together without searching through the archives.
  • Post Reading Time – Displays the amount of time to read the entry, at 200 words a minute average.
  • Redirection – I currently have two or three domains, in addition to, that point to the this domain. In order to clean up old links from journals gone by, Redirection will take a link from and point it to the correct entry here without the use knowing!
  • Simple Social Plugins – Sidebar widget using pure CSS to display stylized social media links
  • Smart Archives Reloaded – Plugin behind my archives page, was the easiest way to generate the page in a simple to read format without getting overly complicated.
  • TablePress – Plugin to generate complicated tables, but I’m finding it easier to create them via pure HTML and CSS so I might ditch this at some point.
  • Word Stats – Secretly I’m a stats nerd and things like this get me wet. I disagree with some of its assessment on reading levels but I do like some of the other features like breaking down words per entry, or per month, or entire lifetime.

Other design tweaks, such as color schemes and CSS options tend to be in the muted areas, with a shocking color for contrast. I like my fonts to be readable, and I can spend hours on the right font combination, and easy to print. I haven’t yet found the perfect font yet, but I’m always looking.
This holiday season, since I have nearly a month off, I’m going to be setting up a home server version of the site and start building, I hope, a new and improved site layout and design to correct the little things I cannot get sorted in using child themes. Ideally, I’d like to build off an existing theme, but I’m thinking at this rate I’ll probably end up starting from the ground up and building my own.
If you have any plugin or theme suggestions, let me know! I’m always up for getting my website dirty!

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2009

anatomy of a website: part i

Lisa, circa 1973 or 1974.
Lisa phone hacking, circa 1973 or 1974.

Dear Internet,
Whenever I make a change to the site, whether design or adding or removing of something, the first person who usually asks me “Why?” is TheHusband. We were recently discussing the addition of my “Estimated reading time:” plugin I’ve now appended to the individual posts pages (he hates it, others seem to love it) and as I often seem to do some explaining for him, and at time for others, I figured this would make an excellent post on my design process. So here we are!
If you are interested in the back end, I run WordPress, using Nginx as my web server and MariaDB as the SQL server. The theme is a child theme of Mon Cahier. We currently host at Digital Ocean (managed by TheHusband) and in addition to WordPress and server best practices, the entire site is encrypted by SSL. We use StartSSL for all of our domains. If you want more details on how we got here, this is a post I wrote in April when we left Dreamhost for Digital Ocean.  I have had several people ask if TheHusband is open to setting them up in a similar fashion and he is for a reasonable fee. If you are interested, please get in touch.
Overall Experience
The overall experience of the site is based on the following factors

  • Content/writing is main focus
  • Minimalist in design, not overwhelmed by images/video/doodads
  • Easy to navigate
  • Basic info architecture and SEO best practices in place
  • Mobile friendly
  • People should be able to read me via coming to the page, via RSS, or subscribe to an email list
  • Features I would expect an online journal to have (archives, about page, easy way to contact) should be in also be in place

I’ve flipped between the child themes of two themes: Mon Cahier and Mog for the last several months and right now I am using Mon Cahier. I haven’t found a single column theme I love, so I’m sticking with two column, right sidebar for the moment. I’m a big believer in making it easy for my readers (and for me!) to find information on the site and I want people to meander about, so getting rid of some sort of sidebar navigation kills me.
Landing Page
The landing page experience is important to me and I’ve gone back and forth on having a header or not. I adore the hell out of picture of me age 1-2 attempting to use a phone, so it’s been the mainstay on business cards and domain headers for a few years. Mon Cahier includes built in social media links at the upper right hand corner of the header space, but the newest update doesn’t seem to play well with my child theme so I’m missing a few of the sites. This is also why I have a social media plugin in the right hand sidebar.
Below the header is my main navigation bar, which is also important to me as I wanted an easy way for people to navigate other content on the site. The big thing here is that I wanted it to be compact – I don’t want rows and rows of navigation, so having child navigation was a must. Here is how the menu is broken down

  • hello – My about page. Gives you a summary of who I am, a fairly recognizable picture of me, and other little tidbits.
  • projects – These are the project landing pages of a few things I keep on the site and acts as the default location for something that doesn’t fit quite anywhere else.
  • writing – break down of all, primarily fiction, writing including poetry, prose, works in progress, historical work, and at the bottom is listing of all blog posts I’ve written on the topic of writing and is updated on the fly.
  • archives The heart of the site –  nearly every entry ever written by me, spanning across several previous incarnations over nearly two decades, all here at the site. Dating back to the late ’90s, it’s a Lisa wonderland of delight and amusement. When I talk about The Lisa Chronicles project, I’m talking about getting the archives back up which has been a slow process.
  • contact – Simply put, how to get in touch with me. While you’re more than welcome to reach out via social media, I found readers were more apt to fill out a form then send an email or tweet which I think is because of the anonymity of the form.

Below the main navigation bar is the two column set up – one for the content, and the other is the sidebar. Because I’m now writing daily, and not to overwhelm readers, I keep the most current entry on the front page. Two widgets in the sidebar help with previous content navigation: one showing the last five entries and the other showing the top pages on the site, updated from the last 24-48 hours.
The content column is built around these principles:

  • The title is taken from something out of context, for a long time they were from definitions of various things in the Icelandic sagas, sometimes obscure word definitions from the OED, song lyrics, and every once in a while, the title actually reflects what I’m talking about!1
  • Below the title is the date of publication and Mon Cahier main theme is overriding my removal of the byline addition, which isn’t needed here since I’m the only person writing.
  • Every entry in the current stylistic format:
    [image sourced from Creative Commons]
    Dear Internet,
    This day in Lisa-Universe: Year, Year, Year

    The images and the “This day in Lisa-Universe” are rather new editions within the last few months. I liked the idea of adding in an image from my collection or creative commons collection of something unusual or unexpected to go with the content. I also wanted people to be able to find content from the same day in previous years because I thought that would be a neat feature since I have so much.
    The “Dear Internet” was not used in previous incarnations of my online journal, but I began to use it at the beginning of this one because I found a lot of conversational letters that I never published written to famous & fictional people, written as if we were the best of friends. I liked the idea of the juxtaposition of something old (a letter to a person) mixed with the new (the person is the Internet).

  • Footer metadata is found in the landing page entry such as categories and tags. Comment link and totals are located at the byline metadata at the top of the entry.
  • Below the footer metadata is a link to the previous entry. Since I have it set to show one entry at a time, if you wanted to read the previous entries in order, you would go entry by entry. I would recommend going to the archives and clicking on a month or year to get all of them on a single page instead.
  • Beginning in August 2013 I started using SEO, I use All in One SEO, like a reasonable adult and every entry and page from that point forward now has SEO best practices appended to it. Because the sheer amount of published entries (nearly 600!), as I come across older entries I need to edit for some reason, I’m applying SEO to them as well. I have no plans to go through and do all entries at this time.
  • Every entry has a proper category and at least one tag. Because I’ve moved around so much in my youth, I now append a city tag to all entries of the city I’m currently living in to easily find. So if you ever wondered why entries say “Grand Rapids” or “San Francisco” or “NoVa,” that is why.

For the sidebar, I wanted to make it clean and uncluttered. I currently do not plan on nor intend on having ads, but I may do a tip jar or a donation page later down the road when more of my fiction is up. I also stopped linking back to other people not because I don’t love them, but many were abandoning their sites or stopped writing or something else entirely. I wanted the sidebar to also be accessible on all pages and not just the landing page or just the individual entries.

  • Search – Non-negotiable. If you don’t have a search function on your site, I’m not going to stay and visit.
  • Social media links – A plugin called Simple Social Plugins, which uses pure CSS to do the design. I wanted something easily to configure and fairly robust. Simple Social does that pretty well and while it’s missing a few sites I’d like people to find me at, such as GoodReads, it does a good job of hitting the basics. It also includes email, which I’ve linked to my contact form, and a RSS option.
  • Blog subscription – Provided by the Jetpack plugin, allows people to subscribe to email version of the site and they get emailed the post every time I update.
  • Recent posts – Last five posts, in chronological order, that were published. This is configurable to as little or as many as you’d like.
  • Popular Posts – Current top five posts, based on stats from the last 24 – 48 hours. I like this as it shows how interests in various things change on the site.
  • Creative Commons license – I am Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported, which means the content here is free for you to use, along with attribution back to me, but is not available to be remixed and cannot be used for commercial purposes without my permission.

That’s it for today! Tomorrow I am going to cover individual entries, pages, plugins, process and promotion.

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2010, 1998

1. General SEO practice recommends you use keywords of your topic within the title and within the first few sentences of your piece for search bots. As you can see, I don’t do that but I do put in practice SEO description and keywords using a plugin, so all is not lost.

I have a vagina, watch me use a computer

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Oscar Wilde

Dear Internet,
The New York Times recently published an article in its economy section about the status of women in technology. The perspective of the article is much like what has written about this topic before: Women are poorly represented in computer science fields, we’re less likely to obtain a computer science degree for X reasons, and if we do end up with a CS degree and work in the fields we’ve just trained for, we’re going to be underpaid in comparison to our male counterparts for the exact same job.
None of this is news. In fact, much of what was written could be hauled out and regurgitated for just about any other male dominated profession when pitting women against the men.
As I was reading this, I began taking umbrage with a lot of what the author was inferring, stating, and implying. It is not necessarily much of what she was writing about was incorrect or nonfactual, there are some points she’s made that I agree with, but her piss poor research model, her inability to look outside of the traditional path for education, and her broad stroke generalized comments got, as TheHusband would say, my vagina in an uproar.
As English majors round the world are often known to say, let’s unpack this shit.
“Writing code and designing networks are also a lot more portable than nursing, teaching and other traditional pink-collar occupations.”
I won’t disagree computing is a portable skill, but I would argue it is not more portable than nursing, teaching, or “pink-collar” (who actually says this?) occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers are only projected 12% growth by 2020 while nursing is at 26% and teaching is roughly at 17%. The projected growth is an estimate of how fast the profession is growing, the number of jobs available, and the sub career paths being created as new job markets open up.
The other part of the problem I have with this is that computer science is much more than just writing code and designing networks and yet almost every article I’ve ever read that brays on this topic, regardless if it is about gender in tech or not, narrows their discussion to just those two options.
“Yet just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they intend to major in computer science.” “Today, just a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women.”
I have a particular problem with this corollary because not all who go into computers are their main career choice obtain a traditional education in that field, and this applies to men AND women. I’m not strong in maths by any stretch of the imagination, but her figures don’t add up. You can’t lead with shocking claim that less than one percent of women are going into computer science as their preferred major  and yet jump  to 25% of Americans in computer related occupations are women.
When I worked at UUnet in the late ’90s/early ’00s, maybe 1 in 15 had a degree in CS. Almost ALL, men and women,  were college educated with a major in something else (mainly liberal arts degrees) and were either self-taught or learned on the job. This does NOT discount certification, which is different since certification is very specific to a particular hardware or software. And many, many employers were and still are more interested in your certification then your undergraduate degree program. A decade later, many of those I’ve met who work in a computer science field of some kind, almost all did so by the aforementioned method: An interest turned into a passion, which became then the new career path.
When I was talking about the NYT article with TheHusband, he echoed comments I’ve heard from men and women in the field: Those who have CS degrees are less likely to be good at their jobs than those who do not. The reasoning is that seemingly many CS degreed workers do not learn how to hack, explore, and troubleshoot, or even think outside the box, which are super critical skills in this field.
As I was going over my post this morning with one of my BFFs, Kate, who works as a systems admin for a large corporation. Kate admins UNIX, Linux, AS400, and storage servers and she forwarded me an email she received from her DBA recently:

To: Kate
From: DBA
Subject: Error when doing SSH to DB
Could you look into it?
ssh dba@yermom
The authenticity of host 'yermom (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 0e:d8:df:31:26:2b:90:f1:75:51:7d:2e:a7:5a:bd:d0.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

(All identifying information has been stripped.)
The above example illustrates WHY it’s important to learn how to troubleshoot and discover. Now I’m not advocating against getting a traditional education, but I am saying the computing industry is very much a hands on experience, willingness to go outside your comfort zone and get dirty job which will go much farther in advancing your career then just a four-year degree.
You don’t necessarily need a traditional four-year degree to break into the field either. The diversity, hard and soft skills, and availability of career pathways, with the fact most of the technology is still so new and constantly changing, is what makes this field exciting and easily accessible.  And the help available on just about anything from coding to engineering to network design and everything in-between is easily accessible online or in print, and there is always, ALWAYS websites and groups built around the support of self-study. The internet is the largest purveyor of study halls, ever.
Ergo: hack your education.
One of the biggest challenges, according to many in the industry, may be a public-image problem. Most young people, like Allen, simply don’t come into contact with computer scientists and engineers in their daily lives, and they don’t really understand what they do. 
This statement is so damn generalizing – again, could be applied to many professions like my current one: librarians. Personally, I don’t come into contact with people in every field every day, and there are large swathes of fields and industries I didn’t even know existed until well, I found out about them whether by meeting someone who works in that field, coming across something I read, or something else entirely. Yet I can’t help think this is true for most people as well. But this isn’t necessarily a public image problem, but an information literacy issue.  If we teach people how to research and to discover, the propositions of what they know and don’t know will shift.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science.

You cannot, seriously, make connections that computer programmers are thought of as Dilbert, a cartoon that is widely popular, and then go on to say this. That’s just incredibly stupid.
Computer culture and nerd culture are not mutually exclusive, but there is A LOT of shared similarities. You will almost always find a computer geek who is a nerd and a nerd who is a computer geek. But let’s start talking about this “no pop-culture corollary for computer science” and how it’s absolutely proves the author of the article could not even be arsed to Google.
By no means a complete list, shows/movies with where computers/inteneting/related fields are near a primary focus:

  • The Big Bang Theory – Highly popular TV show about male geeks who hack and love along with their fellow female geeks
  • The IT Crowd – Cult hit UK show that is widely revered in the US about two geeks and their non-geeky boss at a vaguely evil corporation
  • Veronica Mars – Cult show in the US about a teenage Nancy Drew meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who’s best friends with female  hacker
  • Whiz Kids – 1983 TV show about young group of computer experts, including a girl, who play detectives. I LOVED this show.
  • Wargames – 1983 film starring Matthew Broderick about a young genius who hacks into a Pentagon-like network and almost begins WW III
  • The Social Network – 2010 film about the founding of Facebook
  • The Net – 1995 film starring Sandra Bullock about a female computer programmer whose life gets hacked
  • Tron – 1982 film about a hacker transported to the digital world where he needs to fight for his life in a  gladiator type game
  • Antitrust – 2001 film with Ryan Phillippe that is a thinly veiled look at Microsoft
  • The Lone Gunmen – Failed spin-off of the X-Files about well, The Lone Gunman, Mulder and Scully’s personal geek squad
  • Matrix 1, 2, 3 – Did you take the red pill or the blue pill?
  • Hackers – 1995 film starring pubescent Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie as young hackers in love
  • Millennium Trilogy / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Both the original Swedish and US versions are excellent. Central plot around a murder that may or may not happen, but the show is stolen by Lisbeth Salander, the ultra hacker to end all hackers.

Fictional female computer geeks/hackers in film/tv/comics. A Google search came up with over 95M results and the top results list site after site of current articles compiled by big, popular sites such as The Mary Sue and Flavorwire:

I trolled the internet and got lots of other great responses of fictional female hackers ranging from comics to anime to movies and TV shows. Are women under represented in geeky pop culture? Without a fucking doubt, but they do exist. However, to say there is no general pop culture connections or to say there is no fictional outlets to discover female computer geeks is egregious.
I also want to point out many of the above movies and TV shows are popular not within the circles they wish to emulate, but widely watched by variety of different people.
Lastly I noticed the authors quotes were either anonymous, “People in the industry say…,” or were mainly from men. How can you seriously write an article about women in technology and use penis bearers as your definitive source of information on what is happening in the field and expect to be taken seriously? How?
A couple of weeks ago, I proposed lots and lots of ways to start moving past the ballyhooing of the issue and start fixing the issue. I would also add

  • Buy female hacker positive materials such as the TV shows and films listed above as well as books, manga, and more to illustrate that female computer geeks do live in the pop culture world
  • Start a zine aimed at young women and girls as another

The only way the perception and culture of women in computing changes if we start actively making those changes we want to see. We need less of the, “oh woe is us” and more “what are we going to do to fix this damn problem.”
Keep the conversation moving forward.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 1998

Librarians, Gender, and Tech: Moving the Conversation Forward

"Woman teaching geometry" Illustration at the beginning of a medieval translation of Euclid's Elements (c. 1310 AD) via Wikipedia CC.
“Woman teaching geometry”
Illustration at the beginning of a medieval translation of Euclid’s Elements (c. 1310 AD) via Wikipedia CC.

Dear Internet,
Nearly a year ago, there was a small explosion over a post I had written on why men should not write about gender and technology, which stemmed from conversations that were being held simultaneously over several similar mailing lists and blog posts.  At the end of the post, I had proposed in the following to help keep the conversation flowing:

  • Donate to the Ada Intiative.
  • Start/chair an interest group for women in technology in LITA, the technology arm of ALA
  • Start a GeekGirl Dinner in your area.
  • Use to start/find groups in your interests (there were loads of Women in Technology interest groups on MeetUp).
  • Depending on where you work, what you do; start off-site initiative for women to have a hack-a-thon
  • Find local hackerspace communities to start a women’s initiative
  • Use professional conferences to propose panels/groups/discussions to get more people aware but also to pay it forward
  • Create a women in tech book club at local bar/coffee house
  • Donate time to do mentoring to high school and middle school girls
  • Donate to or become a sponsor for a nearby women’s conference, like GeekGirlCon

In keeping with the spirit of my suggestions, this week I presented with a load of great people on gender, technology, and libraries at Internet Librarian.
Twenty four hours later, I was publicly sexually harassed. Like I said, the irony was not lost on me.
Now that the conference is over, I am home and I have had a few days to simmer on the events of the week, I’ve decided to take up the mantel permanently on the topic. My reasoning for this is layered, but primary cause is I don’t think we’re doing enough in the profession to bring this to the forefront of our mind. I only tend to write about it when something has happened either to me or I’ve become impassioned for another and my opinion must be heard! I’ve noticed that others seem to act the same way, thus the discussion tends to dip and rise depending on what is getting peoples ganders up at the moment.
I was curious as to how others are discussing it within the profession, so here are a few examples of how we’re not addressing this topic:

  • A search of “sexual harassment” in American Libraries turns up only 23results, most on opinions on events occurring in the late ’90s and on public court cases
  • A search of “gender technology” in American LIbraries Magazine turns up 27 results, much on the concentration on gender in the classroom
  • ITAL, the journal for LITA, has no results on “sexual harassment,” and two results on “gender,” one of which about the financial disparity between men and women and discussion on the roles of women in technology, which is low, in a profession where the role of women is high
  • Code4Lib Journal has no mention of “sexual harassment” in its journal, and “gender” brings up conference reports on forums on inclusion and diversity. To be fair, a lot of the big discussions happen on their mailing list, but that doesn’t entirely erase the fact there is no discussion happening in their journal
  • As far as I can find, until now, there is no known topic or panel of women, technology, or gender that have taken place on local or national forums in terms of panels, posters, or discussions at conferences
  • There was no known Code of Conduct at ALA Annual 2013, or any other ALA related conference. When I asked and asked, I was constantly told this was a “topic of discussion” stretching back for many years but no one was actively working on it because it was assumed it was not needed. Thanks to Andromeda Yelton, who rocks my little socks, and others who helped get this out of the discussion period and into the actual tangible thing. Hopefully this will be taken up by other arms of ALA for their future conferences.

Then there is always the other side of sexual harassment — the side of men being harassed by women. I had a conversation with a male librarian while at Internet Librarian who regaled me of stories of sexual harassment occurring towards him while at conferences, meetings, and the like. Now what is interesting is social convention states that as a male, he’s supposed to not only take it, but be flattered by the attention. Why are we also not discussing this?
Another intriguing thing about this topic is the fact the discussion seems to be happening all over and around librarianship, via national outlets and personal blogs, but not within the profession itself. Some good examples of these conversations that give a lot of food for thought are:

Now some of the above writers are librarians, others are not, so when I say “within the profession itself,” I explicitly mean within professional journals, organizations, and conferences.
Now this post is meandering all over the place, but lets add more on what to do to keep the conversation going:

  • Started near the end of 2012, I formed LibTechWomen with Becky Yoose, Bohyun Kim,  Andromeda Yelton, and many other awesome people as a way to create a safe space for women and their allies to talk about these and every other issue under the sun. You can find us, mainly, via Facebook, Twitter as @libtechwomen and #libtechwomen, and GoogleGroups.
  • A national summit, Leadership-Technology-Gender, is happening at the end of Electronic Resources & Libraries conference in March, 2014. Great start, but we need to keep this at  local level as well
  • Start doing panels, proposals, forums, Q&As at at library related conferences, local and specialized
  • Use this topic as a launch pad for discussion in your classes. (Thanks, Nick!)
  • Start implementing a Codes of Conduct1 at your conferences, meetings, and other large gatherings
  • Start writing on this topic on a regular basis both in personal blogs AND professional journals, most specifically NOT just when something happens
  • Push this topic on Twitter using #libtechgender

Over on my professional site, I’ve started to curate all of this into a page of its own. You can track the updates by subscribing to the tag here when I write a new article or checking the page manually or subscribing to the page’s RSS feed to get updates when the page itself is updated.
As always, I have obviously not covered everything so if you have an article, link to an already happened or upcoming panel, or whatever, please feel free to drop a comment below or contact me.
I also encourage discussion on this topic from all perspectives, as more voices the better, whether here, your own blog, or on Twitter using #libtechgender. But please keep it civil.

1. I’m going to be writing more on this topic at a later date, as I think this is just as important as talking about sexual harassment and women in library technology

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2012

The Site’s Tale (A foray into the tech abyss)

Dear Internet,
And so, here we are.
What started out last summer as a support ticket to my web host provider for site slowness has become a farce of epic proportions. Here is the timeline:

  • In the summer of 2012, open up ticket for site slowness
    • Web host provider claim other sites that live on the server my domains are located on, plus the random DDoS attacks that were occurring during the same time on the server, are reason for my sites slowness. Web host provider suggest I get a VPS to clear up the problem. (Note they did not offer to move me to another server cluster, which would have more than likely fixed the problem.)
  • Domains are moved to the VPS. VPS configured with Apache, MySQL, PHP (Web host provider’s default setup.)
    • Less then a month after the move, my sites become almost inaccessible. We discover Apache is randomly spiking the memory and CPU. The randomness doesn’t give any clues nor is there anything in the logs.
    • To clear the spikes, we have to restart the VPS. Sites become accessible for a few hours and then the spikes start all over again.
  • Inbetweenest the spiking, my main domain is infected with an injection hack. Three separate times. After each hack, I use WordPress best practices for site security as well as web provider’s list of security recommendations. Yet, I was hacked two more times after the first.
    • When I opened up a ticket with the provider about the hacking and I had followed their best practices AND WordPress’ for security, they told me there was “nothing they could do.”
  • Web host provider cannot diagnosis the problem or provide a fix/solution with the Apache issues. All they do tell me is to move over from Apache to Nginx, another web server software provided by the provider.
    • The change over to Nginx is seamless and the spiking immediately stops. As does the injection hack attempts.
  • End of December 2012, all of my domains start throwing up 502/504 errors. I open up ticket with the provider and the errors almost immediately stop. I’m told to clear my browser cache and DNS cache on my computer in the future.
    • 502/504 errors come and go most of January 2013 and into February. Sometimes they get so bad (like hours without access) that I have to restart the VPS to get it going again.
    • I open up a ticket in mid-late February as my sites has been inaccessible that no matter what I do (restart VPS, clear caches), unload plugins, nothing works. While I care that my sites work, it’s becoming more of an imperative in having a working portfolio in April to hand in to my boss.
      • No one responds to my ticket for 8 days.
  • When I get a response, the person responding used to verify site connectivity and wanted to close the ticket. Site was apparently live when they did it because when I got the response from them, the sites were dead again.
  • When I respond back the sites were down again, and had been down, the support person’s response was we needed to have supervisord installed and running to kill any PHP processes that were just hanging. Supervisord was installed but not configured and the only way to configure that was adding a user to the VPS as root and configuring it ourselves, which we did per web host provider’s instructions.
  • TheHusband installs supervisord and gets it configured, and the 502/504 errors do not end. We respond to the ticket and we are told the  only way web host provider will look into this if we disable supervisord, remove the root user and then they will reconfigure and manage supervisord.
  • We do as they request and in the interim, I am told the sql server is in the wrong cluster. This is surely the problem and why we are getting all the 504/502 errors.
    • My SQL server is moved and nothing changes.
    • Web host provider configures supervisord and nothing changes
  • Support then recommends I turn on PHP XCache Support in our domain control panel and install W3 Total Cache in WordPress to help
    • W3 Total Cache had a vulnerability discovered in it in December 2012 that was immediately fixed and updated. My domain had the updated version but was hijacked by script kiddies for the same vulnerability (so the plugin has another vulnerability hole in it) within hours of installation. I was notified by Google Webmaster, within hours of installing the plugin, my site was no longer secure. After turning the plugin off, and cleaning up, I opened a ticket with provider for their security to verify my site was clean. The support person(s) verified the site was clean, ventured a guess the whole problem with the 502/504 errors was the W3 Total Cache plugin, so they suggested in addition to uninstalling the plugin, I also clear my cache and everything will be right as rain.  I pointed out this was an ongoing issue that was known for months and had nothing to do with W3 Total Cache, which I had just installed for the first time a few days ago. Transfer me back to regular support.
  • Original ticket for the 502/504 errors (not including previous slowness history) was opened on February 12. As of March 30, there has been no resolution or solution.
    • During that period, nearly 70 emails were exchanged by me and support — most of it having to remind them they already told me X solution and it didn’t work or providing them with data to back up my problem. Every time  a tech suggested I “just clear my browser cache” as there was “nothing in the logs,”  they got an email from me with data of users from around the globe who were getting the same 502/504 error. Every time they suggested I go to Apache, I point to the ticket from them telling us to move from Apache to Nginx because they couldn’t fix the Apache spiking errors when I was on Apache.

During all of this, TheHusband noticed a couple of things:

  • The provider never offered to move me to a new server or cluster, the default response from them was for me to move to a VPS and once on the VPS, up my memory  (aka, to get more money from me)
  • The VPS is crippled. You have zero control to update any software (Apache, Nginx, PHP, whatever) nor  can you do any configuration that goes outside of what the provider allows (which you don’t find out until you try to do thing)
  • Even having root access on the VPS, which should give you full control, doesn’t. That too is crippled and some functionality is stripped.
  • CPU and memory usage should be minimal on site like mine, but when the 502/504 errors were not going on, they were spiking. Running top on the VPS showed nearly 50% CPU utilization with web services turned off, so nothing should be running and yet here is 50% CPU utilization. Since that is all controlled by the web provider, we could not clean it up or turn off unnecessary services that were eating away at my CPU/memory usage.

Fed up with my caterwauling, TheHusband set up a near identical site at a new provider’s VPS, migrate the content, update the DNS, and get EPbaB running fairly quickly.  TheHusband was also able to update and optimize PHP, Nginx, and WordPress as that was not allowed at Dreamhost and swapped us from MySql to MariaDB, the open source solution, for the database. After we got everything up and configured,  he ran structured packet queries against both sites. The result? Host provider had 93% packet loss while new provider had 0% packet loss.
TheHusband also calculated the current provider could not handle more than 1 connection a second, where as the new provider can handle 5 times the load – on the exact same set up.
We’re moving the remaining three domains over in the upcoming weeks, then I’m canceling service.
The last email I got from the provider, from March 30th, gave me a long spiel of apologies and trying to make this right. It was similar to an email I had received from someone else at support that told me, “502/504 errors are normal” a few days earlier. Both suggested I move to Apache, which would solve all my problems.
Apparently neither of them read the ticket history, though they both claimed to have done so.
There are so many levels of frustration going on, it’s hard to figure out what to fight and what to let go. I have been with this web host provider since April 2003. A decade of service and loyalty, so much so that my referral kick backs meant my monthly bill was pennies. Shit just worked. Up until say, 2010, I never had to open a damned ticket with them.  Then it got progressively worse.
I would have held on for loyalty and the years of great service by this provider, but the constant defending or reiterating ourselves on what we did (95% of the time specific directives by the provider), the miscommunication of the support team, technical negligence, the often patronizing tone of the emails (“It’s no a problem with us, it’s a problem with you.”), coupled with you had no idea what line of support you were with or even who you were talking to was the final straw. My sites don’t generate a lot of hits, and I am okay with that, but they should work when I need them to work.
And so, here we are. New provider. Snappier site. Everything working. I have an awesome husband who not only got the site up and running, but was able to fix all the gaping security issues he couldn’t fix on the older provider because it was locked down.
Now, the world is starting to look better again.

Why (white) men should not (mostly) write about gender disparity in technology

Dear Internet,
In 1994 or ’95, I started getting interested in computing and even more specifically, the INTERNET. This all stemmed from a class I took at the time  (taught by a woman) succinctly titled, “An Introduction to the Internet”; which would be all command line interface until the college installed Netscape .9 in the open computer lab later that year. Color. Photos. From. Finland. WOW.
That class changed my entire life.
I got my first paid gig doing tech support at a local ISP in 1996, which lead to another gig in San Francisco, which lead to other gigs that took me around the country. My last pure tech job was as an Senior Internet Systems engineer at UUNet/Worldcom, which I spent my days configuring routers, studying for the CCIE, and other network engineering fun things. As WorldCom was going through a bit of a rough patch, I took this as a sign to head back to university, finish my undergrad in English (where I had started nearly a decade prior) and figure out the rest of my life. I moved back to Michigan and started classes at Aquinas in January of 2003.
I completed my undergrad in the spring of 2005, my first masters in the spring of 2008, and my second masters in the spring of 2010.
None of my degrees have anything to do with computing or technology, which was very much on purpose. My creative brain needs a lot of hand holding while my technology brain does not. While there were gaps between my technology jobs (school and all that rot),  I’ve always kept my head wet by keeping up my interests. My current position is the perfect job for me since it combines my education AND my experience: I’m a systems and web librarian at a local college. All of my senses are tingly.
I’m giving you this background not because I think I’m unique in my education or my foray into technology, but to illustrate that I’ve been in the technological world for a very long time and I have very rich experience of being a woman in a man’s world. I knew getting into tech back in the early ’90s  women were not as dominant and they were just starting to get into the peripheral of the scene. When I went to Def Con in 1997, the number of women who were hackers at the time were just beginning to be as dominant as the ones who came along to support their partners. In the next couple of years, the more cons I visited, the more women were becoming an integral part of the scene and less like visitors from another planet.
As this is such a male dominated landscape, I’m no stranger to sexism or sexual harrassment that was and still is clearly abundant in the world of technology. This is the one constant that has not changed since that first class I took in 1994.
To wit, within the last week alone, two seperate vendors did the following:

  • One sent an email explaining that to turn on the server I had just received by documenting I had to push the big green blinky button
  • After explaining to the vendor I was going to use sudo for installation of Enterprise backup and walked him through the steps, he still explained what sudo was and why I needed to use it

This is in addition to my day to day life where sexism runs rampart, whether it is intended or not. Last week, the beer guy who kept talking to TheHusband about the deliciousness of beer when we picked up a bottle of Guinness Black even after I pointed out it was for me; the car sales people who kept approaching TheHusband when we were shopping for cars even after we pointed out I was not only the primary person driving but also the purchaser. The comic book store clerks (5 out 6 we’ve visited) who kept trying to suggest titles to TheHusband even when it was I asking to buy such and such issues. So forth, and so on.
For many men, most I would think, don’t even think they are being sexist. Some even think they are being helpful. Our culture is so ingrained that something designed as being very male (beer, car shopping, computers, comics) belongs to the male of the party, they  without thinking about it direct all conversation to the male even if it is the female who is inquiring. I’m betting that 9 out of 10 men do this unintentionally and subconsciously, there is no thought that what they are doing is sexist.
I’ve long come to accept this is part of my life, as my interests in male dominated areas (comics, technology, sci-fi/fantasy) continues to grow, so too will the sexism (unintended or not) continue on. I’ve developed a thick skin to the daily sexisms because fighting each and every turn is exhausting, and often futile. So I pick my battles when I can and fight on like a good warrior for these battles.
This is one of those battles.
Ealier this week, Roy Tennant, who writes at Library Journal’s The Digital Shift, published an article called Fostering Female Technology Leadership in Libraries.
I’ll wait while you go read.
I’m going to go make some tea while you’re going through the comments.
I may also start a new cross-stitch pattern while you’re going through that.
Are you back? Good.
Here are the problems I have with Roy’s article, and later his comments.

  • When pointing out his suggestions were just as sexist, or at the very least patronizing to the very people he was trying to help, he told me, the very type of person he was trying to help, I was wrong.
  • When giving him suggestions on how better to further the action or dialogue, he ignored them.
  • When several of us pointed out that as a white man, he had the utmost of privilege and that his suggestions were born from that privilege, unintentional or not, and ergo why his suggestions sounded patronizing even when he thought they were’t, he took that to mean we were attacking him personally even though we were attacking his argument.
  • Ditto for the number of times he keeps discussing how much of a feminist he is on this site and other social media as well as alluding his critics are off the mark. Let me point out once more  the criticisms have come from the very people he’s trying to help. No one is disputing your feminism Roy, we’re critiquing your proposed solutions and your dismissiveness of our experiences in your follow up commentary.
  • When I disputed that the experiences he was writing about were not the same I experienced, so he should not generalize, he said, “yet I’ve heard the opposite from other female colleagues — that such jokes create a hostile environment for women. For now, I’m still with them.”  The problem with this is you cannot expect special treatment for women (tampering down of jokes/commentary  in the work place) if you want to be equal. You can’t have it both ways. It has to apply to EVERYONE or apply to NO ONE. It is not equality if special considerations are made. This was the huge problem I had with this list, because tampering down jokes and being respectful to a woman should not just about women, it should be for all humans.

What really gets my goat, however, is Roy’s apparent ignorance of his own privilege on this matter as he keeps beating it around social media how much of a feminist he is, so he’s right and we’re wrong. It was pointed out to him in the comments that as a white male, he enjoys specialized treatment, which he may not even be aware of but as a white male he does certainly enjoy. He told the person,

Karen, the fact that you think you know me is laughable. Indeed I have “given up privilege” as you put it. For but one example, I voluntarily left the LITA Top Tech Trends panel to make way for the committee to add more women, a number of whom I nominated in the process, and subsequently when the panel at one conference was again male-heavy I complained about at the session. I notice that they’ve largely been better about it since.

So. Giving up privilege, to him, means he left a panel on a professional association. And then complained about it’s male dominatedness later on? And that’s it? This is supposed to make me feel better? Nothing here about his personal life. Nothing here about what he is doing at his own company to promote women in technology or in other very public spheres he’s active in. Because an empty seat on a panel for a small subset of the profession is so helpful to the rest of the female gender in getting them into technology?
Ultimately what is causing me the most frustration is what also makes me the most depressed. Here is someone who has power, who is known on a large scale in the profession, who can’t even acknowledge that his approach to this very worthwhile topic is perhaps not the way that it should be? That maybe, instead of labeling myself and others critical of his approach (again, the very same marginalized group he is attempting to promote) as his “attackers,” he could step back for a moment and at least acknowledge our commentary might have some substance?
(Bears repeating: No one is disagreeing this topic isn’t worthwhile. I am disagreeing with this execution.)
This fight for equality is not even close to being over yet, nor will it be even in my lifetime. However, the unfortunate part is that it is people like Roy, self-styled (white) male femimists, who have solidarity for our cause, who want to be supportive of our needs, are the very same ones who are often our worst detractors. I believe Roy genuinely thinks that he’s doing a very good thing by writing about this topic, even if I disagree with what he wrote. I also think this is why he’s so defensive of any critique of his actions because he thinks he’s doing something to help the downtrodden, how on earth can this even be remotely bad?
Do not ever be afraid to be critical of anyone, regardless of who they are, when they start discussing means and ways of experiences and feelings when it is clear they have no experience in what they are discussing. You, and only you, can own your experiences and feelings. Do not let others dictate how you should live.
Roy asked for ways to change this, which I gave him a list which was ignored. Here is more to add to that list if you want to support women in technology:

  • Donate to the Ada Intiative.
  • Start/chair an interest group for women in technology in LITA, the technology arm of ALA
  • Start a GeekGirl Dinner in your area.
  • Use to start/find groups in your interests (there were loads of Women in Technology interest groups on MeetUp).
  • Depending on where you work, what you do; start off-site initiative for women to have a hack-a-thon
  • Find local hacker space communities to start a women’s initiative
  • Use professional conferences to propose panels / groups / discussions to get more people aware but also to pay it forward
  • Create a women in tech book club at local bar/ coffee house
  • Donate time to do mentoring to high school and middle school girls
  • Donate to or become a sponsor for a nearby women’s conference, like GeekGirlCon

Wanting to bring a voice to a marginalized group is a very good thing, but dismissing the concerns or critiques of that same group when brought up to you is bad. Do not generalize your assumptions of women as a whole in a particular area (in this case, technology) because your sample of that experience will be small and it will not be representative of all voices. Do not presume, as a male, to know my experiences and also, to dictate how I should feel about them. I can only speak of my experiences in my life, I cannot speak for other women, but the broader, much larger vile act of sexism is very, very real. Everyday Sexism is documenting this in spades.
Once this is posted, I’m donating to the Ada Initiative. I welcome any civil, commentary on this topic but keep in mind any obnoxious trolling will be deleted.
Fight the good fight,
Edited: Nov 4: Added link to start a SIG at LITA in the to-do list

Amsterdam – Pimp City: musings on social networking

108883519To support NaNoWriMo this month, I’m finishing the 30+ odd drafts laying about and posting them through the month of November.
Back in June of 2010, Brian IM’d me and said that while reviewing his LinkedIn network updates, he noticed that an entry from me containing the word “Amsterdam – Pimp City” was on the list. He’s referring to an image I recently uploaded to Twitpic and was thusly shouted out to Twitter and anywhere else that I have Twitter bleeding into, including LinkedIN which in turn showed up on Brian’s LinkedIn weekly update email. Follow that? Good.
This image, which is completely safe for work, is nothing more than words on cheap tin ashtray we bought for my brother in Amsterdam since it is a the kind of cheap and tacky gift you get for a loved one. At last you do in my family.
In my world view, I couldn’t see what the fuss was about — it’s an ashtray with cheap print overlay but Brian, in his opinion, was concerned about the word “pimp” and how that word could possible be related back to him via social network streams and what not, thanks to me. In one innocent posting, I could have possibly marred ever so slightly Brian’s professional reputation.
In short, while I was clearly okay with the posting, Brian certainly was not. And what was even better is that I could do nothing to rectify the situation since there were several days of lag between the posting and Brian’s complaint. Which when I pointed that out to Brian, he didn’t really expect me to DO anything. (Because he wouldn’t want me to change who I am but if it turned out if that word did cause a ripple on his network, he would have to defriend me on the LinkedIn service since it would reflect badly on him. Huh.)
I did, admittedly, get a bit defensive about our conversation but it wasn’t about Brian’s issue with my use of the word “pimp,” rather it’s about after how many years of “social networking,” we (as in the general public we) still do not have an agreed upon consensus on what this all means! Secondly, that the extent of our ramifications of our actions, because we (again the royal “we”) suppose on many different instances where things are definitely stupid (befriending one’s boss on Facebook then apparently talking shit about said boss in one’s status updates, thus causing one to get fired.), we agree they are definitely stupid. It’s the gray area that is troubling.
As most of you know, I don’t have a problem expressing who I am online or off. And in some cases, I’ll tone it down when toning down is warranted. But Brian’s observation about his LinkedIn list did give me some food for thought – how much of social networking responsibility am I willing to carry? In the example Brian laid out, a Twitter update with an image with the words “Amsterdam – Pimp City,” while benign for all intents and purposes, could be seen as not that benign or remotely innocent. While I take responsibility for content that I push onto my social networks and those connected sites (In this case, Twitter ->LinkedIn), and am I still responsible for the content if it’s being aggregated through other people’s LinkedIn profiles that is done without my knowledge?
As someone with a long history of online overshare, it was (and still is) difficult for me to comprehend when people publish information online, regardless of format and they almost always naively believe they can attempt to secure or privatize that information. There is a long standing hacker idiom that goes along the lines of if you want to TRULY secure or privatize your data, wrap the sever in chains and throw it into the ocean. Tada! Instant privatization and security.
Back in ye olde tymey days when LiveJournal was my social network crack of choice, I vacillated between privatizing my account or at least some of my entries so that only approved “friends” could read it and keeping it wide open for the public at large. On the whole, my account was 99% public with only a few private entries available to “friends” with the friends demarcation being those who had accounts on LiveJournal and were reciprocal. The vacillation between public and private posting, for me, has been an ongoing struggle for over a decade. When I posted at from the mid 90s to early ’00s, it was all public. When I started cross-posting between and LiveJournal, it was 99% public. Towards the end of the ’00s, I privatized all the back entries on LiveJournal to the beginning and only kept what was cross-posted from 2008-2010 between my regular blog and LiveJournal as public. And after all that forethougth and decision making, in early 2011 I opened up all of my LiveJournal again to be read by the general public, which included all the cross-postings from around my blog-o-sphere.
On one hand, I firmly believe that all information should be free and available to the public regardless of content. On the other, I’m well aware that there is information sensitive enough that should only be shared between a small group of friends and that publicizing could lead to additional problems/issues down the road. When TheEx and I split in March of 2008, I used LiveJournal to disseminate the information to my friends group at large. When I started detailing TheExe’s mental and physical abuse towards me over the prior two years, that’s when I used LiveJournal to go public with his abuse.
In the case of what I was writing, and how I was writing it and when, I was in control of content access. In the last couple of years, this is not so true anymore. Integration across the networks, marketed to save us time and energy is really a huge privacy issue since I can no longer control absolutely how my data is disseminated, and what is hilarious is that we (the general royal we) really don’t care as long as our pictures are on Facebook and we can check into Foursquare. If I choose, however, to stop pushing content over to LinkedIn from my blog and Twitter accounts, I can more or less guarantee that the content will not be redistributed on their networks. But if I don’t, I run the risk, in the case of Brian’s musing, of my work being used in ways I never thought it would be.
If I am taking responsibility for what I’m posting on my approved social networks, is it my responsibility if those networks choose to aggregate that content in other ways (In this case, LinkedIN pushing updates from “friends” into an email that the user subscribes to that I have no control or access to)? Where do I draw the line, imagined or real, on what I’m posting anymore? This is not 1998 and the only way to get access to my content is via RSS or visiting my site, you can find me anywhere.
And the biggest question of them all: How much should I care?

I wanna be your punk rock curator

Internets, I have a request!
For one of the classes I’m taking, I’m required to purchase a webcam. I went searching on NewEgg and Amazon and found this one. It’s cheap, USB, has built in mic and a clip to attach to my laptop. As I have not purchased a webcam in years, should this one do the trick or do I need to look at something else?
Somewhere around here, I have an old B&W webcam from my days in San Fran and D.C. Here is an example of me circa 1998, with Justin, in our old place in San Fran. I’m getting vaguely excited about seeing him in December, as it would have been 10 years since we last saw each other. I’m kinda excited about posting images of us from then and now, and in this new fangled thing called color! High res even! Technologies, it astounds me.
LIB6080 is an intro class, also a pre-req for future classes, on information technology. This class requires that by completion of the semester, I have taken AND passed the IC3 exams (there are three in total). Failure to take the exams or failure to take and pass the exams automatically fails me for the course. As well as with my other two courses this semester, it is a pre-req for completion of the degree and not necessarily just for future classes in the program. As I have mentioned before, several profs and students have discussed the disparity between the UMich and Wayne MLIS programs.
To wit: UMich: tenure track, academia groomed, focus on technology development, methodologies and research. Wayne State: focus on day to day professional environment, marketable and flexible skill set level, job force ready. This is not to say that UMich does not provide their students with the same skill sets as Wayne, they do to some degree, but their focus seemingly is more on the grooming of future academics in the field of research and development over job force ready. I have spoken to those who have graduated from the program without intent of academic pursuits and did not have a problem getting positions (which also may have to do with UMich’s existing reputation as a stellar school) and those currently in the program who are not planning on a research or academic track.
If I seem a bit obsessive about the two schools, to some degree, I am. I had been eyeing UMich’s SI (as they call it) program for a number of years before I applied and was rejected for the fall of 2008. I know, on some level, why I was rejected but what didn’t help matters was that the SI department posted stats on the applications for the fall of 2007. They accepted 81% of their applicants into the program, so my ego is a bit bruised thinking that I must have REALLY fucked up. The main thing that has me salivating for UMich is their Museum Studies Program, which BEFORE would only accept current graduate students from UMich who would concurrently work on their masters/phd program along with the cert program.
My goal was to get into SI and do a tailored program via SI and the MSP and graduate in three or so years. But apparently they have changed the admissions process and now anyone with a graduate degree in the last five years can apply independently to Rackham for the MSP program. WOOT! I say, WOOT! Cos guess what I have? A newly minted Masters degree! And I wonder if I can do a tailored program via Wayne and UMich? How fuckin’ awesomely brilliant would that be?!? Dammit, this entry was going to posit about technology and my ego and I went on another tangent. I suppose that will have to suffice for another day.

anger management

in case you haven’t been keeping track, the company i work for “WorldCom”, is going through some hard times. Namely, that we lost our CEO (yay!), got a new one (Generation Sidgemore) and our stock is now tanking at 1.48 down from 46 dollars when i started back in Novemeber of 1999. Many people have talked about the future of the company and about how where we are going. WCom nee UUNet owns over 60% of the internet backbone. We are one of the few tier one level providers still standing after the dotcom breakdown. But bad managment, bad morale in the company, bad planning finanncially lead to the drop in our stock, people not giving a shit about what is going on. The funny part, at leastto me is that they want me to take Anger Management class.
Apparently they feel that I’m too angry to work with and deal within our natural work enviroment. But fuck, can you blame me? No raise for nearly 2 years. No promotions, no merit raises. No chance of moving anywhere within the company. Can’t leave the company for fear of what doesn’t exist outside the system. Everything goes to fucking shit in a basket and it’s like they make you feel like that for every buck you earn for the company revenue wise, it’s fucking pointless because you’ll never see even a penny of that buck.
I know our managers do care and i know that second level managers care but once you start moving up farther the chain, it’s fucking hopeless. I mean if they cared, Bernie wouldn’t have gotten us into this mess and I wouldn’t be complaining right now.
The general consensus is that WCOM is goign to declare bankruptcy but (and this is a big but) concerning our current status in which we have gazillion percentage of the internet, the work census has been that the govn’t will bail us out (either them or Deutsch telecom).
And people wonder why i’m bitter? It’s pretty hard to have faith in something, even as stable as WCOM that falls fucking apart on you.