Thursday, June 29, 2006

Anthology theory

I'm very happy to have this book from 1936, "Contemporary American Women Poets." To me it reads like poems all in the same or similar registers, mostly formalist, but on a deliberately wide variety of subjects, so they don't all come from the same position (a common fault of anthologies). Yet there is something huge missing - an experimentalness - a flair - diversity - range. It reads like it's all poetry that was to one person's taste.

I prefer the approach taken by María Monvel in her 1930 "Poetisas de América". She puts in poems by poets she likes, yes. But she also puts in stuff she doesn't like. She bluntly makes fun of it, or makes little digs about how it comes off as old-fashioned, or it's trying too hard to be experimental, ultraist, or new at the expense of quality, or she makes it plain that she disagrees with the poem's politics when it's all about communist revolution. But she put them in for a specific reason: to represent the diversity of work being written by women. By the standards of "that kind of work" -- communist ultraist poems, or romantic epic effusions -- the poets she chose are representing, and are good. She put them together in order not to deny their existence; out of honesty. "Contemporary American Women Poets" lacks that dimension of honesty, and doesn't represent diversity, and so gives a false cross-section of "how women were writing" at that particular time.

That's why I like people I don't like! I'm a junkie of difference! Anything else is *not truth* and is oversimplified. If you can look through a lot of different windows at the same thing, then why limit yourself to only one window, one filter, to reality!

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Monday, June 26, 2006

talking gender - a long digressive juicy post

woolf camp
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
I was prepared to talk during the Bloggercon "Bridges" panel but not quite for Elisa's question of "Are we ready for men to be allowed on BlogHer panels?" I didn't even know where to start. I mean, "What? No! Are you kidding? Maybe after the patriarchy's smashed..." And then kind of in frustration I said something like "What the heck. What man would want to, why would a guy want to come into one of the very few women's spaces that is set up for women to talk and listen to each other and for women to figure out what it is that they want to do as women, and demand that women listen to them? WTF, men? " Apparently that was shocking and controversial. Obviously, I am not a separatist. But I am a fuzzy separatist. That is to say, I believe strongly that where there are unequal power dynamics *overall in society* then it is quite valuable to have identity-based conversations - because different conversations happen when you do. Then, the people having that conversation get a sort of base of power, of validation, of figuring-out. You get somewhere new. I believe very strongly as well that you then need to communicate outside that focus group. thus the "bridges".

This is a pretty complicated topic... I think sometimes it takes trying it to see the point of it, and to see what use it can be! Think of it as a thought experiment and as something that has to be both ongoing and temporary.

When you get a group of women with computers and blogs together, what do they talk about? What's important to them? What do they know and not know and want to know, and how can they teach it to each other or figure it out? No one is going to figure that out while we are judging ourselves by what men think is good and important and significant.

So, back to Bloggercon. I said something else that I think annoyed and shocked a bunch of the guys in the room and probably some of the women as well -- that it only takes one loud dude to make a roomful of women stop talking to each other. I want to give a couple of examples from Woolfcamp, an unconference about blogging and writing we had at Grace Davis's house earlier this year. It was a lot of fun, it sparked tons of energy, and I learned a lot from organizing and attending it. It was around 25-30 women, some babies and kids, and maybe 5 men who braved the OMG Sparkly Ponies slumber party atmosphere that we deliberately cultivated to express our girl cootie pride.

Here's the two incidents. At the start of one of the days of Woolfcamp we did a sort of "go around the room with a brief intro" session. It was quite touchy-feely. A lot of us were sitting on the floor and there was lots of heartfelt confession of vulnerability.

(Which I have to digress about. Women often communicate by the mutual offering of vulnerabilities and uncertainties. This can come off as annoying or bewildering self-deprecation, but in a group of women, it functions well. I say "I'm not sure about this idea, and gizmo theory, and I'm not an expert, and here's the three mutually contradictory ways I feel about it, and here's what I do know, and I wonder what my priorities are and what I'll do." Then you say "Me too, sort of, and I've always worried that I don't know how to widgetize well enough." And then we have established our mutual trust and non-arrogant stances, and begin the actual information exchange and work together towards confident steps to action. It is an approach to the process of conversation. The same conversation between women and men often goes like this: "I'm not sure about my gizmo theory abilities, and..." "I'm so sorry. That sucks. Maybe some day you'll know what you're doing. Here, let me tell you how to do it." *guy now puts woman into the category of incompetent whiners* *woman gives up on actually having a productive conversation with guy*)

Caution: I am now going to pick on Marc Canter, and I really like and respect Marc, and I'm only picking on him because I know he can take it...

Okay so back to Woolfcamp. We're all sitting around in a circle being girly hippies. People are stating why they're at Woolfcamp, why they blog, what cool stuff they do, and also... a lot of insecurities and conflicted feelings. Then it comes to be Marc Canter's turn... And it was absolutely like he was from another galaxy. He was up above most of us, up at the top of the room, physically dominating the situation. He talked extremely loudly, with a lot of speech patterns like "I'll tell you exactly what the problem is..." And rambled about DRM and RSS to a roomful of women who mostly did not know what he was talking about and had no idea what his deal was. They'd never heard of him. I'd never heard of him, though I knew what he meant about DRM and I've heard that rant before. But what he was *actually saying*... the subtext of what he was saying... was "I have not listened to you. I don't know who I am and why I'm here, and if I do, I'm not telling. I am an expert, and you are my students, and will listen, because I'm the person here who knows what's really important. You are ignorant about Three Letter Acroynm, and if you were really geeks, you would know, and since you don't, I'll do you the huge favor of explaining it at length." So, what happened? The room was horribly tense. A bunch of people just weren't listening. A few women got up and left the room as unobtrusively as possible. I am an aggressive, assertive person and yet it took me a while to work up the mojo to bust through Marc's wall of blustering. I had to get beyond being pissed off and transcend about five levels of meta-meta-meta to say something calm yet effective. I don't for the life of me know what came out of my mouth, but it was smooth. It was polite. It shut Marc up in some magic way that saved face for him. We moved on. There was a giant collective sigh of relief. Later, in corners... in private... quite a few women came up to me to giggle about what had happened. "OMG it was like one thing was coming out of your mouth and it was all calm, but I could *see* the thought balloon over your head that said "SHUT THE FUCK UP." Or... most telling - from a woman who does not identify herself as a feminist - and the thing that men most need to know about this story... "I was so angry at what was happening in the room that I didn't know what to do or say, and so I went into the kitchen and started washing dishes because I was so pissed." You know what, that happens all the time. Secession happens, because there is no way to get across what is messed up about a situtation and about the communication dynamics. It takes so much work to go across the differering perceptions of reality! I'm trying to do some of that work, by talking about this kind of thing.

I know that Marc makes an easy example, because he has a very strong personality and is very equal opportunity about who he pisses off. (And - another digression - I value that kind of person a lot, and it takes an asshole with a thick skin, like me, to say some of these things; i.e. it is our cluelessness or not-caring-what-other-people-will-thinkitude, and our not following the rules, that stirs shit up and makes a productive conversation happen.) But, Marc is just the obvious easy example, and this dynamic exists all the time in many situations, not just in the geek conference world.

- are you being an expert?
- are you lecturing?
- are you being loud, backing a woman into a corner, or towering over her physically?

If you are and you're not being paid to be a teacher, then you are probably making some chick so enraged that she would gnaw her own arm off rather than come to your conference... If you're lucky then she will sleep with you just to make you shut up...

Okay, that was rude.. but half of you are laughing. ;-P

Please understand that I'm also saying this as a woman who grew up loving competition, harsh situations, games, boasting, winning, chest-beating, and showing off... I can get very much into that scene. I try to keep it out of my actual life in situations where it is not effective, and I don't do it for my own ego, or I try not to. If there is a point, like winning a board game or making money, then hey, go for it. It does not make for productive brainstorming, user-developer sessions, teaching, product development, or interesting conversation... and it does not attract women in general to participate.

Okay, story two is actually more of the same. We were talking about "nifty techie bloggy tools", discussion led by Sarah Dopp.

The deal is, in our roomful of kick-ass interesting blogging women, no one believed they were qualified enough to stand up and lead. We had to bully each other into doing it with a lot of petting and persuading and poking and jokes, a lot of encouragement. By the end of Woolfcamp, women were calling each other on self-deprecation... not letting each other put ourselves down... basic consciousness raising results which made me very happy. So, even Sarah, who among the craft bloggers, complete newbies, literary women, fat awareness activists, etc. stood out as a person who was actually a *programmer*... even Sarah had to have her arm twisted to lead the Nifty Techie Bloggy Tools session, even when she had prepared for it and had a handout. During the session she went through her handout and all of us in the room were cross-talking, were recommending things and confessing ignorance of other things... And part of what was good about what was happening was that we were all talking to each other, participating, and finding out that.. hey! I know something valuable to contribute, too, even though I didn't know I did! Unfortunately.. then Chris Heuer, who I otherwise and at all other times love to death and who is a genius of unconferencing and encouraging participation, came in and... yes you guessed it. Stood in the doorway, weirdly yelling at all of us sitting on the floor about all the things he knows that we don't know and how we *should* know them and how can we not have known them OMG! You could see the newbies in the room shrinking. And again, there was a panicky telepathy... what to do? The thing is... no one could deny that he knew more than we did, probably, about blogging tools. We would in theory like to know. But not quite at such uninterrupted length.... So, since no one could leave the room and since... well I confess, I was exhausted and could not get it up to derail him... What happened was that most people in the room stopped listening, and pointedly started quiet conversations with each other, like bad kids in class, even scribbling notes. And the IM-ing grew fierce. Sarah, who was leading, did not know how to make him shut up without ... The thing is, it takes practice. It takes practice on both sides, on the shutter-upper, and the person being told to shut up. We need to be able to say, "You're hijacking a good thing that was happening in this conversation, and now that will stop." Without that being made a huge deal, or the focus of the conversation. And without having to then take care of the shutted-up person's feelings. We also need to practice shutting up gracefully when asked. (I say, as the same person who kept talking about confrontation and anger to Mike Arrington who was moderating and trying to shut me up... )

It was so weird, because I have never before or since seen Chris do anything like that... and again, a bunch of women in the room had that "omg, that thing that happened! and he wouldn't quit! and we weren't sure what to do or say!" conversation afterwards. But they did not have it where Chris could hear it. Maybe Grace did, actually... and I meant to, but never got around to it. Everyone wanted to, I felt, but they would normally feel major barriers against doing it in front of everyone else, the thing to do would be to do it privately to his face, with much praise and consideration and ego-boosting: in other words it takes quite a lot of time and energy to get past basic defensiveness of "What! I'm not sexist!" No... in your mind you're not... you are even so cool as to be at a feminist conference... and yet "how you are" intrinsically is not the issue, but instead, "how you just behaved not by your own perception but by the perception of *a majority of women who had established their own cultural norm*.

So, that is why I do not support men on panels at Blogher... Because we all need to develop more of those skills.

And because men who get to hear the conversations that develop when women are talking - they are lucky, and should value the opportunity to hear the conversation in the kitchen... when we are angry and can't explain to them why in public, because it would be rude, and we're washing the dishes instead... That is a really good opportunity for anyone. If you talk all the time you will not hear anything.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

a strawfeminist speaks up a bit

i am laughing at dave winer
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
So, to explain a bit why I was incredulous at Dave Winer saying that he wanted to write about feminism, but not get yelled at or criticized... and why I was even more incredulous when he said "I live in fear". I respect Dave and think he's nifty for organizing this conference and inviting a bunch of different communities. I give him mad props. And I also like Dave for his ability to talk without a filter and just say whatever. That's so useful for everyone else! It gets a lot of conversations started! It's often painful to be that kind of person. And I should know!

But! (I have a big but!)

It's bogus to think you get a free pass to say whatever you want about women or feminism without getting called on it... just because you are condescending from your position of privilege where you don't have to think about it, and bothering to think about it, which is so scary! Sorry. There is no free pass! I don't get one, and neither does Dave! I am interested in what he has to say, though, and will read it and talk to him. For me part of going to conferences like these is that it's a commmitment to dialogue.

Dialogue does not mean I don't get to point out stuff that seems messed up to me while I listen to guys saying how afraid they are that women might be offended by their attempts to understand feminism.

So when Dave said "I live in fear" I cracked up and I think I might have heckled him by squawking "oh yeah, because feminists are so powerful and scary!"... If you cannot see the irony I will have to explain it more in another post... I hope this is not fearsome criticism - in case anyone hasn't noticed, I'm not scary: I'm just a blogging blowhard like everyone else. Anyway, "I live in fear" was so over the top. Perhaps it was a joke... well... that's not funny. (As the punchline goes.)

This question of fear kept coming up. In fact, later, in the "core values" discussion, the major theme was guys talking about how hurt they were by trolls and people being mean in their comments. And there were some stories of actual scary situations. but mostly, actual physical violence, threats, and stalking was conflated with .... mean comments on your blog. So, I think it's important to be clear that we are making distinctions between people being rude assholes on the internet, and scary, psychotic stalking.

I would also like to add that stalking and violence, and its threat, is something that every woman lives with even when she is not an A list or a Z list blogger from the age of puberty or earlier. So think about how that sounds, to us, to have Chris Pirillo or Mike Arrington or Dave Winer or Steve Gillmore talking about their blog-comment PTSD. I want to validate their feelings of being hurt, and of feeling the pressure of celebrity and public scrutiny, which I'm sure I can't imagine since I'm not a bigass famous person, and yet on some level, I have trouble hearing their plaint. Especially when as a woman, when I am offended, hurt, or threatened, and then I say so, my feelings are trivialized and I am told that I'm being too sensitive, and that I shouldn't be feeling the way I'm feeling, and that in fact (as so often happens) my being annoyed or offended is more harmful to the annoyer than their (non)offense could ever be to me ... Oh, you know what I mean. Or do you?

Or is the point of Blogher being invited to Bloggercon, in a way, that some of the big boys are tired of being big boys and not crying? Maybe a little bit! Thus the sessions on emotional life being mostly about guys talking about how it was a new big thing for them to have emotions on their blog and then to talk meta- about their emotions on their blog. And that's amazing and cool... It reminds me of something really good I was reading on ap_racism on LJ lately, on this post, On being an ally, in a comment by holzman on the stages of cluefulness white people go through when thinking about racism:

# Racism? Didn't King fix that in the '60s?
# Wow, racism is still a problem. I hope those minorities fix it soon.
# Gee, racism is my problem, I'd better lead the charge in fixing it.
# Hm, racism is my problem, but my assuming I can lead the charge is part of the problem, so maybe I'd better let those minorities know that I'll be their ally if they ever get back to doing anything.
# *headdesk* No one was waiting for me to announce I was ready to be the center of attention, and there's work to be done, and people are doing it, so I'm going to go get involved in helping them do it in a way that is useful for them.

That progression could be useful to many of the intelligent, questioning, sympathetic men at bloggercon.

I passed out that a-zone essay by someone named Mike... in paper handout form... figuring it was a cool men's lib thing and might be the sort of thing these guys would never read otherwise, just because they'd never come across it. Also, in between the advice on hugging each other and learning to deal with emotions, there was some great stuff about not putting the burden of your emotional work on women to do for you, and also on stepping back, inviting women to take the lead on a project, shutting up, and doing the shit work for them for a change. I know a lot of the men at bloggercon won't be able to hear this sort of statement for how I mean it, because they were not even at a place where they could hear the statement "Sexism exists" and agree with it. but, anyway, some of them will hear it and go "Oh! hmmm!" Dave clearly has thought about that kind of thing or has listened to someone who has. As SxSWi also did... with great results.

Unlike people who last-minute go "shit, we don't have any women in our conference... let's ask a couple of them, except we don't know anyone good enough, but we'll ask them anyway. Wonder why they said no?" And then you end up with a panel with 4 expert old men with beards and one bright young woman with no experience or authority, carrying the responsibility to represent for womanhood on her shoulders... so annoying... tokenism... arrrgh.

I should write more about what I leaped up to say about conflict and aggression, but maybe in the morning. In short though... Heated exchanges can be productive. A commenter on my blog can be an asshole, and personally insult me, and yet still have a valid point that it benefits me to listen to, if I can get past the personal reaction. The angry person may not be persuaded, and yet the exposure of the angry exchange can be productive for a community. We don't have to take abuse, and yet we don't have to completely dismiss anger and demand (or enforce) civility. I am suspicious of civility and its function: it's great a lot of the time, but not all of the time, and it can function to suppress legitimate anger. Anger can also be the proper response to a situation, a good response. Finally, and this is unfortunately the part that Mike Arrington cut me off at: We can get angry, but it should be part of our "core values" as bloggers that we can also APOLOGIZE. That is an important part of a commitment to an ongoing conversation, which is what blogging is.

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brief visit to barcamp

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
I hung around barcamp for a little bit and had a nice conversation with Will Pate from Flock. In the nicest possible way he was like "What do women want?" If anyone has an extra day 1 blogher ticket, Will woudl like it. (SJ from I, Asshole also wants one!) So I babbled to him endlessly about what I want from my browser. It should vibrate.

Also! I want a pony! In my browser!

Talked about multiple/flexible identities and work environments. Social networking built into your browser... the difficulties with that. I forget whatall I said, but I thought of more things. For example, why am I ever cutting and pasting stuff, or URLs? Should be able to click on a page - right click it and email it off to someone, so that I can annoy all my family and friends with more "humorous forwards" and glurge. No, really! They want to be annoyed by me! I'm sure they've thought of that already though.

How about not just the tagging, which is handy... but a ratings bar for every page i look at? 10 stars... and I have the option to rank a page i'm looking at - very quickly and without waiting for some other window to pop up - just in my toolbar --- and then at the end of the day I could see a list of my top ranked sites for that day. That would make browser histories automatically way more useful. As it is, I have a browser history that's unwieldy and gross and not useful - but if I were to see the subset of pages I bothered to rank, that might be good. Is this different from tagging? ... hell yes! Then, with social networking built in, scary! i coudl turn on the option (opt in) to let my friends see what my top ranked pages are and I could go look at their. I could push a button to send the list of links nicely marked up to a designated public blog that was just my top-rated links of the day, or the hour, or whatever. It could be all built in!

Don't forget the pony.... OMG ponies!

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fun idea meltdown

so I've had these ideas before but suddenly feel like my head will explode if I don't blog them and say t hem again.

With the video and vlogging discussion, again, I love that everyone will be making home movies of their kids. - which susan mernit described rightly as "documenting families". What will make it *different* from other times like when everyone had shoeboxes full of super8 home movies... is the metadata. You don't know who is going to become interesting or important. Whose home movies of childhood do you wish you could see & why? various reasons, right? fame? relation to you? other reasons?

About social networking, again... I'd love very much to see historical friendster. Like, social networks 1870. Social networks 1926. Step through years, and get a picture of changing relationships & personal & power networks over time. Who knew who? Wouldn't that be awesome to have? Get the NEH to fund it. And have it be very easy to contribute, be wiki-ish, so that anyone can log in and add people from history and add data and relationships.

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bloggercon meltdown

Everything's peaceful, sweetness, light, rainbows and unicorns over here at Bloggercon. I'm kind of overloaded on social and techie conversations! i keep phasing out and being snarky on the irc channel and then missing what people are talking about.

whoever the punk rock dude in the back row is, it was fun to listen to him.

Cookies, and a nap... mmmm... and yet, barcamp beckons.

Meanwhile, this was obnoxious yet kind of funny... someone linked to it off the irc chat.

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elections discussion at bloggercon

What's the roles of bloggers? How about blogging from within a campaign? Campaigns using blogging. What advice would we give candidates?


q: when you say "what worked" how do we decide what worked?
speaker: dean proved you can raise money... but it doesn't deliver votes.

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bloggercon: building bridges discussion

I was away from my computer and talking a lot during this... so did not take notes, but I'll come back later and link to the transcripts and I have plenty to say about it!

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Making money session at Bloggercon iv

We're talking about monetizing blogs. Ads. Localization. How to make it easy for local businesses to get small ads on blogs. Subscription models for blogs. Micropayments. Networks.

So, I'm thinking locally and it seems like every podunk chamber of commerce and downtown business association should be paying a blogger. Many local newspapers are moribund - bought up by big media organizations who don't actually care about the local scenes. Local blogs should have the chamber of commerce/business connection hooked in, for ads, and should also have political use... man, every town should just have a package of group blog, phpBB-style forum, etc. They're reluctant to commit to that even in my small silicon valley town because of class, language, etc. barriers, i.e. half the town isn't online and it's a big deal to get them on and so if you commit resources to online stuff you are leaving them out. However, it's not like the xeroxed flyers are reachign very many people EITHER. (duh). So if you built structures where it was *possible* for everyone to participate then people would have a reason to *get* online and say something and read something about local politics....

Um, meanwhile, I'm sure it could be monetized some how... can I go off on a tangent or what?

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Oh, how I love to say dumb things on the internet... join me...

lisa williams
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
Multitasking was tougher than usual today. I languished on the floor in the back of the room while trying to type, listen, rest, and do an IRC chat while taking, uploading, and tagging photos. Good thing my mommyblogging homie Mary Tsao was on the job.

During the emotional life discussion I got distracted by Robert Scoble discussing his emotions in the bloggercon chat window. I asked him if his attitude about blogging personal stuff had changed over the lifetime of his blogs... and if Maryam also blogging changed his blog style. He pretty much said yes & that since he knows she's going to blog something, he might as well say something because it's not like people aren't going to know. I had to ask, because Lisa Canter and I and some other people had an intense talk at SXSWi about being the loudmouthed blogging-writing girlfriends of "famous" geeks, and what that was like from our point of view... and from theirs.

Anyway, I wrote a bit about that idea in an article, "Blog It, Sister" that I'll be reading Tuesday at Intersection for the Arts, a reading with Other magazine and Tachyon Press. In which article I say really embarrassing and silly things about my geeky teenagerhood and how I used to invite this one guy over, and make out with him, so that he'd tell me clues for Zork II and teach me assembly language. The story was to illustrate a point about sexual politics, information exchange, boys' geek social networks and how women become peripheral to them, and how to fix that. So since Wired has apparently been linking to my dorky post about gay truckers on IRC, I figure I should mention this fun event while you're all looking, because, well, I'm a total blog tart. Come and hear me and Chris Garcia from othermag, and Peter S. Beagle and Terry Bisson from Tachyon. And you can whisper the hints to old text adventures into my ear...

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Friday, June 23, 2006

irc woes

Okay,... i'm no tech dummy and I used to hang out on IRC all the time in like 1990 and pick up gay truckers. But I can't figure out how to connect to the bloggercon IRC with colloquy or Fire.

someone come and show me?

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emotional life discussion at bloggercon iv

Emotional life discussion...

Lisa Williams starts witha story and a question. the blogosphere is my a way i feel more at home there than in real life, but that's not how i started out. i went to blogs to be alone. girl with real gold-tone diary with a little lock... my blog was born out of a privacy crisis. when you have comments in your locked diary that sucks.

her coming out story...

desert island blogging. peopel do cooler stuff when they don't know we're watching. ssshhhhh, we're watching.

the bottle floating into your desert island with a message to you!

community with interesting conversation. now, i'm here... i'm here to find out why you blog.

hwat's the most personal and serious thing you blog. what's the thing when you push publish, it makes you really scared?

jesus... the room really cleared out for this. i cant believe that people stayed for the kind of boring rss thing... that seemed to go nowhere... and left for this! ooo scary! girl cooties! emotions!


terry heaton.. i found my wife dead on the floor... And I blogged it a few hours later. i knew of nothing else to do except to write about it. what happned in the hours and days following was really stunning. i received so many condolances. emalis and comments. the community held me up. mainstream media misses that it's a community. it's a social phenomenon. i can't thank everybody enough. I believe in sharing experiences because that's the way we learn. My writing about Allie has not gone over well with certain members of the family. grieving... her brother doesn't understand... he's not a writer. he thinks i'm violating her privacy. that's somethng i have to deal with .


Lisa - finding body... my own post about that... my family's reaction... blogging gives us all the hidden information. most poeple have no idea what to do. they have no idea how other people react, how they'll react. it's tremendously helpful to let that information out.

chris... i've led a v ery public life for a while online. i had a very bloggerish spirit... (he talks about starting relationship with ponzi, when he's a v. public person - it exposes her to being public figure as well)


What you blog and don't blog. don't blog what you don't own. friendly stranger... if i would tell a friendly stranger at a bus stop this, dont' blog it. (without asking). living up to trust i have with my family and friends. i dont want them to feel that everythign we say gets blogged.

Niall... i've had this conv wiht my family and their tolerance level. i have a brother in iraq... and they have captured people and tortured them.... and used info off the web. so i took all info about him off my web site. (er... shoudl i be blogging this? i guess, without his bro's name it's okay, plus this is getting podcast.)

more stuff...
I talk about will's point about exposure (the guy who was so unfairly spun as "broke up with his girlfriend on youtube") the more that happens to all of us, the less important it will be... people will be suspicious of that kind of spin and will give people some slack. it will be okay to have a human dimension and vulnerabilities. and companies won't be scared to hire a person with a blog because they reveal their human side... they'll be scared to hired a person whose human side they don't know.

lisa: yah.. hope so... and...

liz: also... the fuzzy line of "dont blog what you don't own" human relationships you can't cut those lines , too complicated, must negotiate it new all the time... very hard...
lisa: i dont blog about my husband
liz: do you feel that as a loss? did you used to when you were on the desesrt island?
lisa: no... and yes...
Lisa: i use my blog to de-bullshittify myself. am i full of crap? or not?


Lisa: and it's cool about cutting tthrough the small talk...

Kristie wells: i never had a paper diary... before my blog... it's my first experience with expressing myself in writing...

this is very interesting!!! i can't wait to read the whole transcript! it's very hard to liveblog it and i've got the chat window up, and also listen fully, eventho i'm a kick ass multitasker...

lawsuit discussion. interessting!

a dude is nervously realizing as he talks , that he's in a room full of bloggers who are bloggging what he says. yup.

jory: blog helps me clean up my relationships... i will never embarrass someone more than i will embarrass myself... cleaned up my life... my family not communicative... till i started blogging... dialogues have started going on in my family... my mom's blog now, th is is how i know what's going on with her now! she won't talk to me, but she will blog about it! and I can read it!

wow fascinating!


Elisa... i dont blog my boyfriend's name... or where he works... but it's a large computer company based in seattle... *hahahaha* i dont' 't hink he reads my blog very much... writing things down is diff than talking or telling people things. 9/11 i was in nyc on business... and 3 years later i wrote it down in a day by day way. parts of the story i had never said out loud, the most hard parts, came out. ii still get emotional, i can't say them out loud, they're too hard.

it's easier to share heightened emoltional experiences with a big anonymous audience... than it is to say in personal conversation, i wonder about the dynamics of that.


jay rosen talking about thinking politically. hannah arendt. jews thought of themselves as germans in germany, but that didn't mean enough and wasn't political thinking, because to non german jews, they weren't germans. they were jews.

i think that this is applicable to us as women... we think w'er human. but other people see us as not human. and we are extremely vulnerable to losing our human rights.

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standards discussion at bloggercon iv

Niall leading the discussion of standards for users - someone is saying "put rss standards up on the screen and let's spend 5 minutes understanding it, most people in this room could." "why should I? what is the value to me ..." "do you use a cell phone? do you know what its protocols and standards are? no, who cares" "well i would if you said i could understand it in 5 minutes." "we're spending 15 minutes debating whether to spend 5 minutes."


Where is our fabulous projected transcript? I don't know who's talking anymore.

By the way, there is a fabulous cappucino machine in the kitchen in the magma room or whatever it is called. it has peet's coffee and grinds it and makes you a free mochachino. Right on. The cookies are gross and stale - alas. I should make some good cookies to bring tomorrow and go all den mother on their asses.

Niall has got something up ont he scrren... there is an argument going on... i can't read the text, it's too small. I have no idea what they're talking about... XML... something... Chris ?? is saying she felt freaked out when x happened... dave winer says "now this is a problem... why say you freaked out... do you feel freaked out about other things in your life too?" what the fuck? what the fuckity fuck? Did I just miss something? That was really annoying from my POV, whatever it was. (Muttering from several women in my earshot, making sarcastic comments about dave's personal "frustration in his life"...)

Niall finally makes Dave W. shut up and takes the discussion back.

Niall talks about RSS. parsing an xml rss file's markup. okay... you know what, i can understand a markup language... without anyone pointing to it on a big screen. No one has actually explained why I want to know jack about rss markup.

*saving, to be continued in a minute*

come to think of it why not have a "liveblogging" mode for blogger/typepad/whatever, where you autosave LIVE every couple of minutes to the same file instead of my publishing the post, then going back tediously to edit it & make updates in the same post!!! liveblogging mode! did anyone hear that?


I'm muttering about why do I want to konw this? a dude turns around and says just roll with it and we'll know why we want to know about it after we know it. Okay! haha!

Niall is going through more of the markup and the rss feed. guid, docs, generator, managingEditor, various other slots of information that it's good to have filled in and that in theory you can change or update (globally across a site? or what? ) later. Niall invites Ponzi to talk as she just gave him a "what the" look.

ponzi: a ffew times you've said we don't want to go into that... oh.. never mind... let's not go into that right now...

niall: okay i won't dumb it down. going into category? it doesn't make sense in the form that doc searls has it right now...

doc: well actually..

someone: it's totlaly esoteric... sometimes stuff is so convoluted... i did not do it this way to confuse you but b/c there was no other way to do it. i would swear in court on a stack of holy bibles you dont' need to understand this. since i'm the guy to design all this i can say you can eat me.

ponzi? but since you just said that we need to understand it

*laughter... "hear hear"...

what? I'm missing like 90 % of the meaning of this... that's okay... it's clearly an rss ongoing conversation... v. intense...

some dude: blah blah i dont have to know whats under the hood of my car

some other dude: can i ask what you do for a living?

Jesus! Dick war city! Weenie war! Here is where my impulse is to get up and get some more coffee...

Niall: this is getting far away from our purpose. *applause*

some dude just took my picture and I mugged for it....


this is not the standard this is a kluge and a hack...

that's the point.. we have standards but what happens to the storage containers... what do people do with it.

what do we want for standards?

what are some of the things that could make your life easier? online?

- allowing things to be exported out of things to give peole a hope of interchange
- categories not implemented properly... standards are open to interpretation.
- things evolve and change, standards have to change....
- editors of icalendar etc talking... never got it right... calendaring standards that work... users and developers come at issues with their specific needs... they arre inherently in conflict. different perceptions of reality. you solve one and break another. calendars and schedules are different.


space out for a bit... reading email... ergh... must lie down...


Talking about feeds getting your programs and devices to talk to each other, getting info across. Yes... that would be lovely. just being able to ssee your bookmarks info in text format, or your addressbook. (YEAH!)

Car metaphor for the millionth time. The car metaphor is not very productive and i find it annoyingly anti-intellectual. "you don't need to know how your car works" "we don't ahve to know how your car works." "we just want to get in the car and drive" erm, okay whatever. However, we want to be able to take our carseats out of the car and install them into another car without breaking a sweat or reading a user manual. That is the point of standards! duh!

identity standards. users taking matters into their own hands. (I want to hear more about that!)

guy saying that he wants printers to be more standards, should be able to print wherever to whatever. also, whatever pdf was supposed to do, it's not doing it.

RSS and aggregators gave birth to the entire echo system a lot of people made money off of that. everyone's free to exploit the lack of copyright. more standards means we make more money. (who was that? was that marc canter? i cant see... sounded like him...)

my name's scott and i've been trying to share calendars with my wife for many years... *laughter*

"i want my software to quit tryihng to phone home...."

this is an extension of the user bitch session!


putting stuff on flickr... getting it out again.

marc canter just said something v. hysterical. you suck you spit, what goes in goes out... standards and api should go both ways. (yeah!!!)

eric and moblogging and textamerica horror story. tacit agreement, i'm giving you my content to keep, i hope you're keeping it for me... then you find out they're not.

It has been interesting to see Marc Canter in his natural habitat rather than at WoolfCamp.


we move on to talk about moving blogs. getting yoru data out.

elisa camahort says: how about an app that will crawl all my blogs every night and back them all up and keep them organized.!

YEEAH!!!!!! hear hear! I could use that! I'd pay for software to do that. I'm massively multiblogular, like Elisa is.

the inbound link to your data breaks... ! good point.

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more from bloggercon's user bitch panel

I like what Jesse just said about how users don't need to talk to support people, who don't care about what you want... support people want to train users to do what they're supposed to be doing with the software. but users need to be talking to developers about what they actually WANT.

Jay rosen talks about tabs. "you jerks! you could have done it years ago!" hahah!

I stood up to say, "I dig flickr and flock and they do a lot of things right as far as transparency and integration with blogging/tagging... And then, I'm taking your picture, right now, with my cameraphone. and it's going to take me 7 or 8 clicks and 60 seconds to email this photo to my flickr account. and it should be one button. customizable, common things you might want to to, customizable, with one button, like a script or a macro, but not so in depth." someone said that HIS phone does that already ... well... fine... good... but they all should, and a lot of software should work that way. You should be able to make your own "commonly done thing" happen.

chris heuer is talking about embedding odeo ... contact info into software... feedback button built into software.

microsoft has a thing called "send a smile" and you click on a smiley or frowny face, and type in why you liked it or you hated it. it's like instant gratification.

Actually that sounds kind of cool.

What I think is... what you need is the smiley, the frowny, and the DATA... so users can see what other users are saying, see the smiileys and the frownies of other people!! for collectivity.

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Bloggercon so far: lunch, users in charge

visible bandaid
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
I'm at the users in charge discussion sitting against the back wall on the floor, my favorite place to be in discussions. I can fidget, lie down, lean on the wall, whatever, while being relatively non-visible. I'm listening with one ear... the conversation was just brought back to "let's hear from users not developers". "let developers do support for their own product. " (for a while?) fitting data types to people's needs - not trying to put people into your preconcieved data types.

Mostly, I'm digesting my lunch. Mary Tsao and I walked off and at random had lunch with Kelsey and Matthew, from Seattle & Vancouver. Kelsey owns a manufacturing plant and Matthew develops blog-like tools for the plant's employees to keep in touch & work collaboratively. Chris Heuer joined us... we were trying to find Kristi at osha, but it was too crowded. so, off to Thirsty Bear. I recommend the pine nut-micro arugula- goat cheese empanadas with red pepper sauce. DAMN that was good.

Back to this session. It's really nice to have the transcript going up on the projection screens overhead.

Jory has a user bitch, it's like the Ikea problem, you have to go all the way through that frickin store, for a SPOON? It took me an hour to change the number of posts that appear on Typepad... to flip a switch. I don't want to have to memorize everything on that site to find what i'm looking for. q: is there a product that jumps out in your mind that avoids that? jory: ... hmmmm.

I'd say Flickr is quite beautifully intuitive... I'm using it right now. There has to be *something*, a layer of common use, that is amazingly low-entry-cost and intuitive. then, depth you might have to work for.

a bitch about browsers for mac, crashing with more than 10 tabs open. Users care a lot... we arent' going to join a group though... it sounds like a lot of work.

a guy bitches about irc client... ircle. Oh you've got to be kidding... colloquy was good.. it took me one minute to set it up. "most popular" different than "good to use" ircle is a piece of crap and colloquy is great. who has two hours to waste trying to figure out how to set up a damn piece of software?

dude talking about how he and some friends put together suggestions for flickr. and they haven't answered him yet...

product teams want to know, should we be listening to bloggers? teams, prod dev, iterative process, are bloggers the real voice of the average customer?

someone cracks a joke about the search dog in windows xp... hahahaha

ANYWAY I like the projection of the transcript in realtime! Wow! So much more useful than looking at panelists' powerpoint slides!!! To know who is saying what in the audience. it's nice to have their names. The monitors with microphones are amazingly useful. so often in a panel or discussion i can't hear the questions from audience. here, a committment to infrastructure, i.e. providing working wireless microphones, makes a huge difference to egalitarian ideals for discussion.

Back to our lunch discussion : i talked aobut socialtext to Kelsey and Matthew. They talked about t heir product/supplier workflow, about various studies of Bethlehem Steel (the Hawthorne study), another study that said that low light was NOT the factor in productivity but merely indication fo management interest, being observed, etc.

note: email coworking wiki info to Mary.

Chris H: we talked briefly about being dilettantes and sluts. "slutty nodes".

When I got here I was going to the citizen journalism discussion but was waylaid by Kristin from wired news... she wanted some quotes about blogher stuff and was like "waaah i have a deadline like 1 hour from now please give me some quotes" and I figured I'm an awesome media whore, so why not. I can read the transcripts later of citizen journalism and it'll likely be a bunch of weenie wars anyway. (as indeed it sounded like from the reports at lunch... and for a good citizen journalism project, international, I would humbly suggest that I don't give a rat's ass about the price of prozac, but how about the price of childcare? now that would be popular... and interesting... and perhaps influential... WORLDWIDE.) Or something to do with healthcare, like vaccinations or a service that a huge # of people need.

Oh - about the photo. I was blathering to K. from Wired about transparency of life, the personal is political, etc. etc. So, I thought I'd take this appalling photo of my belly hanging out, old school riot grrl style, and the batman bandaid over my tubal ligation laparoscopy scar from just a couple of days ago. Yow, how's that for inappropriate! Squicked much? Want to see my cool incisions? Just be glad there's a bandaid.

More in a bit. I'm going to quit talking about lunch now.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

two little poems, translated two ways

I'm recovering from minor surgery and don't have a lot of blog juice in me, so here's a couple of poem translations I did a while back. The poems are from, I think, around 1950, and are by David Rosenmann-Taub, from his book "Cortejo y Epinicio". The translations are mine.

I love his early poems, and their air of inward-looking fractal secret codedness, the complexity and richness - and I agree with something I remember reading about his work - that each poem is like a game of chess.


(Viscisitud...) Seduciré la tinta.
Cangiilones, colmaos.


(Vissicitude...) I'll vamp Ink itself.
Chamberpots, crap slopping over the top.

- or -

(Vissicitude...) I'll vamp Ink itself.
Garbagepails, full to spilling.


- líneas -
y puños.
¿Qué más?
Los panoramas.

Hierarchy (two ways)

- lines -
and fists.
What else?


Neural nets
and grabbing.
What else?
Seeing everything.
This, too?

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bloggercon IV: The Gathering

gregorian fervor
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
The feminist CR session that is Bloggercon needs your help! Yes, we're going to make it a collectible card game *and* an unconference. With tech conference bingo. When I blame the patriarchy or Marc Canter bellows an insult about Apple and the evils of DRM, someone's sure to yell BINGO. Instead of passing a talking stick, we'll build roads and settlements on an insane live-action hexmap wiki: Bloggers of Cataan! While knitting our own cat-eared Roomba cozies and figuring out our next moves in the Advanced Squad Leader smackdown! Mary Tsao will teach us her favorite playground drinking games! And the BlogHer triumvirago shall spread their miasma of pain and fear across the airwaves as part of their evil plan of world domination; they may reveal that they're Laádan-speaking vampires.

As many games as possible, because it's the playable con!

At some point I'll whip out the "Gregorian Fervor" card and the podcast listeners will be treated to a round of Discussion Leadership that takes place completely in fake plainsong.

I'll paint everyone's fingernails a dainty pink.

Then we'll all take off our clothes and pose for nakedjen. Yay!

Tags: , , .

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

More on process and poems

Again relating to Quickmuse. Man, this is the sort of neoformalist stick-up-the-butt work that makes me crazy, even when I also kind of like it. It makes me crazy how same-same it all is. They all sound like each other, and like they're tallking only to each other in the same melancholy formal register. How can people write like that all the time and not be aware of the profound unoriginality of voice? And consider that the only path to "quality"? Where is the newness? What's getting broken and remade? (Nothing big, that's for sure.) It's like watching someone in a box extend a tiny feeler outside the box and wave it around in an elaborate encoded handsignal. Even if I understand the meannig of the handsignal and its beauty and the history of the tentacle-waving from inside a box art form, I'm so dissatisfied! Yes, there is a place for the muted expression of things... I can't put my finger on what makes me so FRUSTRATED when I read poems like this. It's like being a volcano and having someone try to make you sit down and listen to a reasoned argument about how you need to brush your teeth. They are right, and it's fine for them to expect you to listen quietly, but when their speech is over, you're still a fucking volcano. I want big poems, and I want to be surprised, and mind-fucked, and taken on a trip, and pleased by something that goes somewhere I don't expect. I want MORE.

Ideally, I suppose, watching someone else's process makes one frustrated, and just frustrated enough to run off and write a BETTER poem. Just like retranslation, where you love a work, and respect a translation of it or have special nostalgia for it, but it does not match your own vision and so becomes a constant pebble in your shoe until you do it your own way. Inspiration by way of annoyance. God, people! Get out of the box! Would rather see something, anything that isn't like everything else, and definitely that isn't "workshopped" or "polished".

Maybe the toothbrushing is not quite the right example. They're like small, perfect, formal gardens. I like them, but I want fucking terraforming -- that's big and vulnerable.

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Quickmuse and process

This looks nifty: QuickMuse, a poetry jam site that exposes writing process. You can see the finished poem and then do a playback of the writer compsing the poem, writing and deleting and shuffling things around. The interface, well, I could wish for it to be more like a video where you can slide a bar and speed it up or pause. But I love the idea. Poems on assignment or on a subject have always made me yawn - even assignments I try to give myself. But how interesting it would be to capture the natural process of writing... not always, but occasionally. I have a moment between when i'm rambling and casting about, and then suddenly get in the groove, get my vision, and know what I'm doing. I can stay in that state of mind for hours, then drop out, exhausted emotionally. My paper notebooks have those few first lines and "casting" maybe pages of rambling or clumsy lines that I know aren't "it". It seems to me that part of inspiration is knowing what is not it, but knowing you have to go through creating Not-It anyway.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

thinking out loud

It's so alien to me that people think that you have to say something, or write something, and that's your Position. That's what you think, that's the end point, like the happily ever after at the end of a fairy tale of a process of inner reasoning. Then other people can argue with the Position, which represents you-ness at a point in time, but also is out there forever to be argued with. How peculiar to demand that people's thought should remain static and definite. It seems more normal to me to start conversations as a point of departure and to keep participating in them to evolve thought. Life, and thinking, would be pretty boring if it were all in my head. If I didn't need conversation to think with, I'd never have to say anything - I'd be an incarnation of the Buddha, and even most Buddhas talked out loud.

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