Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blogging class at the Redwood City Library

I just taught a community education class at the Redwood City Public Library, "Start Your Own Blog". Ten people pre-registered and showed up to the small computer lab in the Teen Homework Center. None had ever started a blog, but everyone had basic computer literacy and a personal email address. The blog-starters were all ages -- from middle school student to senior citizen. Roz, a librarian, and Michele, who does IT stuff for the library, helped out. I believe Roz also started a blog, "Gardening by Flashlight," as she followed along with the steps of blog creation.

Before the class began the librarians showed me their page for The Big Read, a community reading series happening in March, co-sponsored by Villa Montalvo. You can get a free copy of Farenheit 451 from the library. Some students from Mission College set up a very fancy web page with forums and a way to participate: load the page and click on "Confess" to answer their amazing questions about self-censorship. How many times today did you stop yourself from saying something? Did you pause before sending an email, or leave one unsent or unwritten? Good questions like that, and space to answer in. (I'm going to ask my English Composition students at Evergreen Valley College to participate for class credit.) You too should go and confess your moments of self-censorship to the Redwood City Library. Give them some love!

I began the class by explaining what a blog was: a web page you can update very easily, using web forms. We used Blogger. Two students had difficulty signing in, though they were using valid email addresses. The librarians helped them sign up for new gmail accounts, but that was pretty distracting for the other students!

As with any hands-on computer class, I sometimes had to pause, walk around the room, and get everyone back on the same page again. I also had to remember to say, at times, "Everyone please look up here at the screen..." to get people to look at my demonstration, rather than what they were doing.

What I didn't expect was for people to be so excited that they wanted to write lots of long blog posts! That was cool! I thought people would write "First post" and "Um I don't know what to write" and things like that. But no! I stood at the head of the room hearing the soul-warming sound of clickety click click of industrious typing, seeing the beautiful deep concentration on people's faces. It did help to ask people at some point to stop, hit publish, and remember that they could go back and edit later. I busted loose with a speech about how you could edit stuff, disinhibited, empowered and freed by the control you had over your own words. Yay, that was fun! I saw some lightbulbs go off in people's heads at that thought.

At the point where we logged out and in again, people were confused by the choice between "New Blogger" and "Old Blogger". They thought they were now Old Bloggers because they weren't New anymore - they'd already gone through the process! That made sense, but I hadn't expected it. So if anyone from Blogger/Blogspot is reading this, free user feedback for you, though you've probably already heard it.

Here's what I would do differently for the class:

- Emphasize the step during creation of the blog of writing down on paper:
-- Your login name (which is the gmail account that's being created!)
-- The URL of your blog
-- The address you will go to in order to edit your blog in future (http://blogger.com)

- add a step for telling the instructor the blog name and your login name!

- Making a link. I'd write out instructions on how to do that with the "link" button rather than typing a href etc. etc. etc.

- Log out, quit the browser completely, and start from scratch to log in again, find your blog in one window, and open a new editing window.

- I'd consider making it a 2-part class, perhaps over 2 weeks, but better yet, Monday/Wednesday or Tues/Thurs.
-- The instructor will have the list of everyone's URLs and login names, in case someone forgot on the 2nd night.
-- It could also work well as a 3 hour class with a coffee break in the middle, on a Saturday.
-- It really does need a followup to help people have continuity and a little extra practice. It's a lot of information to absorb all at once.

- An added note at the end to suggest that people go home and teach someone else, a family member, friend, or co-worker.
-- That spreads whatever cool empowerment people can get from blogging
-- Trying to teach someone else is a really good way to learn something in depth

- I forgot to mention other blogging services, some free and some not: Vox, Wordpress, LiveJournal, Typepad, and for Spanish speakers Blogalia or Blogalaxia. With a longer class or 2 classes, I would do a quick tour of those sites. Blogger is lovely, but there are other options!

Maybe the students from the class will come and leave me a comment, so I can link to them. The ones I remember are:

Philip, who wrote a mystery novel, and who used to work in TV news, and who I think I know from past meetings of the Redwood City Not Yet Dead Poets: Philip's Code.

Richard, who looked like he was in maybe 7th or 8th grade (but I could be wrong) and who came with his mom, and who is a huge star wars fan: Star Wars Freak.

A very lovely person whose name I have forgotten but who is a technical recruiter... I can't remember her blog name

A dad and his high school or college-age son, and the son was super good at it all already, and the dad was starting a blog on his personal finance business for long-term care

Esperanzamj, who started a blog about hope and creativity

Gina, who was blogging in Spanish, ¡espero que me di su blog url aquí en los comments!

The woman who has a craft business and teaches classes and makes soap and beauty care products

And everyone else. That was really a lot of fun.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Fictional layer on social networks

Here's a fabulous idea! On social network profiles, there will be space for one's fictional alter egos. In other words, my profile on orkut or friendster or tribe or even LinkedIn should include my past role-playing game character information. One could suck in data from one's Everquest or World of Warcraft or MUD characters, and manually put in data about tabletop rpgs.
It's important, because who you like to pretend you are is important. Among role-playing gamers I certainly know people who think about the patterns in their game-playing, and who consciously use the characters to vary their real life persona, to experiment with ways of being, as well as to play to their real life characteristics and strengths.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Paying attention as an art form

In thinking about the ways that value is created (including literary value, or imaginary ideas like money) I arrived at some thoughts about the ways people pay attention to each other on the Internet. If you want to pay attention to someone on the Internet, thanks to social software and blogging and rss and things like Twitter and wikis, there's a lot of ways to do that, to navigate attention & identity individually and collectively, and to let that be seen in varying degrees. In fact, paying attention to people with people can be done with amazing artistry and skill.

People need complex systems so that they can pay attention to each other indirectly and obliquely through all being attentive to something else they have in common. That thing has to be complicated enough to be worth attention. It might be social justice or the good life or gossip or religion or who is the most popular celebrity and why or who wins the Superbowl and how; or seduction or courtly etiquette or art criticism. Functionally and socially those things are all equivalent. Paying attention is better, the better the quality of the synthesis achieved. Software making is heady as any collective endeavor is because it's about people paying enough attention to the same thing to make the thing happen and a creation of any sort is a logical synthesis of ideas & their practice (it is maybe a result of synthesis on one level but on another it is the synthesis.)

I come to this idea also as I think about how much I want to teach my college composition students about the pleasures of thought that arrives at synthesis. I've also gotten here because my partner just laughed at me and shook his head with disgust when I squeaked "Oooo, I've just reached twitterlibrium!"

Also because it's late at night, I had an overstimulating and hyperproductive day, and can't stop thinking to the point where I fool myself into thinking I'm Barthes or something and can write things like "Praxis is synthesis! Art is the collective attention stream!" and feel profound... without any acid.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Some amusing ideas around Twitter

Part of the fun of Twitter is in making up stupid words with tw*tt- as the prefix. Make up the ludicrous dot-com word and the idea will follow. I am very fond of words that have sprung into being like "multiblogular," "polyblogular," "hyperblogulating", "twitterlibrium", "computerbating" or "wikibating" and now "twitterbating". The -bating suffix is particularly interesting because it carries all sorts of associations of feelings and irony around the activity. Perhaps a slight tinge of guilt and discomfort or uncertainty towards the degree to which one is engaging with people (or no people) online rather than "real life" (which of course we must put irony quotes around because talking to people over the net is real life just as much as talking face to face.)

While I was driving to San Jose the other morning I was considering twitterzines - what would they be? I think a way of creating sophisticated "favorites" lists or sets. Twittidors would drag and drop other people's tweets onto interestingly-themed twitterzines; they might turn out like poems or tiny magazines or scrapbooks made of snippets of other people's lives. Being able to look at or collect tweets based on keyword would be nice, but then adding in a human editorial function would be nifty. One's amazing words of wisdom about chicken tacos or the future or toenail-painting at sunset could then be collected by others... and perhaps you get props of some kind for the mention or for being anthologized (twitthologized? ugh!)

The timeline concept could be pushed way further & with tons of possibly pointless data so that you could look at your own or other people's distributions of twittering - Does one tend to tweet at particular times, like during commute... at dinner... Or what? And with particular keywords associated? Just as various events have been highlighted on Twitter (Macworld, etc - and imagine the mass twitterbating that's about to happen at SXSWi; it'll be nuts) We could mark up or tag important moments. Like being able to collect what people were tweeting during the Superbowl. I don't give a fuck about the Superbowl and in fact don't know who played or won, but maybe other events would give nifty information to... someone. My mind hovers between thinking of historians and advertisers... but probably it would be the dilettantes who look.

Dragging & dropping would be a nice concept. Rather than batch editing (Okay I'm assuming anyone ever bothers... But they might... ) you could drag and drop your (or someone else's) twitters onto a tag or into a collection (the twitterzine - which again would be a bit like a Flickr set.)

A probably easy & fun Twitter extension: A mood index or indicator that depended on various factors. On contemplating my own collection of tweets I am heavy on the "fabulous" "Yummy" "yay" and the gazillion exclamation points. Clearly my mood index would tend towards the "Give this woman Ritalin, stat" end of things. The mood index could be as simple as good mood / bad mood but I suspect that more complex would be more fun. The lists of keywords indicating mood, or the connections between word and mood could be built collaboratively, and I think keywords would be a fine way to do it (Unless there is someone out there typing "Yay, I'm fabulously pissed off and want to kill myself, omgponies!!!") This could be pushed even further into, what's that test that people get so obsessed with? The one where I'm like ENTJ or something? That thing. You could associate keywords or patterns or data with various of the qualities and then predict.

One could look at patterns of whether groups of friends or followers tend to twitter in clumps. For example, if after Tara Hunt twitters about her day, half her friends obliquely respond by twittering about their day, that could turn out to be interesting information. An algorithm like... the # of followers you have, in relation to how many of them tend to twitter within a certain time period after you twitter. That might be pointless because it would lead to a level of self-consciousness and avoidance of posting immediately in response to someone or else - the other direction - gaming it deliberately. On the other hand that might be amusing as well.

Twitter is lovely for flirting and webstalking - you can see what your crush is up to or obliquely let them know as well without directly communicating or possibly intruding on their day with an IM or email. So what many dating sites haven't achieved, Twitter does perfectly without intending it. Flirting is all about plausible deniability and Twitter offers that very nicely. I'd like to hear some cool twitter-flirting true confessions from people...

Anyway, I picture this sort of stuff being built on top of Twitter, much like the nifty and addictive little apps people build for LiveJournal. Like LiveJournal, Twitter is *fun*... And people want to play with it and poke and and mess around, which could turn out to be productive in unpredictable ways.

I shouldn't say this, but given the level of eye-rolling some people exhibit over "those people obsessed with Twitter" with the implications of pointless narcissim & wankeriness... I'm surprised no one has made the obvious tasteless parody: Twatter.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Wikithon next week

Hey y'all. I'm going to be at the Socialtext Wikithon next Wednesday - here's the signup on Upcoming. & there's more information here...

Even if you're having trouble thinking of anything to work on, come on by and see if you can lend someone else a hand. We're eagerly looking forward to some cool new Socialtext plugins and hopefully some new API clients. We'll have some folks hanging out who are familiar with Socialtext internals, to help you get started on your widget.

We're going to have two contests during the Wikithon - best Socialtext Plugin or best new Socialtext API Client. Prizes are still to be determined, but we hope to encourage our hackers to come up with cool new ways to extend and use our application.

I'm not going to be hacking any widgets, I don't think, (yet - but at some point yes I will) but I'll be there listening, learning, contributing ideas, taking notes, and probably running through the process to get my own install on a server where I have control. And the party should be fun!

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Women in Open Source

Women in Open Source - at SCALE in LA next weekend. Stormy Peters, Jean T. Anderson, Strata Chalup, Celeste Paul, Bdale Garbee, Randi Harper, and Dru Lavigne.

The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) will host a Women in Open Source Event as part of their upcoming 2007 conference, SCALE 5x.

The focus of this event is on the women in the open source and free software communities. The goal of this event is to encourage women to use technology, open source and free software, and to explore the obstacles that women face in breaking into the technology industry. The Women in Open Source event will be held on February 9, 2007 at the Los Angeles Airport Westin Hotel.

I'm so tempted to go...I could probably get a plane ticket and fly down there and back the same day. Or, Strata said she could put me up in her hotel room if going back and forth on the same day would be too exhausting.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Liveblogging from "She's Such a Geek" reading

I'm at Modern Times bookstore on Valencia in San Francisco & we're all being extremely geeky. Passing around this strange blobby white musical toy with spikey shapes... Giggling about the perils of installing LaTeX on one's Macbook... Me and Corie and Ellen and Cynthia decided that instead of the Geek Hierarchy we should create a Geek Matrix (keeping in mind that "matrix" means "womb"... and not-necessarily-hierarchical network) with different areas or spectra of grrl-geekitude. That way we can avoid feeling that physics trumps sf-geekery, or genetics kicks the ass of Dungeons and Dragons.

There's a huge crowd - standing room only! Tonight a group of more science and tech oriented geeks will be reading from the book. Annalee talks about the germ of the idea for the book. She and Charlie were at a hacker conference in New York, Annalee was presenting with another woman on a panel, and were introduced by the MC as "the only 2 chicks at the conference." She stood up and flipped the guy off. When he said it, Annalee had looked out at the audience and saw all the women in the audience get this look on their faces like "Oh, okaayyyy, we've heard that fucking joke before." With that sort of statement the women who *are* there get erased. People aren't expecting to see them and don't hear their voices. Charlie was there in the audience... and from that experience we wanted to make the point that we're here, we've been here for ages. And not to let people forget we're here at the conference and are not the only 2 chicks.

Charlie: Seal Press asked us at the proposal stage to tell them how the other books in the genre did. You know, the books about women who are geeks and stuff? We went online and we searched. And we searched and searched and we searched. And we found like one book, Geek Girl, that sold like 2 copies, from 1992. The only book about female geeks... And we put out our call for submissions and were astonished at the response we got. It got blogged everywhere and people had been waiting a long time for this!

Annalee: Defining what we mean by "geek". Technical, scientific, cultural arcana. Physicists, biologists, programmers, Harry Potter role playing games. Talking about the ways various areas are male-dominated and what it's like to be a woman in that environment.

First reader: Kristin Abkemeier. Has a phd in experimental condensed matter physics. Radioactive Banana is her blog. And at sheessuchageek.com.

Kristin: How did I become a geek? Job security.... (Kristin reads her essay from the book.) Her mom tells her she'll always have a job.. and how her own parents hadn't encouraged her in science. Kristin loved reading and books and drawing - but was discouraged... Compared to this other kid, "wonder boy John"... And ended up testing into a 7th grade math.

[I must note that I begged my parents to take that same exam in the early 80s, because all the guys I competed with in math class for the top grades were taking it and got to go to a summer school - but my parents couldn't figure out how I would get to the school, which was an hour away in downtown Houston.]

Next up! Ellen Spertus, Associate Prof of Computer Science at Mills College - & she also works at Google. She's written for the Chronicle of Higher Education and Glamour...

Her original title for this article was "From Male-Identified Misogynist to Sexiest Geek Alive". The best way to have status in her household & family was to disdain anything feminine and act like a male.

[God... me too. This is one of the essays from the book that I read just nodding and then shrieking ME TOO over and over!] Went to one of the first computer camps in 1981. The male/female ratio was 6 to 1. Ellen told an Infoworld reporter she was disappointed there weren't more girls. And was misquoted by that reporter as saying she was disappointed there weren't more boys.

[the whole audiences hisses and goes "wooooo" angrily.]

Jenn Shreve reads her article.... On growing up fundamentalist... was taught that evolution was evil and wrong... ATM cards and the mark of the beast... Then rejected all that. Took to the Internet immediately... sneered at poeple who couldn't deal with Pine or HTML. And yet stayed in the Humanities... though I scored way higher on the math than on the verbal sections of the SAT....


Corie Ralston - BS in physics from Berkeley and phd in biophysics. Works at Lawrence Berkeley Labs... IROSF, the Internet Review of Science Fiction, as well.

[ I swoon... I totally love Corie... ]

Corie: My unofficial title is "Beamline Scientist" - how cool is that. I'm one of only 3 beamline scientst out of 200. At first my job title was "beam boy." I lobbied to be called "super duper beam chick" but it never caught on. The filming of The Incredible Hulk took place there.. The synchroton does not produce gamma radiation... but if it did, and you were exposed to it, you would die - not mutate! *everyone cracks up* I love working every day in a place that reminds people of comic books. How did I get to be there? It certainly wasn't anything like becoming the mutant hero of a comic book. Physics teacher in high school... Reading Heinlein & Asimov etc. without really noticing how every female character in Heinlein books at some point become hysterical and have to be slapped around by the men. (About Asimov:) If you can imagine intergalactic space superhighways why can't you imagine a female astronaut? (huge applause from audience) I dealt with this by identifying with the male characters.

[GOD... me too.]

Annalee then introduces Charlie Anders, author of the award-winning novel Choir Boy. Writing in McSweeney's, Punk Planet, Wall Street Journal, Tikkun, etc. and is the publisher for Other magazine & runs Writers With Drinks. Which happens next month at the Makeout room Feb. 10.

Charlie: I'm a policy wonk...

[Kristen whispers to me that "we used to talk about wonks in the Clinton era. Nobody does anymore. Nobody THINKS anymore..."

I want to tell Kristen that that's exactly what one of Charlie's novels is about... Clinton-era wonks and their wonkitude. ]

Charlie: Minutae of health care field. Weird complicated things to learn. Managed care. Weird permutation, intricate structures that actually *mattered* to everyone. This was all about hard-charging guys chasing *hard* news. My pursuit of arcane policy issues distracted me from my socially assigned gender role as a male reporter. My gender discomfort finally spiked on the day my inner palace of wonkdom came crashing down.... "We don't want any of this "what does it mean shit." " A bomb went off in my head... New job - my new boss liked wonkitude... Every day was like Christmas... My co-workers were used to me hopping around the office excited, "Wooo! I found a new crazy thing on page 900 of the Federal Register!!" Fast forward, I'm legally a woman, on hormones and with a drivers' license that says F... ambition... to make a serious wonkish contribution to the world... feminism.. child care and faulty gender assumptions.

Charlie then introduces Annalee Newitz, science writer, contributing editor at Wired, Salon, Newscientist, Techsploitation syndicated column. Editor of other magazine.

Annalee: "When Diana Prince takes off her Glasses"
Geeks - bbses... Wiznet - chat rooms! On the BBS I had a gender-neutral handle, Shockwaverider. Everyone assumes I'm male and I don't bother to correct them. Cracking... breaking copy protection. I get them to teach me about assembly language and cracking mac software... phreaking... Linux... Linux Cabal. As a journalist... suddenly I realize I'm the only woman in the room full of journalists and one of them is asking me "how did you get him to *tell* you that..." I suddenly hear the implication in the reporter's voice and respond... "I flirted with him that's how..." Why didn't I tell him the truth, I spent weeks hanging out... made Cthulhu jokes... I could have said, if you actually take the time to talk with people and get to know them, they talk with you. That's my philosophy of reporting. A few weeks later I decide to write a biosci article using only female sources. Each source referred me to more amazing women... Fruit fly gemone searching tool...

[That's my friend! Well, my ex... really... the fruit fly genome geek... *glow of pride* She's such a geek!]

Woman from the Audience: Thank you for the book! We want a sequel at least on the web, we want more stories, we want to contribute!

Annalee & Charlie: Yes! Lovely! blog it! Stick it on the web!

Me: Tag it "shessuchageek"

Kristin: We could have a she's such a geek blog carnival.

Guy from audience: What would you say the environment is today for 15-17 year old girls?

Annalee: The teenager from the book isn't here tonight

Ellen Spertus: Yes it's somehwat better... And at Mills... (I missed her answer)

Kristin: Larry Summers did women a real favor by being a jerk 2 years ago... in the 70s it was all "hey women can do anything!" and no acknowledgement that there are factors that affect women... women who say "i need a wife"... child care... atmosphere.. finally being discussed, thanks to larry summers.

Corie: Summers, ex-pres of Harvard ... said that there are just fewer women at the super elite end of science... not putting in the 80 hours a week necessary to be tenured... and said there was no sexism in the field...

Annalee: and he said that women's brains were different. He said this at a conference about women in science. It was what got him drummed out..

Ellen: That's not the full story.. he had done many other offensive things and that was just the last straw.

Annalee: yes. and since then a lot of money has gone into studies...

[Liz's note: Here is a great compilation of links and stories about the Summers controversy: Summers on Women in Science, from WISELI, the Women in Science & Engineering Institute at University of Wisconsin-Madison.]

Woman in audience: Is that just in the united states? Now, in other countries the situation is different.

Annalee: Not just, but it's worse... and in the US it's worse among white people; white women lag more behind white men... than women do [in other races/cultures/ethnicities]

Woman in audience: Women in India in sciences, engineering... it's considered to be a 'developing country" but things are much better there for women in science ...

[Liz's note: Here's a link on women at IIT in India - and another with stats over several years]

guy in back: You can see it just going to Toys R Us...all the creativity and science is on one side of the story, vs. the other side which is all pink.

*murmur from audience*

Charlie: You can do a lot of creative things with dolls, you know!

Annalee: I've seen some amazing women hack on dolls...

Woman from audience: I teach science at a college... photos on the walls... 1890 to today. 1890 to 1940 is half women and half men. 1950s all men. 60s, 70s, 80s, few women - and now, about 1/3 women. WWII and backlash against women... men in the 50s... and the war.

Woman in audience: A comment on that in WWII they were using more women in science and research in RUssia - math and sci education for women but then the women went more into being educators...

Annalee: There's some great studies of women in computing.. they were actually called "computers"... during the war in the U.S. and no one knew if ocmputers woudl become a big deal...

[Liz: here's a ink from the IEEE Virtual MuseumWomen Computers in World War II.]

Jason: Do you feel like men's attitudes have changed or gotten better?

Corie: Men now, male students, are more accepting of women...as fellow students and as their teachers and mentors... than they were when I was in school. They're more okay with it.

Ellen: My mom was totally wrong that going into computer science would be a bad way to meet men. And now I talk to high school girls... and project photos of good looking comp sci guys ... there's this calendar.... of good looking computer geek guys... and I tell them, "he's a good cook..."

OMG she just broke me... hahahah! [Which calendar? The Studmuffins of Science ones? Or is there a special computer geek one?]

Guy in audience: Computer geek culture, it's all about being outsiders, alienation, outside mainstream, not jocks, etc. So why isn't geek culture more of a clean slate in terms of gender?

[Liz: I could talk about that forever, and would really like to know.]

Annalee: Boys growing up as geeks, unfortunately being called fags, etc. Instead of creating cultures that were more friendly to women and the feminine, a lot of them reacted by creating an even more macho culture, especially in engineering and some of the sciences. There's a lot of dick-measuring, jockeying. Even the language used in hacking, penetration testing, popping the cherry of the machine. It's part of the slang. You fuck the ass of someone else's computer. And of course computers are "boxes"... and we all know what a box is. The jocks picked on us and now we're a macho enclave.... But that is changing. What's missing is networking and these men have friends who are men, and if they did have friends who were women there would be better... we can build networks of friendship. Bridges...

Corie: If you're male and a geek you're important and smart. If you're a woman it's all about your value based on your looks. They don't get the same sort of treatment in the outside world.

Barton: (from Mills) my perception of what is geek comes from th 50s science fiction and the production that came after that. what do you think about geek as a notion evolving. how is that changning in the future?

Jenn Shreve: the fact that I'm up here shows it's changing; i'm not a physicist... I'm a writer. But i have a passion for these things and for tech... and that tech is more ubiquitous opens the door... it becomes more acceptable. Now everyone .. takes part in things that were narrow before... like chat rooms... so the definition is changing.

Woman in back: What exactly is a geek? I think of library science geeks...

Charlie: Were you here at the beginning? We defined what we thought geek was

Annalee: We loved the librarians, we had a whole contingent...we could have a whole book of librarian geeks. But it's not really male dominated... we didn't include it but we wanted to focus on the areas in culture where people would think of a guy when they think of somone in that area. Comic books, various sciences...

Loren: Back in the 80s I was a contractor. Most of the agencies i worked for were run by women and dominated by women. Best business to be in for women b/c it was the most flexible and had the best pay, flexible hours, for women to be in if they had children. But that isn't true anymore.

Women in audience : I disagree, it's a great field to be in to work from home and to make a lot of money if you have kids... as a programmer.

[Note: two other women in the audience came up to me after the reading and agreed that computer science was still the best thing for working at home as a professional and making money.]

Guy in audience: Please come to Google and talk to us about this and how to get this message out more broadly and maybe on a video on Youtube, or something like that. Girls in high school, get it to a broader audience, they would be inspired by it.

Charlie: That would rock! We have a video of another reading and can send you the link... and would love to come to Google.

Guy from audience: Are there any women you know who are into pro sports, except for baseball...

Charlie: Stanford women's basketball rocks....

Jenn: Sports reporters... very macho culture... I was the only woman and that's when I'd really feel that only woman int he room feeling.

Annalee: I've heard women talk about being a jock and a geek ... various sports... prepared them for the endurance to say, program all night.

Charlie: In fact Jessica who was supposed to be here is a wrestler and when people question her geekitude she just beats them up.

Annalee: Yay, thanks for coming, go buy the book!

The guy behind me begs Ellen for a photo of her in her circuit board corset...

[Earlier, as I laced Ellen into her corset I thought of Violet Blue's article "Web Celebs and My Rainbow-Flag Bikini - which I highly recommend -

A bit of my own geek story, about growing up a computer nerd, women's networks, and helping out with tech stuff in disaster relief, was in Other magazine # 9 but isn't in the book (for those of you who asked!) As I liveblogged this reading, taking photos and emailing them to Flickr, browsing on the spot to find links to add for the readers, and chatting in another window at the same time, and posting to Twitter... which is my normal level of blog-geek multitasking around friends, it was funny to field the questions of women around me who were not quite so bloggy or Web 2.0-ish (or "annoying and technopretentious"). At least I amused them!

One reaction I've heard a lot from women as I go around talking about the book and showing it off - is that many women who are geeks thought about submitting a story to it, but then kind of sighed and figured they weren't geeky enough. I've heard women a hundred times geekier than I am say this, with geek street cred that would blow your mind. And then there's an even more complex reaction as women realize that their disbelief in their own geek studliness is part of their own internalized misogyny, and they get angry (at themselves and at the rest of the world) and it's a very hard thing to look at. The essays in the book are empowering, and make people very happy by letting them know they're not alone in their geekitude, but some elements of the essays can also get people on a train of thought that is sad, anger-triggering, or difficult -- The thing is, it's a very productive difficulty. I felt the same reaction happening among readers to the Tiptree biography last year.

It was a great reading, the audience stuck around for ages, talking and full of positive energy, getting signatures and telling some of their own stories. I hope we can hear some of those, maybe on the She's Such a Geek blog in interviews or guest posts!

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