Monday, March 28, 2011

The Geekiest Girl in the Room

One is sometimes understood by the company she keeps. Alas, I am surrounded by non-geeks!

Last weekend, I attended an academic bootcamp (wouldn't call it a conference, they worked us!) and when one member of my group mentioned that they were going to "red shirt" an idea, you know, dear readers, what immediately came to my mind. Yeah, he was going to sacrifice that idea. However, there is an alternative subculture competing for the red shirt metaphor. Weird.

But what was the worst, the absolute worst is that I had to EXPLAIN my reference. Really? How sad is that?

Anyway, in my attempt to finish talking about the film festival I went to last month, let me geekily segueway into one of the shorts I saw that Saturday night titled CONGLANG. This was about a small club of people who are fascinated by created languages. The "con" does not stand for "convention" which I thought at first but for "constructed." there is an actual organization which I think partly funded the film. (*correction, the organization supported the film -- see the comments section*).

Anyway, very amusing short film about the power struggles within a conlang club which ended in a flexing contest of who can master the most con langs (like reciting Shakespeare in Klingon -- which I think they did -- or reciting the Gettysburg Address in Snoop Dogg speak). Yes, dear geeks, shades of Evan Dorkins' "Bring Me the Head of Boba Fett."

Anyway, CONLANG, was a fun little short and actually a geek love story! More info on shorts later and all the other goodness I watched. I haven't even talked about the animation!

In sum, please console me. I am in the land of norms.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Geek Girls of the World, Unite!

How timely! After my last rant about discussion list bores and the gender of Wikipedia, I just found out about a "call-to-arms!" From

"What: Geek Girls Edit Wikipedia
When: Friday, March 11th - Sunday, March 13th
Who: You, geek girl. Anywhere with an internet connection. GeekGirlCon, Nerds in Babeland, and our friends present Geek Girls Edit Wikipedia, an activity any geek girl with an internet connection can participate in.

For one amazing weekend, we are encouraging geeky women to go on Wikipedia and create and edit articles about our favorite geeky topics.

Women account for only 15% of all Wikipedia contributions, and we want to raise this participation rate. We know many of you have expertise in a wide variety of topics and can contribute valuable information to Wikipedia, which has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet. Wikipedia is the 7th most visited website; and more women's knowledge needs to be added to this resource.

Please join us by adding to this great community knowledge base. You can chat about your contributions or keep a record of what you've edited over on GeekGirlCon's forums:"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

[insert rant]

Gentle readers, I do plan on following up on the fantastic film festival -- for instance, one of the shorts, "God of Love," that was shown in Oxford won the Academy Award for Best Short. Wow! And I didn't even see it, and it didn't even win a prize at the festival! My one chance to actually see a short film prior to the awards!

Anyway, that's not what I'm writing about. So, I've been on a bit of minor kick of trying to be more vocal online. This has been inspired by the recent discovery that mostly men write and edit posts on Wikipedia. I know, big shock, right? There has been a lot of discussion about why that's the case, ranging from dissing men (women are too busy to fool with that kind of brainiac pissing contest) to fundamentals about knowledge and communication (women seek consensus rather than engage in antagonism which a lot of digital information exchanges often turn into). My own foray into stating my opinion digitally was a bit of a dud. See my post here and the response here. [amusing rebuttal that I do not wish to send to the site will grace these pages at some point in the near future].

What I am trying to say, which has taken me two paragraphs already, is that I am on a couple mailing lists related to my research interests. I have become more attuned to the some of the louder voices on these lists who are treating the marketplace of ideas in my inbox like their personal Facebook wall or Twitter account. Please let me address these posters.

I do not need to read your ill-formed, knee jerk reaction that barely addresses (or even inflames) the discussion at hand.

I do not need to hear a personal story or a quasi-related anecdote that the previous poster may have evoked in your ample and Proustian memory.

I do not need to see your name listed dozens of times in the same discussion which eventually appears to me as the equivalent of waving your privates.

Do you people not have something else you need to be doing? Do you wait with bated breath for the beginning of the day when you can be that eager student in class whose hand shoots up before the teacher has even finished the question? Or is it because you want to be the teacher whose pontification suffocates students?

And why, gentle readers, are all these writers, male? Am I on the wrong lists? Are my research interests so hopelessly masculine?

Okay, stupid rant. We all know people like these on our discussion groups and just because the problem children are male should in no way indicate that their voices are the majority nor that the gender is the problem. Men and women post very thoughtful posts all the time, and I would never discount any point of view based on gender. Rather, it's the number of irrelevant posts that lead to the discount. If you post that many times, then the words are going to be cheaper, my friends.

If you are reading this, wondering if I am talking about you, I'm not.