# (0) 22 May 2013, 10:47AM: Recent Links:
The cost of making your academic articles inaccessible (that is, not Open Access) at the margins of relevance.
The facts on girls in information technology.
A farmer on a bus, and software localisation.
A Facebook scholarship for women studying engineering to attend the Grace Hopper conference this year.
I've been thinking about maybe doing an "adventure" tour this autumn -- something about a week long, with hiking, in North America. REI has several. Options, options, options.
US citizens: talk to the TSA about "airport security".
Someone's using The Architecture of Open Source Applications in a university curriculum!
Camille is blogging again!
"This is a thing that happens."
# (0) 22 May 2013, 10:40AM: Some Recent Writing:
Several people recently liked my Geek Feminism post on learning to "scratch your own itch".
somewhere along the way I got the impression that people usually get into open source via "scratching their own itch," and I mixed up prescriptive and descriptive to boot.... I really got stuck in when I saw a clear unmet need for documentation even though I wasn't personally going to use it. Sometimes I thought I was inferior -- surely I ought to have been thinking up my own projects, improving my work environment, and writing things that would help me out, thus getting me into a virtuous circle of learning?...
You might enjoy it. Some other stuff I've written elsewhere:
So in the long run one answer to this is that we have to work to make sure everyone has agency and feels it, their whole lives. But, given that some of us struggle with remembering our agency, and that it’s fine to have different learning styles, here are some ideas for priming the idea pump, or for alternate pathways into learning and getting into open stuff....
My sister and I are different and that's okay. We've never had a society where -- from birth to retirement -- the average girl and the average boy has experienced about the same amount of genuine encouragement in STEM. Let's try it!
On teasing-as-bonding. It takes a tremendous amount of trust and ease, or unspoken intracultural knowledge, to assume that someone else's mockery means "I like you, stick around." It's hard enough to get that message across *in person*; across timezones and cultures, and stripped down to Unicode, it's roulette.
# (1) 12 May 2013, 09:49AM: Tips for New Summer Interns:
Three tips to help new Google Summer of Code applicants and interns, some of which all remote workers could stand to remember:
- Never let yourself get stuck on a technical question or problem for more than half an hour. Take a break, ask questions in IRC or a mailing list, find a technical book to read like
The Architecture of Open Source Applications, look at some other codebase to
see how they do it, eat a meal, or do something else, then come back to
- Never let yourself get stuck waiting for someone's reply for more
than 2 business days (Monday through Friday). Escalate -- ask your
mentor. If your mentor isn't helping, ask your org admin. If the org
admin isn't helping, ask on the GSoC discussion forum, or email Carol Smith.
- Ask yourself at the start of every day: what did I accomplish
yesterday? What will I try to do today? What are the obstacles I think I will run into? If you ask yourself those three questions and answer honestly -- especially if you let your mentor and team know the answers -- then you will prevent long delays and help keep your morale up.
# (0) 12 May 2013, 08:54AM: Sorry!:
I am sorry, Lakshmi Singh! I am one of those people of South Asian heritage who criticized your pronunciation of your name. I was wrong and I'm sorry.
# (3) 05 May 2013, 09:04PM: A Really Long-Winded Way of Saying That Maybe I Love Techno Now:
That thought about music, love and transformation made me think of how strange and world-changing it is to find a new friend or author or musician or project or workplace and suddenly click.
They taught me in my management classes that thriving is a function of a person and their environment. That helped me to see things unemotionally. "Bad fit" really does exist.
Every collaboration will be particular, like all power and influence is particular (financial, emotional, cultural, military). You'll get leaks and emergent behavior, and sometimes you can funnel energy, but sometimes it refuses to be fungible. It withers and dies, misdirected, confused. Sometimes that joule, that heat is irrevocably specific. It makes you think about lasers and firehoses, flamethrowers and kindling, and limited burns at the urban-wildlife interface, and how high the specific heat of water is, and how water composes most of our bodies, and the compressed energy inside anyone needs just the right conditions to shine.
Do you remember stoichiometry?
That was the bit from chemistry about making sure that both sides of the equation matched, if I remember Mr. Marson's class right. (I wish I still had that extra credit project, where I went through the chemistry books for names and phrases and just made up like thirty or a hundred puns from scratch and wrote them on posterboard.) If you have two oxygens, and then three more, on the left, you'll end up with five, in some configuration, on the right.
Stoichiometry is tautology. There must be a metric zillion idioms, spanning every human time and place, reducing to the identity property plus the forward direction of time. "If you stand in the rain, you'll get wet." "A hungry cat will look for food." They sound like something you'd program into Cyc. We have sayings like "recipe for disaster" and "prescription for catastrophe," but the chemical equation suits some surprises best as a metaphor, because love is chemistry, and because sometimes you are an absent-minded would-be scientist, putting two and two and two together and getting surprised when you end up with six and your hair on fire.
If I stop by a restaurant often enough, I'll be a regular. If I work with people on something we care about, those people will become real to me and I'll find myself a member of a new tribe. If I self-medicate my mood with a particular album and incorporate it into the rhythm of my day, how is that not love? Why fight it?
I'm taking stock of my supply cabinets and my heat sources. The summer student's gotten the hang of safety procedures and requisitions and the rhythm of notes and meetings and R and late-night discoveries. I'm really just getting used to the idea that there's always going to be this lab here, that there's always R&D going on in my heart, no matter how polished the products and services I make a habit of offering to the public. That I can't stop growing and learning and changing and experimenting and compounding, that every once in a while I will run across something "new" whose existence was -- I always realize belatedly -- prefigured in the periodic table.
 I'm thinking of freshman year at Cal, Comparative Politics, learning about patron-client dyads, thick vs. thin relationships, the innovation that is bureaucracy, the impulse to rational-legalism, how attractive those clear roles seem and how quickly they blur in practice, how healthy humans resist not treating others as full complete people to love and hate and screw.
 The saying goes: lust is biology, love is chemistry, sex is physics. My take: I've always asked "what is love?" not as a hair-stroking poet by the river, but as a frantic sysadmin space-barring through man pages.
 But we are analog; we can't spec out our futures pixel-perfect.
# (4) 05 May 2013, 08:25PM: Music I Listen To A Lot:
Late last year, I was showing my colleague Rob the recent albums I'd been listening to -- by Daft Punk, Kaftwerk, and other electronica artists -- and mentioned to him that I was suddenly discovering that sometimes I liked techno, and yet had never thought I would, and what does that mean? Does that mean I am a techno person now?
- The 8-bit tribute album to Weezer
- The music that helps me get to sleep: Robyn Miller's soundtrack to Riven, Zoë Keating's One Cello x 16: Natoma, Ray Lynch, Clint Mansell's Moon soundtrack. Did you know Keating used to be an information architect?
- Guster, Easy Wonderful
- Tally Hall, Good & Evil
- The soundtracks to Battlestar Galactica and Lord of the Rings, which together combine into an almost ten-hour playlist that makes anything epic.
- Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
- Steve Martin, The Crow
- Everclear, So Much for the Afterglow
- Depeche Mode, The Singles 81>85
- Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
- Holly Yarbrough, Mister Rogers Swings!
- Belle & Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress
- Dar Williams, End of the Summer -- I think Seth gave me this album in the late 90s.
- Regina Spektor, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats -- like so many, I discovered Spektor via the "Us" video.
- Barcelona, ZeRo-oNe-INFINITY
- Lawsuit, Kind of Brown
- The Mountain Goats, The Life of the World to Come
- Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy soundtrack -- Andrea Phillips turned me on to this, saying that this soundtrack has a freakishly positive focusing effect and helps her work. It's pretty good for me too.
And Rob said, "You're an everything person, you just don't know it yet."
I felt like an arrow of enlightenment had hit me right between the eyes.
I get anxious over the betrayal inherent in adaptation. To instead conceive of growth as a radical hospitality towards and nurturing of previously unvoiced parts of myself -- what a revolution.
I like movies and TV shows, I like books and stories and blogs, I love stand-up and sketch comedy, but music and travel are what I find numinous, transformative. They crack open new Sumananess that blinks in the light, unaccustomed.
"I think I would close my eyes the whole time."
# 26 Apr 2013, 06:06PM: "Thoughtcrime Experiments", Four Years On:
Four years ago today, Leonard and I released Thoughtcrime Experiments, an anthology of original speculative fiction and art. It's still an enjoyable collection to read, so check it out. The authors and artists continue to publish and thrive, and I get to call them mine, but not in a creepy way! With Ken Liu especially it's thrilling that I got to play a part in the restarting of a career that's so spectacularly taken off. And how it delights me that Mary Anne Mohanraj has written a collection in the world of "Jump Space"!
I still stand by my conclusion from a few months after the initial release: to me, turning nonreaders into occasional sci-fi readers, and occasional readers into rabid readers, is a more interesting unsolved problem than curating and editing unpublished art and turning it into published art. I applaud K. Tempest Bradford's regular short fiction recommendations, for instance. But I'm superglad for the editors who love editing! Yay for writers, readers, editors, and marketers! And I understand making stuff better because I did it. You can do it too.