# (1) 10 Mar 2014, 09:32AM: On Having a Decade-Old Blog:
I've been posting to "Cogito, Ergo Sumana" since late 2000. Sometimes I think about the really old, embarrassing entries from college, and I wince. Today I happened across a post celebrating a blogger's ten-year anniversary that provided a welcome perspective:
I'm not the same person I was. In many, many ways I am ashamed of that person, and I wish I could just go back and erase many of those early entries, because I was terrible and wrong, and I no longer believe those things. But I let them stand, because I don't think we should edit our histories to include only the parts where we spoke and behaved well. I am a little proud of that person, because she did survive, and became me, and so she couldn't have been all bad. I am kinder than I was, although I am harder, too, and often so tired.
# (0) 06 Mar 2014, 12:25AM: Open Source Jobs (We're Hiring):
The Wikimedia Foundation, which employs me, is hiring, a lot. We need your help to:
- write code to try new ways to encourage people to edit Wikipedia (Growth engineer)
- keep our users' data safe (operations security engineer)
- make sure our designers and multimedia engineers build the right things (multimedia product manager)
- help other Wikimedians figure out how to design their outreach and mentoring initiatives better and evaluate them for effectiveness, so we learn what works (program evaluation community coordinator)
- automate more of the systems that help developers test new code to find bugs early (Test Infrastructure Engineer)
- like 14 other jobs, seriously, we're hiring a lot
And of course everything you make at the Wikimedia Foundation is freely licensed, so you can suggest your buddies use it to solve their problems, write public blog posts about it, talk about it at parties and conferences, and link to it on your résumé. Isn't open source rockin'?
(Many WMF workers, including me, telecommute. You might also like our Pluralism, internationalism, and diversity policy.)
Some other places that make open source software or free culture and are hiring:
Linaro, MongoDB, Participatory
Culture Foundation, CollectionSpace, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Mozilla, Kaltura, Boundless, Acquia, OpenStack-using companies, Varnish Software, Red Hat, InkTank, wikiHow, the libraries and similar institutions seeking Wikimedians/Wikipedians in Residence, Canonical, Collabora, the Linux Foundation, Eucalyptus, New York Public Library Labs, Pro Publica, Nebula, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Knowledge Foundation.
That's just a fraction of who's hiring. You can check the
FSF jobs board, OPW's list and the liberationtech-jobs mailing list for more.
If you're looking specifically for internships, the OpenHatch list, Google Summer of Code, and Outreach Program for Women should help you.
This is a followup to a similar post I made in late 2012.
# (5) 05 Mar 2014, 10:28AM: Tender:
I love my spouse. I love the joyous, wondrous expression on programmers' faces when I tell them he wrote Beautiful Soup. I love his published scifi, and his seven-word pulp scifi story ("a scrap of paper on which you'd written in pencil 'MAN HAVE SPACEGUN. explode!! NOW IS SAVE'"). I love the silly dances he does, the astounding puns he makes, and all the rest of his playfulness. I love how supportive he's been of my career -- moving to New York on a month's notice for my job change in 2006 being just one example. And more, of course.
The stats on my blog say I've mentioned Leonard's name 870 times -- 871, once I hit Publish -- and more frequently than "because" or "going" or "every", which feels right. But no number could be sufficient.
It's not our anniversary or his birthday or anything like that. I just wanted to make explicit note that my closeness with my spouse is one of the great facts of my life, a rhythm and melody underlying everything else.
# (0) 01 Mar 2014, 10:19AM: My Parents, My Cousins:
Sometimes I forget that I am a person of color and that the United States has Issues with that. Then I remember, say, the Sacramento Bee saying, "The decision of the United States Supreme Court, that Hindus are not eligible to American citizenship, is most welcome to California." (1923, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind.) Or I remember September 11, 2001, when my mom and dad frantically searched all of Stockton for a US flag to hang outside our house as protection; since all the stores were sold out, Dad printed something out on our printer and taped it to our doorway.
And I live here.
"Now I prefer cloudy days when the drones don't fly. When the sky brightens and becomes blue, the drones return and so does the fear. Children don't play so often now, and have stopped going to school. Education isn't possible as long as the drones circle overhead."
"[P]retend that you don't see the aircraft".
But I can't.
# (1) 26 Feb 2014, 11:03PM: Cat, Dog, and Badger Each Own A Bookstore. They Are Friends.:
In San Francisco last month, I found out about the bookstore trio of Dog Eared Books, Alley Cat Books, and Badger Books. Immediately I wished for a children's book about the weekly chats of a cat, a dog, and a badger who run companionate bookshops.
So I got illustrations from artists at a Double Union zine workshop, and some materiel and free photocopies from Foolscap to make a zine. This directory holds the 2.7 megabyte scan of the whole page that you could print out and cut and fold into an 8-page booklet, and lower-resolution close-ups of the individual sections, which I display below.
Cat, Dog, and Badger each own a bookstore.
They are friends.
Cat organises large book orders. They club together to get volume discounts.
"If we get a hundred copies of Hyperbole and a Half, the wholesale cost goes down."
Dog sorts out book clubs, special orders, and referrals.
"Sarah Vowell is actually speaking at Badger's on the 19th..."
Badger warns them of bad books. Badger wants to like the books. But...
"REAMDE comes out next week!"
"I wanted Anathem II, not Michael Crichton."
Every Saturday, they have tea together, and reconcile finances.
by Sumana Harihareswara with Sailor Hg, Rose!, Sarah Peters, & Lizzard Amazon
27 Jan 2014, Double Union, San Francisco
2 Feb 2014, Foolscap, Seattle
Foolscap auctioned the original of my zine, gathering about twenty dollars for charity.
I am playing with a followup about a bookstore-owning hedgehog, in honor of my local.
# (1) 26 Feb 2014, 07:40PM: License Switch:
My ha-ha-only-kidding joke: Everyone thinks they're chaotic good when they're actually lawful neutral.
What rules do I unthinkingly follow? I don't want to reassess my rules every single time I use them; that's paralyzing. And I want the momentum that comes from consistency, and some rules I follow because I am committed to the values beneath them. As "Red Family, Blue Family: Making sense of the values issue" (via Making Light) puts it, "We believe that a life without commitments is superficial and empty." But we choose those commitments; it's not just a default. It means something that I obey laws, because I could choose not to. And every once in a while I should check what conveniences have turned into habits have turned into laws.
Anyway, this is a longwinded way of saying that I finally added a bit more chaos to my life: I switched licenses for this blog. It used to be noncommercial/no derivatives. Now:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Please copy and paste my advice into IRC chats with volunteers. Please translate things. Please make silly and inspiring things I couldn't have imagined. And please credit the raw material back to me.
# (1) 26 Feb 2014, 07:10PM: Some Help for New Open Source People:
Wikimedia is participating in this year's Google Summer of Code internships and Outreach Program for Women. This week we are seeing a bunch of new folks try to learn how to navigate the world of open source, and I have some advice for you. Some of this ought to go into the Google Summer of Code student manual and the Open Advice collection.
"Doubt": Lots of GSoC candidates are from South Asia. Indians often say "Can you help resolve my doubts?" where US speakers would say "Can you help answer my questions?" "Doubt" and "question" are synonyms here; the Indians aren't implying suspicion.
How we talk: We talk in different places when we want to have different kinds of conversations. Each open source community has "a mailing list, a wiki, and an IRC channel.... a platform for discussion, storage for documentation and real-time communication." (I borrowed this explanation from the hackerspaces wiki.) An IRC channel is a constant waterfall of conversation and you aren't expected to be there all the time or catch everything. A mailing list is more like a slow-moving river, and a wiki changes slower, like a marsh.
Some people prefer for their IRC conversations to be more like mailing lists -- a long, publicly archived conversation where people can see what happened before and take part. Some people prefer for IRC chat to be more like Snapchat -- ephemeral, temporary, so it's easier to be vulnerable. No one agrees on what all of IRC should be. So the community within each channel has a certain culture and each channel can be different. Some channels allow or encourage public logging (example) so anyone can see what happened in the channel. Others don't. This difference is normal.
The rhythm of help: When you are learning how to contribute in open source, you're going to find that people give you links to pages that answer your questions. Here's how that usually goes:
This helps us make a balance between person-to-person discussion and documentation that everyone can read, so we save time answering common questions but also get everyone the personal help they need.
- you ask a question
- someone directs you to a document
- you go read that document, try to use it to answer your question
- you find you are confused about a new thing
- you ask another question
- now that you have shown that you have the ability to read, think, and learn new things, someone has a longer talk with you to answer your new specific question
- you and the other person collaborate to improve the document that you read in step 3 :-)
What's this project like?: Figuring out whether something's a good project for you is a skill and new folks don't have that skill yet. My friend Mel wrote a guide to how she checks out an open source project -- how she takes five minutes to look on their website for certain things, to see what kind of project it is. It's fine for you to look for projects where you already have friends, or where they have already set up easy tasks for beginners. We hope that in a year you'll be one of the people coming up with new ideas, organizing those easy tasks, and helping the beginners.