Wall of Spam, by freezelight on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

More horrible than your worst linkspam (18th July, 2011)

  • Black and WTF: photographs of suffragettes. In 1912, Scotland Yard detectives bought their first camera to covertly photograph suffragettes.
  • A bit of an oldie, but relevant to our recent Google+ discussions: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names: So, as a public service, I’m going to list assumptions your systems probably make about names. All of these assumptions are wrong. Try to make less of them next time you write a system which touches names.
  • Great 101 comment from karenm77 about why it was creepy to proposition Rebecca Watson at 4am in an elevator. (Via tigtog.) Yeah, in case you missed it.
  • Sheryl Sandberg & Male-Dominated Silicon Valley: an interview with Facebook’s COO. You can’t come [into space], [Sandberg’s son] said. I’ve already invited my sister, and there’s only one girl in space. At first, Sandberg laughed. And then it dawned on her that there is only one woman in these movies.
  • Debunking the Top 5 Myths About Lady Scientists: So, people of the universe, when I tell you that I am a scientist, the only conclusion you should draw is that I like science.  Not what I look like or how I dress.  Not what I like to do in my free time.  Not how I interact with other people.  And real world, get used to me because I am your average scientist and I am not at all who you try to say I am.
  • A linkspam of a linkspam: Meanwhile, Back in SFland: While I was off enjoying the company of several thousand women (and an increasing number of men, as Sharon Sala graciously noted while accepting her lifetime achievement award) in Romanceland, the gender wars seem to have broken out in SFland again.
  • You can’t fight sexism with sexism: So, please, before you write about getting women into the game industry, first check and make sure that you’re not perpetuating the very attitudes you’re arguing against before you publish.
  • Are the Open Data Warriors Fighting for Robin Hood or the Sheriff?: Some Reflections on OKCon 2011 and the Emerging Data Divide: Cogent criticism of the demographics of the open-data movement.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious, freelish.us or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

17 thoughts on “More horrible than your worst linkspam (18th July, 2011)

  1. pfctdayelise

    (Maybe there is some stray open tag in this post? There seems to be quote symbols all over the place. It doesn’t happen on other posts.)

  2. My name isn't that hard to spell

    As someone who’s name regularly breaks online forms, I really appreciate link number 2! I occasionally receive things addressed hilariously to “Sin Lane” (which sounds like an interesting place to live) or “Blank Lane” when the form has let me enter my actual name, but then thrown a wobbly between there and posting stuff.

  3. My name isn't that hard to spell

    Incidentally, I tried to use my proper name to post the above comment, and got an error – any chance of a fix?

    1. Mary

      Can you tell us what the error was? If we have an error log, I have no idea where it is, and “got an error” is too imprecise to debug.

      1. Siân

        It was a 404 error, which was a bit confusing. I’m trying the proper spelling again to see if it was a coincidence!

        1. Mary

          The webhost seems to occasionally have problems rendering PHP and delivers a 404 instead. Sorry about that, good to know that your name works here!

  4. Shauna

    That last link to critiques of the open data movement was really fascinating, thanks. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a more compelling case for the need for diversity within a movement/culture – as a white middle class USian it never occurred to me that the push to make data freely available could have such negative consequences. I hadn’t even heard of the murders of information activists in India before. Clearly I need to burst the little bubble I’ve been operating in.

    But it makes sense. Technical abilities (both in terms of skill and access) are highly correlated with certain privileges, so by releasing information that needs to be mediated by the tech savvy, we’re reinforcing that privilege. I spent part of the weekend playing with a campaign finance data API, which was fun and empowering for me, but I got to that point because I had the time and energy to learn programming in the past and the computer/internet access to actually physically connect in the now. While the end goal of the open data movement might be to make government data accessible to all, the truth is that that’s going to be a long and difficult and uneven process. Unless we’re deliberately considering the situations of others without such privileges, and incorporating their needs into our work/advocacy, we’re not just bad allies – we’re actively part of the problem.

    Lots to think about.

    (I followed the linkspam link to another article by the same author, which I think does an even better case of laying out the above argument.)

    1. Dorothea

      I bookmarked that one (though I may well not have been the only one to do so), and I’m glad I wasn’t the only one it stopped dead.

      Research-data management and open data are the current themes of my career, and I definitely needed a splash of cold water about them. On the plus side, it got me thinking about librarianship and new approaches to information literacy and… how “equality of information access,” a longtime professional librarian value, may just have added a new facet.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment. Glad to know someone else found those essays valuable.

  5. Beth

    To be fair, in the early 19th century some British suffragettes were violent and committed acts of terrorism, including fire bombings. One suffragette boasted that if she was out of prison, she was blowing *something* up.

    http://ehr.oxfordjournals.org/content/120/486/365.abstract for research. About 7 years after the violence started, women got the vote. Given that the previous 120-ish years had seen a strong campaign for the vote for women without results, it is hard to argue that violence was any less effective than sitting and waiting. I would never advocate violence, of course, but in the case of convincing upper-class British men that they weren’t idealized angels to be protected and kept as pets it was perhaps useful.
    In the end, the most widely publicized incident was perhaps most comparable to the modern use of self-immolation: Emily Davidson threw herself in front of the King’s horse on a race track yelling “votes for women!” The media coverage of that is very interesting, with most of the media calling it an accident. However, the video of it made the rounds and it’s hard to argue that she accidentally ducked under the rail and waited for his horse in particular.

    I also find interesting how we erase women’s acts of political violence. It probably doesn’t fit the historical narrative of progress and isn’t a message we want to send to young kids: “some progress is taken, not graciously granted.”

    1. kattekrab

      Thank you! I was thinking about this the other day in relation to being told we should be ‘nice’ when asking for change. Asking nicely doesn’t always get the job done.

      Sometimes, we have to pick off the sugar coating.

  6. John

    From the BBC: Archive reveals women’s vital role in the Post Office, which included some technology-related roles:

    From 1870, when the Post Office was given control of the telegraph system, many more women were employed in running the telegraphs and from here moved into administrative and clerical roles.

    It also mentions:

    The records also tell us a lot about the social history of the Post Office, in that it actively recruited women, particularly during the world wars, which led to a growing acceptance that work roles should not be defined by gender.

    1. Dorothea

      I think it’s useful from the Jennifer Light “When Computers Were Women” perspective, in that it unhides women’s contributions to science.

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