June 2003 Archives

Leave the house at noon today, and I doubt I'll have time to post much while I'm away. But look for a continuation of last summer's photos and stories about Ortahisar, Turkey after July 7. (I return on July 2, but we're off to a family wedding for the holiday weekend.)

Liz Lawley at mamamusings has some good and thoughtful things to say about invisible privilege, gender, and the field of computer science. And I guess I'm in that field now, though I got here sideways, by way of writing, art, and teaching.

What can I add to the conversation? I certainly read enough feminist theory in graduate school to grab and hold this floor. So why am I reluctant? Dunno. It's Saturday, I've just come in from gardening. I haven't figured out exactly what I need to take with me to Ortahisar... and the kids are peppering me with questions.

I do notice that more and more of the blogs I read are written by women. At least half of them. I like the sound of the distributed conversation. So many different tones, so many different subjects. It is not a monoculture, and that is its great strength.

I like thinking about how my students, all of them young women, might grow to have a different view of technology. They are at an all-girls school, and by two years from now all of them will be using laptops as part of a whole school wireless network. Curiosity and play are part of how they respond to the integration of technology into their class work. How many of them will enter the field of computer science? I don't know. Probably proportionately more than girls who go to co-ed schools or schools without such integration of technology. Will this change the field or will they need to adapt themselves to a very masculine culture?

Day after tomorrow I'm off to Turkey to teach more young women to use this technology - to communicate about their lives and their village. It is a project on a tiny scale. A couple of girls. A couple of computers and a video camera and an internet connection. But over the long term, and multiplied by other people's projects with other women in other places I can begin to imagine a difference. Telling our stories is powerful and important work. It makes us visible in the world, and eventually makes the lines of power more clearly visible. If you can speak it, you can begin to change it. And that gives me hope.

I image-googled for my first and last names, and I guess I got what I deserved for my self-absorption. It's a great image, though. (And here's some context.)

Still light out at 8:20. Children are quiet (upstairs). I can hear the clock, my typing, Mark's typing, both of us breathing.

It might rain, might not.

I leave for Turkey on Monday afternoon. Three days left to do everything.

Hmmm.

Make that three days left to do some things and put off others.

The light outside is so beautiful. I breathe slowly and enjoy a moment of calm before a late grown-up supper of swordfish, green salad, crusty bread and red wine.

Maybe I can get Mark to play me some songs. . .

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One year was up, my host had been through some uneven times, and I could get a better deal elsewhere, so I changed services. And this time I configured and installed Movable Type, existing weblogs, and data - all by myself.

Since it was successful, you can't see any difference.

But believe me, it took a lot of concentration and testing to get the installation working, and then to get everything moved and re-set up on the new host.

Everything was pretty well functional by Saturday afternoon, and then I lived with what wasn't quite working until this morning, when I was able to fix it. (An old static index file was blocking the view of the latest changes.)

Yes. Up and running again.

I have always liked looking at numbers in non-numeric ways, noticing when they are the same right-side up as upside down (1961 carved in a doorstep can be read walking in either direction) or when they work as palindromes.

I am fond of the number 217 and would play it on the lottery if I played the lottery, because it looks like my nickname, upside down.

When I lived in Boston, years ago, the phone number 936 + any four digits got you the weather forecast. This was useful to know when someone was asking you for a number and you didn't want to give them yours, because 936-4527, for example, sounded plausible. Somewhere along the line, my apartment mate and I figured out that you could also remember the weather number as WENDELL, and so checking the weather became "calling Wendell."

DialABC lets you play games like this - and more - with your own phone number, or someone else's. (Thanks, Mark, you know what amuses me.)

"Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that claimed to make us beautiful but didn't. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: making us stupid, degrading the quality and credibility of our communication, turning us into bores, wasting our colleagues' time. The side effects, and the resulting unsatisfactory cost/benefit ratio, would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall." - from Edward Tufte's new leaflet, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, which came in the mail yesterday.

Dean Allen got his copy of the 24-page leaflet at about the same time I did, and has already posted about it. So I haven't much to add.

I like Tufte's books in theory. In practice, I have trouble concentrating when I read them. I get overwhelmed. So much data. So dense. So beautiful. (So my mind wanders.) Tufte is Strunk & White for the statistical design set. And as with Strunk & White, the suggestions are easy to agree with but tough to follow. Clarity is hard work, and often underpaid.

The PowerPoint leaflet can be read in one sitting, and at $7 (postpaid) it is a bargain.

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