I have rarely so comprehensively disagreed with anything. Starting by comparing himself to Cassandra, Scruton compares gay marriage, the Arab Spring, and other things to the irrationality which led to World War II. And then appears to blame the twentieth century on Marxists.
Men Who Hate Women
Here’s a brief outline of what happened at PyCon and on the web earlier this week.
- a female developer evangelist overheard two male developers making sexual jokes during a session, took a picture of them and posted it to Twitter.
- PyCon picked up on it and followed their rules for dealing with that kind of problem
- one of the developers got fired, the company says for other reasons as well.
- someone posted to HackerNews claiming to be the fired developer, talking about his wife and children and being out of work
- the female developer began to get rape and death threats, and her company was threatened by Anonymous with a DDOS attack.
- both the female developer’s personal site and her company’s site were DDOS’d.
- the female developer’s company fired her
There’s a good summary here on Ars Technica: “How dongle jokes got two people fired”.
And a widely cited reaction here: “Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost”
That’s what happened. I’m trying to wrap my head around the commentary on it. Most of the tech websites that I read have covered this in detail this week. They’ve done a good job with it. It’s the comments on the posts that have me thrown for a loop. I have never seen such a virulent display of sexism, ignorance, and unexamined privilege. And sure, there will be trolls on any controversy. But every place I’ve held my nose and looked at the comments they have been twenty to one dismissive of the woman’s position if not outright hostile. Repeating the same “it’s not a problem, why didn’t she just ask nicely” bullshit. I gotta say, I often don’t speak up about things that bother me because I’m worried people might be mean to me. And I’ve never had a death threat, or a rape threat, or a threat to destroy my business. If any of those were remotely possible I’d pretty much want to bring some friends with me if I were going to compain. Richardson did the digital equivalent of that by posting the picture to her Twitter followers.
Like Blum, I was at the Wordcamp Boston talk Richards gave in 2010 complaining about porn imagery in another presenter’s talk. It was theatrical, and a little overblown (I thought), and more than a little self-promotional. But it struck me as a reasonable use of unconference time: to draw attention to a real problem in the tech community using the tools of that tech community. It’s a valid activist tactic, and threatens no one.
Here’s the thing for me. The self-referential ugliness of almost all of the comments on the sites that are my home on the web makes me ill. And it’s not trolls bringing the ugly, because there are hundreds of responses to posts like this on The Verge “The Thug Mentality”. I am not OK with that environment.
It doesn’t matter whether Richards overreacted. Nothing she did warrants threats on her life, her body, or her property.
My thanks to Jason Snell and rjmarsan, a Verge commenter who you can see going toe-to-toe with almost everybody else in the comments on the The “Thug Mentality” post. For reminding me it’s not OK to ignore it and hope it goes away.
Two years ago, we launched an experiment: an online image library where we made 2,000 high-resolution images of artworks that the museum deemed to be in the public domain available for download without any restrictions. This week, we’ve exceeded ourselves with the launch of our new collections website, giving away ten times the number of images we offered in the initial image library. Nearly 20,000 high-quality images of art from our collection are available to search, download, and use as you see fit.
What Do Cats Have to Do With It? Welcome to Our New Collections Website
Merry Christmas: we just gave you 20,000 high-resolution images, for free. Now we have just one question: what are you going to do with them?
The LA County Museum of Art is awesome and forward-thinking, and just got added to several of my librarian lists of places to go for great imagery.
This is a great piece of writing.
“This is so brave.”
I have started to notice the way people say that when women write memoir-y things. This is a thing people do and it’s annoying but now I can’t stop seeing it. And I like to write these memoiry things, on whatever small scale (does twitter count?). I absolutely have that…
Please reblog if you feel like strangers sometimes try to manipulate you for selfish and personally debasing reasons.
Now, run into traffic on the busiest street you can find while buck-ass naked, heavily-oiled, wearing an elaborate wig made of shrimp- or pork-flavored ramen noodles, and dancing a spastic and deranged Hokey-Pokey as you hopelessly shriek, “I AM THE KWISATZ HADERACH!” to the tune of your favorite sea shanty.
Then, send all the information about your checking account to an exiled Nigerian prince, watch a full season of She’s the Boss, and put half of your clothes back on.
Do NOT, under any circumstances, wash off the oil for one month, or you’ll be cursed with seven years of bad luck and will instantly develop excruciating pus-filled butt shingles.
If you instantly develop excruciating pus-filled butt shingles, please re-reblog.
The metronome was invented in 1817, and Beethoven went back and marked all his symphonies way faster than they’re usually played. The explanations offered for why that can’t be what he meant are my least favorite parts of classical music criticism (“he must have made a mistake, our interpretation cannot be wrong”)…but getting some musicians to experiment with it on the air are my favorite parts. It’s music, folks. It’s play.
Hilary Hahn, Jordan Hall
A lovely performance at my favorite concert venue, Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory. Hahn and Cory Smythe, her pianist, played a bunch of really interesting modern stuff, mostly commissioned for her “In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores”. I am delighted by the directness of a star violinist just playing encores. But the way the program was arranged was interesting also. The pieces by Abril and Yun were very modernist (that is, hard to predict, sorta scrapy sounding, and fast), but she transitioned in and out of more traditional stuff. The biggest ovation was for the Bach Ciaconna. But I had an epiphany during Sharp’s Storm of the Eye. I’m a big fan of the baroque and am still learning the traditional set of stuff that’s common culture at concert halls, so modern stuff has often been off-putting for me. But in the context of this performance I realized what the artist and composer were saying is “We can play the traditional stuff very well, thank you, but we’re choosing not to right now. Listen and see what we can do with these instruments.” Once I realized that I relaxed. And the pieces by Ramnath and Lang which followed were my favorites of the show.
In other news, Hahn’s violin case has a Twitter account.
Anton Garcia Abril
Du Yun: When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa
Arcangelo Corelli: Sonata No. 4 in F Major, Opus 5
Gabriel Fauré: Sonata No. 1 in A Major, Opus 13
Elliott Sharp: Storm of the Eye
Kala Ramnath: Aalap and Tarana
David Lang: Light Moving
JS Bach: Ciaconna, from Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
James Newton Howard: 133…At Least
Jeff Myers: The Angry Birds of Kauai
Mason Bates: Ford’s Farm
You Are Boring
I will cheerfully reblog anything I see that was originally published in The Magazine, precisely because its writers are free to use what they write however they like after a month. Scholarly publishers please note.
Also, this is an awesome piece of writing.
Here’s the full text of a piece I wrote for The Magazine a few months ago. I really enjoyed writing it, and would like to thank Marco once again for publishing it there. If you haven’t checked out The Magazine yet, you should. Anyway, here’s why you’re a total snooze:
Everything was going great until you showed up. You see me across the crowded room, make your way over, and start talking at me. And you don’t stop.
You are a Democrat, an outspoken atheist, and a foodie. You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops.
You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst. No wait—Coke is the worst! Unless it’s Mexican Coke, in which case it’s the best.
Pixar. Kitty cats. Uniqlo. Bourbon. Steel-cut oats. Comic books. Obama. Fancy burgers.
You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals. You stay up late on Twitter making hashtagged jokes about the event that everyone has decided will be the event about which everyone jokes today. You love to send withering @ messages to people like Rush Limbaugh—of course, those notes are not meant for their ostensible recipients, but for your friends, who will chuckle and retweet your savage wit.
You are boring. So, so boring.
Don’t take it too hard. We’re all boring. At best, we’re recovering bores. Each day offers a hundred ways for us to bore the crap out of the folks with whom we live, work, and drink. And on the internet, you’re able to bore thousands of people at once.1
A few years ago, I had a job that involved listening to a ton of podcasts. It’s possible that I’ve heard more podcasts than anyone else—I listened to at least a little bit of tens of thousands of shows. Of course, the vast majority were so bad I’d often wish microphones could be sold only to licensed users. But I did learn how to tell very quickly whether someone was interesting or not.
The people who were interesting told good stories. They were also inquisitive: willing to work to expand their social and intellectual range. Most important, interesting people were also the best listeners. They knew when to ask questions. This was the set of people whose shows I would subscribe to, whose writing I would seek out, and whose friendship I would crave. In other words, those people were the opposite of boring.
Here are the three things they taught me.
Wait, would a weather application display information on the lock screen? Then it would be completely frictionless¹. I could almost think about investing in such things.
¹ Like an introductory physics cow.
Oh, this is lovely. Total Perspective Vortex (tm)
Badges and Motivation
I’m at the Educause Learning Initiative conference, where there is a badging initiative ongoing. I’ve already earned badges for attending the Town Hall meeting and for one other thing. Just went to a good session by two folks from Seton Hall on their program, which uses Mozilla’s Open Badge Initiative.
I have to say that I have mixed feelings. Cred.ly, the service ELI is using for validation, adds an extra layer of complexity that I really don’t want. And it’s also possible that I just don’t have the collector’s instinct that makes it a good fit for some people.
On the other hand, I do like the idea of tapping people’s underlying motivations to encourage educational objectives. The social learning built into game systems like World of Warcraft and other online role-playing games is a really interesting model to look at. Players learn really complicated systems, and very elaborate processes to solve problems.
One of my to-do’s after the conference is to look into existing research on checkins through services like Foursquare and Twitter and Facebook, as well as research into the achievement systems of online games. More details here as I track it down.