Ada Lovelace Day

If, for some reason, you are completely oblivious to the tech world, then you may have missed the fact that today is Ada Lovelace Day (, #ald10). It’s the day to recognise and honour women in technology, like Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, who was essentially the first computer programmer–not just the first woman, the first ever, period. You can pledge, as I did, to post about inspirational women in tech, and yesterday I made a whole list of people I could post about. In fact, I urge you to look up all of those women, because they each are brilliant and important.

But in the end I got sort of self-centred.

See, I’m a woman in technology, but only sort of, where it intersects with media. On the technical end, I’m pretty rubbish; I tire of coding and I have no engineering skills whatsoever. While I admire the crap out of women with those skills, it’s not my cuppa. I’m interested in the product end of software–non-linear editing, Photoshop, web editors–and in community construction online. (They call the latter ‘social media’ now, which is a term I dislike, because it implies the wankers who randomly follow you on Twitter claiming to be experts. I don’t claim to be an expert, just a very long-time user.)

Personally, I believe women and ‘minority’ groups are the future of internet community, because we’ve been doing this for ages, waiting for the technology to catch up. The strongest, most forward-thinking networks that I’ve seen have been run or dominated by women. I’d like to highlight two who have successfully navigated the inanity of the ‘social media’ buzz into actual meaningful community…and I’d speculate that’s because they didn’t get in it to ‘be successful’, but to fill a need.

The leadership and employees (I know one, they work hard) of BlogHer are amazing. They have built a company, a community and a highly influential blog network from nothing in a matter of five years. If I want to read good blogging by women, I know exactly where to start–everything on BlogHer is quality, and a substantial number of topics and viewpoints are covered. And on top of that, they have an ad network that’s remarkably unproblematic in comparison to about every other one ever.

The people at the Archive of Our Own project are quieter, for various reasons. They took a look at internet fandom (dominated by women) and saw that there was no reliable searchable archive of fanfiction that wouldn’t reject various forms of fan works…this is for various reasons I won’t go into here. Fundraising, programming, time and effort, and now they own the servers and the backend, free to set their own TOS and provide a fan-run alternative that is intuitive and responsive.

So kudos to both of these groups of women. I only wish I could be as utterly badass and innovative as you. Perhaps someday I will do…but thank you for being here.

Also, a quiet shoutout to the tech women I know–from theatre engineers to comp sci majors to new media producers to designers to fangirls. Don’t ever let anyone get you down. You do important things.

A moment about films…

Every year I make it my business not to comment about the Oscars, for the most part (partially because I might get ranty and I do still vaguely hold the hope of someday being nominated…yes, laugh it up as a pipe dream). If you want to read some good commentary and predictions quite similar to my ideals, go check out my friend Anita’s thoughts.
But this year I will say a few brief things, because I feel the need to clarify a few positions and unpopular opinions:

– I thought the acting performances in Precious were fantastic. It’s not a Best Picture film, but the acting was phenomenal. I didn’t find it unbelievable…probably because I read the book nearly a decade ago.

– Michael Giacchino deserves an Oscar for Up, but in my mind he’d get it as well for Star Trek, which was utterly amazing in its fit to the film and its play off the original Trek themes and film sound. You get big and you risk going John Williams/Jerry Goldsmith, which is fine but not astounding. Giacchino managed to take a cliche and turn it into something that still inspired wonder and emotion. Between that and Up, he’s the one to watch. Someone give this man more work.

– Team Bigelow. Not just because Hurt Locker is by all accounts lovely and my distaste for Avatar (on about ten different levels) is well-documented, not just because it is high friggin time a woman had a chance and pwned, but because I’ve been a Kathryn Bigelow fan since I watched Near Dark on VHS in 2002. Even when her films aren’t great (…K-19), they are always well-constructed and gorgeous.

– Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate James Cameron’s work as a whole. Terminator 2 is one of my top 20, I liked Aliens and I enjoy True Lies. I just firmly believe something snapped in the man’s head when Titanic worked for him; I have a big problem with the auteur theory of cinema, I don’t believe it has a place in the current film industry. Avatar is classically, ridiculously OTT auteurism, and the fact that it cost more than a small nation’s yearly GDP to make is seriously worrisome for its implications about future Hollywood product. Of course, part of my distaste for Cameron could come from the fact that I was first taught film studies by the foremost academic critic of his work…

To sum up: I’d rather not have my heart ripped out. Best Picture is more than OOH THE PRETTY, it does have to have content. Kathryn Bigelow deserves all the acclaim she’s been getting and more. I’m going to go listen to the End Credits from Star Trek about five more times in a row. Good night.

(By the way, I did manage to get a haircut. It took one day notice. I am Paige’s melodramatic firstworldproblem sigh.)