Up and Down, + the Uncyclopedia

You might have noticed that my site has been down. Well, I got another spam flood, and Open Source Host had to take down my site because it was bringing down the server, again. Apparently requiring people to register doesn't really make me immune to spam floods, as (if I understand correctly) it's the SQL queries that are the problem, even if the queries result in an "access denied," as these did. They might have to take down the site again, so please bear with me.

As an aside, I was checking out the Uncyclopedia today and thinking Jenny and Jeff would appreciate it (via Metafilter). Edited to add some of my favorite entries: Making up Oscar Wilde Quotes, Bacon fat, Baby, and You Have Two Cows. Oh, and one more: the Wikipedia entry. Hilarious.

Special Cookie Day

In honor of Special Cookie Day, I have Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Chunk (Dark Chocolate) cookies, which I'll heat up for ~10 seconds in the microwave before eating and enjoy with the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3 of The Sopranos. Someone got me hooked on it, gah.

It's going to be a good evening.

Gender and Open Source

What follows is one of the articles I wrote for The Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology. It was accepted pending revision, but I decided to withdraw it. The deadline was just about to pass, and I suppose I could have asked for an extension, but the changes the reviewer requested ended up requiring more research on the history of women in computing than I have time to do, unfortunately (must spend time on dissertation only!). Plus, this is much more of a nonacademic position paper than an objective, informative academic encyclopedia article. I wrote two other articles for the encyclopedia anyway, which is probably enough. So, enjoy. Maybe you'll learn something you didn't know before; I hope so. Not being a software developer myself, I'm sure I'm wrong about some of the technical matters I discuss here, and I'd appreciate any corrections.

UPDATE: See also the playlist I created on this topic. It contains a few sources I found since writing this.

UPDATE: There's a thread at Linux Weekly News about an article in NewsForge titled "Getting in touch with the feminine side of open source."

UPDATE: Máirín has a thoughtful response you should read.

Introduction: Proprietary and Open Source Software

The software most people use every day – common applications like Microsoft® Word®, Adobe® PhotoShop®, and the like – is proprietary. That is to say, we pay for the use of it, and suppliers pay programmers to write the source code. Consumers purchase the software, install it, and use it. While consumers can use the software applications, because they are only sold the executable files, they cannot view or alter the source code. This means they cannot write new modules or tinker with existing features; for example, consumers can't make changes to a proprietary word processing program's bulleted list feature to add a new style of bullet or write a module that would make the program recognize a given file format it does not currently recognize. In proprietary software applications, the code is under traditional copyright, and because the corporations only sell the executable program file(s), the user cannot view or build upon the source code. Instead, the user must wait for the next version of the program, hope the company has added the features she wants, and pay for the upgrade. Programmers who work for software corporations must sign confidentiality documents agreeing not to share the source code with any unauthorized personnel.

A nod to Jenny's sagacity

It helped about a year ago, and it helps now:

I've been totally useless today. I just can't seem to get anything done. But I am looking at maybe finishing a draft of my second chapter by Monday. That's the good news. Of course, we'll see what the comments are like. No matter. I just keep writing. It might not be great--might not even be pretty good. Nevertheless, it is fifty pages of words with quotations and paragraphs and subheadings. If that ain't a chapter, then I don't know what is.

Strawberry Cake

I've had this strawberry cake fixation today. My students are doing presentations on Wednesday, the last day of class, and last night I had a typical anxiety dream. In the dream, I was on my way to campus to attend their presentations, and I was overcome with a craving for strawberry cake. All of a sudden I was transported to Florence (AL, my hometown), to Seven Points Shopping Center, which in real life is an unremarkable, even rundown place; in the dream, though, it was baroque, almost like the set of Moulin Rouge. There were nightclubs as well as stores. There was this bridal shop so many stories tall that I had to bend my neck way back to see the top, at which there was a sign that said, "STRAWBERRY WEDDING CAKE." Then it had a picture of the enormous pink cake. I counted the twenty tiers slowly, enthralled. Then I snapped out of it and thought, "well, I'm not getting married, so they wouldn't let me have that cake."

So I continued walking around the shopping center and went into an area that was kind of like a little festival, with dancing and booths where art and jewelry were being sold. They had one booth that had tea and strawberry cupcakes. They weren't fancy, just cake from a mix:

But they were fresh and delicious, and I was ecstatic. I devoured several cupcakes, eating each one in two bites. Then I saw three people I know, all of whom are friendly acquaintances, but I didn't want to get stuck in a conversation with them just then. I tried to dodge them, but they spotted me. At that time I realized I was missing my students' presentations and freaked out. I ended up having to talk to those people for a little while, and by the time I finally got to the classroom, everyone was gone.

Couple of finds

You must check out muse and fury, a new feminist blog with some really thoughtful personal and academic writing as well as images.

Also the latest issue of thirdspace, a special issue on autobiography. First on my reading list from that one is Lucy Bailey's When "The Research" is Me: Women's Experiences as Contingent Instructors in the Contemporary Academy. A paragraph about halfway down is devoted to Invisible Adjunct.

Method, artifacts, and other dissertation-related notes

It's been too long since I've done a dissertation post (one week and five days, according to the list of categories on my sidebar), and I'd like to remedy that. So, first, a progress report: Several days ago, I sent out interview questions. The questions were, as you might recall, intended to help contextualize the "where are the women" discussions. Response so far has been better than I expected; I was afraid that no one would be around given that it's summer. At least two people that I know of intend to post about my project (as in, post my questions and their responses). I expected that going into it, and I assumed that some people would post their responses without talking to me first, so I'm telling those who do check with me that it's fine. And it really is fine, to be sure. Of course I do worry a little bit that people with very high Google page ranks will rip my research to shreds and their posts will be right there at the top when folks Google me, but it's a necessary risk. It'll be interesting to see how such a public research process will go.

I've been thinking a lot about process lately. Right now my committee members want me to include, along with my chapters, at least three appendices: a weblog primer, one on my project's implications for composition pedagogy (they're not requiring this one, but they said the pedagogical implications could go in an appendix should I choose to write about them), and one that's a kind of reflexive essay about my doing this project as both a woman and a blogger.

It's that last one I keep getting hung up on. I think I have a chapter's worth of stuff to say about that topic. I hope that will be okay with my committee; my guess is it will. I envision it as a chapter that addresses several issues related to method:

  1. A review and critique of methods used in previous qualitative internet research (not all of it, mind you, just the work on gender and computer-mediated communication in which I'm situating my research)
  2. An explanation of new methodological challenges presented by studying blogging (e.g. expectations of privacy) and common methods scholars have used to study them so far
  3. A definition and justification of my methodological choices (this would include defining a "feminist rhetorical approach" and what I mean when I say "rhetorical criticism" (Cf. Warnick*) and explanation of my purpose in doing interviews
  4. An autoethnographic narrative about my experience with blogging (as it pertains to this project -- e.g. why I blog, what it's been like doing my research in public, etc. -- it would also entail writing a blurb about autoethnography)
  5. A reflexive examination of my roles as feminist woman, blogger, and researcher studying gender and blogging (this would include issues of situatedness, degree of advocacy, and research ethics).

Feedback is, as always, appreciated. Now for something fun, which will definitely be an appendix in my dissertation: all the little artifacts I'm collecting, like the representations I wrote about recently. Here are some more quiz images, which I haven't had time to write about yet but hope to soon:

Many more below the fold:

I have lived with several Zen masters, all of them cats.

Well, actually I've never lived with a cat, but I couldn't help but think of that quotation by Eckhart Tolle when I read this NYT story about all the online shrines to cats (versus those to dogs), including cat blogging. One hypothesis: "Maybe the difference is that dogs are public, everyone's business. They go on subways and they go in parks. They are always caught in flagrante defecato. Cats stay home. They are private, nobody's business. To watch them in their homes is a privilege. They are perfect for the Web, the medium of voyeurs." A corollary: "Those cats [in The Infinite Cat Project] are like so many bloggers sitting at home staring into their computer screens and watching other bloggers blog other bloggers. Cats, who live indoors and love to prowl, are the soul of the blogosphere. Dogs would never blog." Looks like the NYT is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to stories about blogging.

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