30 January 2013

And I also saw a kangaroo in the wild.

Hi, I am in Australia.

I am at linux.conf.au in Canberra, to be precise. Always trying to learn something new - I cannot wait for the talk about Git for Ages 4 and Up, by Michael Schwern, today (Thursday - I am still not completely over the jet lag).

What have I done so far, besides meeting very nice people, too many to mention?

On Tuesday there has been a miniconf for women - Haecksen, which I learned it is the German word for female hackers. Men were welcome, of course! The talk that struck me the most there was Denise Paolucci's Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: great suggestions on how to fight that bug in your brain telling you you are going to be found out , from "always ask questions"  to "mind your (internal) language" to "teach". A very funny exercise followed the talk: a typical self-deprecating thing was reported by someone in the audience, then whoever thought that of him/herself once raised his/her hand - and it looked like a calisthenics class after a while. I find it interesting how this useful talk was felt to be needed for women, or at least mostly for women: and how I think that yes, indeed, it's mostly a woman's problem. Could it be caused by how women have often to manage conflicting expectations? (Of course I think that men have problems with expectations too, but I also think that at least these are mostly due to "simple" bars set too high, not with "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations.)

And a mention must be made of Radia Perlman's keynote, also on Tuesday. It was interesting, it was funny, it was accessible: I was absolutely fascinated - and no, it was not just the graphs. It ended with one of the wisest suggestions I have ever heard, for everything in life: before fixing a problem, make sure you know what the problem is.

OK, now it's time for breakfast, and another exciting day!

(And if you're wondering about the kangaroo: yes, I am sure I saw one the other night.)


  1. As someone who has experience being seen as male, a bar that's set high enough creates a "damned if you do/don't" situation. You can either try to conform to an impossible standard and die or get hurt in the process, or you can let it go and lose all respect (including sometimes self-respect).

    Male privilege lets one blissfully ignore a lot of these impossible standards, if one chooses to. But there are a lot of other axes of privilege, like racial, cultural, age, and ability.

    In my case, I was a neurologically disabled young "man" who was a cultural outsider due to being homeschooled and moving a lot, even inside the church that defined my existence and set the impossible standards that it was most important to me that I reach. I didn't realize that the actual gatekeeping function served by many of those standards was to keep out the people who cared about them, and let in the abusers who didn't. I just got suicidally depressed because I knew I was "unworthy."

    I'm sorry if this is derailing. I'm also jealous that you got to hear Denise's talk. The slides were very inspiring.

  2. Jewelfox: Not derailing, or if this is derailing I don't care because I'm interested in what you are saying: first of all I think you have a very interesting perspective on this sort of topics, having lived as both a male and a female... (sorry if I am using an improper language - with "living as" I mean "living being seen from the society at large as"); secondly I think you are absolutely right in reminding that there are many (often intersecting) "axes of privilege" (I would add "economic means" to the ones you mention).