Solidarity with a gap year student

I have a close friend who graduated from high school last spring.  After a lot of thought and negotiation with her parents and the university where she’d been accepted and funded, she decided to take a gap year, that tradition of time off after high school that is common in Europe but often maligned in the US.  I was one of the people who got her thinking about it.

It’s fair to point out that we’ve known each other for a long time and I’ve been there to selectively pass ideas across the table to her:  an introduction to Linux, tours of subversive little urban spaces, genres of music.  So I was in a good position to suggest a gap year to her, and to substantiate the benefits to her parents.

She’s in the middle of it now, and her version of taking it easy is working 2 jobs … Read the rest

Deepest Condolences

Aaron Swartz at Boston Wikipedia Meetup, 2009. Photo by Sage Ross.

I’m taking a moment to offer my sympathies to the friends and family of Aaron Swartz, who died on Friday.  I didn’t know him, but he was a friend to at least one of my friends and his passing is a blow to many, many people.  He was a dynamic, passionate, and creative defender of information freedom, and he will be missed.  Here are remembrances from people around the Internet:

Cory Doctorow

Peter Eckersly of the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Quinn Norton

Wikipedia

New York Times

 … Read the rest

How to Survive Your Capstone in 10 Easy (HA!) Steps

Here’s a quick thesis/capstone survival guide I put together for a talk at Penn last fall. It’s close to graduation time so hopefully it will come in handy to someone!

 

1. Capstones scare everybody.  Face it together.

You might think you are the worst procrastinator in the world, that no one has ever been as scared of a stupid paper, and that everybody else is doing way better.

Nope!

Everybody suffers when they’re working on the magnum opus of their education thus far, the document that could propel them to greatness or banish them to mediocrity FOREVER.  It helps to have a cadre of friends or colleagues for venting, study dates, and plain old empathy.  You often get tips and insights when you talk through whatever you’re stuck on, that you wouldn’t get plugging away on your own.  So even if it seems like some of your classmates have … Read the rest

Be Your Own Puppet: Miwa Matreyek’s stunning video shadow puppetry

In mid-March I went to Baltimore’s Quest Fest to see a performance by Miwa Matreyek, an animator who I hadn’t heard of even a couple of months ago. I stumbled across her work on some internet afternoon stroll and was captivated by the clips that I saw.  Lucky for me, other people from the Pricess Grace Foundation to TED had heard of her.

Her work is heavily inspired by shadow puppetry, and in fact when I first looked at her work my mind immediately went to this exquisite video for the Little Dragon song “Twice” by Johannes Nyholm.

But in her work, she is the puppet. She performed two pieces at Quest Fest, “Dreaming of Lucid Living”, and “Myth and Infrastructure”. In each, she projects an original animation on a screen, but uses a second projector in back of the screen to throw the shadow of her figure into … Read the rest

Hacking the Gender Gap at the Women In Tech Summit

TechGirlzTomorrow, The Hacktory is excited to present a workshop at the Women In Tech Summit called Hacking the Gender Gap: A Hands-On Workshop for Boosting Gender Diversity in Tech. Georgia, Sarah, and Steph will facilitate activities to pull from people’s positive and negative experiences in tech as well as some of the research on the gender gap in STEM. We’ll work through strategies for combating sexist behavior and building a more diverse tech community. We hope to use this workshop as a first step in gathering data and stories that women, girls, and their allies can use in their organizations.

Check back here for a resource list and some of the outcomes from the session. And if you haven’t signed up for the summit they may still be taking some last minute registrations!

Happy Tech Week, everyone!… Read the rest

The Truthiness About Red Wine

Naomi Most, a contributor at Noisebridge, has post about the gap between the perceived and proven health benefits of red wine.  She puts it in context by pointing out that the quickest way to get press for anything resembling science is to publish results that seem to vindicate a human vice.  The resulting press-bob-bomb is seldom commensurate with the significance of the finding.  My pet peeve is nature/nurture research that “explains” gender gaps, but that’s a different story, told beautifully by Terri Oda.

Anyway, here is my favorite line from Naomi’s post:

Red wine is being used to “sell” scientific research about a phytochemical (resveratrol) which just happens to appear in a minute concentration in the beverage, much the way images of scantily clad young women are used to sell beer, especially in places where such women appear in minute concentrations.

Love, love, love.

Also, Noisebridge is Read the rest

Time management, or murdering your darlings

Since I finished my capstone I’ve been kind of relaxing, for some definition of relaxing. I’ve done some sewing, some reading, some travelling, some work on the house, and some light organizing. But I haven’t jumped into any big projects or aggressive job-hunting, so I’ve been feeling a little guilty. I’ve also felt guilty for ignoring this space.

But this isn’t a “I’m sorry I haven’t posted, I’ve been so busy” post. Well, not exclusively. This morning I was feeling ready to tackle one of the projects that is piling up a little and went to the directory on my laptop where I keep notes on projects. It’s super low-tech but it works. I keep a different directory for each year, and another directory for each project, then whatever files are relevant in there, like this:

projects
    2009
    2010
    2011
        UN
        techgirlz
        hacktory
        mastergardener
        ...

So I went to that … Read the rest

Random Hacks of Kindness June 4-5


Do you like hacking? Do you fancy yourself a nice person overall? Are there things about this crazy world that just don’t sit well with you? If getting together with 50 people like you to split into teams and work on techy solutions to real world problems sounds like a blast, you should sign up for Random Hacks of Kindness.

My friend Mike Brennan is organizing Philly’s Random Hacks of Kindness, a one-day hackathon for social good and crisis response tools. Philly is one of only 15-20 cities participating. He’s lined up great facilities and food at Drexel. All you have to do is come and make stuff! Coders and non-coders are welcome. Here are some problem definitions that people have worked on in the past, to give an idea of basically what they’re going for. Participants can draw from a list of projects or come up with a new … Read the rest

Future music and full duplex love with Tek Lado

A couple months ago I thought I saw a broadsheet in a newspaper box with a cover story called “Who is the Hispanic Geek? / Quien es el Geek hispano?”.  But I figured it was a figment of my optimistic imagination.  A few weeks later a friend asked if I’d seen this new bilingual tech and pop culture magazine (PRINT!) called Tek Lado.  It took another couple looks to get the pun (get it? Teclado?) because every time I picked up the zine my head was flooded with happy chemicals and I couldn’t think straight.

But Tek Lado actually exists in the world outside my head, and although they’ve moved from print to online only, they appear to be even cooler than I thought.  I met with editors Mel Gomez and Liz Spikol (formerly of Philly Weekly) last week and it was one of those perfect meetings where … Read the rest