“Diversity-Friendly Software”: a SXSW proposal!

Originally posted on the TapestryMaker blog

Update, October 10: the proposal was accepted.  Yay!  And, thanks!

Vote for my Panel Picker Idea!SXSW’s “Panel Picker” opened for voting today, so it’s a golden opportunity to check out the session Shireen Mitchell and I proposed on “Diversity-friendly software“.  Voting counts for 30% of the score on a proposal, so if you’re interested please vote for it – and pass it along!

Here’s the description:

It’s time for software to embrace differences (not just tolerate them), and see diversity as a strength. Most software today works best for people like the teams that create it, and embeds biases against women, African-Americans, Latinxs, LGBTAIQs, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups – and it’s even worse at the intersections. So the industry is primed for change. This session discusses current examples, “best practices” that teams can immediately leverage, and emerging ideas from projects that have focused heavily on diversity. We also discuss the challenges and how to overcome them – and chart a path to the future.

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Sarah Jeong on Online Trolling and Harassment

Ars Technica logoWhat to do on a Wednesday night in San Francisco?  BART over to the Longitude tiki bar in Oakland, of course, for a discussion with Ars editors Annalee Newitz and Cyrus Farivar and journalist Sarah Jeong (author of “The Internet of Garbage”) about online trolling and harassment!  I had just been working on a wiki page with a handful of links about muting, blocking, and tools for people to protect themselves online as reference material for next week’s presentation on Supporting diversity with a new approach to software, so the lively discussion was particularly timely 🙂

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Notes from Underground: Tribal Convergence (New Year’s Weekend 2015/2016)

For the first time in years, we rang in the New Year at a psytrance party in SF — Tribal Convergence at the Gingerbread House!  Michael Liu, Witchdokta, and the Mendo Organized Chaos crew had done a great job putting the party together, and the place looked amazing.   We found a cab with no problem (just say no to surge pricing and exploitative business models!) and got there just as Galactic Illumination started their set … Continue Reading »


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DRAFT: Women writing about technology: a reading list for the new year

Draft!  Feedback welcome!

If you want to get straight to the list, feel free to skip the backstory.  If you’d prefer to start of with a great example of why we need lists like this, read on 🙂
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Galactic: New Year’s Eve 2013/2014 at the Atrium

“It’s the happiest I’ve seen you since I can’t remember when …”

— more than one friend, to me, October-December 2013


The last few months have been great: working on an exciting project, and (finally!) hanging out online at a positive, diverse, site with interesting people and great discussions.  And even though 2013 as a whole was difficult , there were plenty of good times; and excellent progress on my resolutions like spending more time with friends and family, meditating regularly, reducing stress and sleeping better.  So no wonder I’m happy!

DSC00605The first two-thirds of the year was pretty challenging. Things happen for a reason, though, and I certainly learned (and grew!) a lot. Even though it turned out not to be a great fit for me, the role of “Senior VP of Products” running an international engineering and product management organization was incredibly valuable experience – including areas like mobile and web service development that were new to me. DSC01141And while the family health crisis that cropped up just as I was leaving the job wasn’t a lot of fun, it was very fortunate that it happened at a time when I could prioritize what really mattered without feeling like I was letting people down at work … and even more fortunate that it resolved the way it did, with a full recovery!

After all the turmoil, it’s been really good for me to roll up my sleeves and do some programming again.  Of course there’s also the usual frustrations: learning a new platform, database, and programming environment, all of which have their share of quirks, and running into the same kind of annoying glitches that have always been a part of software development.

Still, what I’m building is attractive, usable on phones and tablets as well as laptops, and has a surprising amount of functionality … and it’s a great feeling that it’s already at the point where D and I and several friends are using it regularly. Oh yeah, that’s right, I *am* pretty good at this software engineering stuff 🙂

DSC01486As usual we’re kicking off the new year at a psytrance party — Galactic, with DJ Anomaly at the Atrium!  We shall see what 2014 holds, but as of now I’m quite optimistic. It feels like a very positive trajectory, in contrast to last year (when I didn’t even do a blog post) and even the year before (where I just couldn’t wait for 2011 to get over).

And it really is the happiest I’ve been in a long time!





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Restore the Fourth: Grassroots civil liberties activism is back and better than ever!

Restore the Fourth rally on the Federal Building, NY

It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties.

me, in 2008, to the Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right mailing list

Five years later, grassroots civil liberties activism on social networks is back and better then ever.  Back in 2008, we were organizing online, trying to stop the disastrous FISA Amendment Act, and Barack Obama had just responded to our open letter.  We lost that battle, but the fight goes on … and today it went to the next level at Restore the Fourth‘s rallies across the country:

New York

How cool is that?

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Happy Birthday Get FISA Right: Looking forward to what comes next!

Cross-posted on Get FISA Right

Red white and blue birthday cakeGet FISA Right started on June 26, 2008, with posts by Mardi S on my.barackobama.com and Mike Stark on Open Left. We were the first high-profile grassroots social network activism campaign in the US and got enough attention that Obama responded to our open letter. Still, we and our allies lost that battle over the disastrous FISA Amendments Act. And since then, it’s been more of the same.

Five more years of the NSA vacuuming up our phone and internet information.

Five more years without meaningful oversight.

Five more years of evasion and outright lies in Congressional testimony.

Five more years of secret court rulings.

Five more years of legal maneuvering to try to prevent EFF, ACLU, or anybody else from challenging the laws’ constitutionality.

Five more years of Patriot Act and FISA reauthorization.

Happy f—ing birthday.

But after the firestorm of publicity in response to the recent leaks, I’m increasingly optimistic that momentum is building for a change.

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TSA Comments due *Monday*, 11:59 p.m. Eastern

If you’re tired of the TSA to electronically strip-searching us, abusing and humiliating people, making kids cry, and wasting billions of dollars on technology that doesn’t actually make us more secure, make sure to file your comments by Monday June 24 at 11:59 p.m.   You can theoretically  submit comments online via regulations.gov (although as I write this the site isn’t working), or by FAX or mail.   See the first reply to this post for more about how to file comments. Continue Reading »


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Day of Action, Monday, June 17: Tell the TSA to End Nude Body Scanners

With less than two weeks left to comment on the ‘nude body scanners’ in airports — and civil liberties on the front pages — it’s time for a final push to get the word out.  So a loose coalition of grassroots volunteers and privacy and civil liberties organizations is calling for a “Day of Action” on Monday June 17.  If you’re sick and tired of wasting billions of dollars and giving up your rights and dignity whenever toy fly, read on for how you can help — and why it matters.

Effective comments – and why they matter

Back in 2010, EPIC sued the Department of Homeland Security to prevent the “advanced imaging technology” (aka nude body scanners) from being used as primary screening in airports.   The court ruled against them on most counts, but agreed that the TSA had violated the law by failing to get public feedback before introducing the machines.  The TSA finally started the ‘rulemaking process’ in March this year, and the deadline is on June 24.

People and organizations can submit comments online via regulations.gov, or by FAX or mail (see the first comment for information on FAX and mail).  The number of comments sent in to the TSA matter. If the TSA doesn’t get a lot of comments, they’ll say it shows that most people don’t have any problem with the body scanners or TSA’s other security procedures. But if there’s a much more vocal response, it’s much harder for the TSA to ignore them – they’re required by law to reply to all the issues that are brought up in the commenting period.

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Tell the TSA what you think about nude body scanners!

Airline passengers have been walking through full-body scanners for nearly five years, but only now are fliers getting a chance to officially tell the federal government what they think about the screening machines.

In response to a lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit ruled that the Transportation Security Administration could continue to use the scanners as a primary method of screening passengers. But the court ordered the TSA to give the public a 90-day comment period, which the agency did not do when it launched the scanning program.

The TSA began the comment period online in March, and so far it has been getting an average of 26 comments a day — nearly all of which blast the TSA and the scanners for a variety of reasons.

— Hugo Martin, Public Gets Chance to Comment on TSA’s Full-body scanners, LA Times, April 21

There are now over 4500 comments on regulations.gov, and sentiment continue to be overwhelmingly against the scanners.   There are so many reasons to oppose them, it’s hard to know where to start: rights, effectiveness, cost, fairness, culture … see the Twitter Privacy chat discussion or EPIC’s preliminary analysis (PDF) for more details.  So it’s a golden opportunity for the loose but broad coalition fighting for a more sensible and less abusive approach to airport security to get the word out about the commenting  period and encourage people to submit their own comments.

This is one of the situations where numbers are important.  If the TSA only gets a small number of comments, they’ll say it shows that most people don’t have any issues and it’s only a “tiny but vocal” minority who is complaining.  But if there are a lot of comments, it’s much harder for the TSA to ignore them (they’re required by law to reply to all the issues that are brought up in the commenting period).  A loud enough outcry is likely to get media coverage and maybe even help politicians realize that hey, there’s an issue here that can make them very popular with their constituents!

So to start with, please file your own comments.  The most effective comments use your own language, instead of cut-and-paste boilerplate.  EPIC recommends that commenters support “Regulatory Alternative #3″ (the use of walk through metal detectors and explosive trace detection devices), support the right of passengers to opt out, describe the devices as “Nude Body Scanners”, and include personal experiences.   See below for instructions on how to use the regulations.gov to submit comments — as well as how to send them in by FAX or mail if you prefer.

Once you’ve done that, here are a few easy ways you can help get the word out:

  1. Share links on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, and whatever social networks you hang out on.  A few good links to share: EPIC’s summary page, the direct link to the “docket” on regulations.gov, and the Slashdot thread, articles from Mashable and the Verge, or this blog post!
  2. Email links to people and mailing lists you think will be interested.
  3. Look for tweets on the #tsacomments and #tsa hashtags (or from @TSAComments) and retweet them
  4. Look for good comments on regulations.gov, and tweet them or share them on your favorite social networks.
  5. If you blog, write a short post.   Consider including your comments (or at least excerpts from them), and make sure to include a link to the regulations.gov page.
  6. Sign up for Reddit, and vote up TSA-related stories.  [Why Reddit?  It’s been a hotbed of activism on other civil liberties issues like SOPA and CISPA, and there’s a lot of political discussion there as well, so there are likely to be a lot of allies there.]

Question: what other suggestions do people have?

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A Rainbow of Light: Replenishing at the Atrium

A rainbow of light

Candles and colors
Replenishing energy.
A rainbow of light


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Notes from Underground: The Dark Before the Dawn


Dancing in the darkness,
Your deepest desires …
Do you know why you’re here?
Do you think you have control?

— Lexicon Avenue, Why R U Here?

IMG_3881What a week. What a month.

Hard to believe I’m back on the fast track in the Silicon Valley startup scene.  Shipping!  Hiring!  Organizational issues!  Interpersonal conflicts!  Planning!  Strategy!  A third of my team is in Singapore, and if events had gone as planned I would have been there instead of at The Atrium last night.  Alas, when I went to check in for my flight, they noticed that my passport expires in September — and Singapore (like many other countries these days) requires documents to be valid for at least six months.  Sigh.

Control is an illusion.
Influence, however, is possible.

— dialog with Alayne Reesberg, 2004

But instead, after stressful times and long hours working down in the Bay Area, it was great to get back to Seattle Thursday night.  After a relaxing Saturday I was soooooo ready to dance.  And talk about perfect timing: a six-hour DJ Anomaly set at The Dark Before the Dawn at the Atrium!  Yay!!!!!!

The west coast psytrance scene seems to be doing pretty well these days.  I’ve been working so much that we’ve missed a lot of great shows, but I’ve still managed to see Cortex at Synchronize, Logic Bomb at Pulse, Full Power Friday at Retox.  The Atrium’s smaller than any of those clubs, but it’s a lot more comfy, with two great chill areas and tasty food and drinks till late.  DJ Anomaly had a lot of new tracks, and the vibe was great.  By the time cinnamon rolls magically appeared at 4:30, we were both feeling happy and relaxed.

I heart psytrance.

Escape with lights IMG_3943 IMG_3956


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