Firebee Dispatch #11: No, It's Not Going to Stop
I actually like sending these out on Sunday better than Friday, so I may just move days instead of continuing to call this late.
What I’m Up To
- I was a cat from the future for Halloween because I wanted a chance to wear my necomimi cat ears. Meow!
- I am the Goldilocks of yoga. Gentle yoga was a little too boring. Hot yoga was hell on earth. This week, I tried yoga 1, and it was just right.
- I got a promotion at my job!
- Work is still super-busy, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. SOON.
- I am ridiculously behind on email. To those I owe emails, I’m sorry. I’ll likely get back to you in a couple weeks when work busy time ends.
Recommended Reading & Current Events
Model View Culture’s issue on events is out. You should read it, especially if you organize events. So much good stuff.
Beyond Codes of Conduct: What Tech Events Need to Do Better by Shanley Kane does a great job introducing the topic and the posts from the issue.
A Code of Conduct Is Not Enough by Maggie Zhou, Alex Clemmer, Lindsey Kuper (organizers of !!con). Having been a conference organizer who was in charge of the anti-harassment policy, I cannot agree enough with everything they are saying here. I am glad to see a group of organizers discussing and agreeing on these things. Being the sole person pushing for a better process is exhausting.
Having a token CoC that is never explicitly discussed is almost worse than no code of conduct at all. It tells conference-goers that you threw a CoC up on your website because doing so is expected, rather than as part of an intentional effort to define the culture of your event.
We all know that inclusivity is one of our goals, and we all trust each other to prioritize it. But our attendees don’t necessarily know what our priorities are — after all, we are in many cases complete strangers to them.
CoC violations sometimes will happen in spite of our best efforts. If we judge the success of our CoC (and of our event) by whether there are CoC violations, it will ultimately discourage reporting of violations, because nobody wants to be the one to have “ruined” the event by reporting. And that’s the opposite of what we want.
Instead of complaining to me that disabled people just don’t come to your conference, do something that would make them want to come to it!
Do a walk through and at least imagine a roll through. Iterate. Make your venue unlock the elevators. Make good signs. Remind everyone to use microphones so they can be heard by more of the listeners. Hire someone for CART captioning of talks. And tell us right up front on your conference site that you’ve done these things.
So… you want “diversity” at your conference? You could put your money where your mouth is, and hire an accessibility consultant.
- Alcohol and Inclusivity: Planning Tech Events with Non-Alcoholic Options by Kara Sowles. If you organize events with alcohol, please be sure to focus on the points about making your event inclusive to non-drinkers.
When alcohol is currency, non-alcoholic drinks are considered valueless, and the interests and needs of people who don’t drink alcohol are easily forgotten. In a community so focused on alcohol, those who don’t partake are excluded.
The reasons don’t matter: What’s important is an understanding that there is a large range of rationales and circumstances around the non-consumption of alcohol, and the question of “Why aren’t you drinking?” is better left unasked.
- Beerops wrote a followup post after reading Kara’s that I enjoyed – On alcohol and tech culture.
Somewhere along the way, the difference between “someone I can get along with in a professional context” and “someone I like in a personal context” got a bit confused and twisted around under the nebulous guise of “culture fit”.
In the News
Note: I’m still really behind on the news because of work, so this is a pretty random list of things that caught my eye.
- For-profit programs face ‘gainful employment’ rule from the AP. This piece reminds me that I have been holding in a rant about for-profit code schools for some time now. I really should write that.
- Amazon released some diversity numbers. It’s notable that they have not broken out their tech roles like most other large tech companies did.
- Content notice: sexual assault. MIT, one of the top computer science schools in the US, recently released Survey Results: 2014 Community Attitudes on Sexual Assault. Many of the results are worrisome, but not particularly surprising. Ugh.
Rant of the Week
I had a mini-tweetstorm on my private twitter account after reading Kara’s piece about alcohol in the tech industry. I’m reproducing it here, so I don’t have to write a new rant.
Drinking culture in tech is problematic, exclusionary, and dangerous. It really upsets me.
I know people who essentially developed drinking problems because they did the conference circuit and wanted to socialize.
#tw That terrible horrible fucked up shit that happened last year? Dude blamed alcohol. People supported that bullshit excuse.
I know several men active in the conf scene who I can tolerate when they’re sober, but who I know to avoid like the plague when they drink.
The alcohol doesn’t cause this behavior, it just enables it and excuses it. I shouldn’t have to worry about that shit.
Almost every conference I’ve attended, I lose out on the networking and socializing at parties because binge drinking upsets me.
It doesn’t upset me in a “waaah, I’m a teetotaler” sort of way. It upsets me because it makes the space less safe.
I do drink, but in small groups with people I trust who drink in moderation. I.e. a situation where it is safer and people have judgement.
Funny thing, even when my friends have had a little too much to drink, they still behave reasonably and respect boundaries pretty well.
I hate people who blame the alcohol for their bad behavior. Bullshit. You can be drunk and not harm people. If you can’t, don’t drink.
Mass Media Musings
I took myself on a nice solo date to see this film over the weekend. I feel like I need another viewing to decide entirely how I feel about it. Time for bullet point thoughts!
- My immediate mental response upon leaving the theater: WAT.
- Lots of long takes. These must have been a pain to shoot, but they’re awesome to watch. The visuals are definitely one of the stars of the film.
- The film had a great cast, and they all were fabulous in their roles.
- It has a lot of layers. It reminded me that I really want to revisit Synecdoche, New York, a very dense and layered film that I’ve only seen once.
- I don’t think I loved the film quite as much as it loved itself, but I still enjoyed it.
Continuing on with Gilmore Girls. I am about halfway through season 3.
- Yessss, I finally got to the Paris vs. Rory fencing scene.
- Rory and Jess dating is boring. I’m so glad you two are good at sucking face, but I miss when you used to have interesting discussions about literature, music, and film.
- Still enjoying the crap out of How to Get Away With Murder.
- Scandal is starting to get in that “this show has been running too long and doesn’t know what to do with itself” state, but I keep watching anyways. I hope it takes a while longer to go completely off the rails.
Everyone here who used to be an actual fucking star in the sky raise your hand.
- Dispatch title from “Wise Up” by Aimee Mann [youtube clip from the song in the film Magnolia]. I desperately want to re-watch Magnolia now. Going to try to put that on the todo list next weekend.