Be a better man

Today’s random sampling of the crap men still do to women in 2017 is both a source of despair, and inspiration to be a better man.

I’m not just talking about starting in 2018, I’m talking about starting today, right now.

Why wait until the new year to start figuring out how to be a better human being?

It’s 2017, we can send people into space, and talk to our phones. Surely we men can come to terms with this idea that the women we live and work with are just as smart and capable as we are (often smarter and more capable) .

Good grief, men, this is what it means to man up!

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Celebrating Women in Tech with the awesome #WITBragDay meme

My favourite meme at the moment is the awesome #WITBragDay meme on Twitter that celebrates women in tech. It seems to have been started by Alice Goldfuss with her tweet:

The result is tweet after tweet of pure inspiration from women in the technology industry. I spent some time reading tweets this morning when I woke up and I found myself smiling because these stories are just awesome.

These women, and others like them, are the perfect response to the odious Damore memo. These stories are also the stories I want both our kids to know, especially our daughter. Heck, these stories inspire me as I learn to code. Here is a selection of some of my favourites:

I’ve created a Twitter Moment for the tweets I love the most. You can find that here too (it may be more complete and up to date):

Image credit: The #WOCinTech collection on Flickr, licensed CC BY 4.0

You can read more about the #WOCinTech project here too: “#WOCinTechChat – Promoting diversity in tech through stock photos

The James Damore memo can’t negate talented women or their work

What I find disturbing about the James Damore memo about men’s and women’s comparative capabilities (aside from the memo itself) is that its publication seems to negate women’s daily achievements in the eyes of so many men who read it.

Even the mighty pen can’t change a reality that talented women create each day. It can’t undo the extra work that women have to do just to appear comparable to men in men’s estimations[1].

Anyone who agrees with Damore’s conclusions about women’s abilities based on biology, even just a little, clearly needs to look up once in a while, and pay attention to what women are actually accomplishing.

A memo doesn’t negate talented women or the work they do. Although, we can’t say the same for its proponents’ link to reality.

Postscript: Also read Jeremy Keith’s post titled “Intolerable“.


  1. It can’t even offer a compelling explanation for why men’s estimations have any real value.

AltPlatform and a conversation about the Open Web

There is a new conversation about the Open Web and it’s called AltPlatform.org.

The Open Web is increasingly important as the major silos online attract more users and become more insular to maintain their dominance. A prominent example of a silo is Facebook and its service ecosystem.

The Open Web stands as an important counterpoint to the siloed Web. In a sense, it’s a lot like the contrast between open source software and proprietary systems. Proprietary services tend to be easier to use, even if they are harmful on the long run.

As important as it is, the Open Web also a largely invisible theme because the vast majority of the Web’s denizens are happy to use siloed services without much thought about the implications of investing so much in them.

The open Web is a “global public resource”

I’ve been a big believer in the Open Web for some time and I was pretty excited to discover that Richard MacManus and a few other writers have launched AltPlatform.org, a non-profit publication focused on the Open Web:

What do we mean by “Open Web”? Firstly, we want to experiment with open source (like this WordPress.org blog) and open standards (like RSS). We’re also using the word open to signify a wider, boundary-less view of the Web. In other words, we want to look for opportunities beyond the Walled Gardens – proprietary platforms like Facebook and Twitter where you don’t own your own data, you have little control over your news feeds, and you have to live by certain rules.

Our desire to explore the Open Web explains why we’ve created a new blog, rather than simply start a Facebook Page or sign up to Medium. We’re a group blog because we want to create thoughtful, inspiring posts that link liberally to others. We want a proper archive of content, which isn’t possible on Facebook or Medium. We want our feed of content to flow across the Web using RSS. Heck, we might even resurrect trackbacks.

The chances are that the Open Web, as a theme and as a call to action, will have relatively limited appeal to people, generally speaking.

Most people want to share stuff and check their news. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other similar services make this really easy and you don’t need to build a site and maintain it to do that.

Open Web technologies also tend not to pass the “my Mom uses it” test. This is an adoption killer unless you’re sharing with communities who are already using alternative platforms.

Still, the Open Web is worth protecting and talking more about. It’s pretty encouraging to read about how Open Web technologies can be used for the type of sharing we have come to expect in more closed services, even if it requires a bit of tinkering at the moment.

AltPlatform.org looks like an important part of that conversation and I’m pretty excited to participate in that conversation going forward. If this appeals to you too, you should definitely read the Open Web Manifesto:

http://altplatform.org/2017/05/30/open-web-manifesto/

One suggestion I’d make is that MacManus and Co. license their work under a CC license that fosters sharing and reuse. It sort of goes with the territory.

Image credit: Toa Heftiba

The surreal result of the UN Security Council resolution against Israel

A particularly surreal result of the recent UN Security Council resolution against Israel was that even Trump sounded reasonable:

Hopefully the insanity (both the UN’s bias against Israel and Trump) will end in the near future. That is probably wishful thinking, though. Then again, with a new year comes the hope that it will be better than the last.

Image credit: UN Security Council chamber by Neptuul

Credibility, journalism in the Trump era and other news

Reading the news

The Content Strategist has a news roundup that is worth reading. It is somewhat political. At the same time, it includes a number of articles gathered from various news publications that make for very interesting reading. I am particularly interested in the piece about credibility on Current Affairs:

Current Affairs editor Nathan J. Robinson lays out, with convincing evidence, the many hypocrisies of the journalism establishment, and how the media’s clickbait sensationalism, lack of transparency, and centrist-liberal bent are all partly to blame for the current crisis of misinformation.

Source: ‘The Necessity of Credibility,’ and 6 Other Stories You Should Read

When Google gave up, the Internet Archive kept going

I believe really strongly in the need to preserve our digital heritage as part of our collective cultural archive. Andy Baio published a wonderful article in The Message about how the Internet Archive has been quietly doing just that since before Google published it’s intention to “organize the world’s information”:

The Internet Archive is mostly known for archiving the web, a task the San Francisco-based nonprofit has tirelessly done since 1996, two years before Google was founded.

Not only does the Internet Archive maintain a vast library of web pages, texts, music, videos and images. It also maintains a growing library of old software. It not only has the biggest archive of old software in the world but this software is actually usable thanks to a variety of emulators.

Old MS-DOS games on Archive.org
Doesn’t this just send you down memory lane to the graphics that inspired Minecraft.

One of the coolest aspects of this is the huge collection of old MS-DOS games. This may not mean much to you if you were born after, say, 1995 (give or take) but I recognise many of the games I used to play when my family’s PC couldn’t hold a flame to my aging iPhone 5.

Baio’s article recounts the history of the Internet Archive’s growing collection of old software. When you consider how quickly apps and file formats become obsolete in the rush to innovate, it isn’t difficult to see why this archive is so important.

View story at Medium.com

It isn’t just about preserving old games for the sake of nostalgia, it is about preserving our thoughts, ideas and culture in a form that we can still access meaningfully years or decades after they were relegated to the global technological landfill.

This is also one of the reasons I remain a big believer in software such as LibreOffice. Even now, it maintains compatibility with old file formats such as WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. You’ll be lucky if Microsoft Office or Apple’s iWork can read office file formats more than a few years old.

There are times when I think a career as an archivist or librarian would have been interesting when faced with the prospect of finding ways to preserve our digital heritage for future generations.

I was excited when Google took it on itself to start archiving the world’s information. It is a monumental endeavour and not without risks. Google was embroiled in litigation for years because it started scanning books. It has done amazing work and continues to do so.

Google is preserving our heritage in gigapixels

Google Arts & Culture contains an invaluable collection of the world’s art. I don’t think you can overstate the value of having this resource available from virtually any web browser.

With all that Google has done for us, the Internet Archive has arguably done as much, probably even more. Take some time to visit archive.org and explore this tremendous resource.

Image credit: Pixabay