My talk at SXSWi tomorrow morning at 9:30am, on an outer gas giant, in the rain

So, I should have written this post earlier so people knew I was speaking. Tomorrow, Saturday morning at 9:30am I’m speaking with Scott Rosenberg (author of Dreaming in Code and Say Everything) on identity, pseudonymity, fake identities, hoaxes, anonymity, and so on. The title of the talk is How to Be Yourself When Everyone Else Is Faking It. It’s at the Omni Downtown at 700 San Jacinto (between 7th and 8th), so, not in the main conference center.

When we met to discuss the talk Scott and I both realized we wanted to talk about our takes on the arc of identity formation and representation on the Internet from the late 80s onward and possibly stretching back a bit earlier. My own impressions reach back to powerfully strong Usenet and MUD personalities from the late 80s and early 90s. There were mailing-list-famous people, hoaxes, personalities who would morph but who were identifiable by writing style or personal obsessions, people who were known for updating their .plan file daily; web and blogging identity issues have older roots not just from the literary world but from the pre-web online world. I’m going to talk about the arcs I see in blogging identities, going from personal journals to subject-focuses to identity fracturing and then back to wallet-name based blogging for many people — once they switched subjects or centrally defining characteristics a few times, hit a particular level of success, or were outed. Though I am firmly on the side of protection for anonymity and pseudonymity (and I believe Scott is too) I can outline some of the objections to that position. And yes I will definitely talk about Internet hoaxes a bit.

I think it will be a lively discussion and whoever shows up at 9:30am on Saturday morning in the rain to a hotel several blocks away will probably into be able to contribute substantially to that discussion! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Hope to see you there — or perhaps in comments here. I’ll update with links to our slides and whatever extra notes get taken. You could also check the hackpad page to see if anyone adds info there.

And if you see me around, definitely say hi and introduce yourself! Give me a card! Tell me everything! And please…. I am dead serious…. hold my hand and pull me down the (carpeted, difficult, exhausting) hallway or up a horrible hill. It would be so helpful. I am stopping total strangers and asking them to hold my hand and pull me along a little while.

me and al

Other stuff I am definitely going to: Curing a Rage Headache: Internet Drama & Activism with Sady Doyle, Jay Smooth, et al Sunday at 12:30, and Tech Co-operatives: A Better Way to Make a Living with Raeanne Young, Jack Aponte, and crew Monday at 9:30. I haven’t gone through the whole schedule yet to pick things but those are the two I definitely want to make. But on Sunday at 12:30 YOU should go to How to Build a Social Site and Not Get Users Killed which includes Danny O’Brien, Jillian York, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, and Sam Gregory.

Today I went to Gina Mccauley’s Social Media Sharecropping session and I’ll put my notes up from that a bit later tonight.

Related posts:

Dealing with Internet Drama in Feminist Discourse – SXSWi panel report

The Internet Drama in Feminist Discourse panel was led by Rachel (RMJ) from Deeply Problematic and Garland Grey from Tiger Beatdown.

woman with fist raised in woman's symbol

My notes are fairly sketchy. Many people in the room spoke up but I didn’t record everything and wasn’t sure of people’s names. The hashtag on Twitter was #femdrama, and from that tag I can see Natalia, caitlinrain, kaisersake, queenie_nyc, lzbellz. We went back and forth lot between talking about trolling or moderating obvious crap, vs. engaging in discourse between blogs as well as among commenters.

I talked a bunch in the middle of this panel, but forgot to mention that there is quite a lot about this topic and the idea of feminist “safe space” vs. Anonymous free speech in a book in 2009, The WisCon Chronicles: Carnival of Feminist SF. Section 3 of the book is all about Internet Drama, with contributions from Micole Sudberg, Cynthia Gonsalves, JJ Pionke, Hanne Blank, Vito Excalibur, my transcript of a panel called Can Internet Drama Change the World? with panelists Alexis Lothian, K. Tempest Bradford, Woodrow Hill, Julia Starkey, and K. Joyce Tsai. Debbie Notkin and I wrote a long essay about feminist culture class here, “Safe Space vs. LOLspace in the WisCon Trolling”. I think the participants push hard on the boundaries of what we expect from public discourse.

To start off the discussion, Rachel and Garland introduced themselves and mentioned their blogs and their experiences being suddenly embroiled in very intense and sometimes personal discussions online.

Rachel says drama can be useful and it can be possible to create drama for good or at least use it for good. Why would you start drama? What do we mean by it? How do you deal with people starting drama with you, in a responsible and ethical manner? How do you internally deal with the stress of it and take care of yourself while continuing on with your feminist activism?

Garland mentioned hashtag activism, like Tiger Beatdown’s #mooreandme campaign. He hopes we don’t start any new drama in this room today. If we mention recent feminist discourse online, great, but let’s not take sides on particular incidents. Rachel asks for our personal backgrounds or experience in this area.

A guy with big glasses talks a bit about a rock and roll bulletin board or mailing list he’s involved with and says drama arises over people deciding other people should be banned. Drama is splitting, divisive, and means people have to go off and make new forums.

Rachel responds that that’s how new communities formed. In answer to Rachel’s question about what drama means, I talked a bit about how the personal is political, we try to put feminisms into practice in daily life, we examine that in public discourse and it gets very intense.

Rachel talked about how criticism can be very personal and come in a barrage. It can carry the overwhelming message that we already get from society that our voices are worthless, it’s not worth continuing to put it out there. We have to separate the criticism we get that’s valid from that overwhelming societal message that we’re supposed to shut up.

Natalia talked about female leadership and the leaky pipeline. She was at a talk where Ruth Simmons was speaking; she was drained from being the token person speaking up, and Ruth said something about it being important for us to keep speaking up, because people who see us staying silent then think they’re not part of things either.

Garland talked about hostile actors, people who want to shut a conversation down or aren’t acting in good faith. Some people come in and are obvious name callers but it can also be stealthy, injecting ideas into a conversation that disintegrate it, undermine discourse, for example, the idea that “it’s just the the internet” and isn’t important. For instance Penny Arcade… (a bunch of people in the room laugh in response and talk about the dickwolves thing).

People talked about trolls and moderation and getting overwhelmed with comments. I mentioned geekfeminism.org and our comment policy. We also have filters for sensitive topics that bump comments right into moderation, like “too sensitive”.

The guy with glasses talked more about the women in Phish fandom board he’s part of. It was something like 90% women and 10% men. They started a women only forum. So excluding men was one option for improving the drama.

Teresa Van Deusen said it’s really bad when things immediately devolve into name calling. Someone talked about drama at SXSWi this year and how people in one context don’t think you might have other identities in the room. There is some poster about liking boobies and people don’t think about what that says. You can be a woman who likes women, and likes boobs, but still hates the ad and thinks it’s sexist.

Rachel talked about how drama is a really good way for some people to talk about intersectionality. People learn what language to use, how to quote people, how not to appropriate people’s words. At best it’s not a destructive cycle of anxiety where there’s drama. Someone else then talked about Amanda Marcotte whose work they admire, but she had given a speech that was appropriating things women of color had said, and then her response wasn’t good. We then talked about women of color and feminists of color being marginalized. Rachel mentioned that has plagued feminism since at least the 1800s, racism in feminism isn’t new with the Internet. Garland adds that we can screw up a lot faster now. There was some mention of intersectionality and privilege, cisgender, class, race, US-centrism, and other oppressions we fight as women.

Garland asked us to consider what we want from this discussion. What would make our day? Teresa responds that she already thinks the last 7 years or so of feminist discourse online has been amazing and beautiful.

Someone from Bitch Magazine says that when you’re feminist and blogging and unpaid and then get embroiled in drama it’s just difficult. There was more discussion of trolling, moderation, and swift banning. Rachel said that disallowing anonymous comments has been helpful for her to manage time. On her main blog she doesn’t get a ton of comments but when she writes for a bigger site the responses can be really bad. Emily May from Hollaback says at first they didn’t allow comments at all. Now they do. Michael from a small women’s college in Minnesota then talked about their online communities and I think Facebook, but my notes are incomplete.

Natalia talked about hashable and how mainstreaming feminist discourse can be important. She loves hashable and wanted to give constructive criticism of it.Their automated greeting is “Hi guys” which she criticised with the #languagematters tag. They responded fairly well, and then said “Well, it’s mostly not sexist”. Then they listened and changed the greeting to “hi there”. Rachel talked about discouraging and disallowing ablist language. Teresa said we need an app for that. The room buzzed a little about editing filters that would help alert us not to make common mistakes. It might be nice to have a WordPress plugin.

I talked some about how public discourse is documenting our consciousness raising. The riot grrrl movement isn’t well documented on the web. Maybe the web is going to make our history more obvious and accessible. Criticising other feminists is especially fraught because we are all vulnerable to the tools of misogyny, which can take us all down. Once the criticisms go mainstream, we all look bad, we’re catfighting, etc, but we have to do it and treat it as an important part of history. Very young girls are reading this stuff now, they get our history early, they are prepared. When I saw Style Rookie commenting around the feminist blogosphere it was great.

The band fan guy talked more but I did not get what he was trying to say. I totally wondered what his drama was though because he clearly had had at least one.

Someone else said please learn from feminism from past dramas. If criticized then think about it, think critically, don’t keep making the same mistake over and over, learn how to apologize, edit your posts.

Natalia: Women of color’s voices are silenced, people don’t htink about that by generalizing about this to be about white women, they’re not thinking of women of color. When we say how can we call people out in a constructive way, actually, what we need is not so much that as we need white people not to freak out when called out on their wording or on not including women of color.

There was a general “hear hear” throughout the room and a bunch of different women spoke up to say they agree.

I said some things about the tone argument and that anger isn’t a reason not to listen to someone and their point.

Someone else talked about giving way more validation and consideration to a harsh criticism when it came from a particular identity. Skye talked about that too but I missed the particular example. Garland says he can be rude and confrontational and that’s his personal style; if he feels like someone made a mistake and didn’t do it maliciously, he can be nicer, but intentions don’t matter in some ways.

An organizer from Girls Rock talked about watching teenage girls get harassed by boys, like on Facebook boys just going “girls suck” and the girls having to deal with that. How to help them in public spaces?

Rachel says, Think on how you will want to respond. What kinds of spaces are you creating? What do they have room for? What volume will there be?

People talk about when to stop engaging. What to do when people are asking over and over to be educated and you have to do feminism and racism 101 constantly. Dealing with derailing.

I said that we keep talking about intersectionality as our hotspot of feminist discourse rather than there being drama about any particular political position like abortion. As feminists talking in public we have to have a deflector shield of not listening to people telling us not to do it. Then it is all too easy misapply that shield to other feminists and allies and their critiques. We need not to dismiss criticism because it’s angry and there is a place for anger in public discourse between women and resolving it and working through it and anger doesn’t have to mean failure.

Someone talked about some Susan Faludi articles but I couldn’t hear…

Skye from Heroine Content talked about a post and comments from women of color about them being racist in their coverage of this action movie with jodie foster with a gun. She has a double standard of letting those comment through because she wants to hear those criticisms and also make them clear that they’re happening and what her response will be. (Rather than deleting a comment for being angry.) Rachel agrees and thinks it says it very well.

Someone else said we are not doing the oppression olympics with comparisons but feminism can lead people into anti racism.

Rachel says she feels it’s important to take criticism seriously when someone marginalized criticizes her privilege she looks at it straight away.

People talk about self care and it being stressful to be the person giving the criticisms . And it is important to take breaks, short or long, and look away, helpful to get away from situations for a while. Be with your friends.

Natalia talked about being uncomfortable with the analogy of stains on your record. We are human, it’s not a stain, it makes us more us, we all make mistakes and are growing.

Rachel: It’s still a mark, just because I messed up and now have grown, it doesn’t mean people have to start liking me again.

Natalia talks about the movie Switch and how she liked it a lot, then realized from online discussions that it was about violation and rape, and she felt like a bad feminist for liking the movie. She then held that self anger and disappointment, thought, let’s be with that, and how am I going to change and are we going to change? How can we become better? And not be reductive?

There was more discussion, but I don’t have the notes. The discussion successfully raised a lot of important points for people to think about, and I think established that many people in the room felt that drama, or at least heated discussion between feminists online, is important. There was some dwelling on how to react internally and in public as a person with privilege who is going to get criticized in public but also some good mention of the personal and political impact it takes on marginalized people to have to do the criticism so it was not all “tra la la learning experience”. I do think this discussion was harder to have in the environment of SXSWi than in a smaller and more feminism-focused conference, or at least harder to dive into the conversation intensely, in part because we didn’t know each other or who we were talking with other than the panelists. I would have wished for a brief introductions round for everyone in the room, but it was only a 1 hour panel so perhaps too short for that. I also would have gone for a bigger panel with more diversity among panelists. It made me really happy to get to hang out with Other Feminists on the Internet but in person!! I’m so glad we had this complicated conversation at SXSW and think it needs to keep happening. Thanks to Rachel, Garland, and all the other people in the room for showing up and kicking ass and taking inspiration from each other.

I feel I should point to existing discussions about feminism and online discourse but will need to do that in another post or later in a comment below. If anyone has suggestions or would like to point to a post round-up that already exists, please comment and link-drop!

Related posts:

Feminist Drama and Human Rights at SXSWi

I’m hoping to make it to two panels today on my day pass: Dealing with Drama in Feminist Discourse, and Building Human Rights into your Social Site.

The human rights panel will be fantastic as it’s Danny, Jillian York, Rebecca Mackinnon, and Ebele Okobi-Harris talking about ways that companies can be aware of potential problems their users may have around the world. The panelists will likely be talking about Internet and social media use in recent political events in Libya, Iran, China, Tunisia, and Egypt, to show how important a web company’s infrastructure can be to political movements as well as to the protection of people’s individual safety and privacy.

No matter how narrow you think the use of your website or service will be, if it’s successful, it’ll be used in ways you’ll never expect – including life or death fights over human rights in foreign countries. The design of your sketchy PHP code might make the difference between a free press or a government clampdown, tortured dissidents or a bloodless coup. Twitter aids activists in Iran; Facebook helps the independent press in Ethiopia; World of Warcraft is policed for sedition in China. What is happening on your site that you don’t know about? And how can you design it so you help the good guys?

The Feminist Internet Drama panel is run by Garland Grey from Tiger Beatdown and Rachel (RMJ) from Deeply Problematic.

Drama and conflict in online social justice is usually best minimized and carefully managed. This presentation, which will focus more on examination than instruction, is not just about how to check your privilege. It’s about when to call out, and how to avoid abusing others. It’s about how to respond, when to check out, and how to take care of yourself in a community that demands everything of you.

I have a soft spot for Internet drama, giant flame wars and flameouts, and any intense political discussion, but especially the discussions that happen in the feminist blogosphere. They’re political consciousness raising, documented in detail, and they affect people’s lives deeply. I wrote a book chapter on it in The WisCon Chronicles: Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction, to talk about feminism, safe spaces, trolling, ethical responsibilities, and responses to controversies within feminist communities, so I’m very interested to see what Garland, Rachel, and the others in the room have to say.

Related posts:

Hovering around the edges of SXSW

Hello from Texas! I’m enjoying every second of driving around and talking and seeing things, post oaks, creeks, weird little sheds, retaining walls with junk and painted tiles cemented into them, I love south 1st and brightly painted mexican restaurants, I bought a bag of pastries to nosh on in our room, people were all walking around from party to party and show to show, Super Ranchito stores and odd warehouses that had blinky lights and something *going on*, an entire marching band dressed like bees, a girl in the back of a pedicab playing a tuba, infinite hipster nerds casually slopping back and forth from party to party down east 5th, just some general funkiness, grackles swooping and screeching all over the trees, all the orangey brick or limestone of the buildings, and the way there are lone stars or texas shapes on damn near everything!

Friday night I went out with Kris, who lived at 21st St. Co-op when I was first there in 1987 or so. She picked me up and took me to Bedpost Confessions, a fiction reading and sex-positive scene, with over a hundred people sitting there listening to the stories.

As we drove around I felt sad as the supersonic space simulator zoinking thing is no longer between Taos Co-op and Ken’s Donuts. It was a big metal i-beam. If you bonked it specially, it made the loveliest space noise. Alas, it’s gone!

The cab driver who took me to the car rental place told me about a time when he had cancer and had to panhandle on corners to raise $3000 to get cancer treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. He pointed out a location on Airport Blvd where he had bad luck. He ended up raising the money standing outside a Mexican grocery store on South 1st. In less than a month he’d raised the money. The cancer treatment saved him from having his arm amputated. He told a good story as we circled around through the neighborhood near the highway and 51st street. I wanted to tell him to tell that story to everyone, since it made me want to tip him high.

There was a 7 foot tall, very large dude in the car rental, getting a big old panel truck. I admired his amazing belt which was covered in big texas-shaped conchos with stars on them and looked well loved and cared for. He looked sheepish for a bit, hemming and hawing about “where he got the belt”. He put the conchos on himself with his tools, and 30 years ago, it was his horse’s saddle cinch. Wow, what a belt. I then felt AMAZINGLY happy driving off in the rental car. The powerrrrr!

It’s beautiful to have a car. Right now, I can walk a couple of blocks, but it hurts and is very exhausting. I can’t walk a couple of blocks, do something, and then walk back! While my wheelchair is great, the curb cuts are terrible in downtown Austin. Really terrible. The sidewalks are often made of bricks, interrupted by stairs and tree planters. The crowns of the roads – the bit where the road rises up in the center – are high, which means I have to go uphill twice every time I cross a street; once to get into the center of the roat, and a second time to get up the curb cut on the far side after I’ve gone downhill into the gutter. If not for the car I would feel a bit trapped here in the hotel. The downtown pedicabs seem like a great alternate option; I took one last night back to the hotel from Colorado and 4th with Danny holding my wheelchair in his lap. For a minute the pedicab cycler thought I meant to sit in the wheelchair and hang on behind his cab trailer. The look on his face was priceless.

On Friday I drove off the long way over the bridge that is east of I-35, on Pleasant Valley, to Skye’s house where we gossiped and worked super hard. It was really good to talk about all the things (work projects) where it’s so much easier to show each other directly and fix things right on the spot. It was productive!

me_n_skye

We went to lunch aiming for El Mesón. It was closed at 2:30 though! So we ended up on South 1st. I had ceviche and bought some bags of pastries. Then… well, one of my totally stupid goals for this trip was to go to a store that has good Yelp reviews called New BROhemia which has vintage men’s shirts and especially guayaberas. I got a fabulous cream colored guayabera and another mexican shirt (not a guayabera but with a flower/vine pattern) that’s my dream shirt for being foppishly butch. You would have to see its delicate pattern of rosebuds. I couldn’t stop saying and thinking “New BROhemia” and then busting up laughing.

Danny and Tempest and I hung out for a while in the HIlton bar. We gossiped about writing and journalism and activism and Wikimedia Foundation and mobile phones and netbooks and politics and online things for hours. Just as Tempest hopped into a cab and we were leaving we saw Annalee and Charlie who were dragging us back to the bar for one more drink. But I had already decided to go take a bath and fall asleep. I didn’t put any talks this year but spoke at SXSWi in 2006, 2007, and 2009. I’m just along for the ride.

Yesterday I took it easy in the morning, then went with Tempest and Virginia to lunch in East Austin. Danny and I went to Pease Park for fossils, then to my old co-op to look around. I lived there for 5 years and love it dearly. Three people took us around on a tour, unlocking doors, explaining the current culture of the co-op and the subcultures of its different sub-buildings. There had been a party last night, so the common areas were trashed and smelled like beer. The kitchen and dining room were clean so I think it was just the aftermath of the party making things look a bit heinous! The computer room has been expanded into where the laundry used to be. The kitchen and pantries are re-organized, but startlingly the same even down to some of the same laminated signs from 20 years ago still up on the walls. I recall our kitchen manager from around 1988, Lillian, making the yellow laminated “Save Plates” sign that’s still up on the door of the kitchen. It’s very interesting to see how institutions and traditions evolve, what lasts and what changes.

One thing that was exactly the same about 21st St. Co-op; people gave me a tour in exactly the lovely way that we used to give tours to people 25 years ago. Happy to explain anything or unlock any door, with a sort of touching concern that you get the answers to your questions and the experience of the place that you wanted to get. There is also an openness about the place’s flaws and drawbacks. The guy who gave me a tour, whose name I forgot, and Marisa who very nicely took us to see the Rainbow Road mural in suite 1B, both invited us back to hang out and have a beer that evening, just stick around and hang out, or come back during the week for dinner. I notice the same culture of welcoming new people at Noisebridge, as strangers walk in, are shown around, and are invited to stay.

Last night after a rest in the afternoon I went to the Gawker/Gizmodo party. I stayed put in one place and talked with people up there on the outside patio of the Hangar Lounge. There was an elevator, hooray! People brought me lots of drinks with glowing ice cubes. I talked with Rebecca and some other people from the ACLU, with Eva and Julie from the EFF, with Annalee and Charlie, Gina Trapani, Turi from Demotix, Latoya from Racialicious, and tons of other people. I explained what BlogHer is a bunch of times, as usual at tech conferences; people still have the impression it’s a small non-profit!

Today I went to see HONK, which was like the best bits of a parade happening over and over. Over a dozen marching bands went down Cesar Chávez street. We ran into Adina and Sunir and Prentiss and David. The parade ended up at Pan American park, where the bands played one by one on stage. In between sets, people stood up from the lawn and started jamming spontaneously. Adina and I talked about wikis and wikimedia issues including ways citation and sourcing could be changed to work in a less elitist way.

Honk was so inspiring! While I wish I had an accordion or trombone or a trumpet and could play them, maybe a harmonica would be more realistic . . . very portable… lightweight . . . I could join a marching band playing the harmonica. Now I want Noisebridge to have its own half-human, half-robot marching band!

After the Honk parade we had lunch on South Congress, rested and worked a while at the hotel, and then I went back over to Travis Heights to my friend Marian’s house, looked at her books and talked with her and Reed and ate her delicious food. I know Marian from the ALTA literary translators’ conference. I gave her some tiny books from my small press (Burn This Press) including my translation of Mala piel. She gave me lots of book recs and copies of two of her translations – one of Oblomov (!) and the other, White on Black, a memoir by Ruben Gallego, a guy with cerebral palsy who grew up in Soviet state institutions.

After that, the Google/ACLU party where I met lots of great people. It was an 80s themed party. Just beforehand I had the idea to shave Cyndi Lauper checkerboard pattern in the side of my head with Danny’s beard trimmer. (It is easy enough to shave all of it off later.) Ran into Kaliya, Phoebe and some other Wikimedia people. We left pretty soon though. It was way too loud in there, and I couldn’t get upstairs. I felt like my ears were damaged for a couple of hours afterwards! Really loud!

We kept running into people in the street – Tassos, Schuyler, the new media people from London who used to be riot grrrls (and I’m sure still are) and the people from ITP/Singly, and Tara Hunt. We stopped by the League of Extraordinary Hackers event, which had gone past the hacking part and gotten to the part with screaming crowds surrounding an arena with lego robots, and as that was also too loud and crowded we lounged in the tail end of a steampunk room and then came home in an “uber pedicab”. I don’t know how anyone has the energy to go to the entire conference and go out afterwards and keep it up for the entire time of the film and music festival too! Or how anyone runs this huge sprawling complex of conferences!

Related posts:

SXSWi: Ending Racism with Social Media

Thank you again to Nalo Hopkinson for fixing up my very, very rough transcript! (Nalo I can’t believe you just did that.) And thanks to all the panelists and participants for a great SXSWi session.

******

Can Social Media End Racism?

LaToya Peterson (Racialicious), Kety Esquivel (CrossLeft, NCLR), Phil Hu (Angry Asian Man), Jay Smooth (Ill Doctrine)

The Postville Raid. AbUSed. May 12 raid “many women were terrorized and were saying what about my children, what about my children?” their kids s were with babysitters. ICE migra raids on .

Kety Esquivel new media manager for NCLR, National Council for Latino Rights. The Sanctuary, online forum. Megan La Mala, kyle, manny, duke, others who were critical in getting this off the ground. As progressive Christian I work for social justice and a radical message. All of us from different blogs in the pro-migrant movement, united. Stop the hate: http://wecanstopthehate.org

Jay Smooth. Ill doctrine radio show.

Phil Yu. angryasianman.com

Latoya: This discussion is intermediate level, not Racism101 We don’t want to talk about whether racism exists. not interested in that. It’s about our experiences with social media.

We were going to ask, What was your favorite racist moment online? All of us found that actually it all blends together, there’s so much of it.

Kety: Wecanstopthehate.com Hate mail. Case prosecuted, death threats , FBI. We had some problems with Sean Hannity. He made an accusation against NCLR. It was a lie. I’m not going to repeat it. We are going to all come together and do some activism and mobilize. There’s cards on your chair. Everyone on panel will participate.

Jay Smooth. Each one is like a snowflake, all beautiful. And YouTube is like a blizzard. Social media is useful to show how racism exists, though it doesn’t show institutional racism. Through anonymity you can show your racism better. People really know what you’re thinking.

Jay: How to tell people they sound racist. video . It was posted 15 months ago, but 5 seconds ago as you see, someone felt it necessary to go on and post a comment that says “i hate spics”.

*laughter from audience*

Latoya: The world online was eyeopening, to see how many people and how much they hate people of color, they feel online space is only for them, it’s a white space and a US space. I thought Racialcious blogging would end that because it would be my community. But you find people like to attack community and discussions of race. Also just communities of color! links we got, sheer number of links from hate and white supremacist sites. People would leave wrong detailed emails of why black people were different from white, and footnotes to studies of how black men rape more than white men (which is false) People bring their prejudices there . people talking about African American community, can be very hateful towards Latino, Muslims, Arabs, Persians, biracial identity, transgender community within African American community, every time something new comes up there’s a fresh wave of hate. We’re mostly women, 7 of 8 of us experienced racialized sexism. Comments about our vaginas, our sexuality, we find them more amusing than offensive. We got one that was like, “this person is so angry at the world because SHE HAS A BIG VAGINA.” Carmen was like “that’s why i carry my laptop in it.”

*laughter*

Phil: People tell me, “I’ve never *seen* such anger in an Asian before !” My attitude is, fuck comments! I don’t allow them. i don’t have the time to deal with that. I’ve received over 8 years a lot of hate mail. it blends together to the point where i posted this thing the anatomy of a hate mail. check off, racial slurs, stop bitching about racism, go back to where you came from, start speaking fucking English. Which? I mean, “motherfucker!” That’s English. You write to me in English, how am I supposed to read it?

Smooth: people are likely to react to my words and the substance of what I’m saying rather than just comments about my appearance so i benefit from some gender privilege there.

Kety: we allow for comments and community posts.

Kety: New space. New media is a new world, we’re building it together, we can’t ignore history, but it’s global and it’s iterated in many ways, we can acknowledge the opportunity, we can stop in and say he what are we going to do to support engagement, expression, Go into it with our eyes open. If we don’t do something different we get more of the same. Hope and possibility fight the good fight.

spread Knowledge
create refuge
mobilize to action

1) spread knowledge. talk radio without just being “controversial” for ratings. blog as information warehouse.

phil: writing for my community, for Asian American community. I’m trying to convince members of my own community that racism exists. information about issues that are affecting us. Asian Americans have reputation that we are largely apathetic about things going on. hard to get people to realize, this movie’s wack, racist depiction, this guy on radio. shouldn’t go unchecked. hate crimes in our community. so many people, criticism I’ve encountered is often from other Asians, saying don’t rock the boat, why are you doing this?

Latoya: can you talk about your tagline, “That’s racist!

Phil: put a zinger on it. in italics . get the point across. it should be obvious, but it’s not to a lot of people.

Smooth: base to articulate what your principles on. web video , go viral, use that medium, clever, but with substantive ideas.
(We watch the video)

Latoya: Nez, Nezua, The Unapologetic Mexican. Actually you can do to much toothbrushing which erodes the gums of racism. LOL

Creating a refuge: it’s tiring to have the same conversation over and over again. It’s not our responsibility to explain to every single person to their satisfaction. At Racialicious we are a heavily moderated space. we moderate every comment by hand.

Iris Network !!! Chromatic. gamers of color! Don’t have to explain that racism exists there, we can just talk about what we want to talk about.

Kety: Network of bloggers, we all have day jobs. Not always monetized. We had some conference calls, the online/offline combination is good. Where do we go, what do we do, how to leverage who we all are individually to make a collective that can help us make a difference. We made a questionnaire for all the presidential candidates. behind closed doors in private they say oh we’re pro immigration but that doesn’t get translated out of Spanish. we need these people to go on record, say what your policies are? McCain, Obama, we reached out equally. Up to that point in time among republicans McCain had a pretty good position then he did a huge pivot. We got ignored, and ignored. These questions are something they can respond to. we finally got a call from CNN. Marisa Treviño, Latina Lista, phenomenal blogger out of texas. helped us out. Went on CNN, grass roots groups of bloggers, not even being paid, i had the honor of representing our collective on CNN and saying why it is crucial to speak to the Latino community. the candidates needed to be straight with us. I’m a political independent, I’m committed to social justice, as a Latina and as a Christian

Latoya: Mobilizing. mainstream media. bloggers fight to get attention of mainstream media. ICE raids, what’s happening. Avatar the last Airbender. finally they casted an Asian actor but as the villain. sometimes we hustle it so much we hustle it backwards.

The Tsunami Song on hot 97. communities working together cross culturally changed lyrics to mock the victims of the Tsunami. amazed this would represent hip hop and it was so racist. i asked are we as a hip hop nation are we going to tolerate this, do we think this is cool? no! people got on board, going from my blog post, next morning, enough noise, hot 97 posted an apology half hearted apology that made people more angry, 100s of thousands of views, 2 weeks after that blog post i was at city hall with activist and government and bloggers figuring out some way to hold them accountable.

Phil: i would never be exposed to that from hot 97 in los Angeles, i was appalled, i did what i did which was post the address of everyone at hot 97 and all their advertisers to get the ball rolling. get people on board speaking out. Such a hard thing to do, the Internet has made that a lot easier J posted the audio clip rather than just reading the lyrics.

J: bringing global attention to a local problem. it’s easy to spread when there is a piece of compelling media around it. but media provocation is not always the most useful thing. Imus is off the air, nice but he’s an interchangeable cog in the wheel. we need to use compelling media to build interest around other issues, not just about something someone said in the media.

Q: which comment to axe and which to keep?

A: (It varies)

Latoya and Kety, populist caucus . people of color not represented, not invited, didn’t know, not in same circles, be very assertive in your outreach

Q: danah boyd: history of racism online, cross country, racism has different roots in different countries. cross nation, cross culture racism, how you get people talking, they don’t know the history and roots played out.

Latoya: very hard question, good question, complicated.

J: define your terms. it is hard, even in the US we don’t agree what “racism” means. On the international level, what is race! people have a completely different idea in Brazil than in the UK. defining terms is a good first step.

Phil: I can only agree, that is complicated. Asian American, very huge, Asian and pacific, nationalities, cultures, generations, it’s impossible to be all on the same page on any one issue. That’s a whole other panel!

Latoya; thank you for asking that question danah I’ll open up a thread on it on racialicious.com UK, Australia, India, we should open that up and cross post.

Kety: panel for next year for sxswi. critical for each of our communities. assumption, indigenous assumption everyone is white.

Q: Don , what’s going on now in Austin. new media has a heavy influence. last question good, perspectives on what is racism. allowing people to come to you, you are leaders , for me racism always involves economic policy and politics. bigoted, tied to what is racism. what true racism technically was. you guys have got to start to consider, explaining. proper way to channel the images, so the real important factors in racism don’t get lost and lumped together,

Latoya: the proper way to do something in terms of racism. which I’m going to say there isn’t one. Racialicious focuses on media images and pop culture and people of color. why don’t we talk about this why don’t we talk about something else. people only talk about something quantifiable to them. racism for some people is a question of representation. blacks not in sitcoms, how come? how come black people can’t front their own sitcoms? no jobs, no roles, no black actors, it’s economic. i don’t think there will ever be one strict definition of what racism is.

Kety: it’s important we’ve been having this conversation, it’s huge, there are several different chunks and pieces. continue conversations More representation in these conversations is important!!! In leading these conversations.

J: No one way, but important to keep in mind racism is not just in sentiment and feelings. Even in Obama’s speech he talked about feelings, objective realization of centuries of institutional racism. it takes more than conversation to address that! we can all be Twitter friends with each other but that would be most useful if we follow that up with ways to act on these institutional issues.

Latoya: The color of Wealth, good book.

Q: André Brock, University of Iowa. comment. questions. retention of grad studentss of color. thread here is central. universal ethos of promoting diversity efforts, anti racism. it’s often left to the individuals, with very little institutional support.. I do race online. Artifact of practice and belief. what are the practices, what can we encourage others to do? adopting beliefs and strategies, build cadre,. the idea of building cadre. Individual efforts, micro and macro aggressions. it burns people out. Cadre. Evangelists, activist, enlightened participants, avoid having that one person sitting up on the podium burning out. Mechanics to silence voices of dissent. Disemvowelling. consider other tech. Steve Gilliard, news blog. censure. He would post an egregious comment, he’d post it and let his community address it, shame the people and put them on blast, let people know those people exist.

Latoya: for colleges talk with Carmen. she does work with colleges and universities. Creating best practices! Encouraging a cadre, i really like that

Shakesville, emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. solidarity with other communities, go into gaming space. social justice in video games. What would resident evil 5 look like if it had an anti colonialist viewpoint? what if you’re playing as one of the leaders from whatever nation and the forces coming to exterminate them? humanizing these characters, make it not perfect, but complex!

Kety: diverse group, I’d love to see it grow. It can’t be one voice in isolation.

Related posts:

SXSWi: Fighting online misogyny panel

Thank you!!! times a hundred to Nalo Hopkinson who just now took my rough live transcript and cleaned it up and emailed it back to me so I could post it. Thank you Nalo! You rock so hard.

***

That’s Not My Name: Beating Down Misogyny Online

Panelists: Cecily Walker (Cecily.info), Ann Friedman (Feministing), Amanda Marcotte (Pandagon.net), Samhita Mukhopadhyay (Feministing)

Cecily Walker: How do you think that new media and Internet technology, new tools, feminists can use these new media tools? Boosting feminist activism?

Samhita Mukhopadhyay: All of us have a tremendous amount of expertise using online tech. women’s community, grass root organizing community, new tools, support work happening on the ground. Strategic media campaigns, budding networks, social media to support our justice-minded goals. We use tools, though, that tend to represent the same stuff we’re fighting; tools produced in environments highly volatile for feminist voices. 50/50 good, problematic. Opportunity, brought up new issues.

Amanda Marcotte: Promise of blogging world many years ago, we could divorce ourselves from identity and just be pure voices, as the online and offline world merged into one. But you can’t communicate about your ideas without bringing your identity along. Pluses and minuses.

Ann Friedman: Divorcing identity is not a useful way to do activism. we don’t actually want to live out whatever early Internet ideal enables us to not have an identity, that hampers our activist goals.

Cecily: I wasn’t finding many black female queer voices online, it was important to me to blog under my own identity. given our circumstances today, how important is it to you to blog under you own identity.?

Amanda: I started blogging under my own id without really thinking of it, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. in retrospect it was good and it sets a good example if you can. a lot of women who are afraid to , the more of us who can do it, the less threatening it is for others.

Samhita: when i started we were excited if we got comments on a post. then 2 years into it we started getting threats. you then realize the threats mostly don’t translate to real live experiences. I also think for women online it’s an important statement to make. you’ll notice a lot of men have a blog under their own name. women tend to be in group blogs or under a different sort of brand name. So it’s important for your future to use your real name.

Friedman: women in the political blog world as pseudonymous and I’m thinking of Digby. But it’s not always a great idea to blog under your own name. It’s fraught. There’s a certain amount of privilege and risk you assume. Not all of us even thought about it. we didn’t consider the implications. Concrete advantages, consider Digby, they didn’t know she was a woman, so they didn’t pigeonhole her. ‘This is just a women’s issue’, etc. We can try to keep a voice but transcend some of those boxes.

Cecily: What are some of the key repercussions of online threats that moved into offline space? Paint us a picture of what that looks like.

Amanda: Not the John Edwards campaign. *laughter* I started off on a smaller blogspot blog. Was invited to join Pandagon by Jesse Taylor. there weren’t many high traffic liberal blogs that had any women at all. I honestly think my entrance on to the a list was a profound thing for many of the male commenter, mind you right wing male commenters who felt this was a boys’ club. It turned ugly really fast. Publishing my address, telling people to show up at my house and do violent sexual things to me. Calling my work and trying to get me fired. Nobody in the liberal blogosphere that i turned to had any experience whatsoever with this kind of thing and they didn’t believe it at first. he’d experienced viciousness and racism from commenters but he’d never seen anything cruel and violent as was directed at me. We had free comments, we had to turn that off and turn on registration for comments. I don’t know how serious the threats are but i have to assume they’re pretty serious if they’ve found out where i worked and called my boss.

Ann – Feministing has an appointed FBI agent where we send our threats. It’s that bad. Political blogging … I’d say that, we don’t control the space for (tapped?) as much as we do on Feministing. so it’s a more sexist space and a less feminist space. undoubtedly in terms of the private mail we get, via Feministing, that’s way worse. we can control the comments but not the private email.

Samhita: some of the worst misogyny I’ve experienced is on other blogs. this isn’t about how we feel threatened but about how it affects the community. we’ve been chastised a lot for not moderating every comment and not providing a safe enough space online for our readers. it’s not about protecting our own identity and feeling threatened but about how it makes our community feel. if you’re someone who’s experienced violent misogyny in your life there’s a moment of violence and violation that happens that makes you feel unsafe. we have to be clear about creating boundaries so our community can feel safe.

Ann: there’s a chilling effect when one woman, one person of color or queer person , is a target, then others are deterred from speaking in quite so open a manner. so the power structure online, that mirrors the real world…

Amanda: listening to auto admit case, on NPR, it’s a case law blog targeted very randomly two law students, two women. one man posted something about one of the women who had turned him down to go on a date. another woman got looped in. it got to the point of stds, slept with everyone, posted photos of them in their daily life with lurid rape fantasies, I’m sitting behind her in class, she’s at the gym right now, The defenders of the auto admit blog were going on about free speech. Can’t you understand that women also have the right to free speech and if you’re using yours to silence her then you’re not for free speech?

Cecily – at the library. heavily gendered space, 90% female environment. if we contribute to the web sites, we have to use our full names, our names on badges, one unsafe thing about a library you are in a female controlled space, you are in a culture that is heavily invested in keeping your individual name safe, but now that’s not true. i have to get people to feel more comfortable posting on the Internet, but it’s not going well, people don’t feel safe doing that, we get crank calls, complaints, we try to showcase all political viewpoints. spaces you might not define as feminist, we’re feeling some heavy pushback from the staff. how are we going to roll this process out?

Cecily: why is it important to look at gender and how it plays out online?

*laughter*

Samhita: we want to keep this panel to what it means to be feminist online. But because of these highly volatile experiences we’ve had it…. we’ve had different experiences online, male blogers don’t have that same thing. there’s never been a question, when i say something a little controversial, it’s not about the issues, it’s about whether i should have said something in the first place, you internalize that belief you constantly have to prove yourself.
A lot of our readers have experienced sexual violence and want to share those stories but don’t feel that they can. You have to make a lot of different negotiations to feel comfortable in it

Ann – women’s writing, the dynamics. One thing i do for myself is go through everything i write and strip out all the i thinks and i believes. because I’m writing it duh it’s what i think. writing more authoritatively. if you’re going to pick me apart for this i might as well say it right out. Or, you can add 50 million caveats and end up not saying anything and not offending anyone. the Internet constantly needs to be fed. the evolution of women’s writing online, if i look at things i wrote in 2004, that’s largely in response to being hardened by this sort of stuff.

Amanda: i tend to say things very authoritatively and that’s always been a very hard things for me and many men who have multi year grudges against me. I’ve got into the habit of qualifying and adding the i think in.

Ann: but that doesn’t stop it. that’s not going to stop you from getting slammed on some blog full of dudes who hate you already!

Amanda: when i taught writing i would circle them in girls’ writing and tell them to take it out. it was always girls.

Cecily: lessons you’ve learned?

Samhita: Uh, that I’m a masochist

Cecily: I think you might have to unbox that one for us? lol

Samhita: yeah I’ll “unpack” that. ha. The content of what I’m writing and who i am writing it, it’s twofold . at least once a month i want to throw in the towel

Cecily: what keeps you from doing it?

Samhita: masochism? ha ha. It’s telling me that the level of importance of what we’re doing, for every piece of hate mail i get i get something else from Idaho saying they’ve never read something about sexism and racism and it’s changed their life in some . It’s not just for my own voice but it’s part of a movement of online feminism that we’re a movement and moving forward. Online solutions and best practices and you have to not care any more. you have to divorce yourself from caring about what people say about you, you have to go “well, you have 1/4 the readership lol” not the most humble way to think about it, but hey it helps me feel better. plus if I’m pissing off people who i wouldn’t like in real life,

Ann: 6 of us who write on Feministing and we can all each other up and go “i know people say mean shit all the time but this one really got to me!” and we all know how it feels. sometimes you have to decide what is a good public fight to have, vs. “you just want to call me ugly and tell me to make you a sandwich” i know it sounds ridiculous but it is hard to tell the difference sometimes! we need help in figuring that out, when to engage and when not to. you can engage with people who just don’t get it. But Feministing is on our terms. we don’t like it, we can delete your comment. we can respond to just part of what you’re saying and ignore the rest. or we can have a full blown back and forth, having a community to help decide and talk about how to engage has been crucial

Amanda: the purpose is to shut you up and if they don’t get what they want, they stop trying to shut you up, the more I don’t go away, and don’t shut up, the less harassment i get. just go out there and write every day and eventually they will give up. it’s not working, it’s straight up behavioral science.

Cecily: these tools that help us to get our voices out there, also hurt us. social networking tools.

Samhita: Twitter is a very useful tool. Communities, we have different community that comments on our youtube videos, twitter is another micro group environment and you get to know people a different way. That’s very powerful. I’ve had friends on my twitter feed who in the blogging worlds we have knock down “your mama” fights but on twitter I’m like “Oh you do yoga? i do yoga toooo!” lol. It’s less serious, less formal, commenting on Feministing can feel very formal.

Cecily: using these tools to get people to organize around a specific activist event?

Ann: When someone is getting attacked elsewhere, get into comments and post in support. Supportive conversation in public. Positive, or smackdown.

Cecily: Basic survival tips: solutions. if you’ve felt threatened, what do you do?

Samhita: Do not feel bad about banning people.

Amanda: Don’t feel guilty about it, some people are not there to engage. they shouldn’t be there.

Ann: You determine the levels of your own engagement, that’s self preservation. Free speech, free speech, my rights! whatever! go start your own blog! you do have free speech. Shockingly, no one has registered the url, getyourowneffingblog.com.

Cecily: libraries are public spaces, oh wait we can’t suppress these voices. what kinds of tools, for someone in that situation where the people in charge don’t understand it’s a safety issue an a respect my own house issue.

Amanda: Some men are allies. make alliances with men who will back you up can be very powerful. atrios alone has been useful in getting people to shut up being nasty about me. he’ll write a post saying they’re morons and he’s a man so people respect him and they shut up. that helps a lot. who has power in your community that you don’t have? exploit it a little. exploit other people’s privilege.

Ann: comments on huff po are useless, they’re a free for all. when you’re writing for bigger spaces it’s not that meaningful or helpful, it’s not my community responding to me it’s just like, crazytown. just ignore it. At feministing, people who read us regularly and have been for a long time, Samhita has a word for people who are super engaged

Samhita: minions

Ann: No! not that one! *laughter* Our regular readers are quicker than we are and say no that’s bull or email us and say please moderate this crazy comment. that is unbelievably helpful.

Samhita: creating a community people are bought into, invested into keeping a certain way. that is one of the best practices which has kept us afloat. it is crucial

Cecily: being a librarian i can’t do anything without reading about it in some academic journal. Germany researchers, algorithm to measure level of sexism in a comment. they had men tell jokes to a computer set up to “think” like a woman. the level of harassment the computer notices, correlated with the level of harassment real women experience online. women who identify as feminists get more harassment. if a woman mentioned herself or posted a photo her level of attractiveness had nothing to do with it. automated sexism detector!

Amanda: what we need a machine to back us up now!

Amanda: registration is the most useful way to control your space. disemvoweller is useful, button for it. Also, give some of your attack dogs moderation power. delete a comment and replace it with videos of bunnies hopping around. it makes people happy to see bunnies. *everyone laughs*

Cecily: what’s crazy bait?

Samhita: writing about any part of popular culture people feel invested in, fraternities, video games, if you want to get a lot of traffic then piss off the gamers, just kidding Latoya! *laughter* Race and gender, intersection. people feel very personally offended. Gentrification.

Amanda: Biggies are rape and domestic violence. if you write about rape or domestic violence in any form that’s crazy bait. Abortion, gotten better than it used to be. But if anyone tells a personal experience, that gets nutbars who will make personal threats directly against the person who got the abortion if anything has a racial aspect watch out it’s going to get really ugly.

Ann: if you’re writing about The Presidential Race or The Economy in the abstract without a personal level, people aren’t pissed off. Gentrification, when you get at where people live, it gets to them . Lipstick. what you wear. what people have personal experience with. they feel authoritative about it.

Cecily: Takeaway?

Samhita: Don’t feel threatened. it’s not about you. there’s some crazy people out there, it’s about them. keep going. young women reading, young women’s voices. the potential is very great right now. don’t give up.

Amanda: You’re not alone, you have friends. When under attack you can feel very alone. Feels hard, you don’t want to “play the victim” but reach out and ask for support. Own what’s happening and ask for other people to care. they will often step up more than you would think initially.

Ann: Yeah. community. public, on blog, private space to process, that’s what it all comes down to for me. And, vast quantities of self esteem. A reservoir to draw on. Especially if you’re doing video blogging

Amanda: If you can learn to feed off the hate like … like trolls…

Ann: Youtube comments about how ugly, or how attractive. they have the same tone! stepping back and realizing they’re crazy!

Audience questions:

Kimberly: kimberlyblessing.com Feminist web dev : twitter is where i get problems. i speak to my community via twitter including feminist issues and that’s where i get attacked and it carries over to the real world because i work with the guys who followed m on twitter. i get angry and it affects me at work. i i start to internalize all of it. when there is something that important, what would be your other tips, i don’t have community, i work with almost all men. who do i go to? I don’t have any support or anyone more powerful to turn to. I just shut down and then go away for a while.

Ann: there must be other feminist web developers. Reach out to them.

Kimberly: Someone pulls you aside and says, hey that post you made this morning on twitter linking to that feminist thing online, you’re about to go into a big meeting with some vice president…

Amanda: what’s wrong with men who need to see women fail like this? pity them.

I’m Elisa from Blogher. (*applause, cheers*) There is disdain for business women and moms and women of color, dismissed, conservative women bloggers treated badly in other space, the misogyny itself is the problem, we need to see it everywhere, we can’t allow it, wherever we allow it to fester, it will continue to grow.

Q: Misogyny mommy bloggers, they have a more accepted space. women are more accepted in the blogosphere in “women’s blogs” networks, food, moms, travel. when we try to venture into economy, science, web dev, that’s where we are told to sit down and shut up. how can we continue to cross over?

Samhita: There is something different about “women” and “feminist” you are in a space you’re not supposed to be in , a political space. to be a woman in one of those fields, you have to fight with some best practices.

Amanda: any women who feel confident to feel about politics please do so more. write about the economy and politics. other women need to see that behavior modelled. know you’ll get a lot of blowback. eventually it helps.

Q: tendency to email privately? or privately and hateful? how do you draw the line?

Ann: sometimes our commenters have already talked back, engaged, other times it has a derailing effect.

Amanda: 90% of it is public, they are performing for other people

Monday night: Feministing party at Beerland on Red River & 7th- 8th!

Related posts:

SXSWi: Open Source business models

Alan Shimel, Fischer, Levin, Jarrell, Cavazos.

Questions and statements from the audience.

Alan Shimel: there’s two categories of open source community members: consumers of open source. A company who wants to use open source. using linux, php, to develop their web site. Not developers. The restrictions and licensing issues are less of a hassle and not a focus. The consumers don’t care which license it is. People who use open source as components of their products are a different category. That’s where the excitement is. Is that company who uses components and sells a product a parasite on the community? It’s this category who is the focus of recent licensing changes, the people who are selling and trying to make a profit. If you’re profiting from my work, I should profit as well. It’s useful to break it down into those two camps. I’m on both sides of the table. We use the snort engine, etc. And we have a new product coming out which is open source.

Cavazos: The term open source license doesn’t give you enough information to have a meaningful discussion.

Fischer: … creating a level playing field with alliances, standards. Can you have a kind of Microsoft gigantic Office situation? The answer is no. Leveling the marketplace. Not gigantic market share. But you can do very well. That’s one way to play open source. 2nd aspect, companies who do customization more than open source. There’s Second Life, for example. Look at how much open source software is very very good. It wouldn’t succeed if it wasn’t. In-house lawyers do need to look at the licensing because it often enforces generosity.

Cavazos: Why would we do this instead of keeping it all ourselves? Models that involves customization or consulting. We’re going to bet on ourselves. We’re okay, we’re fine with allowing the core to be out there. And we’re going to take one step ahead and use our expertise. We have the smartest people and the most creative innovators and we can create a business model around that. Consulting and customization.

Levin: VP of product strategy at Socialtext. Open source has been our model from the beginning. We used an open source product called Kwiki. A lot of our developers come from the open source community and they have their own projects… Open source for us is kind of like weather. We shouldn’t fight it, we have to live with it and work with it. My personal interest is not in licensing expertise, my interest is with respect to business strategy. How does this help my company, how does this help our customers be more productive. The question from the audience was “How can I sell this to my customer base?” That goes to one of the value propositions around open source. You’re reducing your customer’s risk. If you’re a relatively small development shop, there’s no guarantee you’re going to be around in 10 or 15 years. You’re not lockkng them in. The open source community will be there in 10 years. You’re helping your customer. That’s very valuable. It’s not just the software itself. My company has a variety of models which reduce cost for the customer of maintaining the software. And we also offer an open source download.

Don Jarrell: I worked with proprietary companies. Open source offers the freedom to cooperate. … Beyond a layer of adaptation to an integrated product. Proprietary companies who make a companion product and break down the price point. So there is an open source version with a proprietary companion product. Comparable to making a “Lite” product. The open source part can be free. Can gain market share, can participate in the open source community, and have a viable model. A variety of proprietary companies are using this, for example, Compiere.

Alan Shimel: Linux as the most successful model. The core code from … 20 people. 60 companies. There’s a relatively small amount of people contributing the core code. The vast amount of users use it, find bugs and fix them, maybe 80%. In security, that’s the last thing on the budget. Open source kind of filled that vacuum very quickly. Linux and security. It’s not free though. We see a ton of companies who are commercializing that space. There’s something like 1.4 billion dollars invested in open source.

Mark Fischer: If anyone here has any of that 1.4 billion dollars I think we’d all like to have some of that… (audience laughter) The number of people writing sophisticated OSS is very small. The contrast between that and wikipedia is very sharp. Every 12 year old can write text. Not every 12 year old can write sophisticated code under a licensing model. Like Second Life and its server software, is this realy open source or is it user customization? The mix and match model is one of the ways you can make money off of open source. Add something valuable to it . Like the music indstry, in a world without DRM, making money off the addon stuff like backstage passes and tshirts. If you say everything’s open source and give it away, then it’s not going to work. You have to add some value to commercialize it and to build a base and attract investors. Not everything can be based on advertising.

Cavazos: We can look at open content models and think about that in relation to open source software business models.

Alan Shimel: Does Flickr have a right to those photographs? Does Delicious have any right to the content there?

Fischer: The free software model is fantastic but it’s not for everyone. Do you make every user a creator and they get a revenue share? The next frontier is users as creators. Open community but with revenue share for (some) users.

Adina Levin: Socialtext itself and some of our customers has…. Interestingly enough our documentation isn’t open. But we have sites with best practices information and documentaiton that we have open. We have customers using wikis for that kind of public information, especially to support best practice information. It’s less around how to share the revenue, but how do I reduce the cost of producing it while maintaining the quality of it and issues around control. A lot of people who have a traditional approach are concerned to lock it down to maintain quality. And then we try to explain to them that it’s valuable to open it up and get more contributions. And then spend more energy on the monitoring side and less on trying to prevent contributions.

Cavazos: The elements of community, what does it take to get critical mass and get the quality of development up. The communities of contributors are much smaller than you would think. It’s a small community, but the rest serves a viable part in that quality control. They’re vetting, calling it out as bad when it’s not good. And that’s what I that plays into what Adina said.

Alan Shimel: 92% of the people in the community don’t even play with the code. We have a freeware version of our code that’s not open source. People are still downloading it and using it.

Cavazos: How many people actualy read the licensing..

Adina: I’m glad to hear that Asterisk… we use Asterisk at Socialtext and we are not locked into one service provider, and as a software development company we can customize and build extensions. Basic use, basic quality deployed to a number of applications, and then the steps after that might include extensions. The ability to do that is of value to us.

Alan Shimel: I think you just described what a lot of people do. “It’s nice to know I could do it if I wanted.” But how many people actually do?

Adina: You’re paying for risk reduction and no lock-in.

Alan: I know, but how many people actually take advantage of that…

Jarrell: we started this conversation about business model. “Open Source” label but what we’re touching on is other segments like managing contributions, release, thinking very carefully about stuff other than the distribution model. We should turn our attention to some of those things.

Cavazos: …

Alan Shimel: Important to clearly, sharply define, where’s your value added. Especially if you’re combining open source with propriety. On the dual licensing, it boils down to this. If you’re using that software for your own company it’s okay, make your changes, contribute back to the communiyt. If you’re turning around and using that component and profiting and selling it as a component as a bigger package, you should be, the people who contribute that component should be compensated for that.

Audience: Why should that be a distinction? Every use is a profit motivated use. If you’re using it internally why aren’t you also obligated to give back?

Shimel: Explains the distinction with Asterisk as a model.

[Right, but why is that different, really. ]

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SXSWi: Non-developers to Open Source Acolytes: Tell me why I care

Elisa Camahort is moderating. Annalee Newitz, Dawn Foster, Erica Rios.

Annalee Newitz explains the entire complicated insane definition and history of the Open Source movement in less than 3 minutes. Free redistribution, available source, derivative works okay, no restrictions on tech or users (http;//www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php) Licenses: gpl, MOzilla public license, BSD License. Commonly used open source software (oss): Firefox (MPL), OpenOffice (LesserGPL), GNU/Linux (GPL), BSD (BSD), WordPress (GPL), Apache (Apache License), Rails (MIT License), PHP (PHP License). The GPL is viral and powerful. Anytime you use software that uses GPL that you intend for redistribution, you have to release under GPL.

Elisa: I know some of the names of this software. But Rails? Apache? Okay, well, really I know what Apache is. But why does this matter to me?

Dawn Foster talks about OSS structure and leadership. It looks chaotic from the outside. Random people contributing code. How in the world can you end up with anything reasonable? But that’s not how it is. You’d be surprised how hierarchical it is. OSS community structure.
Users.
Bug Reports: Community members submitting bugs to improve the project.
Contributors: Community members contributing to committers for review.
Committers: Trusted community members with access to modify code.
Maintainers: Direction and decisions for a portion of the project.
Leaderships: Strategic decisions, project direction.

Elisa: So, I’m not the only one who had no idea that all this existed behind the idea of open source. Erica is going to talk from the point of view of a company using open source software.

Erica Rios: My role at the Anita Borg Institute is to maintain the technical aspects of the organization. We use WordPress, for example. I see myself as a customer for these tools. I want help with installation, configuration. Is it going to have an impact on my server maintenance, what cron jobs I should run, what about backups, patches. When I hire people I need to know what kind of time and money I need to invest to maintain the software. What kind of customer service support do I get from a tool? The staff, my users, who are also the customers for this software. Does the tool do what they need it to do? Is it easy to use? Are they going to be able to figure it out, with or without support? There’s a self-sufficiency question. Will everyone be coming to me for that help? I think of it like hardware. We’re lucky enough to have HP Labs donate space to us. Our machines are still on warrantee and I can get service. Do I always need to know the details behind why something’s not working? Is the community “friendly”? Am I going to go looking for help and be told RTFM? Because I’ve already tried.

Elisa: When you were looking at open source tools, was that part of your due diligence, did you look at the friendliness of that tool’s open source community?

Erica: Absolutely. And it doesn’t have to be a hierarchical traditional manual or documentation scenario. The community is so robust that I can type my question into Google and get an answer right away.

Guy in audience gets up and takes a mic. A lot of people don’t realize some open source tools and projects offer paid support. Ubuntu, etc.

Dawn Foster talks more about open source and paid support.

Erica Rios. Developing friendships with other users and developers. If you have a personal relationship then people are much nicer in their explanations. With documentation, when it’s written in plain language, it’s more helpful. I have a degree in computer science, but I appreciate documentation in plain language, and it helps me communicate to my less technical users. Quality community can demonstrate their intelligence through the quality of a product but not feel ego-driven to demonstrate it in their documentation.

Elisa invites questions from the audience.

Same guy from audience: Questions about where the open source software came from. Fear of patent suits from big huge companies, etc.

Annalee Newitz: I’ve heard people talk about their management saying “You can’t use an open source code because it’ll creep into our code and we’ll be sued.” People need to be educated about the legal ins and outs of open source licenses. For example the GPL is one of the most radical ones… A company lawyer is good to go through the license and explain to management. There’s a lot of online explanantions written by lawyers, for example through the EFF or some from Creative Commons. It’s sad that people move away from the GPL but from a business perspective it makes a lot of sense.

Dawn Foster: It’s less of a risk, because if there’s proprietary code in there, someone’s going to have noticed it. Or they can notice it. It’s not really that different.

Annalee: I would strongly agree with that. The fact that you can look at the code means you can tell if there’s a problem.

Audience member: Myth of putting it al out there and it being exploited.

Dawn Foster: I tend to worry less about being exploited by open source Eric Raymond “with enough eyeballs… all … are shallow” I worry about backdoors and things in proprietary code, that I’ll never know is there. The empowerment of being able to look at the code

Annalee: That’s why you hire security auditors, etc. BSD, used by the miliatry, you can lock it down.

Liza: I’m going to be the downer here. THere is a cost for making it useable for people with no technology background. For example WordPress, it’s so beautiful! But it’s hard for people to use and to understand. So, users assume that level of customer service is free and that it’s going to be free and that there’s no cost to maintain it. And this makes it hard for developers and consultants to monetize what we do. Upgrading, security issues, etc. People coming into open source, think that it’s going to be free .

Dawn quotes Richard Stallman, Free as in freedom, not free as in free beer. There are costs, time and money.

Annalee: When you’re looking for a return on investment, long term will it be more costeffective to have this invest in maintaining this rather than paying Microsoft for a new license every couple of years? So yes, the long term costs are way better.

Erica Rios: We look at it that way at Anita Borg Institute. That’s one of the key philosophical reasons I put to management, the flexibility we get.

Kimberly (from audience): Speaking as soneone who once upon a time had all sorts of Microsoft certifications and has now gone more into open source, there is more flexibility, there is very little barrier to entry, it’s really a meritocracy. They can contribute and there’s opportunities for them, they can build stuff for non-profits. To get Microsoft certified you pay a lot of money and yes there’s support and community but open source has way more opportunity.

Elisa: Is there a way in open source to validate what level they are in an open source community?

Kimberly: I’ve had people use me as a reference

Woman in back: It depends on the community.

Erica: Now that I’ve gone through this process I look at how much a person has contributed and how much of it has been accepted in to the main trunk fo the software.

Dawn Foster: It’s good for companies and hiring and companies can see people’s code and status in a community before hiring them.

Frank (from audience): Reliability and continuity. You can always get someone to maintain it because it’s not proprietary. Voting machines and cryptography. If the source isn’t out there there’s always someone out there who is so clever they can’t see their own mistakes. But a community can see it and can find the broken places. As American people we need to get the source out there so we can rely on our voting machines.

Elisa: Thank you so much for bringing that up and articulating it. Let’s talk about the philosophy and the reasons for supporting it. HOw many of you buy organic food, and free trade coffee? (Show of hands) We make economic decisions based on philosophical, emotional, ethical reasons. How many of you make technological decisions based on that? (Show of hands, a fair amount)

Guy in grey hoodie: (question)

Elisa: Kaliya Hamlin, getting non developers involved with open source communities. It’s extremely intimidating, I can tell you. I’m a wannabe, but there’s an idea that it would contribute to the greater good. Anyway, what’s the ethical reasons to use open source?

Annalee: Oviously there’s a lot of technical reason to choose it. And that’s an ethical choice too, to make the technical choice that would benefit the most peopl.e But when yo have a product made by people donating their time, or a company is giving 20% of their time to give back to open source, you simply get a higher quality. People are working together. They own it. When people own the stuff they produce, it will be better. When you produce software that is proprietary and your company owns it, you are alienated from it. But with open source you put your love into it. You can play with it, deploy it, use it with your friends, fix its security holes…

Erica Rios: analogy of the free library. If we can’t contribute and have free access to intellectual knowledge, we undermine democracy. Women and systemic reasons why girls and women often drop out of technical fields. Access. Open source is a unique opportunity for all women to have access to knowledge. If all software code was proprietary, I would never have looked at a pice of code in my life. I couldn’t have afforded it. Period.

WOW

Erica: Dr. Fran Allen, just announced as a Turing Award winner, first woman to be granted this award. It’s highly likely that a girl at the high school level right now, who has access to open source code, may achieve something as great as Fran. It gives other people access and opportunity and to contribute at higher levels. It’s a key consideration in us achieving equality between genders in technical fields, and as we increase participation, we’ll increase innovation.

Jory Des Jardines (audience): The Wisdom of Crowds. Ran an open source business project, because people didn’t ahve the motivation, aka, pay. Does money mean motivation? Money makes it easy to commit, people are flowing in and out of this project. The explanation you’re giving explains the structure, but what is the motivation for an engineer to bother?

Annalee Newitz: There are other rewards that people work for. We’re at a conference where there are artists. They’re hoping to make money, but they want people to appreciate their work. They want to create something beautiful and be acknowledged for it. Why do people want to have a higher reputation on Digg? They’re not getting money for it. Well, some of them are. (laughter … re. crowdhacking prank.) But there’s a point, Hey, I’ve spent 4 years doing this kickass thing, now pay me.

Dawn Foster: Contributors to the Linux kernel. They pay people fulltime to do nothing to contribute to those projects. Those companies are motivated for that software to be good.

Guy: Dispel that there’s anything anticapitalist about open source. More of them are libertarian than anti-capitalist. And about self interest and profit, my company went to open source, time, energy, money chasing clients on IP issues, waste of time. We got a better rate for our time to offer consulting services around it and provide the software as open source.

Erica: Who is mostly willing to work for free? Women. the motivation to work is there. There’s a lot of stereotypes that we default to when we look at what it is that isn’t working. There’s probably a lack of supportive culture. Asked by Mozilla to tell what could help keep women developers. My answer was I don’t know, ask the ones who are there and ask the ones who are leaving.

Woman with short black hair in audience: Ideals, but as a business manager, of a sucessful open source consulting and educaiton company, we charge a fair amount. It’s a myth that keeps developers away from open source. Like it kind of smells like patchouli a little bit…

Elisa: You will not find musicians in an orchestra playing for free. Actors will do it for free. Bloggers used to do it for free but that’s changing. Now we have blog consulting. People had passion that seemed to translate into not getting paid, Oh if I love doing it i shouldn’t get paid. Open source has that too, if I’m passionate about it I shouldn’t charge.

Annalee: You don’t have to do it for free, just get your boss to let you spend 50% of your time doing it because it helps improve the product.

Guy in audience: I’m not understanding, please explain, what is the distinction between building proprietary products on top of open source software.

(Well, it depends on the license! )

Annalee: that’s a good question and it gets debated a lot in open source communities. They are spelled out in the licenses. For example what will happen with Google and the GPL license. People need to be a little bit geeky about legal language and licensing.

Audience: How geeky do you need to be to say you’re into open source?

Erica: For example our crm system….Not important for us to customize that part. But to customize web solutions is very important. If we don’t need to hack it, let’s not do it.

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SXSWi: Attention panel

Notes on “Every Breath You Take: Identity, Attention, Presence and Reputation”.

Christian Crumlish, Ted Nadeau, Mary Hodder, Kaliya Hamlin, George Kelly

Christian Crumlish talked about how new cell phones are. Etiquette still developing. How much of your attention can I have? Establish level of communication or mode of being present and paying attention. Maximize or optimize your presence. Let’s take a look at Plazes. Trazes, history of where you’ve been. “I finally gave in, last night, and I’m on Twitter”. Tribute to Leslie Harpold David Howard, who documented changing his name. (Me and the woman next to me snort a little bit… It becomes way important and interesting when men do it…) Porn search expose. People who have a separate computer for browsing porn. Cognitive dissonance on iChat as Thomas Vanderwal chatted to someone who was listening to his podcast. Unmasking digital identities. Attention spying on yourself.

Kaliya’s talking about OpenID. Namespaces are on the rise. Often people have 100 identities and that’s growing fast. Instead of us getting a different identity from every company we deal with, WE should tell the different companies and websites who we are. OpenID, inames, and LID all cooperating to have one login box instead of competing with each other, with the Yadis protocol, an XML-XRDS document. sxip also joined this protocol. Kaliya explains the

(I signed up with myopenid.com a while back. And at last week’s hackathon, a developer at Socialtext implemented OpenID in our wiki software.)

Ted Nadeau says our non-monetary assets are: Identity, Attention, Intention, Influence, Reputation. (In addition to Str Dex Int Wis Con Cha.)

He explains his identity in brief. Your reputation appears different to different viewers. You are not the authority on your own reputation. Systems based on reputation. EigenTrust. Whuffie. Karma. Opinity. None are compelling to Ted. Conceptual models – Pythia’s Framework for building reputation systems. “a ubiquitous, spontaneous, and highly efficient mechanism of social control”. It’s good to know. It’s useful. It’s good to know if someone’s scary when they’re drunk. Shame can be useful socially. Big reputations – corporations, wwf wrestling personalities. Polytheistic gods – Zeus, Ganesh. Films, soap operas, consistency. Big, consistent, shared. Bigger entities like nations. eBay, LinkedIn, WoW, Amazon, academia’s citation indexes (Hirsch number), Google pagerank. Problems: Reputation theft, damage, loss, stuck, Identity first, reputation later. ‘Sybil’ attack, karma-whoring. Call to action: Deepen the conversation. Implement Reputation systems.

Mary Hodder is amazed that Ted can be funny this early in the morning. She’ll explain a bit of background for academic views of attention, but then will talk about them from a user specific perspective. Systems collect data on you. IM data, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the meta data. Your google searches, too; maybe somewhere in the back of your mind you know they’re collecting information on you. It doesn’t seem that consequential, but it’s incredibly consequential. There’s an attention economy built on top of everything we do. Gestures. A gesture is a vote of confidence. The Attention Trust asserts that you own a copy of your information. You own a copy of your attention stream. The Attention Trust built a recorder. Citation of McCarthy and red scare. He said that certain behaviors were not common and therefore were outside the social norm. WE’re engaging in the social norms. If the government can subpoena the clickstreams for Microsoft or Yahoo then they’re segmenting a section of the population away from everyone else and saying they’re not normal. If only the Yahoos, Googles (and governments!) of the world have that attention pool, then that gives them too much power. If all our attention information is public then it’s more difficult for the government to make false claims.

I agree strongly with Mary Hodder. Public pools of information are a protection against abuse by powerful entities. They aren’t a perfect protection, but they give us all a chance.

George Kelly is talking about Mapping Persoality Visibility. Johari charts.

You know, I saw people doing this on LiveJournal last year but never followed the link. It’s like a slam book (a concept I learned from the Judy Blume book Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. I thought it fascinating but never could get anyone to agree to try it.) Good, now I can try it: Johari window for Liz Henry.

Questions: The idea of a single repository where all this stuff goes is a problem. We have multiple identities and shifting identities over time. A blog means it’s too much in one place. (Lizzie ?? “prematurely grey” might be her old blog. Ah. Liz Burr.)
Christian: I don’t know. There are a lot of us that have multiple identities and then are merging them back together or splitting them apart.
Ted Nadeau: Working for companies. Integrating their identity moving forward. Youth maybe is more intuitively able to see that we’re one person not many. Identity, and maintaining and coalescing an integrated identity.

Wow, I dig all the stuff Ted has been saying.

Kaliya: People in this room have a unique opportunity to help with this problem. The physical world translating into the logical world and back. Things that have friction in RL now have zero friction online. Work on increasing identity friction. That will help. (Did I get this backwards? Kaliya will you explain that more somewhere online where I can read and link to it? You just blew my mind but I don’t think I understood.)

Mary Hodder talking about the “wearing my work clothes to bed” or “bikini at the bank” concept. Yes! Be able to move between multiple online identities. (That would increase friction rather than having all your online stuff and real life stuff be together in one repository.)

Well, we’ve been talking about that and having 4 different personas which are easy to switch between, since the first barcamp at least, but I haven’t seen it happen yet in any software or web platform. People still respond to this idea with “But you can just log out and back in again with a different name.” No. Not to the 20 places online that are all tied together and that I use together.

?? who works for Alternet and Jim Hightower etc. What people are putting out there about me or others. Firms googling potential candidates and not hiring them. Jill at Feministe. Her picture etc. up there and some conservative guys ranking her, etc as if she’s some kind of internet slut. But law firms will be looking at her and she’s afraid it will hurt her career. Unfortunate response was

Mary HOdder: Law school class, some guy playing tetris during a lecture. Video shot of it and put up on Dabble. He wanted it taken down.

Kaliya: It’s improper to make judgements about someone’s personal life and work places will need to learn that. If they judge people on their personal life they are going to lose good people. Creating social norms is important. Something bad happens to me now in email? I blog it. We have a personal platform to out bad behavior.

Christian Crumlish: We’re in a wild west phase and we’re waiting for that to mature…

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SXSWi panel on commercialization of wikis

Here’s some notes on Ev. Prodromou’s talk on commercialization of wikis. (Here’s his slides, which he just nicely emailed to me.)

Does commerce belong in wikis?
– the wikisphere needs a healthy ecology

Supporting a wiki project
– out of pocket
– donations, grants, govt.
– wiki farm. Wikia. Nurturing the wild wiki.

Four types of wiki businesses:

  • Service provider: Wikispace, wetpaint, pbwiki
  • Content hosting: wikiHow, Wikitravel, Wikia. Focus on particular topics. Managing the wiki itself and developing its culture and community.
  • Consulting: Socialtext, biggest company in this area. Taking the wiki method into the enterprise. Going into companies and showing them how to use wikis. Use wikis and wiki theory to help companies make the best wikis out there. Being professional wiki evangelists.
  • Content development: WikiBiz. Started on Wikipedia. Offered a service to write Wikipedia pages for companies, following Wikipedia policies and procedures.

    Prodromou is most interested in talking about the content hosting variety. Crowdsourcing. There’s suckers, yahoos, rubes, you get them to do your work for you, and then sell it back to them.

    Wikinomics. This is the kind of model that that’s trying to sell. Get a sucker to work on your site for free, hahaha.

    Prodromou says: “EFF THAT. I hate the term crowdsourcing. It’s one of the ugliest terms ever invented on the internet. People in wiki software are some of the most idealistic, altruistic people on the planet. We don’t want to exploit people.”

    Platform for knowledge. Knowledge havers and needers. You are in both categories. Crossing that line and providing a platform for knowledge havers and needers to communicate. Give them focus and direction. Be a steward of that knowledge and its flow. “You” as the wiki provider are not the focus. It’s noble, it’s decent, and there’s no exploitation involved.

    Rules for commercial wikis:
    – have a noble purpose
    – demonstrate value
    – be transparent
    – extract value where you provide value
    – set boundaries
    – be personally involved
    – run with the right crowd.

    I disagree with his chart about blogs, photos, wikis, and ego. (He measured blogs as contributing value mostly to the blogger’s ego!)

    A plug for Creative Commons. Let go. Go with the freest kinds of license. Citing the post-Katrina disaster relief sites with names and locations of people, as a noble purpose. (True, but more complicated than that, often.)

    Ways to add value: software development, systems admin for big wikis, community management, external promotion, carry the torch. Community management is becoming a profession.

    Transience of wiki communities. Typical user sticks around for a couple of months. But the community continuity has to be maintained.

    Being transparent is important. Any hint of bogusness, duplicity, tricking, exploiting, is awful. People go away because of that. You put up that wall, people are going to leave.

    Commercializing. Ads. Physical media that use the content, books. Any attempt to extract value out of hte user database itself is bad. They’re your community (not your spam target…)

    Set boundaries. The users can’t set your business decisions but they can set parameters and make decisions for their community. But the business also has to have boundaries to not set community policy or only set it so far.

    Personal involvement. Have a user page with a picture. Be present. Run with the right crowd, be part of open content, open source communty. People judge you based on who you hang out with. Find partners, find projects that you would like to work with.

    Conclusions:
    Commercial wikis are healthy additions to the net and to free/open content. The commercialization should be mindful and careful.

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