ahorbinski: Emma Goldman, anarchist (play the red queen's game)
I suspect many people have already seen the announcement that the Ada Initiative is shutting down in approximately mid-October. My tweets have said what I feel on the subject, but to repeat at somewhat greater length: I'm proud of what TAI has accomplished over the past four years, and it's been a privilege to be a part of it as an AdaCamp attendee, a donor, an advisor, and last but not least, and far too briefly, a member of the board of directors. I said in my previous post that I was looking forward to supporting TAI's work; that support turned out to be rather in the spirit of "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him," but we made the right decision. For me, the meat of the question is in just two sentences:

We don’t feel like non-profits need to exist forever. The Ada Initiative did a lot of great work, and we are happy about it.

So what's next? As I said on Twitter, I'm looking forward to seeing what the people whose lives TAI has changed do next--and that includes me. For the time being, like Cincinnatus to his farm, I'm going back to my dissertation, and I'm excited to bring what I've learned with TAI to my future and ongoing projects. I'll be around at fandom and open source cons again at the end of this year and into next year; do say hi, and let me know if you want an Ada Initiative sticker--I still have stacks of them.
ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
I don't believe I mentioned that I was invited to serve on the reviewers committee for the Inspire campaign, a Wikimedia Foundation effort to increase gender diversity on Wikipedia and its related projects through funding community-proposed efforts. It was interesting to be on the committee side of things, and I certainly learned a lot. You can read more about the grantees and their projects at the WMF blog post.
ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
I'm thrilled to be joining the Board of the Directors of the Ada Initiative as Secretary, starting immediately. TAI is an organization with which I've been honored to associate, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with the rest of the Board and the TAI staff to help contribute to and support its continuing success.
ahorbinski: a bridge in the fog (bridge to anywhere)
In honor of spending part of today looking at issues from the first 25 years of Osaka Puck in the National Diet Library, tonight I translated the Japanese Wikipedia article on the magazine. There's no article on Tokyo Puck in either language, remarkably, but writing that is a task for another time, probably after I've drafted the first chapter of my dissertation.

It seems that, in the thick of preparing for my qualifying exam, I neglected to mention my attendance at the WikiWomen's Edit-A-Thon at UC Berkeley this past April. I had a great time, and I also translated an article on a Japanese female martial artist into English over the course of the event.

ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
Along with writers, fans, and readers like you and me, The Ada Initiative has been changing SFF for the better. I've been a fan of SFF for about 25 years and an active convention panelist/attendee for the past five, and I am quite confident in saying that the last five years, painful and tense as they often have been, have shown a lot of changes for the better in SFF.

Part of that is due to the high-profile work of SFF authors like N.K. Jemisin and Mary Robinette Kowal, and part of it is due to the work of the Ada Initiative, and part of it's due to people like you and me. I'm thrilled and proud to be an Ada Initiative advisor, and with the support of SFF readers and fans like you, TAI and all of us can continue to make SFF a more welcoming, more diverse and safer space for everyone.

Yours truly and Kate Elliott in London, reading and writing better SFF!

I've had a front-row seat to some of the highest-profile events in SFF in 2014 around these issues. I was at Wiscon when N.K. Jemisin gave her latest fantastic Guest of Honor speech; I was ushering for the Hugos in London when Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice became the first novel to sweep all the major awards in the same year, female creators in general triumphed, and the "sad puppy" slate got kicked to the curb. When Nora finished her speech in Madison, everyone in the room including me was ready to stand up and follow her into battle; what we didn't realize was that, in the aftermath of the Wiscon concom's first Jim Frenkel decision, we'd be fighting ourselves.

Make no mistake about it; it's not easy to work against harassment, whether as a high-profile author or critic receiving rape and death threats, a non-profit organization working to support women in open culture, technology, and stuff, or as an individual fan at a convention trying to overcome the weight of social conditioning to ask if someone else is okay or needs help. This is where an organization like TAI can and does provide much-needed backup, by publishing posts on best practices such as the "managerial model" of handling harassment incidents swiftly and safely, by providing models for conference Codes of Conduct, and also by making mistakes, acknowledging them, and moving on.

The Ada Initiative has a fantastic track record over the last four years, but it's also made some decisions that have turned out to be the wrong ones; what makes me happy to be associated with TAI is that the organization has done its best to learn from those mistakes, and has gone on to have record-breaking successes in its efforts. TAI gives me hope that an organization like Wiscon, my first and favorite SFF convention, can learn from its own missteps and live up to its own feminist ideals. Authors like Nora Jemisin have also sometimes made missteps in their efforts to represent a wider range of people in their work, but their willingness both to make the attempt in the first place and to fail better next time, and to discuss all these things publicly, gives me not just faith, but confidence in the fact that they will--and that their next books will be anything but boring rehashes of predictable tropes.

Human perfectibility is an article of faith in a lot of science fiction, but as the TAI history of anti-harassment in SFF mentions, the spring and summer of 2014 was enough to shake any comfortable sense of progress on these issues having been made. In particular, the announcement of this year's Hugo nominees made a lot of people, including me, really wonder to what extent our fellow SFF readers and con-goers recognized not just the right to participate, but the basic humanity of those of us calling for safer spaces and more representative fiction. But I was beyond heartened in London when, at the biggest and most international Worldcon to date, the "sad puppy" slate was overwhelmingly rejected and female creators got some of the credit they so richly deserved in fields from best new writer to best editor to best professional artist to best novel.

And the thing about the Hugos? They were decided by the biggest electorate on record, and that electorate overwhelmingly voted in favor of more representative SFF. If that isn't an affirmation of the fact that we're headed in the right direction, as difficult as the road to get there has been and will be, I don't know what is. Though there's certainly a small group of people in SFF who really would like to go back to 1959, there are many more people who would like to read better, more interesting books, and many more people who would like to see a safer, more respectful, and more representative SFF fandom. In this case, our reach really does not exceed our grasp.

One of the many ways to bring that about is to give to the Ada Initiative right now! TAI's annual fundraiser runs from now through 8 October 2014, and though it's too late to receive a free copy of N. K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon for a $128 donation (you should totally read it anyway, it's great), you can still get a selection of lovely Ada Initiative stickers, including the awesome "Not Afraid to Say the F-Word" ones, signed books by Mary Robinette Kowal, and the satisfaction of taking the opportunity to support the work of TAI and authors like Kowal, Jemisin, and many others who have written SFF outside mainstream white male experiences and who have stood up to demand a safer SFF community.

Ada Initiative stickers!
Read their books, and donate to support the Ada Initiative and the SFF you want to see tomorrow today!

ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
For the second year in a row, the awesome Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson have stepped up to the plate with a $10,000 matching donation to the Ada Initiative! From now until midnight on August 27, they will match every contribution to the Ada Initiative's annual fundraising campaign up to $10,000 USD. Sumana and Leonard talk about TAI's influence on three areas of open stuff dear to them (science fiction and fantasy, Wikipedia, and open source) at the link, and are making the matching donation in the hopes of encouraging members of those communities to live up to their values and chip in for a great organization.

The matching donation is particularly good for those of us in the fandom and Wikipedia communities who maybe don't have the kind of tech industry salaries that would allow us to give more generously. Thanks to Sumana and Leonard, the impact of what each of us can donate as individuals is doubled! Although you won't get the awesome Ada Lovelace pendant unless you contribute at least $128 (either one-time or monthly, which is only $12.80 per), every little bit--even $5--helps. I've donated under the matching contribution, and I hope you will too.

ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
In June I had the real privilege of attending AdaCamp San Francisco, an unconference focusing on women in open technology, culture, and stuff that is put on by the Ada Initiative. TAI is a non-profit that works to increase the participation of women in open stuff, including open culture initiatives like fandom and Wikipedia editing. These have just as much validity as open source and open technology, and The Ada Initiative's willingness to cross those streams is part of what makes AdaCamps, and TAI itself, so awesome.

I've also been really pleased at the synergy occurring between one of The Ada Initiative's most successful projects, conference anti-harassment work, and increased attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment, and the need to fight it, in the SFF convention community. Well-publicized incidents of harassment at Readercon last year and Wiscon this year--and the fact that those incidents had visible, public consequences for the harassers in question--have highlighted the need for these sorts of policies at SFF cons, and how when policies are followed, as at Wiscon, it creates a safer atmosphere for everyone attending. I haven't tried to prove a direct connection between TAI and the increasing discussion and awareness of this issue in the SFF community, but given the number of geeky people who are involved in both organizations, I don't think it's a coincidence. TAI has been a leader in this since late 2010, and the spillover effect of these things is very real.

At AdaCamp SF I heard from a number of my fellow AdaCamp DC alumni what an absolutely transformative experience attending the unconference had been for them. I don't have the same sort of dramatic story about my involvement with TAI--I don't code, and I still haven't quit grad school for a tech startup in the West Bay--but TAI has definitely made a huge difference to me personally as a woman in open culture, and as a woman in a male-dominated field (namely, academia).

Sarah Sharp, one of my fellow AdaCamp attendees, has a great post about how attending AdaCamp has helped her recognize and combat impostor syndrome, the feeling that we just aren't good enough and are going to be found out as fakers that strikes many women in tech and, I suspect, in many other fields. Attending AdaCamp twice has definitely given me tools to combat impostor syndrome, and what I've learned there has also helped me get better at accepting compliments for work I've put in and stuff I've accomplished. The Ada Initiative's insistence on embracing open culture, ranging from fanworks to Wikimedia, has also helped me reframe my work with the OTW and my participation in fandom. Open culture initiatives like fandom and Wikipedia editing have just as much validity as open source and open technology, and The Ada Initiative's willingness to cross those streams is part of what makes AdaCamps, and TAI itself, so awesome.

You can check out the Ada Initiative's impostor syndrome training page if you haven't had the chance to attend an AdaCamp, and if a conference or convention you know of is in need of an anti-harassment policy, you can check out the example conference anti-harassment policy that Ada Initiative co-founders wrote with the help of the community. If you'd like a chance for other people (or yourself!) to attend an AdaCamp somewhere in the world in the future, or if you want to make cons a safer space for people of all genders, or if you just want a really awesome Ada Lovelace pendant, you should donate now so that the Ada Initiative can continue to support all these things. We've made more difference in the past two years than in the past ten, and we need your support to keep going at the level we have.

ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
I'm unspeakably thrilled and honored to be joining the advisory board of The Ada Initiative, a non-profit organization which advocates for and supports women in open technology and culture. The Ada Initiative's people and advisers are a phenomenal bunch of passionate people, and it's a privilege to be able to lend my expertise.

I had an incredibly generative time at AdaCamp DC last summer, and I'm very much looking forward to attending AdaCamp SF, which will be held in San Francisco this June. Applications are open until April 30--I hope to see you there!
ahorbinski: My Marxist-feminist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.  (marxism + feminism --> posthumanism)
Having just sustained a conversation with a highly skeptical (and, I suspect, rather sexist) colleague about her and her place in history, let me take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Ada Lovelace Day.

Ada Lovelace Day honors Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, the world's first computer programmer. This post by the Ada Initiative has more details on Lovelace's achievement, as well as the depressing (and depressingly predictable) attempts by later people to deny her importance and her authorship of her own computer program. As Ada Initiative co-founder Valerie Aurora concludes,

In the end, most arguments that Lovelace did not write the first program only make sense in the context of a common assumption: in any partnership between a man and woman, the man did the important work and the woman assisted and polished. […] In 2012, we should not be denigrating women’s accomplishments in science based on specious arguments about personality, occasional errors, and collaborations with men. That’s one of the purposes of Ada Lovelace Day: to bring recognition to women who have had credit for their accomplishments stolen from them.

As Aurora notes, these tactics and beliefs are right out of Joanna Russ' How to Suppress Women's Writing. The Ada Initiative seeks to support and increase the numbers and representation of women in open technology and culture, and needs donors to continue its work. At the same time, here's a pro tip to aspiring scholars: the way to accurately represent history is not to assume that women's history hasn't been suppressed, or that women have no place in history, whether you're aware of their contributions or not. 
ahorbinski: hulk smash male privilege! (hulk smash male privilege)
A month ago I headed across the Bay to San Francisco for the second San Francisco WikiWomen's Edit-a-Thon. I met a lot of awesome people there and had some really good conversations about Wikipedia, information, and gender, among other things. I also, over the course of about three hours, transformed approximately a semester's worth of research into a five-paragraph article on a pioneering Japanese feminist historian. (Along the way, I discovered that the earlier article stub had plagiarized a sentence wholesale from the article listed in the references.)

I know a lot of academics are highly suspicious of Wikipedia, not always for what I would consider the right reasons. But, especially after hearing Jimmy Wales speak at the Wikimania opening reception last week in Washington, DC, I do think that it's important that academics not shut what we know up in our ivory towers - not just for the sake of the knowledge that we create and love, or even for ourselves, but for everyone else in the world who could benefit from that knowledge, too.


ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

August 2017

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