A Second Life Backdrop to the Reality of “Why Should We Have To?”

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

This will be a short (considering the subject) and (therefore) superficial rant. I do just want to look at one tiny aspect of the much bigger issue.

One of the topics my brain insists on pondering, in idle moments, is that of women in technology. If you spend any time on teh internets you encounter the “girls don’t game” and “girls don’t code” mythos. You also witness brutal attacks on social media targeting females who say and do things which contradict those “truisms” and dare to stick their heads up and object to what they see as offensive behaviour. That sucks.

I recently bemoaned the lack of women on the long list of speakers and panel members at a Virtual World Conference (there was 1 out of a total of 44). Philip and Ebbe were asked about the absence of women in the industry (by that 1 on the list) and I assume they misunderstood the question. They both responded by saluting the accomplishments of females in Second Life. The actual question, and the issue, concern the industry as a whole – the programers, architects, designers, developers, executives, visionaries – not the situation inside the virtual world.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

The solution, of course, is to get more girls interested and more women active in the profession. However, this is not an easy path. A prevailing culture that reflects a frat-house view of life is not exactly female friendly.

Having said that, one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen in various discussions on the topic has been put forward by some young women. When discussing the difficulties of entering and progressing in tech, having to deal with misogyny, sexual harassment, offensive comments and actions, their attitude is:

Why should we have to? Just get rid of the creeps!

um, let’s talk.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

Why should we have to?

Nobody should have to put up with personal and physical attacks. You are entitled to the same treatment as everybody else in any profession you wish to enter.

Now, guess what happens when entitlement meets reality.

Malala Yousafzai is not the first female to have to fight to receive an education you’d expect would be her right. Oxford University actually allowed women to attend lectures beginning in 1870; they could do all the work and take the exams but, until 1920, they didn’t get their degree. Getting into something like medicine was even more difficult.

The academic world’s thinking can be summarized by “Harvard professor Edward H. Clarke (1874) who proclaimed that women seeking advanced education would develop “monstrous brains and puny bodies [and] abnormally weak digestion.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

It was also 1920 when women got the right to vote in the United States. Getting it wasn’t easy – campaigners were tortured, killed, and imprisoned.

Try being a firefighter, jet pilot, astronaut, or Head of State today. It’s not exactly smooth sailing.

Tech is a newer profession – that doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to behave like an adult.

Just get rid of the creeps!

Just get rid of them. Well, I appreciate fantasy as much as the next person, but there’s that whole reality thing.

What you seem to be looking for is a hero – somebody who will clear and smooth that path for you. I assume that person will have a sonic screwdriver and magic glitter.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

Here’s the thing, creeps never disappear. They remain in every profession, no matter how forward thinking and equitable it appears to be. What happens over time is that they get marginalized and silenced, but they never go away. I think there’s a secret breeding program somewhere. I don’t like to dwell on that because the images are too scary.

The tech industry has some new wrinkles though, as far as creeps are concerned. First they can take advantage of all aspects of social media and its inherent anonymity to launch aggressive and sick campaigns – they can be as base and ugly as they want and giggle about it. This makes what you have to deal with very public and painful.

Second, that whole garage skunkworks mentality just feeds into the boys’ club culture and they never get past puberty. Think of them as Orcs with pimples.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

The good news is the third wrinkle – there are a lot of educated, intelligent, men in the industry as well. Many of them speak up.

Don’t look for a hero … find allies.

Look for men and women who will stand up in the middle of an offensive presentation and say “This is unacceptable” before walking out. Writing a blog post later is great, but having the creeps lose face in front of the alpha male they’re hoping to impress, or the woman holding the key to the investment they want, is better. When they lose funding and career opportunities, when their startup fails because of their assholery, they start to change their behaviour.

Look for the people on social media like one current and one ex-Linden I follow who respond to the creeps appropriately.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

Why should we have to?

Because you want to be part of the industry. Because you want to help build it, create things, realize the possibilities. Because dealing with creeps comes with the double X chromosome package; like childbirth and PMS.

I’m not saying grow “Rhino Skin” to deal with these issues. Frankly, that would lead to considering the behaviour acceptable. I will say, have a big first aid kit. Report the abuse, mute the creep, slap on a bandage and keep moving forward.

The industry will evolve but, much like all others, the creeps will abide. They will become smaller, fewer, quieter, and easier to ignore.

You have to because the industry needs you. It will be much harder than it should be, but your future granddaughters will thank you.

Haveit Neox’s sim ACC Alpha (moderate)

My Quadrennial Obsession & Vacation From Second Life

Pigeon Island (moderate)

It’s time for me to take a vacation. I’m tired and lacking the ooomph I need to get everything done I’d like to do. Oh this isn’t a dramatic exit or an emotional flounce out the door – just a vacation.

It is entirely coincidental wink that my absence will coincide with an event for which I have waited 3 years, 11 months, and 30 days. Tomorrow is the beginning of World Cup and I am thrilled beyond measure.

Pigeon Island (moderate)

I love the game. I’ve played it (badly) and I’ve watched it for decades from a chair in front of the television, from the sidelines, and from the stands.

When I was living in University residence, I would take the bus to the far side of the city to an old wooden stadium and watch my local team play. There was no roof and you had a view of the water and the mountains in the background, but all of that was ignored while the game was on.

Pigeon Island (moderate)

Families would bring picnic lunches and spread them out on the wooden bleachers (our version of a tailgate party). There would be kids playing and laughter and conversations in multiple languages. I would eat my sandwich and prepare for the first whistle and then join in the chanting and screaming.

It was heaven.

Pigeon Island (moderate)

It is the “beautiful” game and watching it played at the World Cup level is extraordinary. No other sport incites the amount of emotion, in as many people around the world, as football/soccer does. This tournament is a perfect storm of skill, national pride, technical brilliance, passion, failure, drama, and heroics.

No, it doesn’t have the pinball scoring effect of something like basketball. It doesn’t need to.

So, before I crash and burn, I’m taking some time off to indulge my love for this game. My friends/team-mates/clients will still be able to reach me. I’m not going that far. :)

Pigeon Island (moderate)

Before I do, I’ve tried to figure out a way to explain why World Cup is something I’m so excited about, even in the face of the very dark side attached to this tournament. As various articles I’ve read have tried to express, this is the people’s game – and the game is separate from the corrupt and sleezy organization that acts as its governing body.

It belongs to the young kids playing with a rock in a dirt field; to the teenage girls driving 30 miles every week in the winter to play in the freezing rain, in shorts, on an all-weather gravel pitch; to those families with their picnics.

On Sunday John Oliver expressed the feelings of millions and millions of fans. If you haven’t seen this, please watch. It might mean that the next month makes more sense to those of you who don’t (yet) share our passion. I’ll see you again in mid-July. :)

On Gods & Photographers in Second Life

Goodnight Photography (moderate)

Every now and then a photographer I enjoy will decide to get their own sim. When that happens, as in the case of Goodnight Photography, those of us who love to capture inworld images are treated to a landscape that offers visual beauty and also takes our peculiar needs into consideration.

For example, I completely understand the presence of shadow prims. However, if you’ve set up your windlight at say 3 pm, and those fixed shadows represent noon, then you do a lot of derendering.  Goodnight’s sim didn’t cause me any of those issues – my only problem was sticking to 5 photos for this post. :)

Goodnight Photography (moderate)

There was news this week that could affect photographers in all realities. You will have trouble believing this, but Amazon was awarded a patent for taking photographs (or making videos) in front of a seamless white background.

No really! The patent number is US 8,676,045 and it was awarded on March 18 of this year.

I understand your confusion. After all, it’s not like this is a brand new idea. A few articles I read pointed to the concept of “first entity to file“- which simply means, if you’re the bright spark who files the patent application, you might get it.

Goodnight Photography (moderate)

Although the patent application specifies a number of things (lens, distance, etc.,) there’s a cool paragraph near the end that says other configurations would be considered part of this patent.

Why would they do that? Corporations like to make money and this would certainly have great potential, but another theory I saw might be the answer. Some seem to think this is Amazon’s way of making fun of Apple and their incessant need to patent everything (for example page turns).

So, a benign view of this bizarre development is that they’re just joshing …. poking fun …. like a giant practical joke that is aimed at another corporate godzilla.

Goodnight Photography (moderate)

Here’s my problem with that. The idea that it’s a patent application designed to point out the folly of the patent process and, at the same time, allege unreasonable exploitation by Apple, reminds me of something else.

You might be old enough to remember those movies about the Gods on Olympus playing board games with pieces that were actually mortals down on earth. They’d get so focused on beating their opponent that they’d forget (to be generous), or just didn’t care, that their actions had a far reaching (and often devastating) impact on real people trying to live their daily lives.

I have enough difficulty accepting that Corporations are people. This kind of self-indulgent game is far too much like roleplaying superhuman divinity. They all need to be sent to their rooms without supper.

Goodnight Photography (moderate)
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