I am fortunate that there are a lot of people in my neighborhood who like to do crazy things like sled down luge-like hills late at night and then eat hot dogs. Lucky because I was always a bit of a shy kid and while I might not do a lot of dangerous sledding myself, and don’t have kids to act as my foil, I like being able to stand by and cheer and take some photographs. These events take all kinds. I did sled down the hill a few times. Once I lost my mitten. Once I bottomed out and had to hurl myself off the track to avoid being run over by more fearless sledders. Once I made it down okay. I did take a great set of photos which I tossed up on Facebook because that’s where a lot of the other sledders can be found. Here are some more photos.
I was also asked to write a piece on Wikipedia and gender for the New York Times’ Room for Debate section. I kept to the requested word limit and hammered out a few paragraphs in a few hours that said pretty much what I wanted to say. I then watched a bunch of grouchy internet people complain loudly in the comments section. Usually I’m pretty cautious when I write online. I try anticipate people’s objections and write with a lot of equivocal language. This time I said more or less what I wanted to say–that Wikimedia Foundation deciding that they care about things like this is a good thing and an opportunity, and that there are ways of trying to make online spaces welcoming to women–and if people didn’t like it, well I guess they didn’t.
It’s not always the best way to make friends, to talk about gender differences and social inequality and centuries of unequal representation, but I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m not always doing what I do to make friends. We’ve taken some affirmative stances on MetaFilter to try to keep women interested in participating. Not all of them are successful but many of them are. I work in my real world to help women (and men) get interested in technology and to pass on the general idea that interacting with computers is something that anyone can do, given the right motivation. It’s been interesting watching Facebook, in many cases, becoming that motivating factor.