Women in Technology

  • OTW Fannews: Doing it New School

    By thatwasjustadream on Neděle, 17 May 2015 - 6:11 odpoledne
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    curved lines drawn in purple, maroon, orange and yellow over a white background with shades of purple, tan and red filling the spaces between them and the word OTW Fannews Doing it New School written through the right hand side of the graphic

    • DNAInfo reported on workshops that use Sci-Fi, Fan Fiction to Teach Girls STEM and Writing Skills. "'A lot of the series that are popular today, like ‘Hunger Games’ or ‘Divergent,’ feature white characters...We think it’s really important to expose girls to visions of the future that have girls that look like them in leading roles doing the changing.' The project’s namesake, author Octavia E. Butler, inspired the founders to use science fiction as a way to talk about broader issues in social activism, gender, class and race. 'She looked at society through a real critical lens and didn’t sugarcoat anything...It blew me away because I never saw how sci-fi could be used to make me think of history and my own role.'”
    • Olin College professor Allen Downey had some of his students post a Bayesian Survival Analysis in A Song of Ice and Fire on his blog. "Using data from A Wiki of Ice and Fire, we created a dataset of all 916 characters that appeared in the books so far. For every character, we know what chapter and book they first appeared, if they are male or female, if they are part of the nobility or not, what major house they are loyal to, and, if applicable, the chapter and book of their death. We used this data to predict which characters will survive the next couple books."
    • MediaCommons is an academic site that hosts discussion on both courses, research and discussion surrounding reading, writing, and literature. Among the topics is fan fiction, such as this post by Charles Dunbar about learning to write outside one's comfort zone. "I had found the old notebook in which all those stories Colleen had been written into were hastily stuffed, and after reading them over, decided I had done a grave disservice to the character. Yes she was a fan-fiction creation, but she was also part of my writer’s experience, and as such I felt she deserved something more than the role of hostage-girlfriend...So I picked up a pen and began to write. But before I did, I decided to make one little change: rather than approach Colleen as the main character’s girlfriend…I made her the main character."

    Where have you seen appearances of fanworks in academia? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Profiles in Marketing

    By Claudia Rebaza on Neděle, 14 December 2014 - 6:32 odpoledne
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    Banner by Erin of Barbie working at a computer with the OTW logo on it, with two adults looking on in the background. The banner reads 'OTW Fannews: Profiles in Marketing'.

    • An increasing number of companies are marketing toward girls and women in tech, but not every attempt to capitalise on the trend is well-executed. NPR covered widespread criticism of Mattel's Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer. “‘It starts so promising; Barbie is designing a game to show kids how computers work,’ said Ribon. […] Brian and Steven take over — and, at the end of the day, Barbie takes credit for the boys' work.” OTW Legal staffer Casey Fiesler, whose feminist remix went viral and was featured in the NPR story, took to her own blog to explain why non-commercial remix is allowed under US copyright law. "It is so amazing how many people care about representation of women in computing, and I’m thrilled and humbled that something I created helped to expand this conversation. I wrote a piece for Slate about the process and the ideas behind Barbie, Remixed, but something I wanted to discuss in more detail was the act of remix itself rather than the critique behind it."
    • TribLIVE reported on a new TV network focused on fandom. "When Pop, a cable network most people probably refer to as TVGN, launches Jan. 14, it will do so with programs that celebrate the continuing ability of such, well, institutions, as New Kids On the Block and 'Everybody Loves Raymond' to cut a swath through popular culture."
    • UK site YouGov researches audiences to determine the characteristics of people with particular interests or fandoms. By using their profiler you could discover that Good Omens fans are more likely to be 40-59 year old males who work in IT, are left leading when it comes to politics, and also are fans of John Barrowman, Stephen Fry, James May, Nathan Fillion and Patrick Moore.
    • The publishing industry is among those wanting to target fans, and a recent conference on the children's book trade included a panel on fanfiction. Meanwhile Wikia is declaring itself "the ultimate source for powerful and relevant pop culture, entertainment and game expertise" and is producing a video series on fandom in 2014 along with Disney's Maker Studios. The idea is to create amateur/professional partnerships. "The partnership has already resulted in some quirky combinations, including one pairing of a devotee of the AMC period drama Mad Men with the creator of the Drinks Made Easy YouTube channel. 'We hope to continue to define projects that allow for creators and super fans to come together and be in the spotlight.'"

    What marketing efforts utilizing fans have you spotted? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: What's in a name?

    By Claudia Rebaza on Pondělí, 14 October 2013 - 4:39 odpoledne
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    Banner by Natasha of spring green with dozens of female figures & one male figure in a different color

    • While 'Fangirl' is a much less used term in the media than 'Fanboy', both often come in for a shellacking when they do appear. WhatCulture.com used it when citing 10 Moments That Gave Fanboys A Bad Name. Perhaps, for once, women benefited from being erased since at least half the examples they cited occurred in predominantly female fandom circles.
    • VentureBeat meanwhile argued that 'Fanboy' is an overused term. " I realize that no one can simply grab the Internet by the shoulders and ask it to stop crying “fanboy!” every time someone shows their enthusiasm for something. But that’s not what this article is about. The point I’m trying to make by writing this is that a person’s point of view may not be clear over the Internet and that during a discussion, the gaming community should make an attempt to understand where the other side is coming from."
    • Meanwhile Apex Magazine argued that 'Fangirl' isn't a dirty word. "We’re battling decades of institutionalized sexism, racism, and imperialism. We’re working on it. We may still be struggling with all of the —isms but we’re clawing our way toward second wave fandom, particularly when it comes to female fans sharing the dais. We recognize that women really do game, read comics and geek out over all the things guys geek out over. But even in this enlightened age, the gendered term 'fangirl' has become a casual slur, used with impunity to mock and ridicule a certain type of fan."
    • It's certainly not difficult to spot troubling issues that fans face -- whether it's receiving offers to turn pro in all the wrong ways, finding a hostile environment for female professionals and fans alike at conventions, being exposed to demeaning reactions to one's appearance when posting YouTube content, having one's fannish endeavors misrepresented to a general audience or having only certain kinds of fanworks appear in the spotlight. But labels can be an enduring problem, especially when they're misused.

    How do you see fanboys or fangirls talked about? Write about it on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Fannews: Awesome creations

    By Claudia Rebaza on Pátek, 24 May 2013 - 3:18 odpoledne
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    • Mother Jones wrote about Jennie Lamere, who recently won the "best in show" award at the national TVnext Hack event by helping fans avoid spoilers on Twitter. She did it by writing "Twivo, a new program that allows Twitter users to censor their feeds from mentioning a certain TV show (and its characters) for a set time period." She was the only solo woman participating. "Hackathons (which have nothing to do with illegal hacking) bring together programmers, developers, and designers, who compete to code an innovative new program in a limited amount of time." Lamere has already been approached by a company to market her creation. "She came up with the idea for Twivo the night before the competition, and it took her 10 hours and 150 lines of code to complete."
    • Fan creativity isn't just becoming a given, it's beginning to be demanded as well. Kotaku posted about "Little Witch Academia...an animated 30-minute short released by Studio Trigger on YouTube" which was "produced as a part of the 'Young Animator Training Project'." Noting that anime fandom had successfully instigated a series from their response to an ad, writer Patricia Hernandez urged them to do the same with this project.
    • While non-scripted TV shows tend to lag in terms of fanwork creations, there's at least one fan video out there, "Hold Up, Bro" that can make people take note that they exist. "Lisa Ferreira recreated last week’s episode in Legos, showing how three idols led to Phillip’s exit. It’s fantastic and kind of shocking that Legos are so effective at representing Survivor cast members and locations." Ferreira then added " a full-length song and musical number...written and performed by Lisa and her brother Matthew Willcott."

    What cool fanworks have you seen lately? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • OTW Events Calendar for October

    By Curtis Jefferson on Pondělí, 1 October 2012 - 3:55 odpoledne
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    Welcome to our Events Calendar roundup for the month of October! The Events Calendar can be found on the OTW website and is open to submissions by anyone with news of an event. These can be viewed by event-type, such as Academic Events, Fan Gatherings, Legal Events, OTW Events, or Technology Events taking place around the world.

    • The multimedia, multi-fandom slash convention Connotations will be held for the tenth time from 5 October to 7 October in Durham, England. Unique features of Connotations include the large on-site zine library and the fact that all panels are voted on and selected by fans.
      More information about Connotations on Fanlore
    • Celebrate the achievements of women in science and technology in honor of Ada Lovelace Day on 16 October. Lovelace was a 19th-century writer and mathematician whose writings inspired the development of modern computers. The day is marked by thousands of individuals blogging about women the admire in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
    • The opportunity to further support women in open technology and culture is always available with the Ada Initiative. The international nonprofit sponsors AdaCamp, a series of technology camps for young women, in addition to events and conferences that support and engage women in open source work. The Ada Initiative is currently holding one of their annual fundraisers through 31 October with a goal of 1000 donors to help sustain their work.
    • Join chemists around the world in honoring Mole Day on 23 October with this year's theme of 'Molar Eclipse'. The celebration occurs annually on this date from 6:02 AM to 6:02 PM and is derived from Avogrado's number - ~6.02x1023 - which defines the number of particles in one mole of substance. Commonly celebrated in high schools to get students interested in chemistry, the holiday is also supported by the U.S.-based National Mole Day Foundation.

    A Call for Submissions this month comes from the Australian Law Reform Commission in response to the issues paper Copyright and the Digital Economy.

    "This Issues Paper is the first formal publication of the Inquiry, intended to help frame discussion and encourage public consultation at an early stage. It provides background information about copyright in the digital environment, highlights the issues so far identified in preliminary research and consultations, and outlines the principles that will shape the ALRC’s proposals for reform."

    Responses are due via the online submission form no later than 16 November 2012.

    The OTW encourages anyone to submit an event that's not already listed, and to check out the calendar throughout the year!

  • Links roundup for 4 August 2012

    By Claudia Rebaza on Sobota, 4 August 2012 - 5:41 odpoledne
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    Here's a roundup of legal and technology stories that may be of interest to fans.

    • While bills such as SOPA and PIPA disappeared from the U.S. legislative landscape earlier this year, they were only the first of many volleys targeting Internet users and companies. There is S.2151 sponsored by Senator John McCain, and the Lieberman-Collins Cyber Security Act or S.3414 which will likely be coming up for a vote soon. A recently proposed amendment to S.3414 would strike all of its section 701 "which provides companies with the explicit right to monitor private user communications and engage in countermeasures." Organizations such as the EFF and the Center for Democracy & Technology oppose these bills as they feel the language is overly broad and that current laws already enable online service providers to protect their networks.
    • Speaking of SOPA and PIPA, the coalition of online companies, websites, users and activist organizations who fought those bills realized after that fight that they should enable quick mobilization of their group when future threats arise. As such, they formed the Internet Defense League, which will help spread information around the web through participants hosting a form of bat signal. Anyone with a website can sign up to take part. Online users can take various steps to defend their Internet rights from signing documents to donating to PACs.
    • One thing central to Internet freedoms is keeping the means of production in the hands of as many people as possible. To that end, things like Google's video production workshops are a plus for fans and general online users alike as is the availability of the Creative Commons content on YouTube. Cathy Casserly, CEO of Creative Commons (CC) urged those with content on the site to "select 'Creative Commons Attribution license' from the 'License and rights ownership. menu." You can now also choose to "license your future videos under CC BY as a default."
    • One example of the extent of transmedia, or stories created across multiple formats, is discussed by Jan Bozarth, whose Fairy Godmother Academy began as an eight book series for Random House, but quickly expanded into live events, music, and even its own dance movement. Her projects seek to enable girls to utilize technology for their own storytelling. "We all agree that we are not our iPods, iPads, Dr. Drea’s, or Thom’s. They are US. We live in the real world, but it’s got to be a world of our making and those tools help." Her project goal was "to deliver a multi dimensional story, in multiple forms, to a multi-tasking audience, who really just wants to write their own movie and star in it." She also realizes the story is only hers to start, not finish. "I can’t really own [the stories] once they are assimilated into a culture that consumes ideas only to transform, transmute and re-create. My biggest audience may or may not be born yet but my hope is that they will someday dance, sing and write some version of my story and send it back to me in another form that hasn’t even been invented yet. What lives on is the re-creation."

    If you have things to discuss about fandom and the internet or transformational fandom, why not write about it in Fanlore? Additions are welcome from all fans.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent Links Roundup at transformativeworks.org. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Ada Lovelace Day 2011 - Celebrating Our Tech Heroines

    By Kristen Murphy on Pátek, 7 October 2011 - 3:07 odpoledne
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    Happy Ada Lovelace Day from everyone at the Organization for Transformative Works!

    Celebrating women in technology is a subject close to our hearts: when the OTW came into existence in 2007, one of our major motivations was the desire to give fans control of the tools and infrastructure which support fannish creativity. The predominately female fannish communities from which the OTW emerged have a long history of mastering new skills and sharing expertise for fannish pursuits — the vidders of the 1970s were pioneering mashup techniques decades before they became trendy! — and we want to extend that skill-sharing to the creation of a fan-owned home that welcomes all fans.

    The vast majority of OTW volunteers identify as female, and the amazing things our teams have achieved demonstrate that they all deserve to be considered tech heroines! Below, we highlight the work of our tech-focused teams and the individual voices of some of our staff and volunteers.

    Archive of Our Own

    The AO3 is the major tech project for the OTW, and is supported by several committees and volunteer groups: Accessibility, Design, & Technology; Systems; Support; Tag Wranglers; Coders; and Testers. We're one of the largest female-majority open source projects in existence, and we're proud that in less than four years we've developed from nothing more than a cool idea to become a thriving site with more than 23,000 users.

    Last Ada Lovelace Day we polled AO3 volunteers to find out a bit more about them, and we thought we'd repeat the experiment this year. The charts below give a summary of their answers:

    Bar chart showing the gender identifications of AO3 volunteers: Female - 83%, Male - 12%,  Other -25%.

    Bar chart showing the capacities in which people have contributed to the project: A coder - 29%, A designer - 15%, A tester - 44%, A tag wrangler - 49%, A support team member - 20%, A docs member - 7%, A systems member - 15%, Other - 37%

    We're still very definitely a female-dominated project; however, we're interested to note that since last year the number of volunteers who identify as male has increased by 10%. We think this reflects the fact that we are focused on making a welcoming and supportive environment for people to gain new skills. As Skud pointed out in hir 2009 Oscon keynote, making a project welcoming for newbies is particularly beneficial to women — who are often excluded from traditional tech contexts — but that doesn't mean it becomes less welcoming to people who aren't women!

    Not all the contributors to the project are coders or sysadmins; the AO3 also relies on the work of testers, tag wranglers, support staff, designers, and docs writers. We value their contributions just as much: a tech project is about more than lines of code, and without them the AO3 wouldn't exist.

    A key part of our goal is giving fans (whatever their gender identity) the skills to build the tools they want to use. We were super-proud to see some of the fruits of this mission during the recent Delicious debacle, when fannish talk quickly turned to "We should build our own bookmarking service — if the AO3 could do it, so can we!" Our volunteers have achieved so much — they're all tech heroines (and heroes)!

    The AO3 team would like to give special thanks to one particular tech heroine — Sidra, Systems co-chair and primary guardian of the servers for the AO3. The Accessibility, Design, & Technology Committee have posted a separate post celebrating Sidra's awesome work.


    Another major technical undertaking for the OTW is Fanlore, our fannish history wiki. Since Fanlore is built on existing MediaWiki software rather than a custom-built application like the AO3, the tech aspects of this project are not as immediately obvious, but they are just as important. Our Wiki staff have learnt to maintain and use the MediaWiki software, creating custom templates, investigating new software modules, and getting to grips with wiki maintenance. They are awesomely assisted by our Systems team, who installed the software on our servers and keep everything running smoothly (we love you, Systems ♥).

    Fanlore is celebrating Ada Lovelace Day with a new challenge on Women Characters, Science Edition! Why not create a Fanlore article about your favorite female character who is a scientist, engineer, or mathematician? Tell us about your fannish experiences with these characters — the women themselves, the relationships they’re in (het, lesbian, canonical, fannish, etc.), the fanworks they star in — whatever you can think of! You can stub out a new page, or add a sprinkle of information on an existing page.


    If you've read this far, you've probably realized that Systems is involved in every OTW project. They tend the AO3 servers; install software for Fanlore, Transformative Works and Cultures, Open Doors, and the main OTW website, plus the software that helps us process donations and manage volunteers; and set up the mailing lists that help all the committees and volunteer groups do their daily work. The heroines and heroes of the Systems committee work largely behind the scenes to keep our technical infrastructure running smoothly, and the entire OTW benefits enormously from their dedication and expertise.


    The Webmasters are another committee whose work is spread among a wide variety of projects. They maintain the OTW's main website, the Open Doors site, and the Elections site, manage our donation processing software, serve as layout coders for Transformative Works and Cultures, design styles for the OTW's social media accounts, and manage media hosting for various internal projects. To date, the Webmasters have all been women, and have been largely self- or peer-taught in the technical skills they use.

    Some thoughts from our volunteers

    In a post that celebrates women doing it for themselves, it seems appropriate to close with some thoughts from our volunteers, as they reflect both on their own work and on that of other women they admire. We'll be adding links to individuals' blog posts at the end of this post throughout the day.

    It's exciting to work in teams that are overwhelmingly female. I really like the testing parties, as it's a little confusing and intimidating to try to work from written descriptions. I joined to support an organization I trust and approve of, and to get some practical tech experience. I just started volunteering a few weeks ago, so not much to say yet!

    Sometimes I have conversations about servers, code, etc and I realise that former!me wouldn't have understand ANY of it. I've only learnt enough to contribute a tiny amount of code, but I am able to be a fully functioning member of AD&T because I have absorbed enough to be able to take part in these conversations as a useful laywoman.

    I like finding interesting bugs and feel good whenever I find one before it hits Beta.

    I like that the archive tries to accommodate a variety of people and systems instead of saying: get browser x with y settings or we don't care about your problems.

    I love wrangling big fandoms with lots of problems and characters-shared-between-fandoms, it's a big undertaking but it's nice to see everything all neat once you're done!

    Since I come from a background of relatively no coding, it has been really exciting to submit my bug fixes and see my changes on the archive! The whole experience has been really rewarding!

    Since beginning my work with the Archive, I have improved my computing skills dramatically. I have learned a great deal about linux and switched to a more complex, text-based distro. I have gained an exceptional amount of skill and confidence with unix commands and bash. I now have an understanding of how the Archive is put together via Ruby on Rails, and that understanding deepens and develops with every issue I work on. This has been an amazing experience and I am excited to keep learning and growing as a coder!

    I've never been part of a mainly women-identified group before, and it's really been rewarding for me in so many different ways. I'm so proud to be part of the OTW!

    It combines two of my dearest hobbies: Coding and fandom. Both Open Source people and fandom people build great, communicative communities with lots of collaboration, and if you put those two together you get fun squared. :D It's really great to share more than the passion for coding with my fellow coders, so when I'm in a phase where I code less in favour of writing or squeeing over a new shiny fandom, it's never really off-topic, thus making it easier to keep in touch with coding stuff.

    [Something I'm proud of accomplishing.] Dragging a committee up from its bootstraps at the project's launch, in such a way that it perfectly well survived (and prospered after) my own burnout-related crash and burn.

    I really love it. I quit grad school in a blaze of disillusionment and have been unemployed and completely at sea in my life since, and it's been really heartening to have something I can contribute to in small ways, especially something that's part of fandom, which has been such a wonderful aspect of my life for so many years.

    It is one of the more nurturing and family-building projects/organizations I've seen.

    It's a delight to work on a project where people not only don't jump to assumptions about you, but where people are supportive even if you make the smallest contributions.

    ruby metaprogramming! redis! There is just nothing quite so fantastically satisfying as working with a smart and dedicated and passionate team on a project that we all actually use ourselves and value deeply as a result.

    I've really enjoyed being AD&T training lead, running sessions for new people to learn how to code from scratch, and mentoring them as they advance. It's so rewarding to see people gaining new skills, and particularly when you know they've previously been excluded from opportunities because of their gender or disability, e.g. by lack of part-time courses that can fit around childcare or flare-ups.

    I'm *so excited* to be part of the team that's creating the Archive that I love so much. I think fandom is amazing to have worked so hard together to create the Archive.

    Lucy P., AD&T, Communications, and Support staffer: Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

    Arrow, Systems co-chair: Ada Lovelace Day: my friend Sidra

    via_ostiense, Volunteers & Recruiting chair: Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

    Julia Beck, International Outreach chair: Ada Lovelace Day

  • In Practice: Vidding

    By .fcoppa on Pondělí, 26 September 2011 - 11:12 odpoledne
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    The new issue of Camera Obscura: a journal of Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies published by Duke University Press, features a special section on vidding consisting of essays written by various current and former OTW staffers Kristina Busse, Francesca Coppa, Alexis Lothian, and Rebecca Tushnet.

    The essays in the section include: (the link goes to the abstract; full text is not yet available on this site for nonsubscribers.)

    * Francesca Coppa, An Editing Room of One's Own: Vidding as Women's Work

    * Francesca Coppa and Rebecca Tushnet, How to Suppress Women's Remix

    * Kristina Busse and Alexis Lothian, Scholarly Critiques and Critiques of Scholarship: The Uses of Remix Video

  • Links Roundup for 17 March 2011

    By .allison morris on Čtvrtek, 17 March 2011 - 6:28 odpoledne
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    We're highlighting two recent news items that are of interest to fans — one encouraging, and one less so.

    • White House wants new copyright law crackdown
    • The White House has issued a white paper from the office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Victoria Espinel, proposing new digital intellectual property laws. Included in the proposals is making "illegal streaming" of audio or video a federal felony, paired with an expansion of wiretapping powers that would allow enforcement agencies to eavesdrop on private communications in order to investigate suspected copyright violations, something previously only allowed for serious crimes, such as suspected terrorism and use of weapons of mass destruction.

      The report also advocates for new U.S. law that would "clarify that infringement by streaming, or by means of other similar new technology, is a felony in appropriate circumstances," a broad directive, the future implications of which are difficult to predict. As CNet noted, "The term 'fair use' does not appear anywhere in the report."

      If you'd like to read the entire 20-page report, it can be viewed as a pdf here.

    • The Ada Initiative
    • The Ada Initiative, named for Ada Lovelace, considered the world's first computer programmer, is a new non-profit organization to encourage women’s participation in FOSS, the free culture movement, and related initiatives. OTW Board member Francesca Coppa has joined their advisory board.

      As one of its first actions, the Initiative is conducting the Ada Initiative Census of women in open technology and culture. OTW members and supporters include a high ratio of women who are participants in open communities and are actively working to build those communities — including administrators of fannish wikis, OTW volunteers in all our projects, Dreamwidth developers, unconference organizers, and others. If you think this might be you, we encourage taking a moment to fill out the census to help guide the Initiative's work.

    We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, event, or link you think we should know about you can submit it in three easy ways: comment on the most recent Link Roundup on transformativeworks.org, LJ, or DW, tag a link with "for:otw_news" on Delicious or give @OTW_News a shoutout on Twitter. Links are welcome in all languages!

    Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

  • Happy Ada Lovelace Day from Accessibility, Design and Technology

    By .Lucy Pearson on Středa, 24 March 2010 - 4:19 odpoledne
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    Accessibility, Design and Technology would like to wish you a happy Ada Lovelace Day!

    As the committee responsible for designing and building the Archive of Our Own, one of the largest female majority open source projects on the web, we're thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate women in technology.

    The first code for the Archive of Our Own was committed in January 2008. Some stats for the lifetime of the project:

    • 73669 lines of code
    • 30 different people committing code
    • 2238 code commits
    • 276 people involved with the Archive in some capacity (as coders, testers, tag wranglers, or support team members) - not all of these people are active at the same time, but we think this is still pretty impressive!

    We polled our volunteers to find out a little more about them before Ada Lovelace Day, and the charts below give a picture of some of their responses:

    Bar chart showing gender distribution among contribtors to the Archive of Our Own

    Bar chart showing the range of roles undertaken by volunteers for the Archive of Our Own

    Approximately 97% of the people contributing code to the project and 93% of all Archive volunteers identify as female - this is a dramatic difference to the majority of open source projects on the web, and we think it's well-worth celebrating! Our sense of achievement doesn't arise from the fact that we're a female-dominated organisation, however, but from the fact that we've been able to share skills and enable people to become involved in things which they might otherwise have been excluded from.

    Twenty-nine percent of our volunteers describe themselves as having no experience of working on technology projects before they joined us, and forty-eight percent say they only had a small amount of experience. Among our coders, a third had NO knowledge of coding before they joined, and very few people had worked extensively in Ruby on Rails, the core framework on which the Archive is built. Contributors to the project have learnt Ruby on Rails, CSS, systems administration, documentation skills, project management, quality assurance, information management skills, and much, much more. We've been able to develop a strong female-majority team because of a culture of encouraging the new and inexperienced - this benefits women, who are less likely to have experience of working on technology projects, but we hope that it also makes our project a more welcoming one for everyone.

    One of the most exciting things about seeing this project from the inside is the fact that it is truly collaborative. The work of our 30 code committers takes place in the context of a massive amount of other work: designs are worked out collaboratively, documentations people help us keep track of all the things we're working on, testers ensure that the code does what it's supposed to, tag wranglers organise the content on the Archive, and the support team work incredibly hard to make sure our users have a great experience. Whereas in some open-source projects, the work of non-coders is seen as less important, we enjoy an atmosphere of shared endeavour in which everybody's contribution is celebrated. By working closely together, we also enjoy lots of cross-pollination, and we've seen many people move from testing to coding, or coding to support, developing new skills in the process. About 41% of volunteers on the project serve in more than one role - we believe that by providing space for people who want to specialise while allowing those who like diversity to branch out, the whole project is enriched.

    We're proud of our enthusiastic, skillful, supportive team of volunteers, of all genders, and we believe that Ada Lovelace is a great time to celebrate a culture which welcomes everyone. In that spirit of inclusiveness, we'd like to close this post with some comments from the people from our teams:

    The sense of community, inclusive of the most occasional tester and casual reader to the most dedicated coder and systems-person, is just so wonderful.

    [One thing I'm excited about learning:] Learning how to test in general & regression testing in specific, and learning how to use the issues tracker for google code. It's fun! Testing has a great mentor, Eylul, it's easy to pick up and learn, and it's really satisfying when you see a fix for a bug you've discovered or tested make its way onto the archive.

    [One thing I'm excited about learning:] Acquiring new skills (which I'm still doing): Ruby on Rails. It gives me great satisfaction, especially as I am out of work.

    The development of the Archive of our Own is just a phenomenal thing to see. This big undergoing with every deploy, how everyone comes together to get this new release on its way. How many people with different jobs it takes to build this software and how people step up and pitch in and help out, regardless of if it is in their "job description", is really inspiring to me.

    I really love that we're all working as a team (even people I don't see or know as they're on different parts of the project) to create something that's being used by thousands of people. It adds to a part of my life that until now, I've only really been an observer in, not a participant.

    I'm really excited that I managed to leap in and work with a bunch of people I'd never met before, and am having a great time doing it. And I've learnt how to use a lot of tools, like google code [coders' bug management system], campfire [the OTW's chatroom] and 16bugs [AO3 Support's bug management system] that I'd never even heard of before.

    Okay, and one more thing -- even though my part in the whole is tiny, I feel a great sense of accomplishment every time an update is deployed to the archive. I'm continually delighted by the fact that there can be so very many fingers in the pie, and it still ends up being a *pie* (that's tasty and delicious!)

    We're happy to be sharing our pie with fandom at large! Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

    This post is mirrored from an original post on the Archive of Our Own, where you can comment with or without an Archive account.


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