Category Archives: Work

How to do more writing, by someone who has never made any such resolution

Jonathan Lange asked on Google+ for ideas about keeping a “write more” resolution. I took over his comment section, and in the spirit of taking some of my own advice, here’s a synthesis of what I said there. Since not writing as much as I feel I ought is never a problem I’ve had, this advice is in the delightful genre of someone who has never needed the advice simply making some up and giving it to you anyway! Enjoy my half-baked ideas.

Re-use your writing. A lot of people I know spend an enormous amount of time on crafting lengthy, tightly argued emails. These count, and you can make them feel like they count by editing them for a sufficiently general audience and publishing them on your blog. This is one I actually do do: several of my Geek Feminism pieces originated in annoyed private emails I sent to close friends, or in IRC rants.

Accountability and incentives. This is like all of the “how to exercise more” advice: make it public, make it social. Make a public commitment, make a shared commitment with a fellow writer. Have a competition, one-sided or not (“I will write more blog entries than N will this year”?). Deadlines and someone who will be personally disappointed in you can be an excellent motivator (as long as it doesn’t tip you over into an avoidance cycle), and for writing there’s a whole profession which involves, in part, holding people to deadlines and being disappointed if they fail to meet them: so, find an editor.

Unfortunately, in order to get an editor one generally needs to pitch (leaving aside the whole question of finding an agent, especially when it comes to fiction), which means writing, so you will have to be motivated to do some writing before you can partially outsource your motivation to editors and deadlines.

Becoming a freelancer seems like a big effort in order to fulfil a personal goal to “write more”, but part of the attraction is that you can pitch to places that have a ready-made audience, which means that you have outsourced any implicit “write more in places people will read it and find it useful” goal; you don’t need to put an equal or greater amount of work into building an audience for your writing.

Specific goals. This assists with accountability. What does writing more mean? A certain wordcount? A certain number of blog entries? A certain number of pitches sent out? A certain number of pitches converted to published articles? All of these are more artificial but easier to keep accounts of than “write more”.

Spend money. Enrol in a course or similar. This adds deadlines too, typically.

So yeah, that happened (Wikimania 2012, Washington DC)

On Friday, I was announced as the keynote speaker for Wikimania in Washington DC in July.

Ada Initiative:

We’re proud to announce that Ada Initiative co-founder Mary Gardiner has been chosen to give the opening keynote at Wikimania 2012! Wikimania is the world’s top conference for Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects, held this year from July 12 – 15 in Washington, D.C. “Mary has been a strong advocate for open source and has worked extensively to elevate the role of women and increase their participation in open source and open culture,” says James Hare, Wikimania 2012 coordinator.

I basked in my glory for all of about two hours before coming down with some horrible illness my toddler picked up at daycare. Talk about crashing to earth.

Anyway, so, I am Wikimania’s keynote! My plan, loosely, is this:

  1. arrive DC on July 8 or 9
  2. AdaCamp DC on July 10 and 11
  3. Wikimania on July 12–14
  4. (possibly/probably) San Francsico on July 15 onwards, probably departing on the 18th or 19th (due to the dateline, add 2 days for my Sydney arrival)

Since I am unlikely to bring my son, I’m trying to limit my time away and am unlikely to add another city. If I do, it will probably be Montreal (where my sister-in-law lives).

If we know each other and you want to get in touch about meeting up in the States, email me at the usual places. If you’re a journalist wanting to talk to me, email me via the Ada Initiative press@adainitiative.org.

Signal boost: the Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign

Clearly I wouldn’t be here without a good reason. Here’s the reason: the Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign!

Lovelace and Babbage: They Fight Crime

Limited edition Lovelace and Babbage print, donor reward

At the Ada Initiative, we have a vision: A world in which women are equal and welcome participants in open technology, open data, and open culture. We want women writing free software, women editing Wikipedia, women creating the Internet and women shaping the future of global society. Here’s what we are doing to make that happen.

We need your help to make that vision a reality. Join the Seed 100 funding round for the Ada Initiative today! Seed money raised through this drive will go to pay for vital but unglamorous work necessary to raise larger long-term funding. Seed money from funders like you is crucial to the success of the Ada Initiative.

The Seed 100 funding round is a high-prestige, limited availability funding round. As such, it is limited to 100 donors total, of $512 [USD] or more, between June 1st and June 30th, 2011. This is a unique opportunity to show your personal support for women in open technology and culture, at a time when a personal donation will have the most effect.

Frankly the Sydney Padua print that is a reward for the first 25 donors of $1024 [USD] and over makes me want to donate, which would be counter-productive financially. But… love it. Thanks Sydney.

We’ve been poking away at this for ages, considering various options to get startup funding for the heavy-hitting project proposals we need for larger corporate donors and program partners (basically, business plans). Small donations, big donations, lots of donations, few donations. I think what we’ve come up with is a lot of fun. As of the time of writing we already have six donors at the Analytical Engineer level (so, 19 Sydney prints to go) and three at the Difference Engineer level, about nine hours after opening. Sweet!

So far the donation rate is exceeding our expectations, so, if you’re interested in our work, donate now or help spread the word.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture

Failure to blog: situation normal

Hello long neglected blog. I am actually not going to say I feel bad about not writing, because here’s what I’ve been doing with my time:

  1. working on my PhD
  2. working on getting the Ada Initiative underway
  3. working on a PHP programming contract
  4. working on the Linux Australia Council
  5. household stuff, like snuggling my boy!

I’ll be back more once a few of those things disappear from my life.

The Ada Initiative launches

Last night (midnight Sydney time!!) Valerie Aurora and I announced the Ada Initiative, a new non-profit organization promoting the participation of women in open technology and culture.

Per our announcement:

The Ada Initiative is focused on helping women get careers in open technology through recruitment and training programs for women, education for community members who want to help women, and working with corporations and projects to improve their outreach to women.

Hooray!

You can find out more at the Ada Initiative, and follow us in a multitude of venues: RSS, email announcements, Twitter and Facebook.

linux.conf.au 2011: Day 1

Slow first day for me. I had a stressful Sunday getting a toddler to the airport on my own and Andrew has just flown in from the US.

We weren’t very impressed with our hotel, iStay River City. For starters, it has extremely limited keys. Many, but not all, rooms have two keys, which would be hard enough with four adults per room, but one of the keys for our room is missing, which means one key (and suggests that somewhere out there a former guest still has a working key to our room). The hotel reception wasn’t even sympathetic. People steal our keys all the time! What else are we to do?!

There’s no way to leave a key with reception and get yourself back into the room unless you have a second key to the room. There are buzzers for the rooms, but the reception smilingly conceded that it does only get guests into the lobby. You have to go down the lift yourself to get them up to the room. (Interestingly, this has meant with a lot of confusion from other LCA attendees. “How hard is it to make a new keycard?” Bad assumption. They are using keys, as in, those chunks of metal with notches in them.)

There’s also several things broken in our apartment: a couple of lights, the phone, the bathroom fan.

Anyway, after a restless night, LCA! I mostly spent time at the Haecksen miniconf, although partly working on my laptop in an introversion bubble. I wasn’t really ready, after the travel and the settling in, to sit down and listen to talks well. Some talks I did catch in whole or in part:

  • Pia Waugh Applying martial arts to the workplace: your guide to kicking arse
  • Brianna Laugher An Approach to Automatic Text Generation
  • Andrew Gerrand Practical Go Programming
  • Noirin Shirley Open Source: Saving the World
  • Donna Benjamin We are here. We have always been here
  • Valerie Aurora and Donna Benjamin Training Allies (workshop)

I didn’t really fully follow any of them, except for Training Allies, which is of professional interest to me now. (More on that later, I guess.)

Reverb 10: One Word, Writing, Moment

One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

“Vincent”, of course.

Vincent’s birth was interestingly timed in terms of the way I divide my life; slightly more than ten years after my relationship with Andrew started. So, 2000–2009 were relationship years, and very early in 2010 I had Vincent.

I thought about “mother” as well, but it seems too general to say that. Perhaps the word of 2010–2019 might be “mother”, but this year has been specifically about Vincent. 2009 was generalities about parenting and babies: what was it like, were we ready, would we make it? And this year has been more about answers. The answers are Vincent.

Next year’s word, I hope, will be “Doctorate”.

Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

You know, I think right now, each day, I do exactly as much writing as I want to be doing.

What I need to be doing is more sitting around in the evenings in pyjamas snarking at the television with Andrew. What’s stopping me doing that? Earning money. Can I eliminate earning money? No. I need to finish my PhD though and move earning money to daylight hours.

Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

The hospital where I had Vincent discouraged fathers from staying all night, unless the baby had been born very late. Vincent was born at about 4pm, and after I had been stabilised and finally transferred to the ward with Vincent, Andrew went home at 11pm or midnight.

Vincent had had several good breastfeeds in the delivery room, but newborn babies sometimes do not feed much for the first 12 hours or so after birth. And indeed, in the ward he initially didn’t feed much. I lay half-dozing in my hospital bed, bathed in the light of a green LED attached to my otherwise dark television set. Vincent slept, wrapped up tight, in a plastic cot to my left within arm’s reach. I smelled sweat, mostly, and looked at him.

Every few hours he would call softly, like a peep or a mew and I would pick him up and put him to the breast, which he would sort of explore for a moment and then go peacefully back to sleep. At some points, I left him to sleep on my tummy.