Misogyny, Maya Angelou, and Words

A lot has happened since last week.  As a heads up, the first portion of this post is about misogyny and the UCSB shootings last weekend. If you’d rather not read about it, skip below the comic!

Last weekend, a man murdered 6 people and injured 13 more. Misogyny is largely being credited (not much in mainstream media, however) as the primary driver behind his violence. The killer left behind several youtube videos and more than a hundred pages of a violent manifesto. His parents had reached out to his therapist, and the police met with him, but nothing came of the meeting. Part of this is because they based their judgment of him on their face-to-face interaction, rather than on his digital droppings of his thoughts and opinions, perhaps a misprioritization in our current world.

As I’ve written before, there is a real risk in defining people based solely on what they post on social media. But when so much of someone’s thoughts and feelings are revealed online, their narrative becomes more transparent. This man’s narrative was one of violent, extremist misogyny.

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Algorithms, Confidence, and Infrastructure

Every so often the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words. It adds them to its online dictionary with far more frequency than its physical tome, given that a physical dictionary is quite a bit more difficult to update. It released a list of new words yesterday, and while a few are new words entirely (bikeable) others are new definitions of familiar words. The “tumblr definition” of ship is recognized (and boy is the tumblr community excited about it) and a definition of thing that accounts for the phrase “is that a thing?”

a list of web domains that begin with the word important, including their IP addresses

Daniel Temkin put together an Internet Directory with a scrolling and searchable list of all registered domains with a top level domain name ending in .com

Ted Striphas was interviewed about the effects of algorithms (such as the ones that define the order of google search results, or what shows up in your facebook newsfeed) on culture. As he puts it, “The issue may come down to how comfortable people are with these systems drilling down into our daily lives, and even becoming extensions of our bodies.”

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My Photo Here

In the spirit of @weboesel and being true to my whole identity, I am adding a picture to my blog and my twitter account.

I’ve had a neutral (non-person) picture on both services since I joined. I relish the implicit neutrality that this sort of picture offers me, but I’m choosing to assert the whole of my identity across the services I inhabit.

A neutral picture lends an element of gender-neutrality to the twitter timeline, as there is no face with which to implicitly associate with stereotypes. I feel that without an identifying photo, I am more able to remove associations of my gender from interpretations of my work, although my name is prominent on these services. Perhaps I am merely being overly guarded against potential sexism. There are many other reasons for not using a personal photo online, but this was mine for these sites.

I made the decision to use my own photo, however, because I want to own my full identity. I don’t want to hide my woman-ness (as a proud feminist) for fear of not-yet-existent sexism on these services. That is just another form of self-censorship, in my case. In addition to owning my identity (and letting my true self “shine” in the words of a friend), a photo allows me to more capably link my public identity across services. I will maintain pseudonymity through usernames on other services, but on the services which I identify myself with my full name, I will include a photo. This also allows, in the spirit of Keybase.io, a further layer of identity vetting and verification.

Here’s hoping for the best.