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.

Identity, amplification, and ownership on the Internet

Here’s what was important this week…

Facebook now allows you to choose a “custom” gender option and fill in your own gender on your profile–to a point. Rather than being a free-text field, Facebook instead offers options which autocomplete. Slate went through the effort of tabulating all 58 of them. Facebook is likely avoiding a free-text field because it wants to avoid trolling, but more likely they want to maintain the purity of their data about users.

One issue with Facebook (and in my opinion, this could be extended to many other social networks) is that it requires code switching. Code switching, typically associated with race and ethnicity, is even featured in an NPR blog devoted to the topic, which is introduced with this article. As the first essay mentioned, “Facebook’s design—really, the design of public and semi-private virtual interaction spaces on the web—is starting to feel like it’s reached its past-due date.” While I think there is a future for social media, the act and necessity of code switching is a tiring one.

As more media show up, we’re finding different ways to interact on each one and access different groups through our social media channels–ideally, we’d only need to code switch if we app switched. Personally, I’ve found my Facebook interactions have transformed since I started using the service–I primarily interact with a few specific friends on their walls/timelines, engage more broadly with a few Facebook groups, and the content that I share most broadly (primarily links) still excludes some friends.

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Design, Destruction, and Reading

Here’s what was important this week…

As the web and technology become ever more ingrained in our day to day lives, the role of designers becomes more apparent. Designers have been around since things began to be created, and according to one man, they’ve destroyed the world.

It’s a bold statement. But designers (architects, if you’re a designer of buildings and structures) have designed prisons, and even the solitary housing units (SHUs) that unconstitutionally detain inmates.

Mike Monteiro wants to change that. In his 45 minute long talk (it’s worth it, though I admit my attention was wavering at the 40 minute mark), he passionately declares that it is the responsibility of all designers to be gatekeepers for bad, and outright harmful, design. And he has a point. If something isn’t designed, it can’t be built (or at least, not very well). He calls on designers to recognize the power that they have, even if they don’t realize it.

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What would I say?

made an effort to the most obnoxious article

What would I say? Something you think when posting on social media sites, when offering up your opinion about something in the news, and now, the name of an app that emerged from HackPrinceton just a few days ago.

So popular the server intermittently goes down, forcing you to access a cached copy of the site or not be able to post automatically to facebook (instead screenshotting the page to share), it was created by Pawel, Vicky, Ugne, Daniel, Harvey, Edward, Alex, and Baxter. However, they didn’t win anything there (per HackPrinceton’s Facebook event).  But now their creation has gone viral. Their creation has been profiled on the Huffington Post, with an article titled, “Your Facebook Statuses are Gibberish. Here’s Proof.“, as well as Slate and BusinessInsider. Even the New Yorker has profiled the app (revealing that Baxter, is in fact, a dog).

But what is so appealing about this app? Friends and I have already used the app, and we’ve all been delighted to discover something that nonsensically “understands” us, by spitting our own words back at us. Others have had the same reaction, posting about it with #wwis or #whatwouldisay, noting how the robot just “gets” them.

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