What I’m working on
I emerged from WisCon last weekend invigorated and inspired (and, okay, a bit sleep deprived). I have a whole lot of new things I want to work on, in addition to all the things I’m already doing, and I thought I might just take the time to write down what my current projects are, since I realised that even I don’t have a clear idea of them all, let alone making them clear to other people.
- Growstuff – founder and tech lead on this open source/open data project for people who grow their own food.
- Working on a combination of features and developer experience (i.e. making it nicer/easier for developers to contribute)
- We have/had a side-project app, Pear, for arranging pair programming sessions across different timezones, but it wasn’t entirely working out for us, so I’m not sure what its future is; still, I think it was a good concept and I’m hoping we can find the time/inspiration to make it more useful.
- By the way, Growstuff is having a hack night in San Francisco on the 18th of June.
- 3000 Acres – tech lead for this non-profit which is helping people in Melbourne start community gardens on vacant land
- I’ve mostly been working on features but now I’m shifting my efforts more toward…
- … nurturing our nascent volunteer tech community, documenting our code and processes, etc, so that the project can be maintained beyond the initial government grant funding.
- Soon, I hope this platform will be rolling out to other Australian cities and that I can be involved with that.
- I do some tech work for Appropedia, a wiki of sustainable solutions to the world’s problems. It’s Semantic Mediawiki and my work is a mix of sysadmin, wiki admin, and semantic ontology stuff.
- I just volunteered to help WisCon with their open source app for managing conventions; WisCon’s programming is democratic and mostly panel-based, and their code is used by at least one other SFF convention, but if improved could be used by more cons and attract more developers. I’m particularly interested in developer experience (DX), best practices for open source projects, and making it easier for people to contribute. Not sure where this will lead but I have a lot of ideas buzzing, and I’m looking forward to talking more with them about it.
- As an offshoot of working on various non-profit tech projects, I wrote I want to help!, a set of questionaires to help techies talk to non-profits or other such orgs about their tech needs, rather than just swanning in with an “I know what you need!” attitude (something I struggle with myself).
- I founded and am still actively involved in the Geek Feminism wiki and blog, although I have stepped down from some of my administrative duties there (and I’m really glad we are finding more sustainable/higher-bus-number ways of admining those resources/communities!).
- One resource I’m working on at present (we started the draft at WisCon) is a document of resources for therapists, aka a FAQ/101 document on misogyny in tech/geek circles that you can give to your therapist to bring them up to speed, because we’re all sick of explaining this stuff over and over again. We also hope to make a list of tech-misogyny-aware therapists so that those of us facing harassment/etc can find support without having to do a heap of education first.
- I am co-organising a gathering of Australian feminists (especially those within a degree or two of separation from Geek Feminism) to be held later this year. I’m hoping this weekend-long event will be an incubator for more geeky feminist stuff in Australia.
- I co-founded a women’s tech meetup group in Melbourne called the Disreputable Order of Hopperites. It’s on hiatus as all the organisers moved away, but I don’t consider it dead and am wondering how/whether to revive it, either locally or as a concept that can be spread to other geographical areas. I really loved the format (women + guests, short talks on technical subjects, grassroots/non-commercial, and aimed at a variety of skill levels) and wish there were more of that around.
- In collaboration with a handful of artists and beta-readers, I’m working on a zine about genderqueer/non-binary genders/etc, probably about 40 pages long, full of 101-level information and resources for people who are exploring non-binary gender or for their friends/family/associates/allies to understand them better.
- I am also working on a zine about sandwiches, which is actually a stealth manifesto about home cooking. It’s aimed at people who are daunted and frustrated by trying to learn to cook and by “easy”/”beginner” cookbooks that assume too much. Making sandwiches is pretty un-daunting, though, and you can learn an awful lot by doing it, if you just realise that even things as basic as going to the supermarket, estimating quantities, choosing flavours you enjoy, and knowing what’s in your fridge/pantry are skills that you can learn and improve.
- I run a monthly craft night at my house. This is my first step in trying to open my home up to a variety of community activities/gatherings. I have the space for it and love hosting, so I want more of this. (I also host ad-hoc food preservation days, and hope to do more of that.)
- I’m preparing two talks for Open Source Bridge this year:
- a history of Geek Feminism and lessons learned so far; as part of this I have been preparing the Geek Feminism Family Tree documenting which geeky/feminist/women-in-blah orgs influenced which others, and so on.
- “knitting for programmers” — teaching design patterns in knitting so that if you know the basic stitches, you can knit any garment
- I co-created and maintain Written? Kitten!, a writing productivity tool used by about 30,000 writers every month (and more around november during NaNoWriMo). You write 100 words, you get rewarded by a cute fuzzy kitten (or puppy or bunny or whatever). Surprisingly, and yet unsurprisingly, popular!
- A few months ago, I taught at the first iteration of the Fitzroy Institute of Getting Shit Done, a bootcamp style event for people who want to learn how to, well, do what it says on the tin. I was their “technology expert” (I feel funny saying that, but probably shouldn’t) and taught a mostly non-technical class about how to communicate about technical ideas, choose tech platforms/products, manage tech projects, and spread their ideas through openness (licensing, APIs, etc). I really want to teach this, or something like it, again — especially to social enterprises, non-profits, and others doing Good Things.
I think that’s most of what I’ve been up to this year. No wonder I feel busy.
Many/most of these projects are open/community-based and welcome volunteers — if you’re interested, drop me a line.
Or, you can help support my work through Gittip. I find it hard to ask for money this way, but your support really does make a difference to my ability to do non-commercial/open/community-based stuff, so if you value my work please consider tossing a few bucks my way.