kallistixf: A golden apple with Kallisti written on it in Greek (Default)
Raphael from Diaspora stepped in after the incident I discussed yesterday in What a maroon. Well done. Color me impressed.

We exchanged some email afterwards, and he invited me to please stick around. Guess I will :-)
kallistixf: A golden apple with Kallisti written on it in Greek (Default)
Over the summer I was debating about whether to get involved in the Diaspora project ... I mean, we really need a privacy-friendly Facebook alternative, and without any disrespect to Appleseed and OneSocialWeb, it seems to me that because of their visibility and a great name, Diaspora currently has the best chance to get to critical mass.

My initial reaction was a big red flag from a diversity perspective: the "Diaspora 4" are all white guys from the same school. Then again they're hanging out at Pivotal Labs in San Francisco -- home of Sarah Mei, who's done such great work getting women involved in the San Francisco Ruby community -- so I decided not to rush to any conclusions.

When Diaspora's first release revealed a lack of security thinking, I realized this was a place I could potentially help. I sent some initial ideas to their developer mailing list ... and Sarah replied in great detail with some very helpful feedback. Then there was a real stroke of luck: I happened to send the next draft to a friend at the exact time that she ran into one of the Diaspora guys in a bar in SF. Not sure of the details, but my friend wound up volunteering to help Diaspora with threat modeling. How cool is that? This afternoon I'm giving a talk to several hundred people and will similarly be encouraging them to get involved.

Of course security isn't the only thing I'm interested in. So when I saw cvharquail's outstanding If Women Had Designed Facebook I sent it to the Diaspora discussion list to see how people would react. The discussion was somewhat narrow, not really addressing the bigger picture, but there were some decent replies weighing the pros and cons of customizing profiles and how best to go about it.

And then a couple days ago somebody weighed in with this:
I'm surprised that all of you missed the glaring, well-known public
fact of Mark Zuckerberg being red-green colorblind (an X-linked trait),
so the blue theme was the only one he could actually see rendered
the way unaffected viewers see it. Period.

The arrogant feminist crank "scholar" who wrote the original article
that spawned this thread, of course, couldn't be bothered to see
past her own delusional fantasies about the way the world works.

What a maroon.
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kallistixf: A golden apple with Kallisti written on it in Greek (Default)
Last month at the Women Who Tech Telesummit afterparty in San Francisco I was talking to [personal profile] damned_colonial about how it's a little intimidating to show up at a new social network site like Dreamwidth which is so different from other sites I've hung out on. Back a few years ago I spent most of my time on discussion-oriented sites like tribe.net, Seducersworld, and free-association ... now it's mostly Twitter and Facebook. A journal-oriented site is new to me.

Unsurprisingly she was very helpful and gave me a bunch of tips to get started. One of the things I particularly remember her saying was along the lines of "So, if you were going to write about this, it might go something like 'I was at a party last night,' and describe it a little, and then mention some of the people you met here and what you talked about, then maybe that made you think about something else, and you kind of go from there." She said it better of course but in any case it sounded like good advice to me. So here goes ...

I was at a party last night. Well, actually it was a networking event for the "Blue Hat" conference which is happening on the Microsoft campus this week. So there were a bunch of security researchers from all over, and a lot of guys who work on security at Microsoft and its competitors.

And yes I use the term "a lot of guys" advisedly. It was probably 95% male. Y'know there are a lot of things I miss about doing computer security for a living, but this is not one of them. Sigh.

Fortunately there were a few women there, including friends of mine from my Microsoft days like my research partner Sarah and her colleagues Dana, Celene (who I once tried to hire), Ellen (as usual we also talked about Burning Man) and of course Window, who's now at Apple. At one point a bunch of us were hanging out near the door and there was this tiny bubble of an area with a 50-50 gender ratio ... but then everybody went their separate ways and started shmoozing, then got dispersed in the crowd.

Of course I had some great discussions with guys too, and the three topics that came up the most were static analysis, Facebook, and Diaspora. "Static analysis" is this ultra-specialized field of automatically analyzing a program's code without running it (hence "static") and finding bugs, and it was my entire professional life for almost a decade. So it's really fun to touch base and hear about how much progress has been made since then -- and also about the areas like the user experience where there hasn't been any significant progress. However static analysis is also incredibly boring to the 99.999% of the world who care about value flow graphs and sat solvers so I won't talk about it any more here.

Facebook and Diaspora, though, are hopefully of more general interest.
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