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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