Archive for the ‘Corporate Rule’ Category

Looking for geeks at Wired Woman

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

I forgot to write about Wired Woman. This is a social networking group for women working in various aspects of technology; there are two chapters – one in Toronto and one here in Van. They had their “summer splash” event at Subeez last week and I signed up. So far, my research into free software/open source development, as well as tech activism, has found a largely male dominated arena. Although this has been explicitly identified as problematic within Indymedia (the techs have all the power b/c they have the code, Sherri Herndon, co-founder of Seattle IMC, once told me), no formal critique has been forwarded (that I’ve seen, anyhow). I thought a look at the local scene might be a helpful, and interesting, counterpart to my feminist readings on technology (for example, today’s reading, Judy Wajcman’s Feminism Confronts Technology)

I wasn’t certain what to expect – I’m not a professional and I’m not used to hobnobbing, eating canapés and passing about my business card (possibly because I don’t have one). On the Facebook group, a number of men well known in the local tech scene had rsvp’d so I wasn’t sure how woman-focused this would be. A friend told me about a similar event in Montreal, and about half of the people who showed up were dudes; apparently it was a topic of discussion at the event itself.

But there were hardly any guys – except this totally cheesy politician, BC’s Minister of Small Business and Revenue, who was all red in the face and smarmy. He presented Wired Woman w/one of those oversized cheques – for 10K. Not too shabby. I was at the back of the group during the speechifying with another friend, who wondered aloud if we were allowed to heckle. While the politician was blathering on about how he and Premier Campbell were such supporters of women in technology, how important this was, we were snickering, wondering if their “support” extended into the realm of daycare and mental health care access for women. A bit more fundamental to women’s day-to-day existence, I’d venture.

Anyway, while I did appreciate the spread (including wine bar), I didn’t meet too many women actually working in the tech sector. There was a life coach, a real estate developer and some sort of recruiter. But very few (of those I met) were programmers or IT peeps or what-have-you. But I bought a membership and I’ll check out their next event. It was fun, and I am, typically, a glass-half-full kind of person. Hope springs eternal etc. etc. And of course, there were the usual antics concerning Air, KA and a parking metre.

Calling all radical bloggers

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

My friend, Steve Anderson, a cool cat and fellow grad, is helping organize Media Democracy Day in Vancouver this year. One of his ideas is to set up a table where local bloggers could provide a description of their blog and maybe flyers promoting their community and work.

This year the Media Democracy Day event will coincide with the Union for Democratic Communication conference, titled “Enclosure, Emancipatory Communication and the Global City”. Featured speakers include Dan Schiller, Nick Dyer-Witheford (may I recommend his excellent book, Cyber-Marx?), Dorothy Kidd, Mike Davis and Dee Dee Halleck. Of course, you will likely want to attend my panel, “Communicative practice online: The quest for “technical democracy”, where I will present (casestudy: Rococo) along with Steve, Roy Bendor and my would-be collaborator Michael Felczak.

You have to register for the conference, but the MDD event is free. Contact Steve at for more info, to get involved or to help develop the radical bloggers idea. Or you can sign up to the list.

As Steve says, keep moving.

Who killed the electric car?

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

I watched the most amazing documentary this weekend – Who Killed the Electric Car? I wanted something light (lite, really); something along the lines of You, Me and Dupree (which I admit with the appropriate amount of shame). It was the end of a long day, full on kids, you understand. When My Friend returned with what I imagined to be the driest possible thing to ever be put on dvd, I was not thrilled. But at this point my options were severely limited – nothing on but CSI reruns till SNL, and I’d be sleeping by then.

Anyway. Who Killed the Electric Car? is one of the most amazing films. It’s not your typical “eco-crazy’s” conspiracy theory. It actually happened. It reminds me of all those dystopian visions of the future, you know, where everything is Taco Bell. Fucking scary. People who believe that “those in power” are benevolent, benign, just doing their jobs are not just painfully naive; they are dangerous. Ignorance is not bliss; it is the path to ruination. You absolutely must see this movie.

On another note, throughout the entire film, I thought, wow, this would make an amazing SCOT case study. All the relevant social groups were discussed (fine, “actants”, if you must be Latourian about it) and their interests in electric car technology (mainly the battery, but also supporting infrastructure) revealed. By tracing these groups throughout the short life of the electric car, it became clear how this new technology came into existence, and was then “disappeared” just a few years later. The powerful economic interests that hovered unseen just below the surface are exposed in this doc in the most chilling way – its not just the automakers, or their partner, the State, or even Big Oil (is there any other kind?). It’s literally a world economy based on the delicate interleaving of practice (car driving), technology (combustion engine), fuel (oil) and infrastructure (roads, gas stations), all of which creates the facade of a self-generated, sellf-sustaining culture. And you can’t fuck with the economy. Apparently.