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Pretty Good Hat

Posts I Did Not Write After All

A good desk-clearing is in order, as is evident by the volume of drafts I have begun to accumulate. Here in no particular order is a partial inventory of unfinished thoughts, notes and un-realized blog fodder. Free ideas all around.

There was one about going on vacation with my entire digital world so one can stay up to date with RSS feeds, Twitter and the Facebook while sitting in the reeds next to the river. My road trip media entourage includes an iPad loaded with media and games to help a four-year-old get through a ten-hour road trip, the trusty MacBook Pro (here primarily as a photo download location, since I take lots of photos while on any trip); and the adult iPad1 loaded with music, comics, books ambitiously scheduled to read, and games to play. As it turned out, with all this digitalia at hand, I spent a lot of time biking up a mountain and later sitting in the shade reading an honest-to-god book.2 I know.

A lot of talk in my media sphere lately is about women in tech, specifically gaming but as part of a broad current that has widened over the past few years as women respond to sexism at conferences, in hiring, and in every day interactions. Being a fallen academic, I naturally want to point some of this conversation to classic work like Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s Men and Women of the Corporation and the large body of writing on gendering in the professions (medical sociology, which I taught for a while, has a lot of this). The people responding to well-written and heartful posts about fear, sexism and misogyny with “everybody knows women don’t want to work in tech/choose to have babies/aren’t good at it anyway/asked for it” won’t care, but these bodies of work might help situate the authors' experiences in a trajectory. While the tech industry didn’t invent this experience, it does seem to have polished it to a pretty fine sheen.

David Carr wrote recently on the overwhelming feast of prestige television

The growing intellectual currency of television has altered the cultural conversation in fundamental ways. Water cooler chatter is now a high-minded pursuit, not just a way to pass the time at work. The three-camera sitcom with a laugh track has been replaced by television shows that are much more like books — intricate narratives full of text, subtext and clues.

On the sidelines of the children’s soccer game, or at dinner with friends, you can set your watch on how long it takes before everyone finds a show in common. In the short span of five years, table talk has shifted, at least among the people I socialize with, from books and movies to television. The idiot box gained heft and intellectual credibility to the point where you seem dumb if you are not watching it.

About the same time, an episode of Pop Culture Happy Hour focused on nerds and nudity, with discussion of “nerds” becoming more acceptable as “enthusiasts” through sharing the things they (we) love.

There is a lot that is complementary about these two pieces, in the rising cultural currency of pursuits that have been marginalized and/or lowbrow. Pop Culture Happy Hour in particular is in position to bridge these realms (and continues to be one of the podcasts that I really look forward to). The cynical take on this is that it’s all marketing, that the kids who grew up on comics and video games can now buy them for themselves. But the one I prefer is that the kids whose interests were marginal — or marginalizing — are now in positions to make exactly the things that they love, and are able to share those things widely and sometimes (hey, because of that culture industry) even make money at it. Good for them [us]!

Should you find yourself migrating to a new MacBook, as I did recently (happily, not due to disaster or failure), don’t forget to copy over your private SSH keys. What am I doing tonight? Re-generating keypairs so that I can publish this very post through my bloggy-woggy machine. Speaking of which, Frankenstein’s looks like a very cool static blog publishing project: “It is a nameless, horrible and recursive assemblage of bash, sed, cat, echo, date, mkdir etc…, has no option, no for, and uses almost no variable.” Neeeat.

  1. The adult iPad is differentiated from the child iPad, most generally, by the relatively small amount of yogurt crusted into its chamfered edges. ↩︎

  2. James S. A. Corey’s Caliban’s War, sequel to Leviathan Wakes. Great, fun, galaxy-scale space opera. ↩︎