Nathan Willis

Inaccessible Island

Nathan Willis, Verified

  • Diversify

    2017-10-16T11:50:37Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    A friend of mine from the typography world recently posed a question to me. And now I'm posing it to you.

    He's wanting to organize a small conference on a very, very narrow subject, and he's concerned about having an all-male panel of speakers (partly, perhaps, he worries that it would get criticized, more importantly he wants to attract new blood to the topic, because it's the topic he loves). So he wanted advice on what he could do about it as a conference planner.

    The thing is, he legitimately knows all of the potential speakers for this subject, and it's less than ten, and they're all men. It's a combination of the subject matter and how small the field is and the part of the world that it relates to (I won't go into detail on that, but it's regionally an issue). Starting out, he'll be lucky to fill a day with talks; his hope is that over time they can attract a lot more attention to the topic and that the second+ year, there will be more potential speakers from a broader pool. But what does he do for year one; that's the question.

    Now, I know it's obvious to take the knee-jerk reaction and tell him he doesn't know what he's talking about and obviously he's overlooking lots and lots of great speakers who are just being kept out by unfair barriers to entry. Well, I know him and the details well enough to tell you that's not the problem, but I don't expect that will quell the "you just need to invite different people" suggestions.

    That's also something that he's already looked into, in depth, many many times, so it doesn't do any good to repeat it again. Therefore, for the purposes of this question, I'd like to hear _other_ suggestions. Either [a] you can take my (or his) word for it; that he knows the topic inside and out, it's understudied, and this is a genuinely tiny speaker pool ... or [b] just ignore that for now, and make the question "what *else* can he do to diversify his event"?

    Because he legitimately wants to attract a diverse crowd and he would like to interest female scholars and students in getting involved with it. His concern is that the speaker pool won't look good to them and to many will stay away.

    The best idea I came up with was to get one (or several) female co-organizers to help plan and MC the event with him. There are talented female scholars in neighboring fields; he knows them; having their names and voices on the web sites, materials, PR, and at the podium (podia? what's the plural of podium anyway?) over the course of the day might make a high-profile impact on what the audience thinks and who tunes it to hear the talks ... not to mention who ultimately gets drawn into the topic and has something interesting to present in year two.

    What other ideas do you have?
    I think your idea is a good one. Is there a possibility for a workshop or tutorial for this conference? Something where the persons leading aren't necessarily as important as the opportunity to learn something. Could that help?

    (I assume the topic of having a clear code of conduct has already been discussed.)

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-10-16T17:25:22Z

    Well, it's not really a workshop-oriented subject; it's a historical one. There might be opportunities for exhibits of one kind or another, though; that's a good suggestion.

    About COC, every typographic conference I've been to has had pretty clear expectations, but I have to break the news to you that communities outside of the software-development field are not nearly as "Code-of-X" obsessed. Perhaps because they don't think code magically fixes things....

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-16T18:23:37Z

    >> Nathan Willis:

    “Well, it's not really a workshop-oriented subject; it's a historical one. There might be opportunities for exhibits of one kind or another, though; that's a good suggestion.

    About COC, every typographic conference I've been to has had pretty clear expectations, but I have to break the news to you that communities outside of the software-development field are not nearly as "Code-of-X" obsessed. Perhaps because they don't think code magically fixes things....”

    I think you're only missing that most communities outside the software-development field and those trying hard to emulate them (librarianship lately comes to mind) are the only ones fixated on applying codes of conduct. Then again, librarian conferences are historically hotbeds of alcoholism and inappropriate liaisons that may or may not have their mechanics documented in the Kama Sutra. All of that as well as several closeted members of the Communist Party of the USA who come out for a brief time each year can be seen at the big national events.

    I think your conference structure idea sounds fine. Without knowing the specific topic, I cannot offer any specific suggestions or embellishments.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-10-16T18:57:51Z

    Can you try re-explaining that to me? I'm not following: "most communities _ are the only ones fixated"

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-17T08:58:56Z

  • We have 'Federation' ... we have 'Planets' ... where's the 'United'

    2017-10-15T14:59:40Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Following up on an earlier thought about Mastodon/identica/pumpio/pubhubsuburb/etc...

    I suppose that I am less convinced than are others about the notion that 'federatable services' ought to be identical with 'everyone run your own server'. In truth, what I want from a communication platform is the ability to _choose_ plus the existence of some service provider that I can align with.

    How many email providers are there? Statistics are a bit hard to come by, but this bundle of stats: suggests that there are eleventeen or a dozen that, collectively, account for the majority of the email sent every day.

    That's fine; that's enough to ensure that they are interoperable, and for the majority of people who cannot and should not spend their time worrying about adminning their own MTA, they have choices. The choice threshold also means that there are niche players, such as the lavabit-like options for those with specific technical requirements.

    I would greatly prefer it if the next iteration of federated microblogging would focus on standing up a good service and allowing their competitor to do the same. No significant advantage comes from there being 700 Mastodon services to choose from, and my gut feeling is that the initial "sign up for and get shuttled to for the rest of your life" deployment strategy hurt more than it helped.

    It would have been better, in my estimation, to find a sustainable home for as a high-quality hub, and to allow other hubs to grow up on their own if their communities warranted them.

    Now we have Mastodon, repeating that same initial-barrier-to-entry mistake: "want to use the service? First sit through a boring lecture about network protocols, then go look at a list of third-party services that we claim no responsibility for. Good luck, sucker".

    And what's the gain from forcing new users through that cheese grater? DO they get a better service or experience at the other end of it? No, certainly not. Do they end up rolling the dice and choosing a service that they then are unhappy with hundreds of messages later, either because it goes down or changes its T&C? Maybe. And that's a minus.

    Bottom line: If we had eleventeen good, interoperable microblogging services available on the web today, that'd be plenty. It's a shame that we don't have any large, freedom-centered organizations willing to run one — instead we have the debilitating 'choose-your-mom-and-pop-adventure' problem and a new protocol suite / software stack every five years.

    But maybe that's just me.

    Mike Linksvayer, Charles Stanhope, Scott Sweeny, Stephen Michael Kellat likes this.

    Scott Sweeny, Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

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    Email is  a little different from social media since it is default private. You can all sorts of incompatible people with different values and interests using the same email provider, and none of them care because they are largely unaware of each other.

    Social media is default public, and it seems we're struggling with how to best negotiate this space. It seems clear having a single, venture capital backed, host of a social network doesn't work. Heaps of abuse and other anti-social behavior abound, and users don't appear to have much influence beyond being the subjects of experiments. But it's not clear to me that only a dozen federated networks is the sweet spot. However, if it is, perhaps a larger set of federated networks is the appropriate starting point. They will get winnowed down from there? After all, isn't that how email progressed?

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-10-16T00:29:11Z

    Nathan Willis, George Standish likes this.

    By default private, I meant my use of an email service is mostly invisible to others unless specifically addressed, and the contents of my email conversations are not visible even if you happen to know my email address. If you don't know my email address, you may not even be able to discover it unless I happen to leave it someplace public. You can use email in a public manner, but that's not the default, and generally requires deliberately addressing or using external services (unless communicating with a small group).

    I didn't mean to quibble about the numbers too much. I'm just reflecting on what I've seen on social networks, and reflecting on past social networks like forums, chat rooms, and other things. It seems like there has always been a large number of them regardless of the technology used. Facebook and Twitter seem like anomalies.

    Having said all that, I also don't mean to argue against the idea that the large number of places to join of dubious quality is an obstacle to adoption. I think it is, and you bring up important issues. These issues were certainly on my mind before I created another account.

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-10-16T17:04:27Z

    for services in which you don't want to run your own server, I'd rather it be serverless (P2P, like twister, or maybe like secure scuttlebutt) than having to depend on someone else's infrastructure.  if you're not going to keep your data to yourself, it's a lot better to have your account and data in a resilient distributed network than in a single node that's prone to fail and leave you out of service, more so if it's hard to migrate out of it once you started using the service

    Alexandre Oliva at 2017-10-16T18:55:18Z

    Nathan Willis, Charles Stanhope likes this.

    Alexandre: very true. The back-end network plumbing is every bit as important as the front connection point.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-17T11:02:15Z

  • What? Where?

    2017-10-15T13:25:27Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Fedora peeps: where can I find the default installation-time package lists for releases (current, at the very least; historical would be icing)?

    For other distros, this info is trivial to locate, e.g. ... hitting a wall with the blue hat crowd, though....

    nukem, nukem, nukem shared this.

  • 2017-10-14T16:32:24Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Real talk: I'm pretty pessimistic about the chances that Mastodon will be any more successful at being a stable, meaningful platform than has been over the past couple of years, after the initial hype-cycle winds down.

    But I did set up an account there:

    In case vanishes without warning again. I may start using it.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Stephen Michael Kellat shared this.

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    Just to be clear, the network is not just, just as the Mastodon network is not just =)

    JanKusanagi at 2017-10-14T16:45:04Z

    Jason Self likes this.

    For sure, Jan. For sure.

    Jason Self at 2017-10-14T18:22:48Z

    I don't think anyone here is unclear on that.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-10-14T18:30:53Z

    I'm not sure about ringing the doorbell there. There might be namespace collisions galore.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-10-14T19:47:12Z

  • Type Design

    2017-09-19T18:38:26Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    On the other hand, I have now completed my Masters in Typeface Design degree.

    Tyng-Ruey Chuang, Charles Stanhope, Ben Sturmfels likes this.

    (More or less. Technically, they could still tell me I have to revise my dissertation or just that I failed or something, but that almost never happens and they give you every indication along the way if you're doing something wrong that will lead to a problem)

    Nathan Willis at 2017-09-19T18:39:40Z

    This year's class's work is up for public viewing at
    which is the course site. Not linking directly to mine; you should check out all of them.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-09-19T18:41:20Z

  • 2017-09-19T09:46:44Z via AndStatus To: Public

    You want to tell me the 'open source' community values all contributions equally? Try submitting a talk on a design or documentation topic to ANY conference; then we'll talk.

    Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

    Yes I am annoyed right now.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-09-19T16:24:01Z

  • Dissertated.

    2017-09-05T08:44:02Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

  • 2017-08-30T08:16:28Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I don't want to startle anyone, but there have been some amazing advances in the field of Knight Rider replica-car electronics in the past two years or so.
    Finally, a Maker Movement subhobby that actually means something.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-30T08:17:02Z

  • 2017-08-29T08:56:14Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    That sinking feeling when you realize that a certain blog hasn't shown any new items in your feed reader for a few too many days, and you just know it means the moron web developer changed the feed URL. Why are people such morons? Do these morons understand literally nothing? Is there a cure for moronity of this level? Should we hunt the morons down for sport? All open questions.

    Blaise Alleyne likes this.

    Cool URIs should have had a cooler name.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-08-30T02:30:15Z

  • 2017-08-24T16:28:54Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I started saying "Farfegnugen" whenever people sneezed today. No one laughed.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • Licensing

    2017-08-23T08:03:59Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Yesterday somebody wrote me to ask if they could use one of my OFL-licensed fonts for commercial purposes. They can, of course. I replied with my standard brief explanation of the license and to say get in touch if they encounter any problems or missing features.

    Today they wrote back again to say thanks and that they didn't expect to encounter any missing features, since they're using it for their wedding invitations.

    All that to say I'm grateful that my friends and family have not charged me money to attend their weddings over the years.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

  • Eyeroll

    2017-08-22T14:25:04Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I get that it's hilarious to show the picture of Trump squinting up at the eclipse, but he literally put the glasses on one second later; I saw the video on CNN. Be better than that, please. I want my squad to have credibility.

    Ever since HLN stopped being CNN Headline News, I stopped paying attention to them. I'm more likely to watch France24 or BBC World News these day than even Fox News.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-08-23T02:03:53Z

    What network it's on is irrelevant.

    As is common in my posts, what I'm concerned with is 'how we argue.'

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-23T10:13:18Z

  • 2017-08-22T07:40:42Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    England has 'reverse eclipses' where the sun comes out when it's supposed to be dark, and they happen every morning all summer.
  • #70's album title or NFL #battleroyale

    2017-08-22T07:29:34Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    The current news sidebar I'm looking at lists the topics

    The Sun
    The Moon
    The Cleveland Browns

  • Terminology

    2017-08-18T09:13:02Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Worth reading, from the Associated Press, about the terms they use to describe neo-fascists and hate groups.

    As someone who spent a decade and a half in the news business, I deeply appreciate the AP's commitment to strict adherence to specificity. As I've written about a couple of times in the past, it's all too easy to be loose and vague in one's language, especially when talking about the people you vehemently disagree with or abhor on a fundamental level.

    But you can't be lax or slack off; that's a logical fallacy that provides an opening for the hate groups to do the same, to say that you're painting them with false colors, and to say that terms like these don't really matter. They do. A commitment to meaning what you say and saying what you mean is vital.

    Charles Stanhope likes this.

    And no, I don't expect white supremacists or fascists to be precise in *their* language. It's part of their game and their propaganda playbook to be divisive and misleading. But their being deceptive does not grant you a license to be deceptive, too.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-18T09:15:01Z

  • 2017-08-16T19:19:56Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    It's weird being in another country when all this intra-US arguing and fighting is going on. I don't have anyone around I can actually talk to about it.
    Good?  It may be safest to say nothing.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-08-17T01:08:14Z

    I thought we foreigners in general were more than happy to weigh in on US-internal matters. :-)

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-08-17T06:15:42Z

    I'm not worried about safety.

    Nathan Willis at 2017-08-17T10:41:14Z

  • Reeserch

    2017-08-15T18:50:04Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    I continue to be amazed at the success rate I encounter for just looking someone up and emailing them to say "Hey, are you the person that worked on $project 20–25 years ago? If so would you be interested in talking to me about it?"

    Even for stuff that was highly competitive and proprietary.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) and 1 others shared this.

  • Inbox alert

    2017-08-15T11:47:00Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Uh-oh. First email notification of the upated Let's Encrypt cert just arrived from my hosting provider. Now bracing myself for the 800 subsequent notifications about to follow....

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠), Christopher Allan Webber likes this.

  • Flat it up

    2017-08-13T22:20:52Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    Fascinating talk from GUADEC a couple of weeks ago, taking a hard, cold stare at the Flatpak train and where it's headed:

    (Namely, is it headed in the right direction, are there seatbelts, and are people going to learn from all the wrecked trains they're passing along the way?)
    I can tell that I'm going to like this.

    Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) at 2017-08-14T02:34:00Z

  • Poll

    2017-08-12T13:22:40Z via Pumpa To: Public CC: Followers

    (1) Would you listen to a podcast that was just me & another host arguing about the free-software related news of the week?

    (2) Who should be the other host? Sky's the limit. [I know a lot of people in the FOSS community, but I haven't actually discussed this idea with people]

    McClane, Claes Wallin (韋嘉誠) likes this.

    McClane, McClane, McClane and 2 others shared this.

    I would listen to this, assuming there was a bit more to it than arguments. ;)   (I don't have a suggestion for co-host.)

    Charles Stanhope at 2017-08-12T15:24:23Z

    Ask me after September 30th. I may have quite a bit of free time on my hands if the Treasury departmental offices go ahead with the cull in my job series.

    Stephen Michael Kellat at 2017-08-12T17:14:16Z

    I don't usually listen to podcasts but your concept sounds interesting

    McClane at 2017-08-13T21:49:50Z