She’s Geeky, October 22-23

The tireless and talented Kaliya Hamlin is organizing a new gathering: She’s Geeky, coming October 22-23, 2007 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View:    (MLA)

The She’s Geeky (un)conference will provide an agenda-free and friendly environment for women who not only care about building technology that is useful for people, but who also want to encourage more women to get involved.    (MLB)

It is designed to provide women who self-identify as geeky and who are engaged in various technology-focused disciplines with a gathering space in which they can exchange skills and discuss ideas and form community across and within disciplines.    (MLC)

Blue Oxen Associates just signed on as a sponsor. But, I’m not allowed to register. Why? Registrations are for women only. Am I okay with that? Absolutely.    (MLD)

Intimacy Gradients are critical for effective collaboration. I spend a lot of time teaching groups how to be more open; no one needs a lesson on how to be more closed. But there are times when being closed has value.    (MLE)

I’ve expressed my admiration for BlogHer many times. Their conference has been open to both women and men from the beginning, and I think it’s worked in their favor. But their ad network is for women bloggers only. Is that a bad thing?    (MLF)

Similarly, whatever gets blogged or recorded on the Wiki at She’s Geeky will be open to all. It’s just that only women will be allowed to attend.    (MLG)

Women are a huge minority in technology. Regardless of why that is, there are many good reasons why women in technology should collaborate more with each other. Sometimes, the best way to kick start that is to create a safe space. That’s what She’s Geeky is all about.    (MLH)

Speaking of women in technology, Lloyd Budd recently blogged about Leslie Hawthorn, another person whose praises I’ve sung on many occasions. Leslie is a classic Yellow Thread, someone who deserves much celebration.    (MLI)

The Google Gradient

Aaron Swartz wrote an interesting piece about the so-called Google bubble. He then proposed a way around the bubble, which he called the Google “gradient.” Having just wrapped up an event that Google sponsored, I can give some first-hand thoughts on Aaron’s piece. In short, the gradient already exists, and boy, is it a doozy.    (LG0)

Both Allen Gunn and I have worked with many, many generous companies on events like the FLOSS Usability Sprint, and we both agreed that Google was unquestionably the easiest, most accomodating company we’ve ever worked with. Here’s a snapshot of my experience:    (LG1)

  • Earlier this year at DCamp, I meet Rick Boardman, a user experience engineer at Google. We talk about the FLOSS Usability Sprints, and he says, “That’s pretty cool. If you ever want space for a sprint, we can do it at Google.”    (LG2)
  • Gunner and I decide it’s time to do another sprint. I email Rick. Rick says, “No problem. I’ll dig up food for you guys too.” I look down at my list of negotiation points when dealing with potential sponsors, reread Rick’s email, shrug my shoulders, and throw the list away.    (LG3)
  • I check out the space, and it’s outstanding. Wide open room that’s reconfigurable, lots of whiteboards, plenty of breakout space, open WiFi.    (LG4)
  • Rick introduces me to Leslie Hawthorn, who’s involved with Google’s Open Source programs and managed Summer of Code. Leslie is the epitome of a Yellow Thread. Here’s an example of a common exchange. Me: “Leslie, I know it’s last minute, but can you do [insert any number of requests here] for us?” Leslie: “Sure!”    (LG5)
  • I get to Google early on Friday. Leslie gives me a walkthrough. To my surprise, she has Google schwag bags for all of us. She also has special badges for us, so that participants don’t have to sign the usual visitor NDAs.    (LG6)
  • There are about six security guards surrounding our space throughout the whole event. This should have been unnerving, except they were all very friendly, they kept opening doors for the participants, and they made it safe for us to leave our computers lying around the entire weekend.    (LG7)
  • Leslie supplies us with snacks, beverages, and most importantly, coffee throughout the event. We eat lunch both days at Slices, one of the excellent cafeterias on campus. The food is local, organic, and delicious. (Gunner and I do our best to cancel out all this healthy food by bringing pizza and donuts and by taking the group out for adult beverages and more unhealthy food afterwards.)    (LG8)
  • Four Google employees participate, including Rick and Leslie. All of them kick butt. I didn’t know Leslie’s background beforehand, but as it turns out, she completely rocks out with the Drupal team, thus increasing my respect for her by another order of magnitude. More common exchanges with Leslie during the event. Me: “Leslie, can you help us with [insert many more requests here]?” Leslie: “Sure!”    (LG9)
  • Total number of pain-in-the-rear problems that the Google bureaucracy creates for us that are inevitable when working with large companies on open events like these: 0.    (LGA)

Perhaps this was an isolated experience. Perhaps the next time we work with Google, this so-called “bubble” will be in full effect, and we’ll curse and swear about how terrible the bureaucracy is there. All I can say is that I’ll be able to tell you all for sure soon, because I fully plan on there being a next time. Many thanks to Leslie and Rick for being such outstanding hosts!    (LGB)

Jenna Johnson: A Yellow Thread

Bill Plaschke doesn’t know a damn thing about sports, but he’s got the art of the tear jerker down pat. His latest is the inspiring story of Jenna Johnson, a 22-year old production assistant for the George Lopez Show, who collapsed and died while training for the L.A. Marathon.    (KD5)

Here’s what Plaschke says about Jenna:    (KD6)

On the set of ABC’s top-rated situation comedy, she was the 22-year-old kid with the lowly job and the heavenly spirit.    (KD7)

She was a cheerleader to the camera guys, the “Hello” to the dolly grips, a “Boom” for the mike operators, a direction for the directors, a joyous energy that even awed George Lopez himself.    (KD8)

“Her job was as low as you could get, but nobody ever saw her like that,” he said. “She had a presence. I’ve seen studio executives who didn’t have that presence.”    (KD9)

…    (KDA)

In Sunday’s L.A. Marathon, nearly half of the 100-member cast and crew of “The George Lopez Show” is going to run the marathon, relay style, in her memory.    (KDB)

“She started it,” said Frank Pace, the show’s producer. “We have to finish it for her.”    (KDC)

One mile per person.    (KDD)

…    (KDE)

Black, white, Latino, directors, script coordinators, a dialogue coach, everyone speaking the same language, in a dialect rarely heard amid the often petty hierarchy that is the entertainment industry.    (KDF)

The last shall be first.    (KDG)

All of this for someone who made $575 a week and made the runs to the studio-lot Starbucks.    (KDH)

“Most of the time, the people running around getting coffee, nobody knows who they are,” said Hope Erickson, an assistant production coordinator who coordinated the run. “But everyone knew Jenna. She was so happy, so positive, it rubbed off on everybody.”    (KDI)

…    (KDJ)

Her framed University of Miami jersey, No. 6, will be in the background in future episodes.    (KDK)

She is receiving the producer credit for her last episode.    (KDL)

And she should receive a director credit for bringing so many industry types together for something that does not involve a camera.    (KDM)

Do they give an Emmy for Best Family?    (KDN)

“Jenna Johnson moved people in ways that are hard to define,” producer Pace said. “And now she’s doing it again.”    (KDO)

Jenna is a classic example of a Yellow Thread, someone who makes those around him or her much, much brighter. It’s sad that it takes a tragedy like this for Yellow Threads to take center stage. My deepest sympathy goes to Jenna’s family and friends.    (KDP)