Technology Weblogging

Techie discussion about Radio

Warning: Technical discussion about a new Radio implementation feature ahead — those with other interests may want to wait on next post.

This will probably add to the buzz pushing this item to the Daypop 40, but such is life: Userland released a new aggregator architecture that allows the introduction of new drivers for unknown XML formats such as RSS 1.0.

With this architecture, you can basically attach processing information for new XML formats on the fly (i.e. without having to re-compile or modify the underlying Radio implementation).

If you’re a C++ developer, you’ll recognize the architectural concepts as being extremely close to vtable lookups. If you’re a COM/DCOM/COM+ developer, at first glance this looks to be similar to vTable binding, but I’m thinking that it more close resembles early binding — primarily because a “type library” in this context doesn’t apply. The XML aggregation architecture is also somewhat similar to CORBA’s bind operation, or Java RMI’s reflection. If you know these technologies and are interested in Radio, check it out, see if I’m wrong in my interpretation.

BTW, don’t let the word “compile” in Dave’s description of this new change mislead you — this is attaching Radio script to a format, not actually “compiling” the code so that it runs at machine level such as a compiled C program would. And that script is interpreted, right Radio buffs in the audience?

With this architectural change, new XML vocabularies can, supposedly, be introduced to Radio. The concept is good, but I wonder how performance will be — lookups have been notoriously slow in other technology implementations. I’ll also be very curious to see if this will work with RDF/XML — a metadata vocabulary described in XML that, in turn, describes other data. The metadata aspect of this pulls this vocabulary out of the context of “top-level” XML object, doesn’t it?

(Is there a Radio 8.0 ad stapled to my butt?)

Diversity Technology

Geek out of work

Nothing like being an out of work geek in a technology recession. The only thing worse, is being an out of work geek in a recession who also happens to be a woman.

Gender bias — that strikes me as a hell of a good topic right about now.

On March 8th, Jonathon posted the following comment:

You and I both know, Dave, that the breathtaking hypocrisy of “Where Men Can Link, But They Can’t Touch” isn’t going to get “looked at” any time soon, not by the BlogSisters nor by anyone else in the blogging universe.

I was amazed that no one jumped on this. I didn’t at the time as I wasn’t feeling well. I also wanted to save this particular nugget for a weblog rainy day. And guess what! It’s sunny outside, but the rain is falling in weblogdom for me today. Splat. Splat.

Can women, a group that has been excluded longer than any other group in the history of “man”, exclude in turn without being seen as hypocritical? After all the whole concept of BlogSisters is that women bloggers — and only women bloggers — can post to the weblog. One could say that the entire weblog is sexist in the extreme. Right?


Sexism is discriminating against the opposite sex in such a way as to prevent the members of the opposite sex from having equal opportunity of participation, regardless of the venue. This means that yes, you can have all boy clubs and all girl clubs and all green people clubs — as long as the participation in said club does not give said members of the club more opportunties for academic or professional advancement than people who are not members of said club.

That’s been the whole slam against the good ole rich cat boy clubs in this country; many have been avenues of networking that give men (bluntly, white men) professional advantages — advantages not accessible to non-members (i.e. women and non-white men).

You know, I could really care less about belonging to a club of men who spend their day huntin’ and spitten’ tobacco or comparing sizes of their penises or whatever boys do in an all-boy clubs (sexist nature of statement fully intended, BTW). But I do care about being a member of a club that opens up doors to employment and opportunity in my profession.

Unfortunately, most of the clubs I’m most interested in don’t have a charter or a membership drive, or a door that one can walk up to and bang on for entry.

Case in point: last year, I gave a presentation at O’Reilly’s first P2P conference. At the time, I remember looking at the speaker list and commenting to Andy Oram — an editor and one of my favorite O’Reilly people — that there didn’t seem to be many women in the roster. In fact, for the longest time, I was the only women speaker out of several men. It was only just before the show that a few other women appeared in the speaker list, primarily moderators of panels.

I am a geek. In fact, a friend persists in calling me an ubergeek. I feel comfortable talking with geeks, and love exchanging emails and weblog postings with other geeks. However, there are few things that can make me feel more of an outsider — a non-member — than walking into a room of other geeks or ubergeeks, and being the only woman present. There might not be a sign outside the door saying “No gurlz allowed”, but it’s there, buried deeply in the minds of the guys, in my mind, and in the minds of a a society that still persists in propagating a most blatant message — girls are nurturers, boys are geeks.

I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan. And never, ever let you forget you’re a man — cause I’m a woman….


Back to BlogSisters and the “great hypocrisy”. There’s nothing about BlogSisters that stops any man from having an equal say within weblogdom. Or starting up a BlogBrothers weblog. Or preventing men from gainful employment, equal academic participation, religious opportunity, freedom from oppression, and accessibility to the masses. In fact (sorry a little metablogging here) that’s a great thing about weblogging, isn’t it? Anyone can say anything they want — weblogging truly is equal opportunity.

Hypocrisy? Sorry, bark up another tree with that tune, mate.

It’s interesting, but I had my own hesitations about BlogSisters, and still do, but not because I consider the concept hypocritical. I won’t post at BlogSisters for the same reason that I won’t join any of the women in technology support groups in the area, though I know I am depriving myself of the comfort of said support at times.

I won’t join any organization whose criteria for membership is based on sex because I want people to see me beyond something that is nothing more than an accident of birth — a random modification within the DNA that created me.

I love being a woman. I am so glad I was born a woman. But being a woman has nothing to do with my ability to create systems that can rock the house, code applications that make junior programmers run in fear, handle massive database systems, mega-user networks, and work with and discuss the most complex computer technology issues imaginable. However, being a woman can throw up barriers that prevent me from doing these things, and the work I love so much.

As for the BlogSisters — blog away ladies. And more power to you.


Why I started weblogging

Are you interested in knowing why I started weblogging? I tried the technology with both a Blogger and a Manila Site weblog, and wasn’t that interested at first. It wasn’t until a posting at Scripting News and resulting discussion and pulled content associated with Meg Hourihan that I noticed the power of the interactivity of weblogging.

I found this post at Meg’s weblog that talked about comments in Dave’s weblog. I hope Meg doesn’t mind, but I’m copying the pieces that caught my eye and pulled me in:

Dave’s spouting some sexist drivel on his site today, which I’d point you to but he’s removed most of it. There was nice crock of shit about men being better suited to programming than women and several other comments that riled my blood. All that remains is an important observation regarding the percentage of women in attendance at tech conferences, which is always so out of wack. And it’s something that really irritates me, not only the lack of women, but especially the lack of female speakers at most events.

Dave’s suggestion is to pair conferences (“A librarian conference at the same facility as a developer conference. They’d get better software and we’d get more users and kinder feedback?” [Kinder feedback? Is that because women are so sweet and nice?]) so there’d be more “female energy.”

This is in reference to a posting that Dave cleaned up considerably and then re-released as an essay — sans the suggestion about pairing the librarian and software developer conventions. And some of the more interesting bon mots about women in programming.

I wrote an email to Dave at that time taking exception to what he said. I wonder if he remembers my email? I also realized at that moment if I had a weblog, I could respond to Dave’s comments on my own, for everyone to see.

Today, Dave writes:

Women are organizers. Everywhere you go there are organizations of women doing things, planning stuff, making the world work. Men aren’t like that…

…Men just won’t work with others, men or women. We’re solitary beings. Yeah we like to get laid (or mothered), that’s why we have anything at all to do with women, in our natural unevolved state (evolved men, like women see the value in all points of view). Now women, while they organize, are not win-win beasts, they compete with each other viciously.

The person who writes this is a leading figure in technology. He’s the father of XML-RPC as well as one of the leading contributors to SOAP. Add to this his being a speaker at conferences, quoted by mainstream journals on a fairly regular basis, and his influence with Scripting News. And read these words and Dave’s essay again. Particulary the essay. Particularly the first few paragraphs.

There is sexism in every damn field that exists. There is sexism that works against women and sexism that works against men. Don’t believe me? Just have a chat with guys who are attending nursing school or staying at home to take care of the kids and house while the wife works.

Luckily, for the most part, sexism is not tolerated and managers and co-workers would be appalled at it’s application. But it’s there.

Fact of life: In today’s colleges there is most likely 10 men for every woman in any of the hard sciences. I’m not talking organic science, I’m talking about hard sciences such as physics, engineering, math, and computer science. If I’m wrong in this, prove it to me. Tell me about this class or that class in the hard sciences that has even a third attendance by women.

I could give examples of sexism — discrimatory and detrimental sexism — that I’ve encountered in my profession, but that’s not really the issue. The issue is whenever you have any field that has such hugely disparate representation by one sex or the other, as the computer sciences are, then the people who are in the minority will always be at a disadvantage to the people who are in the majority, no matter how tenuous that disadvantage is within any one environment or other.

And in a very, very tough market, any disadvantage, no matter how small, can make a difference between working…and not.