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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
gURL power
I saved this as a draft, and forgot about it. For those of you who are watching today's episode of j4 before going back and catching up with the last few weeks', the quick summary is, I had to talk to some student about 'geek culture' and how women are from Visual Basic and men are from Modula-2. (For those who are watching next season via bittorrent -- does it rain at Glasto 2008? And incidentally, Does She Ever Actually Shag Him?) Anyway, here's the (slightly tidied up) version of what I wrote:

Well that was pointless. I talked to this chap, he didn't seem to have very much clue what he was doing, he looked about 14 and frankly terrified of me, but I tried to answer his questions without too much handwaving/ranting, and filled in his survey, and let him take a picture of The Geek In Her Working Environment, har har. My god, though, my desk is a mess. Coffee and books and a DVD and some half-wilted roses in a vase and biscuits and a contact juggling ball and a stuffed badger and a waving maneki neko and biscuits and speakers and torn-off pages of my poem-a-day calendar (Robert Frost's 'Fire and Ice' yesterday, ace stuff) and cherry 7Up cans and heaps of paper and a hairbrush and a load of books on Ubuntu, XSLT, Perl, SOAP, and Web Design. He asked if he could "observe me working" for an hour, and I panicked and said no. For one thing, I'd have to get my office-mate to agree to it, and for another thing, well, just NO. Also, no.

I asked $boss beforehand about the women-in-IT thing, why there are fewer women. "It's because IT is so dull," he said. "No it isn't!" I protested. "It's fascinating!" "Well, then it's probably because women aren't mathematically minded, isn't it. They can't do the logic." I did my best impression of a girly flounce (imagine an elephant doing its best impression of a ballerina) and said "That's a hateful thing to say!" (Well, obviously I couldn't reply logically, could I.) "But it's occam's razor, isn't it," he said, leaning back in his chair. He blinks the double-blink that's nearly a flutter of the eyelids, the one that means he's struggling to stay deadpan. "What's the simplest reason why women don't do computing? They haven't got the brain power." That's nearly a smirk, but it's suppressed. "Occam's razor?" I open my eyes wide. "Haven't tried that. I use Gillette." Collapse (as they say) of stout party.

(I feel like I'm misrepresenting him horribly: you'd need to hear him, to see how he says these things. It's all just trolling. Usenet banter. It's the Oxford way, as we say. Playing. You're never more than 5 metres from a pun. On usenet, nobody knows you're a swan.)

After talking to the student fella, I said to $boss "He asked me whether my colleagues have different expectations of me because I'm female. I said, dunno mate, you'd have to ask them." $boss opened his eyes wide. "That'd be illegal!" he said, in mock shock. He thought about it, then looked actually baffled. "But if I ... I mean, you're saying... if I asked $colleague to do something rather than asking you... because you're... I dunno, because you're a girl, then.... well... but that'd just be ridiculous!" "I'm assured by my feminist friends that it happens all the time," I said. "But it's just absurd!" he said. I had to agree.

It's not that they don't notice that I'm female: but in the grand scheme of things it's just another small seam of new opportunities for witticisms. Even at our most serious, it's just a data point. It's the user-agent string. (Does this work on yours? Ooh, dunno... let's try. What happens if you change that value there? Hahahahaha it all breaks! Wow, cool error message.)

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of the user-agent string as a metaphor for gender.

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monkeyhands From: monkeyhands Date: April 10th, 2008 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)

the shaving mirror hanging up inside your cell

What is it with computer geeks and Occam's Razor? Why can't they stop mentioning it? Is it because it implies that failing to think outside the box, ignoring non-verbal communication and having no intuition whatsoever is somehow a legitimate and even superior philosophical position to take?

I tell you what, Occam's Razor is right up there with libertarianism and Aunt Sally on the list of Things That Get Aspies Excited.
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