What if we cared about those living in poverty as much as we care about celebrities? [#geekgirl]
The New Who vs Oldskool Timey-Wimey Whovians [#geekgirl] [#DrWho]
—–[“The Time of The Doctor” SPOILERS (Sweetie) Alert]—–
On the 25th December 2013, Doctor Who received 12 new lives. In the episode “The Time of The Doctor”, the current series showrunner, producer and lead writer Steven Moffat imbued the once-labelled as 11th [and now redubbed the 12th, or even 13th] Doctor a new regeneration cycle. In this episode filled with heavy-duty retconned plot threads, we see the New [old] Who emerge.
From a traditional Whovian perspective, there’s been substantial trouble with Moffat’s version of a character who, like his regenerations, has undergone substantial re-jigging as part of the entire franchise reboot, many of which have been largely controversial. When Moffat plucked the Doctor Who writing mantle from Russell T Davis, there was substantial concern that his [then] largely episodic inflected story style wouldn’t be able to adequately extend beyond flashy emotion-inducing viewer bait, complete with thrill laden plot segments and incomplete long arc shifts where foregrounding, consistent character development and plots worthy of the previous writers were/are [mostly] abandoned.
In this pivotal episode, Moffat attempts to disassemble and reassemble elements of the Who Canon in an effort to extend the longevity of the franchise beyond the Doctor’s accepted and restricted Regeneration cycle. The episode contains all the benchmarks we’ve come to expect from Moffat: companions posited as disposable tools or eye-candy mannequins, story gaps you could drive a TARDIS through and plot-hole-construction-gloss thrown about almost randomly by the shiny bucketful. The result creates a type of standard willing Suspension of Disbelief that only just lightly grips the edges of believability. Emotional key points fall cheaply and wantonly [like the death of his handy Cyberman-head-pal “Handles”, or the Doctor's promise to Clara that he'll never abandon her again]. The rushed passage-of-time markers rub the viewer in any manner of annoying ways, and flimsy self-referential exposition becomes paramount when the contrived CGI effects fail to impress.
And yet, given all of the failings of this crucial episode, the emotional reefing that Moffat does best still manages to evoke a type of stretched wonder-thrall. Moffat discards [and has now for many, many episodes] conventions that traditional Dr Who fans hold dear: Joseph Campbellesque hero variables and crucial sci-fi story elements are bypassed in order to cater for more incrementally-oriented audience members used to absorbing their story snippets through 2 minute YouTube blipverts or Tumblr-emulating focals. Moffat knits together these contemporary absorption points via a method that, instead of catering for narratives comprising sequential beginning, middle and ends, seeks to harness the power of discrete narrative units. These units merge techniques drawn from graphic novel variable truncation to story-board framing, resulting in staggered story-time acceleration and retconned plot explosions designed for nonlinear attention spans.
Moffat may not be the great grand hope for old-timey-whiney Whovians [ahem] who yearn for believable extensions to Who chronology beyond an established and pre-mapped regenerative timeline. But through the New Who incarnation, Moffat instead offers us an extension of a well-worn and much-loved character, one that at least utilises the very methods that a contemporary audience regularly deploys to maintain narratives beyond standard story knitting.
The Royal Society Women in Science Edit-a-thon [#geekgirl]
[Via HASTAC] “The Royal Society Women in Science Edit-a-thon: Friday, October 11, 2013 – 11:00am – Saturday, October 12, 2013 – 2:00am.
- Date: Friday 11 October 2013; in two parts – editathon runs 13.15-18.00; panel 18.30-20.30.
- Venue: The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG
- Book: HERE - there are 15 places for the editathon, and 100 for the panel discussion
- Cost: Free
- Twitter hashtag: #WISWIKI
- Resources to edit: see below
- Participants: The editing session is for Wikipedia newcomers to learn how to edit or anyone wanting to contribute. Female editors particularly encouraged to attend. Panel open to anyone interested in Women in Science topic.
We welcome participants to communicate with us online:
- Twitter hashtag: #WomenSciWP
- @wikimediauk, @royalsociety
- IRC: #wikimedia-uk
- We have been granted a free open online access to the Royal Society’s biographical memoirs and all of the journals for 24 hours on 11th October (midnight to midnight BST) available to anyone at all. (Terms and conditions will still apply, in particular section 6 on prohibited use).
- MRC has created a guide of how to search for biographical information for this series of events see https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/23/Icons-mini-file_acro…); padding-right: 18px; background-position: 100% 50%; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>here.
- Useful resources for editing articles about the Royal Society Fellows are here.
- A general useful resource is the Archives of Women in Science and Engineering at Iowa State University.”
Australian Immigration Detention Centres Incident Mapped [#geekgirl]
Information and Emergency Resources For #BostonMarathon [#geekgirl]
As the horrifically tragic events are unfolding in Boston, for those who need immediate resources to find loved ones or to ensure their safety, here's a brief list:
- Google has set up a "Person Finder" resource similar to one used for the 2010 Haitian Earthquake Disaster.
- Reddit user _supernovasky_ is compiling live and as-accurate-as-can-be information here.
- For Boston locals, Boston.com News has updates via its Twitter feed.
Stay safe, friends.
[UPDATE: The above reddit link is now read-only. Please go here for a more updated version.]
[UPDATE 2: I've pulled the Google docs Resources and Accommodation link due to concerns regarding phishing dangers. There's been talk about the relevant Google docs being now cleared for official use by Google: for now, visit the Reddit link above and you can access the document from there. There's also many good-hearted Boston based Redditors offering free transport, food and other resources through the updated link.]
Questions, Not Answers, Regarding the Post-#PyCon 2013 Fallout [#geekgirl]
I’m always curious – as any decent news-hound should be – regarding certain aspects of controversial tech-related dramas. I’m especially curious about those dramas that play out very publicly and create substantial character/brand damage.
So this morning I’ve been intent on writing a long-form post regarding the firing of a PlayHaven employee for making alleged offensive comments at the Python Developer Conference (PyCon 2013) while in earshot of Adria Richards, a SendGrid Employee. Richards tweeted about the incident and complained to PyCon organisers, resulting in Alex Reid and “mr-hank” (the fired PlayHaven employee) being knuckle-rapped over the incident. Subsequently, Richards herself has been fired and although initially there was ample conjecture that this “news” may have been the output of some elaborate DDoS hack, it now seems more likely to be accurate.
Fortunately, my intentions have now jumped up and poked me firmly in my common-sense gland, and in lieu of finishing and posting that traditionally crafted article complete with the oily title of “If it doesn’t add value to the conversation, then it gets deleted” (a direct quote from Richards herself regarding why she’s currently deleting blog comments), I’ve instead started crafting the following list of questions as ponder-fodder. The list isn’t especially comprehensive and, in the effort of full disclosure, it’s undoubtedly laced with my own complicated bias.
Then why do it? Because I’d rather offer readers something that may just break those horrible and vitrolic “win-lose” mentality loops that plague certain social media/blog commentators regarding such controversial issues. I’d also prefer to present an alternative to the multitude of closed-ended and exclusionary “facts” and “answers” such as those being offered by all and sundry regarding the fallout post-PyCon 2013:
- Were the comments observed by Richards at PyCon 2013 actively (or even latently) sexist, or simply incidences of thoughtless comedic material that peppers (and may even attempt to parody) aspects of sexist geek culture? Could they also conceivably have been a mixture of both?
- Were these comments misinterpreted – deliberately or unconsciously – in order to create an incident that would create ongoing controversy and accelerated pageviews?
- If the comments under question had been voiced by two women developers mentioning “big dongles” or “forking” (or shoving socks down their pants), would Richards have complained?
- If the actions Richards undertook regarding the alleged sexist comments were performed by a man instead of a woman, might the outcome, and corresponding furore, be different?
- Is the male gaze in constant operation during events like PyCon, and if yes, how do we create a workable solution for its removal? Should we also acknowledge and discuss other types of “gazes” (or other power loaded stereotypical behaviours embedded within unconscious neurotypical agendas) that might be present at such institutionalised events, with associated bias and layered prejudice (involving privilege and status) also in play?
- When faced with what they think is offensive or hate-based commentary that makes an individual “feel uncomfortable”, how should they react? In today’s constantly “on” world where reports of any action may be instantaneously broadcast, should an individual’s ability to magnify an incident (to the extent where no reasonable or concluding course of action can result) be considered prior to any action taken?
- Is the right to refuse to openly engage – or directly communicate with – an individual who you think is displaying offensive behaviour acceptable, especially when this refusal is based on entrenched bias or inequality?
- If you choose to expose those you think are “in the wrong”, should you be prepared for a certain level of backlash from those who do not view the behaviours as you do? If this level of backlash becomes threatening or vitriolic, how should you respond? How should society at large respond?
- How do we ensure that well-meaning discourse isn’t hijacked for the sake of attention grabbing “netbytes”?
- Would decent journalistic input regarding all of these questions actually help?
From The #WTF Files: Journos Using Drones For Story Fodder [#geekgirl]
“In an attempt to use drones in new and emerging ways, [our] program is hoping to use several drones to capture aerial video footage of the prairie burn while it is in progress and utilize that footage as part of a multimedia story about prairie burns in mid-Missouri,” said student Robert Partyka. Information gathered from the UAV project will then be used in a future story by their local NPR affiliate.” [From Drones Go To Journalism School]