On this page:
I’m really starting to appreciate the convenience of having two laptops. I can leave one running tests while I work on the other. I can separate memory-hungry applications like Emacs+Firefox (development) and Lotus Notes (work coordination). I can take the smaller laptop with me when I travel, which makes it easier to travel light.
Although the Eee’s screen is only 1024×600 pixels, I prefer it for development because I’ve set it up with my complete Emacs environment. The Windows partition of my work laptop doesn’t have all of my shortcuts set up, and accessing the development server through putty/ssh is slow. So I do my development on the Eee (small screens encourage short functions!), use the work laptop for mail and web conferences, and occasionally look up webpages on the work laptop’s bigger screen.
Worth it. I’m seriously thinking about upgrading the RAM on the Eee to at least 2GB, though, as I regularly use at least 1.2 GB during development.
I love being part of industry conferences outside my field. I learn so much from the sessions and the conversations, and I meet all sorts of amazing people I might not otherwise have come across.
Yesterday, I participated in the first Social Recruiting Summit, where recruiters shared questions, ideas and tips on how to use social media to connect companies and candidates. I gave a presentation on The Awesomest Job Search Ever.
Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) gave the keynote address, demonstrating LinkedIn Recruiter. Listening to the conversations afterwards, I got the feeling that people had hoped to have more exciting news about where Reid saw the industry going in the next five years, or some other insights and information not available on LinkedIn’s website. Note to self: When you keynote a conference, focus on the big picture and give people something special.
The summit had an unconference portion. I like unconferences because they let people bring out fresh perspectives, late-breaking news, and more conversation. I proposed a session for sharing success stories and war stories, which I removed when I saw that other sessions could fulfill that quite nicely. Ryan Caldwell and Dion Lim had proposed separate sessions around social media and ROI. When I saw what Dion had written, I called Ryan over, introduced the two of them, and convinced them to merge their sessions. Ryan said he thought I should be in mergers and acquisitions instead. ;) It became a four-person panel with some interesting points, although I think they were counting on a more experienced audience with success stories and war stories of their own. In the future, providing unconference sessions with whiteboards or easels would be a great idea because the facilitators can then capture and express more complex ideas.
There were lots of other interesting sessions and conversations at the summit. During my presentation on “Awesomest Job Search Ever”, I encountered some difficulties hooking my laptop up to the projector, so I just went slide-free. I told people the story about how I got to know IBM, how IBM got to know me, and how that led to just the right position being created for me. We took almost 40 minutes for questions and answers, I think. I learned a lot and I had tons of fun. Others did too! The key messages that emerged were:
Lots of good stuff, but I better get these notes out before they become stale!
It was difficult to extract one of our companions for dinner, so I suggested that we all go. There were about 16 of us. Chandra Bodapati took us to a terrific Indian restaurant. (Yay local guides!)
I had a terrific conversation with John Sumser, who opened by saying, “You must have amazing mentors.” He explained his company name (Two Color Hat) by telling me the African teaching tale about a man with a two-color hat who walked down a street and asked people what they saw. He likes bringing together different perspectives. He’s also very interested in the demographic shapes of companies and labour markets.
John gave me tips on storytelling and emotional modulation. He encouraged me to find ways to develop my technical skills in parallel with softer skills like presentation and influence. He suggested checking out things like The Quantified Self, The Technium, Kevin Kelly (kk.org), cybernetics, and other complex things. This reminds of what Michael Nielsen told be about Lion Kimbro, who found that the practice of writing down his every thought made him think much more clearly. Must see if John knows about him.
On the way to the airport
I hitched a ride with Eric Jaquith and Geoff Peterson in a SuperShuttle, which worked out to be a very cost-effective and hassle-free way to get from Embassy Suites to the SFO airport. Along the way, they shared even more insights about recruiting, technology companies, leadership, life, and other good things. I’m really so lucky that people are so generous with their insights!
I arrived at 11:00 at the San Francisco International Airport. Since I had a few hours to spare before my 3:05 flight, I connected to the wireless network and started working. Jennifer Okimoto (enterprise adaptability consultant) sent me an instant message asking me about the summit. She said,
so… I’ve received a request to respond to a media relations request ABOUT SOCIAL RECRUITING and you appear to be the current IBM expert!
Jen had been reading my tweets, and she wanted to pick my brain about emerging trends in social recruiting. I spent 20 minutes braindumping the ideas and stories I’d picked up from the one-day summit. Here are some bits:
So that’s the braindump from the conference. I’ve asked an assistant to transcribe my talk, and I’ll post that after I clean it up. =)
Web 2.0 Expo – SF
March 31 to April 3, 2009 (Schedule)
San Francisco, CA
Conference plus workshops: $1745 before March 30, $1945 on site
Conference only: $1445 before March 30, $1645 on site
Workshops only: $845 before March 30, $1045 on site
Expo hall plus: $350 before March 30, $395 on site (includes two sessions, sponsored sessions, and all keynotes)
Expo hall only: $100 before March 30, $100 on site
Reg Open to 5/22
5/23 – 6/21
|Full Conference Pass
|3-Day Conference Pass
|Pavilion Pass + Evening in the Cloud
Web 2.0 Summit
October 20 to 22, 2009
San Francisco, CA
By invitation only
I’ll be moderating a panel on education at Mesh, and probably skipping the other conferences. I’m all for virtual conferences and blog interactions, though!
Today is the first Ada Lovelace Day, dedicated to the celebration of women in technology. =)
It’s interesting to think about the history of gender and computers. Ada Lovelace‘s work in writing algorithms and imagining the many applications of computers beyond simply crunching numbers. When computers first came into the workplace, computing was seen as a pink-collar job because it resembled the secretarial work that women did. Then the tide changed, and things progressed to the point where countless research papers were written about the gender imbalance in computer science and related fields. What was it about computing that was driving women away?
Now, perhaps, it’s shifting closer to balance, and that makes me happy.
I remember growing up on the networks, and then the Internet. My ambiguously-gendered name and my technical skill led a number of people to assume I was male, to the great amusement of people who knew otherwise. Upon people’s discovery that I was actually female, I’d often get hit on. At technical conferences, there were never lines for the women’s bathroom, sometimes I was the only female in the session, and female speakers were rare. Being female in a male-dominated field had its perks: on overseas programming competitions, I usually got a room to myself.
And yes, there was that niggling feeling of doubt that people found my early achievements disproportionately notable because of my gender, because I knew many brilliant people who didn’t get the opportunities I stumbled across. The imposter syndrome has many different shades.
To this day, I still get personal e-mail addressed “Dear Sir:” (and I’m not talking about the 419 scams, but people applying for positions or asking me for help). I still have people surprised to hear my (obviously female) voice when we talk on the phone. I still find myself reflexively checking the proportion of attendees and speakers at the conferences I go to.
I learned never to make gender assumptions in my speech and in my writing, and to enjoy turning other people’s assumptions upside down. (That’s one of the reasons I have a picture on my website.) I still come across technical documentation written exclusively with male pronouns, and it’s difficult to stifle the urge to rewrite it using plurals or alternating examples.
It’s a lot better than it used to be, though. I don’t have to worry as much about people hitting on me or misinterpreting what I say, although I don’t know whether that’s because the culture is changing, because I’ve developed ways to head things off before they get to that point, or because I tend to hang out with older people who are already in good relationships.
I’ve been very lucky. My parents made sure that we never thought of computers or other things as a “guy thing”. Growing up with two sisters who were both out there and doing cool things helped, too. I had plenty of role models, and I still do.
Not everyone has that kind of environment. No matter what gender you are, keep an eye out for people who might be excluded from your field of work. Sometimes it’s a little thing like lack of confidence leading to a wider and wider digital divide. Sometimes it’s a big thing, like an environment where picking on people is acceptable (and it shouldn’t be). We can be better people than that. =)