Thursday, June 13, 2013

Adacamp and OSB: Of Women and Technology

This post comes in between my journey to Adacamp (finally!) and Open Source Bridge 2013. For those wanting to know more about Adacamp, it is an unconference (this was the second one) run by the Ada Initiative which comprises a bunch of really awesome women who work in the field of technology. Although the camp focuses on women in tech, it isn't exclusively for programmers or those with a science background. It is also a space for social scientists, artists, educators and more. Since I missed out on the first one, I wasn't quite sure if the conference was planned to discuss women-pertinent topics or give women a space to discuss what they would like to. Turns out, it had both. The reason I am writing this post is because I am at the intersection of the "women group" and technology. I hope that this post is read by women in tech, especially in countries outside the U.S and does the job of cross pollinating the wonderful possibilities that can emerge out of women centric spaces.

What happened:

Adacamp has a fairly strict content privacy policy (which in retrospect I can totally understand). So, I can tell you about the kind of sessions that were offered. Being an unconference, most of the session proposing and programming happens on the spot. There were at least 5 parallel sessions going on for two days. Ranging from open education to open government, learning python to open hardware, work cultures for women, to women centric maker spaces (the one I really wanted to be a part of); the range was broad and exciting. I proposed two sessions: on angry young women, and on women centric maker spaces. A fun session where I learned things: soft circuits (and e-textile - with no stereotypes attached :P )

Things I loved:

The first day started with a session on "Impostor Syndrome" and had a room full of people nodding away at how they have felt like fake geek girls and similar. That spawned talks on likability as well. I wish the impostor talk was done with a different approach though. The other awesome thing was encountering woman entrepreneurship and how! All the participants were "starting" things or making things happen. Being a catalyst, an enabler and not only a victim or marginal stakeholder - is a great way to inspire fellow women/queer/marginal identities.

Things that I hope will happen:

I hope that Adacamp (and all the other conferences that I have attended so far) evolve into international participation hubs. It is very important to make that happen to truly understand how difficult it is to speak about anything as a group. On my part, something that I really hope to get started is a tiny maker-space where I live. I am yet to decide on whether it will be women centric or it could be broader. But, if you are in New Delhi, India and reading this, write to me and let's get things going! :)

Journey ahead:

My next stop is Open Source Bridge 2013. Equally excited, especially because I hope to see many fellow Wikipedians there! At OSB, I hope to give a small talk on queering Wikipedia. The presentation is basically around a set of case studies (and personal editing experiences) that demonstrate how cultural conflicts, knowledge making and Wikipedia's own policies are constantly in conversation and that for certain content to start coming in on encyclopedias (especially in the digital age and with a focus on diversifying), the encyclopedia project must fail (must change, look different, open/close). If you are going to Open Source Bridge and want to have a conversation around any of these - women, tech, Wikipedia, tech cultures in India, I'd be happy to meet up!

That's not all! My aim behind writing this post is also to tell you fellow women (tech and non-tech) friends that you *should* attend the next Adacamp! Keep watching their website or follow the twitter updates.
All pumped up on girl power and geek schwag, more later!

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