Category Archives: Ideas

DIY Menstrual Cups & Hack4Fem

Background on Menstrual Cups

I’ve been throwing around the idea of customized or instrumented menstrual cups for a while.

Menstrual cups, typically made of medical-grade silicone, are cups that catch the blood flowing out of the cervix and typically only need to be emptied twice a day. They are flexible so you fold them and they open on insertion. They exist in collapsible, ball-valve, and other forms.

For why I love them (well, I actually switched to tampons first):

so recently I started regularly using tampons, they are amazinnnnggg

seriously
every month my sleep schedule would get massively disrupted, because I slept uneasily, sometimes even in an upright sitting position, ready to jump awake when blood inevitably started to go everywhere, and also I’d have to wash my sheets and multiple sets of underwear / pants each month, often by hand
or i’d store pads in my bookbag and a month later when I needed them again, they’d be full of resistors and other bookbag filth, since the pad packaging isn’t really watertight

Some of my friends like the concept of menstrual cups, but have various problems with removal and leakage. I speculate that custom cups could help, although more analysis is needed to determine the cause and the variation. Hence this project.

I also really like the idea of an citizen science project measuring variation in periods. Other people claim a Diva cup is supposed to hold half your period’s worth of blood — I definitely bleed at least four cup-fulls during my period, so I wonder if my bleeding is heavy. If lots of people contributed data, we could see whether it varied by ethnicity, age, body weight, etc. It would be a ton of fun!

I was beaten to the punch on instrumented cups, but I think there is still room for improvement (or at least an open-hardware version).

This past Saturday I ran a hackathon for feminism (website here).

2015-11-14

It went really well, and I’ll blog about it in another post shortly — this one’s focused on menstrual cups 🙂

hackathon

pre-hackathon

Before the hackathon, John and I made menstrual cup molds and cast menstrual cups. We modeled it in Solidworks, then intersected it with a rectangular prism and split the prism in half. This created a two-part mold with a cavity in-between the size and shape of the menstrual cup. The Solidworks 2015 files are available here and are CC-BY-SA (c) John Aleman.

model

We then printed these out on a Stratasys printer, melted the wax support material off in the toaster oven, cleaned off with isoproprly alcohol, and had our molds.

2015-11-12

I first tested it at home with John’s help. We used Smooth-On’s SORTA-Clear Translucent Silicone Rubber, shore 37, since it cures in 4 hours instead of 24 hours. This is food safe and I think body-safe — I would call Reynold’s Advanced Materials to double-check before actually using one of these cups.

Turns out this material was really difficult to work with… it was the consistency of viscous snot.  No pictures pre-hackathon since the silicone is messy. I sure had a difficult time separating the molds. And it turned out we hadn’t even filled the molds for two of them!

incomplete-molds

Eventually some careful prying by my friend Nadya, we opened the final mold to find a menstrual cup inside!

mcup-mold

mcup

It had a lot of bubbles — would have benefited from 2-3 minutes in a vacuum. Unfortunate, since there doesn’t seem to be a cheap hobbyist vacuum solution. It was also slightly tacky, so either something in the 3d print is inhibiting cure or we didn’t mix well enough.

hackathon hands-on workshop

hackathon-molds

At the hackathon, we used syringes to eject into the molds until it came out the sides, and also just poured it into the bottom half of the mold and squeezed the top half on top to guarantee the mold was filled. We also all got pretty excited about the idea of glittery menstrual cups! 🙂 Sadly I didn’t have glitter on hand.

twocups

 

At the end of the hackathon we managed to demold one. This one  also had a giant bubble and many little bubbles, and was also tacky after the full four hours of cure time. We mixed this one much better, so I’m starting to think something is inhibiting cure, or perhaps the place we left them was too chilly.

next up

I definitely need a better mold design, and I need to figure out why the silicone is not curing properly. I also need to figure out a way around the bubble issue.

I also wonder how to analyze and determine why menstrual cups are failing (when they are hard to retrieve or leak). I also wonder, if fit is part of the problem, how you could easily take a measurement(s) to customize menstrual cups to each person.

And of course, I want to build the open science project! 🙂 Maybe instead of having each person build their own cup, I could at least start a form going and collect data…

feminist / engineering shopfront brainstorming

Current plan: Find a venue for a pop-up shop, 2 to 5pm on Sundays, somewhere near Central Square or other t-stop (or somewhere a lot of people walk past). Danger!awesome community space, perhaps.

Have tshirts, jewelry, greeting cards, posters, framed art for sale. Work on projects while waiting for people to buy things or not.

Archived Thoughts

I want to open a little storefront in danger!awesome’s new community space, or at the least install a vending machine there. Who should I talk to that might take me seriously?

I would stock
  • last-minute hard-to-find locally things, such as
  • standard engineering things
    • arduinos & mcus
    • composites (fiberglass, kevlar, carbon fiber, gallons of epoxy) / molding supplies (smooth-on)
    • servos & hobbyking motors
    • lipos & lipo chargers
    • tiny taps and drill bits (always break)
    • nylon things (inert)
    • ferric chloride, acetone, MEK/P
    • dremel bits
    • sandpaper
    • right-angle drills (probably for renting)
  • personal protective equipment that fits for both men and women
    • cheap small/medium leather gloves
    • cheap small/medium tyvek suits
    • a stock of respirators so people can try them on & see how it handles with their hair & learn how to put them on properly
    • small/medium closed-toe boots / steel boots
    • small/medium insulative coveralls
    • safety glass buffing station
  • fashion and craft things
    • fondant, icing, glitter, matte nail polish, etc.
  • Products from local engineers and makers, such as Brian Chan’s lasercut folding ukulele
I am not sure how I’d keep it open, because I especially want people to have access during times when normal stores are not open, but those are the crappiest times from the employee perspective (see: night shift health hazards), and I’m pretty busy. Perhaps some sort of coop-honor-system style thing could work, where you pay a deposit and then have 24hr access & you keep track of what materials you “bought”/checked-out and can pay on-site with a self-checkout.
and anything else people want (I’d have a “what do you want to see here” suggestion box online and offline :] ), and keep inventory meticulously online, so people KNOW what’s in stock.

More ideas

  • customization
    • dremel your name into your bike (anti-theft)
    • anodize or hydrographically print on your wrench set, helmet, etc. so that it’s very obvious that it’s yours and people know to return it if they borrow it
  • specialized tools
    • watch a robot arm use machine vision to sort your drill bits for you
    • place a bolt that you need to match on the countertop and we will (using machine vision?) identify size and thread count for you & give you the mcmaster number
    • smooth-on supplies
      • mini-museum of casting things
  • consultancies
    • trying to learn how to scale and source things in China? Visiting China and want to talk to manufacturers? Get cheap and questionable advice (possibly while doing your nails :P)
    • where to source things and how to source them cheaply
  • shop safety education (with lots of disclaimers that we are not doctors)
    • have posters of what happens when you don’t treat epoxy respectfully
    • get nitty gritty street knowledge on what you actually need to do to be safe and what bad outcomes are like and how to treat them — what are the trade-offs you are making with your safety when you don’t wear respirators, long clothes, etc. without judging you if for whatever reason you don’t
    • teach people how to use respirators and pick the right cartridges so that the respirator is easy to use and doesn’t get in the way of glasses and safety glasses and long hair
  • hubmotors & misc. segging things from china
    • segstick buddy riding competitions
  • food
    • too annoying to get license perhaps… but
    • could sell food molds: nyancat pancake molds, chocolate molds, etc. for birthday gifts
    • cake decorating / cutting robots
  • robot / geeky earrings and tshirts
  • feminist apparel, greeting cards, jewelry, tshirts, dresses, scarves, hats, shoes
  • menstrual cup advice and models

feminism + engineering projects brainstorming

some off-the-walls brainstorming!
ideas list:
  • covering the ground around clinics in mobile robots (so there’s nowhere to step) that together display cute cat videos (to de-stress patients and employees) [3]
  • cute pop up robots, like in big hero six [2], that act as a wall of clinic escorts (automation is the future, after all) and project calming music / nature sounds
    • or project the stories of those who have had abortions and want to share their story, in a non-threatening and clearly automated way, so that if anti-abortion folks want to threaten anyway, they’re left threatening a cute robot. Maybe stick a gopro on them to tape the protestors violently taking down the robots, which it seems like they might be inclined to do so
    • punching bag for the really angry folks who could benefit to work off some steam
    • hand out survey cards to clinic bullies to collect their complaints and offer them cake and tea (remind them to be civil)
    • distract clinic bullies (or at least their kids) with cute cat videos projected onto the side of the clinic building
    • distribute pro-choice adorable plushies and toys to the kids there
  • water or chalk spray graffiti attachment to a bike for people commuting to promote civic action while on their way to work [4] [5]
  • light attachment for bike [6] [7]
  • birth control coffee kcup, many people easily remember to drink coffee every day at a regular time 🙂 might increase compliance
  • creating fashionable dresses out of feminine hygiene products with pro-choice slogans artfully worked into them [10]
  • selling pro-choice pasta [8]
  • a facebook plugin for people to easily show their support for choice / abortion, like the lgbt rainbow plugin [9]
  • hold a nail art party / saloon, or a fashion walk, or a hackathon, or a conference. fun and educational and empowering events, all day every day, next to the clinic(s). To make the contrast between hate-filled speech and things that make everyone laugh and have fun and let them just get on with their lives, even more clear
  • have a statue competition — build pedestals to stand on and get in makeup artists and so patients and employees are greeted with an interesting gallery of living art, like the performance artists who paint themselves like statues and hold really still, instead of hate and harrassment
  • hold feminist / women’s rights play/theater shows and documentary screenings next to the clinic
  • make it really annoying to be there.
    • Sell the protestors every day things, it must get really boring to keep talking about the same thing every day and they are the perfect captive audience.
    • Have a guy very persistently offer the male clinic bullies free makeup and perfume and lotion samples and manicures.
    • Have really annoying and loud teenager cellphone conversations in the middle of and completely ignoring the clinic bullies
    • Hold kids’ water balloon fights there in the summer! Maybe high school / university kids who know how to leave a clear path for patients and employees.
    • Set up mini water-dropping drones which hover over clinic bullies and give them their own personal rain cloud (or rainbow/disco spotlight + rick roll music).
  • Just make it extra super boring to be there. Like have a Speech / Toastmaster or high school debate competition outside near the clinic, or read the house codes / political bills non-stop for a while

[1] http://qz.com/435921/the-worlds-first-abortion-drone-will-deliver-pills-to-poland-this-weekend/

https://qzprod.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/abortion-drone-crop.jpeg?w=1434

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Hero_6_%28film%29#/media/File:Big_Hero_6_%28film%29_poster.jpg

A big white round robot.

[3] http://www.wired.com/2014/05/disney-invents-swarming-robots-that-create-animations/

http://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/disney-pixelbots-07.jpg

http://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/disney-pixelbots-07.jpg

[4] http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/12/nicholas-hanna5.jpghttp://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/12/nicholas-hanna5.jpg

[5] http://archive.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/04/kinberg_0410

[5]

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graffiti_Research_Lab

http://hackedgadgets.com/wp-content/Graffiti_Research_Lab_laser_Tag_4.jpg

[7] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/embrooke/blaze-bike-light

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/130912121102-blaze-bike-light-horizontal-gallery.jpg

[8]  http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-K87vdmx-qwc/VSnUfG1XaGI/AAAAAAAAE20/AIezRXtjXec/s1600/a4.jpg

http://pastamachines.com/ravmolds/dies/shapes/

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-K87vdmx-qwc/VSnUfG1XaGI/AAAAAAAAE20/AIezRXtjXec/s1600/a4.jpg

[9]

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/06/were-all-those-rainbow-profile-photos-another-facebook-experiment/397088/

[10] http://thestir.cafemom.com/healthy_living/114448/5_Alternative_Uses_for_Tampons

http://cdn-ugc.cafemom.com/gen/constrain/500/500/80/2010/12/30/08/ds/fy/po5ad5eaok1ehm8.jpg

nail saloon parties: laseretched stamping plates, water marbling / hydrographic printing, toner transfer, and magnetic nail polish

nail saloon

I’ve been holding nail saloon parties at my place, the idea being it would be a place where people should feel welcome to ask questions about things they might feel awkward about normally, and also a chance for me to learn about other people’s experiences that I don’t know much of anything about.

Although it turned out to be mostly preaching to the choir, I’ve improved friendships through it, learned about other people’s lives, and also experimented with nail art with folks!

Here’s a few “pieces”. I drew this with the applicators that came on the bottle (and a toothpick, I think)

laser-etched stamping plates

I tried to make stamping plates (lasercut) — here’s how the professional ones look: https://youtu.be/HxIFgvfPC1c?t=1m29s — however, I think, because I was in a hurry, the etch depth was not deep enough

(and also, we were using test tube stoppers instead of soft round stamps that conform to your nail more).

newspaper toner transfer

One person successfully did newspaper transfer, but that was perhaps one successful one try out of ten…

Here’s the instructions, using rubbing alcohol.

And if you’re not having luck, just fake it with sharpie 🙂

ombre

aka, a color gradient. this is a simple technique, just take a cosmetic sponge, put two or three colors next to each other, and then dab away — tada, you have a gradient!

the middle finger is “ombre” here

magnetic nail polish

it works! turns out you need to get the magnet patterns.

the thumb and fourth finger have gold magnetic nail polish applied

Update 8/16/15: For those wondering about MRI compatibility — it so happens I had an MRI done recently with some magnetic nail polish still on my nails. It was totally fine (not even a slight pull), and they also have a nifty device that checks if you have metal things on you before you enter the MRI room.

stickers

these sadly only lasted maybe a few days, even with a topcoat applied on top of the stickers

tools

I hunted around for a local source of things like dotting tools (for making dots) and eventually found them right at Target!

the sticker “masks” above did not work too great, but the dotting tool was handy 🙂

testimonial

“I guess I never noticed how often I take off my socks in the presence of other people until now. An eye-opening find on it’s own! I think I shall paint them from now on. It’s like the personalization of a tattoo without the peril.” — K. S.

water marbling

This is just dropping different colors into a cup of water and dipping your nails in it. I did this successfully (you want solid colors usually, and some nail polishes do not work (just dissolve into the water)). Here’s a friend’s:

Inline image 1

Here’s the coolest water marbling of nails I’ve seen

Here’s the fun technical equivalent at SIGGRAPH

conclusion

Overall, quite a bit of fun 🙂

hack4fem: hack for feminism (conference & hackathon) logo

hack4femlogo hack4femlogoI made a logo for a new project I am starting up. It’s a mashup of a bunch of openclipart files, It combines the feminist logo (fist inside Venus sign) with STEM (wrench for mechanical engineering / hands-on, lightning for electrical engineering, then on the nails, a graph for mathematics, beaker for science, and “</>” for coding). The logo expresses my desire to combine my STEM skills with my feminist / activist passions. I refuse to choose between activism and advancing my technical prowess.

hack4femlogoHere is the SVG sourcehack4femlogo, which I release back into the public domain.

If you’re interested in helping organize the first hack4fem conference, email me! 🙂 It’s set for Nov. 7th & 8th (Sat. and Sun.), 2015, in Boston, MA.

Addressing the “skeptics” on reddit: Woman up and talk to people in real life.

as before, posting my response here because I’ve handed off my reddit account to a friend so I can’t keep trying to fix the internet. I’ll re-post to reddit when I get access again in a week.

In response to “he said she said” comment, as replicated below:

guh-internet-suchfail
4:29 AM: the point distro is now 3 for miotoss, 1 for me, instead of 2:2 as shown here. love you too reddit

I’m sure an arrest would satisfy your desire for truth [/sarcasm].

The fact that there are laws against something is evidence that it happens (so we make a law against it, e.g. no one is seriously making laws against murdering unicorns), not that it doesn’t happen. For instance, there’s laws against speeding and jaywalking, and they definitely still happen. Another example, rape is illegal and people do get arrested for rape, yet people still doubt it happens. Therefore, nothing you read on the internet will convince you, especially if you start from “everyone is lying to me / people are all liars” and the thought is on the tip of your tongue ready to leap out the second you read something contrary to your beliefs.

So seriously, just go talk to people in real life—everyone will be much happier, you and I included. In real life, you will have to look people in face and stare them in the eye and deal with the fact that you could end up feeling sh***y about yourself when you call your friends a liar to their face.

I tell my friends in real life when they are being wittingly or unwittingly sexist, and I feel sh***y as f**k all when I do so. But I deal with it, I deal with their anger and resentment and backlash, I deal with them saying “bulls**t” to my face, I deal with them saying “I’m too busy dealing with my own life and issues to listen to you”, I deal with them saying “I only care about hardcore technical issues and I’m proud of that”, I accept they will tell me “I don’t care about your pet cause, stop talking about it”, I listen to why they are feeling the way they do—I do all this so that we can grow together, and because I’m a grown-up woman and I’m their friend. Because I accept that, if I want them to listen to me, I need to listen to them too.

I listen to them, because I know what it feels like to not be listened to.

I’m far from perfect at listening instead of reacting in anger, because I’m human. But at least I try.

I’m challenging you to do the same. Get off the internet and go talk to people in person. Woman up, like I did, and confront them in real life. Engage with people in order to grow your empathy and understanding of why other people believe what they do, instead of trying to prove to yourself what you already believe. And don’t sleep easy until you do.

It will take effort and time away from honing your technical skills. You will have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and distressed. You will have to accept people’s anger and distrust and hurt and discomfort and apathy and backlash at you. You will have to work to seek out opposing opinions instead of shutting them down. You will have to work to gracefully accept criticism when you inevitably get angry, fail at listening, and fail to hold yourself up to your own standards.You will have to acknowledge the limitations of statistics and the limitations of your knowledge—you will have to put all your opinions aside so that you can fully be there when your friend is asking you to listen to her. You will have to work to broaden your circle of real friends, not just token friends, so that you can talk to people with diverse life experiences with whom you have a history of doing things for in return, instead of just demanding their knowledge and opinion and attention in a one-way relationship—you will have to ask for their trust in you, instead of asking them to lay their painful life stories before your skeptical eyes for you to tear apart while you call them liars “who have zero issue lying” and give them no trust nor respect in return.

And this is the effort you have to put in to be a grown-up woman.

tl;dr Woman up and talk to people in real life. Don’t sleep easy until you are better at listening than at arguing, until you are comfortable doing to your friends in person the things you do to strangers on the internet.

Interesting Instruments (email repost)

*perks up* edible instrument things?

kelp horn

http://moonmilk.com/2009/02/04/instrument-a-day-4-kelphorn/ (maybe edible if you soak it)

Instrument-a-day 4: Kelphorn

#diy musical instrument – water xylophone with different color notes!

www.meetthedubiens.com/

A while back I wanted to try to make an actually functional rock-candy rainbow-colored xylophone. i’m not sure how to verify whether rock candy can produce musical notes except to make some rock candy, but here is a wrench xylophone

http://www.instructables.com/id/Wrench-Xylophone/

of course the really nice-sounding chinese gourd flute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulusi) (also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calabash has pictures of how other cultures use gourds in instruments)

Inline image 1

\Inline image 2

hmm there’s a whole orchestra

https://www.pinterest.com/clayjuxtaposed/edible-instruments/

Vienna’s vegetable orchestra: what is going on here??

????? XD

hmm, surprisingly functional:

(I like that they use a digital tuner to make sure their vegetable instruments are in tune!)

here’s a strange/cool one, a beer organ. works by blowing wind over the tops of the bottles apparently.  http://www.oddmusic.com/gallery/om06300.html

it sounds so nice http://www.oddmusic.com/clips/erigby.mp3


source: me! I posted it to ec-discuss originally.

Addressing the Fallacy: “people must practice in their spare time to be good in a field”

i haven’t posted this response since I swore off reddit for a bit — but thought this might be interesting to other folks.

Let’s take a step back. I find it really dangerous to assume there’s a causal link or 1:1 correlation between [people who spend all their time studying a field] and [people who are extremely competent at a field].

For one, this leads to a culture of “all work, all the time.” For instance, professors are expected to work essentially all the time by default. Another example: In programming, there’s this growing trend of using contributions (often unpaid) to open-source projects as a benchmark for competency.

This becomes problematic when, for various reasons, people cannot devote their spare time to the study of a field. Maybe it is financial: they don’t have time to spare to make unpaid contributions to OSS. Maybe it is life-related: a small child or family is taking up a lot of their spare time.

The overly-simplistic thinking you outlined leads to people in positions of power / employers discriminating against or manipulating young women in the field because they might get pregnant and have less spare time to study the field for a while (there are other issues at play here, for instance maternal / significant other leave, and the expectation that women do most of the child-rearing work). Another possible result is systematic exclusion of lower-income people from the field, because they can afford less unpaid work relative to high-income people.

Secondly, I think it’s absolutely true that people (whether for nurture, e.g. previous exposure, learning styles, presence of mentors, presence with curricula that matches their learning style, enjoying studying instead of thinking about family members getting shot up, etc. or nature) will pick up a new field at different rates. Thus, it is definitely possible for motivated people new to a field to catch up very fast with people who have been studying the field for a while (not to mention bringing in fresh perspectives and new ideas). I don’t know any names off the top of my head, but I can look around for examples if you would like. [1]

This could, fortunately or unfortunately, mean there exists

  • an extremely intelligent and motivated 9 to 5 brogrammer who has officially been in the field for 10 years

who is as technically competent as

  • someone who toils night and day and has been officially in the field for 30 years

Whether this actually happens, or if so the frequency with which it happens, I have no idea.

Conclusion

Therefore, I find it much less problematic to assume something along the lines of

  • “people who enjoy a field so much they would study it in their spare time if they could, or who study it whenever possible, tend to be the ones who persevere and become extremely competent at it”

rather than

  • “only people who study the field in their spare time are extremely competent at it”.

FOOTNOTES

[0] I apologize for the bad syntax. I meant 10x, not O(n). I think my brain went “abbreviate Order of magNitude” and shat out O(n). I find it no more rude than correcting usage of “I could care less” or “should of”, which some people may find rude, but which I tend to appreciate.

[1] Perhaps Einstein is an example of someone who caught up in a field rapidly without officially studying it full time, although now I feel obligated to pull up examples of non-dead-white-men, since someone on the Internet will make the wrong conclusion otherwise.

Sadly, so far in my life most of my curriculum has given me biopsies of white male geniuses, so I can’t say for sure as I don’t know the life history of many non-white-male people (also, I don’t know the life histories of many not-famous people).

Technical people I could try to vet to see whether they could be considered “examples”:

  • Non-male: Emmy Noether, Marie Curie, Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, Hedy Lamarr, Émilie du Châtelet, Laura Deming (living). (thanks quora). Sufiah Yusof [2], Kathleen Holtz
  • Non-white: Srinivasa Ramanujan, Kim Ung-Yong (still living), Akrit Jaswal (err… reportedly not at all humble), Jaylen Bledsoe (living)
  • Non-male non-white (black): Rochelle Ballantyne (living), Brittney Exline (living)

[2] (now that was sad to read about, but happy update: http://inquiringfeminist.com/2015/02/13/neil-tweedie-of-the-daily-telegraph/)

APPENDIX

crazy ideas, crackpottery, open-source hardware, and economics

I consort with some interesting people now on the open-source-hardware mailing list.

I suspect this is how my ideas would all end up looking like if I didn’t have some awesome friends who put up with my crazy rants and criticize me and force me to make sense… (function sort of like academic reviewers, but in-person and my friends can unplug me from the internet and force me to go sailing when I get really unhinged)

nrp-frictionless-blob-humans
Full slideshow: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1JEPsxJOjEMHNhvIGLXzcvovrpXqpoY75YaPHDKI0t9w/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g368effe15_020

Sensorica has some interesting ideas behind it, but it’s hard to access through a layer of what, for lack of a better term, I must describe as “crackpottery”. maybe genius is just refined crackpottery?

side note/pun: https://www.pinterest.com/artoftea/crazy-teapots/ get it? crazy crack-tea pot? heehee

Hennie Meyer | Dancing Teapots

However, the term craze is also used to refer to minute cracks in pottery glaze, again suggesting the metaphorical connection of cracked pots with questionable mental health. (src)

Heck it appears I’m halfway there according to some made-up-indexing method…

1. Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important.

2. Cranks love to talk about their own beliefs, often in inappropriate social situations, but they tend to be bad listeners, being uninterested in anyone else’s experience or opinions.

(src)

http://basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2010/9/26/how-to-react-to-a-crackpot-theory.html

2010-09-26-crackpot

frictionless human blobs

Anyway, my friend’s opinion:

it’s assuming humans are frictionless spheres a bit

but I’m always down for a novel utopia

I think it’d be a terrible way to run an economy or manufacturing chain tho

there doesn’t seem to be any planning for predictability, contract, risk

in that way seems a bit Valve-like, in their ideal of their internal structure

Here’s the valve new employee PDF, which is now on my commute reading list:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9r0HZeoMbmgYTZNTkJnU3ZvNEk/view

Anyway, here’s my own (mostly coherent, but very long) post on the topic of open-source hardware and its relation to economics.

long post is long

I agree that our current economic system (capitalism) has inspired an amazing amount of innovation via the (greed + cash + ego –> innovation) cycle. I would much rather live in 2014 than in 1714.

However, we can definitely say that this incredible innovation / economic system has its downsides — unwillingness to confront global warming, marketing cigarettes to developing countries since advertising is heavily restricted in developed countries [1] [2] [3], marketing baby formula instead of breast milk[5], verizon/comcast [6], these are some obvious examples of how corporate systems have led to evil / “not good”, without even talking about the overall distribution of resources in the world (why does poverty still exist?).

I agree that open & closed ecosystems are not exclusive. But I sometimes wonder if as a society we are kind of like the Hollywood studio execs — “each movie is 500 million dollars, let’s not risk doing anything different like having perse female characters.”

For instance, from what I understand, the Republican point of view is that “our current economic system has led to great advances in technology that has bettered everyone’s life. This system may be unjust and rife with a whole host of issues, income inequality may be set to worsen forever, the planet may become inhospitable to humans, but we should not risk trying anything else.”

There’s actually no way to tell who will be right in the short- or long-term future. However, I strongly do want to encourage or get out of the way of people who want to experiment with these more “peer-based” models of production, where “everything is shared and people benefit from each others’ knowledge and contributions.”

I personally think this is what we should move toward in the future, and these pangs of “open source work / socially conscious work / academic research is not rewarded equivalently in cold, hard, cash” are the result of a transition between the two models, where ultimately we end up in 100% opensource land. But my personal opinion is pretty irrelevant, it’d take hundreds of years to arrive at this sort of scenario, and for all I know a mixture of the systems may be the most stable or ideal state. I recognize the human limitations to my knowledge and personal beliefs. tl;dr I don’t make for a great revolutionary ;P

Getting back to the original point, yea, cool people work for both lots of money and lots of purpose, and although working for lots of money can lead to bad things, working for lots of purpose can lead to bad things too [7] [8], so we shouldn’t unilaterally judge people either way (although, as puny humans, we invariably will stereotype in order to function in life).

Anyway, philosophy hour aside, now I’m going to go back to rabidly supporting opensource just like Apple fanboys support Apple! 😛

““`Links““`

[1] News article summarizing recent move to expand market in developing countries http://thinkafricapress.com/health/big-tobacco-african-young-smokers

[2] Overview of scientific research http://www.who.int/tobacco/media/ROSS2000X.pdf

[3] (pictures!) Packaging http://www.fctc.org/images/stories/CCS-intl%20warnings%20report%202012-English.pdf

canada-cigarette-health-warnings

[4] check out how many cigarette ads were in the old Tech http://tech.mit.edu/V74/PDF/V74-N48.pdf

MIT-tech-V74-N48-advertising
FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 1955: “Your own college-and-class pipe” ?? o___O Thanks, but no thanks.

[5]  UNICEF Formula for Disaster (Nestle, Phillipines) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PBtb-UDhEc

[6] “it appeared that Verizon learned a valuable lesson: it can flat out lie to governments, promise 100% fiber coverage in exchange for subsidies, then not deliver, and no one will do a damn thing about it” . https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131012/02124724852/decades-failed-promises-verizon-it-promises-fiber-to-get-tax-breaks-then-never-delivers.shtml

[7] http://matadornetwork.com/change/7-worst-international-aid-ideas/

[8] http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/02/26/technology/personaltech/an-outspoken-voice-for-women-in-tech-foiled-by-his-tone.html?referrer&_r=0

toread

other people’s emails on the thread:

“Yes, [x], you’re right.  I recently saw Linus Torvalds in Central begging.  Richard Stallman hit me up for a job washing my windshield.

Just joking of course, people make lots of money off of commons-based production.  Check out some of the economics of “free revealing” of ideas by Eric von Hipple (MIT) or Yochai Benkler (Harvard).  It’s not the zero sum game you represent.  Benkler’s book is affordable, even if you only make 90k”

Review: While some of Benkler’s arguments and examples are fascinating and easily read, they are sandwiched between portions of confusing, thick, often heavily theoretical prose. […] In spite of these attempts to make this book more accessible, it is probably best suited to an academic or technical audience; those with an interest and background in the topics discussed. (src)

“Eric von Hipple’s books are really good, too.”

Review: There is no doubt that the continued lower costs and democratization of the tools and distribution of things previously the realm of pros is reshaping our world. But this book reads like a college textbook. More academia than Malcolm Gladwell or Chris Anderson. Which I guess is good if you’re a true researcher. (src)

Heehee. Guess academics try so hard to distinguish themselves from crackpots that to laypeople they reach another dimension of incomprehensibility.

Update: Just read this thanks to Ned —

relatively flat networks can quickly generate hierarchical structures even without any attempt at a power grab by emergent leaders or by any organizational, coordinated action.

http://technosociology.org/?p=366

basically, for networks to remain flat, they must be engineered to stay that way, since they’ll strongly tend to un-flatten, especially thanks to social media

 

why the **** does everything around me assume I’m a guy (updated)

unfortunately lately i have been very angry and random passerbys have been bearing the brunt of my rage. sadly i’m also too angry to be coherent enough and calm enough that it won’t just pass over their head. oh well.

like this tv show casting company (brand removed).

ugh-tvshow-makers

sigh. the individual ad by itself isn’t sexist per se. but the cumulative weight of all these ads and tv shows and everything around me is sexist. what they say is, “you don’t exist.”

i fixed it by changing the blue to hot pink and adding in some fingernails with nail polish. not to say “since your ad was masculine instead of feminine, you’re being sexist”, but rather to point out how stereotypical they were being without even noticing or acknowledging it.

tvshow-makers-poster-fixed

probably most guys (aka most of my friends) missed the point and just dismissed it as “oh another crazy person advocating political correctness”. oh well. but especially the people who work in media, if they’re not conscious of what they’re doing — well, basically they should at least be self-aware enough to admit they are okay with perpetuating these stereotypes and publicly admit it. basically, all I want them to do is include a little line:

“we welcome all types of people even if our ad is a little stereotypical!”


There is growing hope for the media industry, though, which makes me really happy.

http://www.blackenterprise.com/lifestyle/female-macgyver-contest-reality-tv-csi/

MARCH 18, 2015 9:55 PM
Hollywood’s Best Will Pay You $5,000 To Help Find a Female “MacGyver”
White House supports effort to create programming highlighting women in STEM

oh here’s another angry lady (oops, when you tell women to stand up for themselves, be prepared, they might take you up on the offer!) who impressed me

Phoenix Perry – Female Game Developer Community http://vimeo.com/81481624 for some classy examples, like this (i removed the brand, because *** them)

ugh-gaming-ad-perry-oshw


I concluded my reply email with “but in more seriousness, if you ever want to talk person-to-person instead of stereotype-to-stereotype, let me know”.

ball’s in their court now. i’ll let you all know if they follow through on talking to me.

UPDATE 3/25/15

One of my friends was able to act as a de-anger-translator and better articulate what I meant than my snarky email.

pitmancasting

 

Note the lack of stereotypical white-male stock photo, and that they now ask for pictures of what you made, not pictures of your team (I didn’t even catch the words the first time around!). -^-^- I’m happy they were able to fix their poster without much effort at all, and (I’m told) that the casting company seemed entirely sincere. As suspected, the issues was simply that they “just pulled a stock photo to get it done quickly.” (who knows about the Major Cable Network they are feeding into…).

I do feel that visually the poster is less strong as a result of the lack of human interest. Ah well, so it goes — I guess the tricky thing to do, if you include “human interest” in visual design, is to not fall into stock-photo-corporate-blandness. Maybe that’s where a sincerely-worded short sentence could help.

I feel really happy about this outcome overall. It resulted in a lot of fruitful conversations with my guy friends who were previously avoiding gender issues and now reached out because they themselves felt confused or alienated, and the casting company updated their poster.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Changing society is a long, slow, and frustrating process, and it’s been very gratifying to put effort in and get concrete results, however small in the grand scheme of things, out. A+ would do again.

FAQ

I confused some of my friends (who perhaps haven’t thought or listended as much about gender issues) with these pictures. They corresponded privately with me, prior to the casting company releasing their updated version.

Person A: Is your problem with the image that it depicts a white male wearing a dress shirt to reflect a hobby and industry largely dominated by males. It seems the words on all these images are the same, merely the gender or presence of the hand and the color of the background, neither of which seem relevant to me with regard to stereotyping or sexism.

Me: Yes, my problem was with that image. Specifically, the context of the picture was not “here is a reflective picture in our academic article detailing the current demographics of the industry”. They were saying, “here is an image with which we are soliciting people to represent an industry to a large number of people not currently in the industry”.

Thanks for clarifying your confusion !___!

Person B: Wouldn’t it be better to congratulate them on making an ad that is not sexist? In fact, their ad seems far more gender neutral than your suggested ad.

Me: I personally don’t want to them to be gender neutral, that’s boring… I’d rather they celebrate diversity, but in an honest way, instead of a corporate-mandated hokey way. That’s why I suggest a single well-written not-canned sentence would go far.