LIFT06: What is this about?

Good question. It is about ideas, it is about opinions, and it is not about the future. We have an adamant talent for staying in the present while fantasizing about the future.

First, I do suspect that a lot of this is about identity, and then again it could be about the economics of affluence. And then again, it could be about man’s search for values. The skeptic in me whispers in my ear that all that  these very self confident people giving talks are doing with the products of the silicon digital revolution is quite simple to understand: they are playing. Playing, having fun, that is. that is what we are all doing.

As David Galipeau reminded us, Religion has discovered how to use the Internet, however I can not quite say that much of it is of any redeeming value. But then again organized Crime did not miss the boat either. Religion and Crime may have something in common and it is not God. but then again, Religion and Crime have long been associates. What better alibi can you have than the one that you can push on God? No, this is not the point, and this is not what David Galipeau talked about either.

This is not about art, design or fashion. After all artists have always had the task of prodding the human mind to new levels of conscientiousness. Régine Debatty illustrated with much authenticity how good a job some of today’s artists are doing. Chapeau!

I had however my own troubles with Bruce Sterling‘s spimes. I can appreciate his play and experimentation with words and linguistics, but his idea of spimes left me wearing a critic’s hat. What is it like to be a spime, he asked. I noted, it is to be intellectual, real, and frankly boring and devoid of spirit. Sustainability is not the answer to the question that ubiquitous computation is an answer to. I love good argumentation, so let’s hear it. Sustainability is not an answer. Sustainability is a question. The debate on sustainability is open.

Cory Doctorow‘s plea for what is not an internet business model is too clearly only common sense. However power has seldom been endowed with common sense. The intellectual property issues raised by twenty first century technologies of the digital revolution are the result of using a tool created in the nineteenth century designed to deal with the industrial revolution. Present day intellectual property rights are at best an ill fit for the job, a bit like trying to play tennis with a golf iron or running a marathon in high hill shoes (a bad invention any day).

I usually like to keep my mouth shut, but when it came to the women in technology, I felt that there was something I could say, raised my arm, and so did twenty others. If, and indeed there are few women in executive positions in technology companies, it is not because there are role models lacking. That is also not to say that role models are not important, they are, but not when it comes to gender issues. It could be that I am poled a bit different, and that my female brain is wired the wrong way around, but somehow when it comes to role models, I am indifferent to gender. I draw my inspiration from the nut cases that dreamt of doing something that “everybody” thought too crazy and then they went ahead and did it anyhow. I am thinking of the nut case that had the idea of putting a train up the Jungfraujoch. Really, what was the business model, and who was the role model?

I am drifting away from women and technology, I am not a feminist and I distinguish between women who use and women who create technology. It is not the same thing. That some people think that it is far out for a female to use advanced technology is only evidence of their retrograde thinking and lack of intelligence. Women use high tech all the time in their mobiles, in their laundry machines, in their cars, in their dishwashers and in their computers. Women use technology. What Anina is good evidence of is not a matter of a woman using technology, it is a matter of a woman in a rather stereotyped industry – the fashion industry – having the guts to make herself heard. Once I got over my irritation of her flat and sweet voice and listened to her words, yes, the woman has a point, and it is damn good that she is doing what she is doing, blogging, speaking out, expressing herself and well, having fun with html. Do not judge a book by its cover, nor a guitar by its sound. Anina needs a voice coach, she sounds like a sweet little school girl, it detracts from her power.

I may indeed be drifting when it comes to women and technology, but then it reminds me of women and politics. The way that I see it, we live in one planet with a limited set of resources, it is the same planet for all. We, as far as being animal and human, are a social kind of animal, and yes, we like to play and have fun. I know that I will be cracking my bad jokes in my death bed, or die in my sleep laughing about one. We – humans – have chosen to organize in a social system that we sometimes call political. Politics, Science and Technology have no gender per se, that does not mean that one can not polemicize about  the genderness of it all.  This is when we get to the point of it all, it is all about power. The internet is about power.  The lawsuits on presupposed copyright infringements by the music industry on their clients are about power.  And you already knew it, religion and crime are about power. It so turns out that in most of these systems, women are on the short end of the stick. Why? I have not quite figured it out either. It is an observation that I have made.

If there is one world conspiracy out there, it is the one about keeping women down “in their place” whatever that may be. I wrote that I am not a feminist, and I am not. Still, it takes two to tango. If the bloody men are in power, the women are helping to keep them there. I know what I am writing about. You can read my resumé, or the story of my life, and no I have not written a memoir – a tricky business these days anyhow – and you might get an idea that I have been there, done this, seen that and I did not get the t-shirt. Let me translate, I am not in an executive position attained organically, and I have an advanced degree in Physics – that is fairly technical and duly soiled with the beauty of mathematics – besides having been in a few nice places to be for science and technology. Let me tell you, it was not all direct choice, and it was not the lack of role models. Meanwhile I also raised a child to adulthood, and disposed of three husbands. My male colleagues who have gone to brilliant careers, usually had dutiful  wives at home baking cookies, washing their underwear and taking care of the kids. It could be that I was not good enough, and it could be that I did not care enough. It also could be that I was not ready to pay the price for an executive career, I am opinionated and not easy to keep under control, and really I have no clue what my place might be. I am on earth, I live here, this is my place.

It is perhaps a good thing that I did not get to voice my reaction to the panel on women and technology, it would have been one hell of a speech.

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