On Friday an article I wrote about values and priorities in open data was published. This led to many discussions and feedback from people that I found surprisingly positive. Given that I’ve advocated for human rights with indigenous peoples and I have been studied as a woman in technology, my advocacy for open knowledge comes with caveats. Those caveats are why for example I MCed The Privacy Workshop last year.
People fear openness for many different reasons. Peoples’ confidence in expressing themselves in public depend upon social factors and may be impacted by systemic bias that incentivises some to speak up while demotivating others. It was a big change for me to contribute to Wikipedia revealing my real name, which I only did after AdaCamp, because I realized that openness might help address the gender gap.
I was a little disturbed about how overwhelmingly positive feedback on my open data article was, because I know how consensus can undermine diversity. I know there are good reasons people may fear open data. After the article was published I explicitly welcomed alternative viewpoints in ways and places that I connect with people with different experiences to mine. I was happy to receive some responses in private – however it saddens me that they are private because people do not feel comfortable sharing them publicly. I would like to live in a world in which everyone was free and confident to express their experiences in their own voices without fear. I put effort into seeking and hearing voices beyond those typically in the public sphere. My experience publishing this article reinforced that effort and the intention behind it.
Incidentally, I’m participating in Mindful in May. I’m helping with Progress 2015 this week in Melbourne. Not incidentally, I’m participating in an open knowledge meetup when I’m in Canberra next week. I’ll stay until I do my final PhD presentation at ANU later in the month.
My PhD now has some semblance of structure. The date for my final presentation is now set. I’m based mostly Melbourne right now, helping to edit a book about forestry governance at Melbourne Law School emerging from a research project that relates to my work in Asia. I’ve also been participating in some Open Knowledge Australia events, notably the one in which we discussed Public Lab.
Last week I returned from Adelaide Fringe, where I did some improvisational comedy guest spots & workshops. Last weekend I did an intensive AFTRS scriptwriting course at ACMI, which added to my motivation to finish writing my PhD so I can focus on finishing a script!
I’m going to Canberra next week for Science Meets Parliament, as well as to meet with my supervisor and deal with the joy that is university administration.
Happy 2015! I’m attempting to be a hermit in southern Australia while writing my PhD thesis, with comic relief projects to keep me sane. I’m looking forward to emerging from my self-imposed writing bubble as a Fellow for the Link Festival, happening 16-17 February in Melbourne!
Thank you to everyone who helped my crowdfunding campaign succeed! I’m now in the process of organising and sending out rewards for those who selected them. For those who didn’t select a reward and for those who helped in other ways, spreading the word, helping me make a new video or giving me a boost of moral support when I needed it, I hope my thanks is enough! Crowdfunding is about community – I am so grateful for the web of kind and passionate people who share my life.
This is my last week in Melbourne before I fly back to Geneva for the rest of the year, which is a busy week.
I’m hosting Open Knowledge Australia open development drop-in sessions; you can also participate online: https://pad.okfn.org/p/opendevaus .
Wednesday night I’m telling a story about Rachel Carson at The Laborastory.
Friday the 17th of October, I’m co-hosting The Privacy Workshop. I’m honoured to be part of a fantastic team of innovative and passionate people driving discussions Australia needs to have. This is a forum created by people living and working in technology about Australian human rights in this digital era. If you have the opportunity to participate in person, I look forward to seeing you there – it’s going to be an invaluable experience.
Following an intense 3 months in Geneva I’m flying back to Melbourne this weekend to present my first-ever Melbourne show, Delusions of Slander, in the Melbourne Fringe Festival next week. I’m also doing a bunch of other things while I’m back for three weeks, but at this stage Melbourne Fringe Festival is occupying most of my attention.
I’m running my first-ever crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of the show. I’m running it through Pozible, because I’ve been involved Pozible as a supporter from their earlier days when we coworked in Hub Melbourne at the same time. I’ve supported 25 projects on the crowdfunding platform before creating my own. I’ve been a supporter of many projects that reached success and shared in the joy of creators when they reached their goals. I’ve also supported some projects that didn’t make it over the line, or cancelled their campaign before the end.
So I knew it was going to be stressful, but of course knowing this doesn’t stop it from being so. I know I’m in the awkward middle bit where people considering supporting see there’s still some days left to pledge, so why not wait until the end when it’s all the more exciting? I did that for the first few campaigns I supported, then when I got to know people running campaigns, I realized it’s so much more valuable to people in the early stages. It’s so valuable to give someone a little boost of confidence and hope during an uncertain lull.
If you’d like to give me that little boost now, I would be so grateful!
One of the beautiful things about crowdfunding is feeling a sense of connection with people that I haven’t seen perhaps in a long time, but who decide to support my campaign. People from different parts of my life have pledged support – people I haven’t seen in person since high school, people I’ve worked with in the past, peers in science communication. These people emerge from the forest of my network into my conscious awareness, like trees. The kind of trees that make my network like an old-growth forest and not a plantation.
I don’t know how to thank these people, beyond rewards – and some haven’t chosen a reward at all. So I’m trusting that they will experience the fulfilling emotion of shared joy if I reach my goal. That’s what motivates me to support other people’s campaigns, so it makes sense that it motivates others to support mine. Experiencing that feeling of connection from the creator side of the project has an intensity I’ve not experienced before.
Where does time go? Suddently I’ve finished my time as a Visiting Scholar in Melbourne Law School and started a contract with UNITAR-UNOSAT, based in CERN in Geneva, focused on geotagx.org & citizencyberlab.eu.
Over the weekend I participated in the CERN webfest as a mentor, workshop presenter and team member. It was an intense hackathon but worthwhile – evidenced in our team winning the ‘best design project’ prize.
[Photo by James Doherty]
Working within CERN and the UN is invaluable experience. I’ve been impressed by CERN’s great computer security training. I’ve done a UN course on Psychological First Aid, based on WHO guidelines with inspiring participants from across the UN system.
I’m learning so much and meeting so many talented and inspiring people.
I feel incredibly lucky to be living in Melbourne right now – the weather’s suspiciously stunning, I can walk from where I’m living to my office and I can indulge in the entire Melbourne International Comedy Festival season.
I’m in a writing groove, averaging about 1000 words a day. This would have seemed challenging at the start of my PhD, but now that I’ve reached the other side of the gaping canyon that is the middle of a PhD, I can look into the chasm and use it as inspiration, rather than feeling paralyzed with vertigo. Now I’ve plenty to say and unlike at the start of my research, I can draw on others’ work to back it up.
I’m also feeling like less of an impostor as a Visiting Scholar at Melbourne Law School, after being a guest speaker in Global Governance, participating in a day-long intensive about governance of REDD+, drawing on my recent experiences living in Asia. I was able to raise awareness of indigenous peoples’ concerns about how international agreements are being implemented, while having fascinating discussions about forest and development governance with Masters students from places including Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Pakistan and Palestine. Thanks to the inspirational Margaret Young for asking me to be involved.
To balance my serious PhD work, I’m also delighted to be participating in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s professional development program for funny women this coming weekend.