Editorial vs. News

Today’s article The Truth and Alberto Gonzales was another great public editor essay by Clark Hoyt. I love his reflections on the NY Times. This one is about the line between editorial and news, and how the Times responded to it.

I especially liked his response to the on the On The Media interview he recently gave – introspection.

He reviewed the paper’s coverage of the congressional hearings, and found that the Times had largely been neutral and factual. Except here:

Once, I felt The Times pulled a punch — in the front-page article reporting Goodling’s dramatic testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. The lead paragraph said her testimony “suggested” that earlier testimony by Gonzales “may have been flawed.” In fact, as the article made clear, her testimony that Gonzales asked her questions about her recollections of the firings contradicted his testimony that he had not spoken to his senior aides since the firings “to protect the integrity of this investigation.” More than a flaw was involved here; someone was telling the truth, and someone wasn’t.

Hoyt then goes on to describe the editorial response and early call for Gonzales’ resignation/removal.

Here’s another On The Media podcast about truth and memory.

science tattoos

I came across this photo set of science tattoos today (via The Loom science blog). The fibonacci sequence implemented in scheme was bizarre, and there was a poignant one about being a celiac. They reminded me of these rsa key tattoos (search for ‘tattoo’). And some guy that puts web ads on his body. He ended up on Conan, CNN, NBC and got interviewed by USA Today in 2005. He added three more tattoos this year.

I have this design idea rattling around in my head – that there’s partially an advertising design root-cause in of a generation of people compulsively tattooing themselves with weird shit. Like we’re seeing the results of extreme brand-consciousness, and the feeling that we all just need to be a little bit more unique than the next person, or that our ideas and interests need to be quickly externalized and etched into our skin.

There’s beauty in the photos of the web-banner tattoos – the saturated colors, the raised/bruised skin, the skin itself. Its hard not to feel a bit of the being-tattooed adrenaline rush when looking at the finished products, just moments after the needle stops. But, they’re still ugly.

Comments on “So What?”

I really like the idea of changing the nature of computer science degrees – pairing the theory and tools with a discipline. A friend of mine chose to basically do that. She started out in chemistry and biology, switched her degree to CS and wrote an classification application for botanists for her thesis.

Still, I think there is value in in the study of computer science in a concentrated and separate way (disclosure: I have a CS degree). For example, I think that, despite many obvious similarities, there are important and fundamental differences between programming and human communication languages. And there is enough difference that academic study of programming languages just doesn’t seem to fully fit in linguistics departments. I think you can argue the opposite – but academics have already separated the departments and degrees. An interim step may be to encourage more dual degree programs like this: http://www.dcs.qmul.ac.uk/undergraduate/programmes/languages.html.

and in response to a call for research:

Here’s one place you can start for reading:

Another is:

Perhaps a bibliography is called for in this series to help educate readers about what research is out there. The research I’m aware of appears to conclude that there is systemic bias in the industry that specifically discourages women.

Certainly, more research is needed! I would love for this series to inspire further academic discovery.

Original article here.


We’ve got our first Haskell meeting tonight. Just a group of us getting together to learn. I have a few todos this morning – install Hugs, pick a tutorial to talk about and write a couple demo programs.

My plan is to write a bicycle wheel spoke calculator in Haskell. I may end up porting it to something else, but I thought it was a sufficiently complex problem to learn a new language with.

my comments on “A Fifty Year Wave of Change”

Reading your article reminded me of the first technical conference I ever attended, and a woman I met who was among the first women trained by IBM to be computer technicians.

We had a small, and quiet BoF meeting and she waxed nostalgic about IBM way back then – using punch cards and how things had changed so much since she had taken her first mathematics class. She was so inspiring, hopeful and encouraging to the younger women who attended (I was only 20 at the time).

I agreed when you said “it would be a huge help if the media provided more examples of male and female computer scientists who have interesting lives.” Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and successes.

Original article here.

A comment on the Social Engineering article

Here’s my comment:

I really enjoyed your article, Leslie. I completely identified with you when you said, “in an effort to be the change I wish to see in the world, I’ve distanced myself from questions of gender roles in my work.” I do this, as do many other women in technical fields.

Your experience is a great case study for technical groups that incorporate people who aren’t programmers or evangelists. I think your insights about the skills needed for “social engineering” apply regardless of gender. I know men who end up with the title “geek herder”, because “geek papa” just doesn’t mean the same thing as “geek mama”.

Your statement that “the healthiest [open source projects] are those who place a high value on contribution of any kind” applies more broadly than just the tech world. To inspire lasting participation and enthusiasm, we have to let people know not just that they are wanted, but that they are needed and essential.

Original article here.