About Me

Sep. 28th, 2033 12:57 am
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Hey there, my name is Julia Beck and I served on the 2012 Board of Directors of the Organization for Transformative Works.

You may know me better under my fan name. If you don't, please feel free to pm me! I'm perfectly fine with fellow fans making the connection in private, I'd just prefer it not to be searchable.

I'm also used to be a member of the Internationalization & Outreach committee and co-chair of the Translation committee, as well as lead for the survey workgroup.

I initially set up this journal as a campaign platform for the contested 2011 elections, and continued to use it to post about OTW matters.

My 2011 candidate statement )
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It's official: after a long, painful period of deliberation, I will not to return to the OTW. I'm deeply sorry for bowing out so prematurely, but please respect that I will not comment on this personal decision. I wish my former colleagues and friends all the best.

It also means that this journal will now become inactive, so please feel free to unfollow.
julia_beck: GIF with Sackboy and captions "cute. capable. determined!" + "OTW translationmasters!!" + "now with added jetpacks" (translation_masters)
Long time no entry; part of this is the announcement that went live today:

My name’s Julia Beck, and I’m a member of the OTW Board of Directors. I wanted to let you know I need to take a hiatus from my OTW work, including my Board duties, effective immediately. Because of my current situation outside of the organization, I’m not able to fulfill my Board duties as well as the organization needs and deserves. The Board discussed several options, but agreed that my going on leave until the start of the new term would be preferable to my stepping back altogether. As the mid-January start of the 2013 term coincides with the deadline for an important personal project, I’m confident that I’ll be able to make a full return at that time. I apologize for the additional work this is causing, and want to thank my fellow Board members for their trust. I’m also grateful to the candidates stepping up to this year’s Board election, and am looking forward to working with the newly formed Board in January. Thank you for your understanding.

I am sorry, for what it's worth, but I was (am) being buried by RL issues, and my OTW work has noticeably suffered for it. (I'm especially sorry to the committees I should have been *properly liasing* with.) I still have so many Opinions and Feelings and Goals, but what use is that if I can't put in the work towards implementing those?

I do know that new Board members Franzi, Eylul and Andrea in many ways share my priorities (as evidenced in their candidate manifestos), so that's definitely a weight off my mind. Thanks for taking up the torch, guys.

Alright, enough whinging. I wanted to recommend two things:

- Board president Kristen's excellent and thoughtful recent post Spotlight on Board: Kristen Murphy on Personal and Professional Development. It's a good reflection on why I love and admire Kristen.

- The journal of new translation chair (i.e. my successor's :D) Agnieszka, [personal profile] agnieszkas. She's opinionated and funny. Go follow her :)
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I wrote a post -- the first in a regular, unthemed series -- for the OTW blog. It took us a while to kick this off, but Board had planned to be a little more visible and vocal in this manner pretty much since the start of term, and a mid-year check-in served as a good reminder to actually do it.

Spotlight on Board: Julia Beck on Committee Liaising
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There are some recent discussions about OTW Board work and meetings by [personal profile] jennyst (Tired, Clarifications and news) and [personal profile] ira_gladkova (Goals Update + Types and Visibility of Board Work).

I wanted to flag why I'm not weighing in on this in any substantial way: I'd like to save that for official communication. It's not that I don't think writing in our private spaces doesn't have value, and I know that keeping things personal is often crucial, but I'm keen to see more of this information in our official settings. Specifically, we're trying to create a series of blog posts by Board members; unsurprisingly, because of recent absences and trouble, this has been floundering, but I'll get on it again this week. (So, basically, if I feel an overwhelming urge to talk about those things, I better make sure I help create a framework where I can do that in an official capacity, too.)*

There's one thing I wanted to add as a tag to the "Board work" part of Ira's post, though: I specifically understand this Board as one for transitioning OTW into a more stable and sustainable place, where, for example, chairs have more structural support and training from the get-go, and less Board liaising is needed. So what Ira is talking about isn't necessarily meant as a recipe for Board work going forward; it's a description of what we're currently using to get to that more structured, less improvised place.

* well, okay, one thought. More power to efforts like [personal profile] unofficialotwnews. Why? Because I agree that it's addressing a shortfall on our side, namely, the lack of a community space for people to compile or talk about OTW issues. Right now, people flock to anon memes, which -- sorry -- tends to breed and perpetuate misinformation. So I'm all for establishing open and less self-selecting spaces, and we're actually at the preliminary stages of creating OTW-wide forums, but it's a ways off. (First step: set up Fanlore forums. Open to Fanlore users. Iron out kinks. Then expand those to general forums.) So yeah, I'm fully behind forums, and will do my best to facilitate them, even if it will take a long time.
julia_beck: GIF with Sackboy and captions "cute. capable. determined!" + "OTW translationmasters!!" + "now with added jetpacks" (translation_masters)

(when is that in your timezone?)

(translation: ....it may possibly be open a liiiittle longer since that's 2am my time and I can't guarantee I'll still be awake then)

(Almost there, almost there omg.)
julia_beck: GIF with Sackboy and captions "cute. capable. determined!" + "OTW translationmasters!!" + "now with added jetpacks" (translation_masters)
The OTW Community Survey's been live since Wednesday, properly announced on Thursday, and I'm -- kind of blown away by the response. So far, nothing catastrophic has happened; instead, we got close to 1.8k replies. We're looking forward to more, though, to approximate a representative slice. So if you feel inclined to help: Please continue spreading the word!


OTW Community Survey, April 18-May 2, 2012, survey URL
OTW Community Survey

details and personal musings )
julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)

Even though it's not announced big-time yet, the survey me and my I&O (Internationalization & Outreach) people have been working on for uh, foreverrr, has had its soft launch last night*. I just made a few tweaks based on the early results (calling the second-to-last question 'final question' = not the smartest move) but will hold off on sharing it here until I get the final okay on the official announcement post. *fidgets*

So, in the meanwhile, let me solicit money from you?

OTW: By Fans, For Fans. Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive, April 18-25, 2012. transformativeworks.org

Yep, it's the OTW April membership & donation drive! JOIIIN USSS~ :D

On a more serious note, the last year has been an interesting one. I've excised large parts of it from my memory because, well, painful, but it's also been a year of unprecedented growth: the AO3 has become pretty much mainstream, Fanlore is being quoted back and forth as an essential fandom glossary, and TWC has released its 10th (!!) issue. The cost of that success is, in monetary terms, a jump in maintenance costs (more on that in the soon-to-be released annual report), and in organizational terms, a negotiation of what it means to be both a fan- and a nonprofit-organization. We're asking you to help out with the former while we work on the latter.

Relatedly -- I know that "being able to donate money" and "wanting to become an OTW member" don't always match up, but the fact is that we need money to power our servers (among other things). Personally, I can't see us giving up the monetary requirement for general membership (because money, because elections fraud prevention), but I'm very interested in revisiting membership for volunteers, who donate time instead of money. The trouble is that it's such a complicated issue** that it's nothing that will happen in the near future (nevermind that if I made any promises in that direction, both Board and Volunteers&Recruiting committee would cut me...deservedly so). This is just me acknowledging that yeah, our current membership system is not ideal, but please give us some time ... and keep us alive by donating, if you can, in the meanwhile!

Thank you :)

*this is my way of admitting I had no idea why there were over 40 replies to survey already before it was even announced...and then I remembered we had emailed the testing group and asked them to share. Hah! How awesome is that? Accidental soft launch, surprisingly useful. *g*

(** but if you're invested in that idea as well, have followed the discussion raised in last year's election and would consider writing up a summary of issues... YES? PLEASE? :D?)
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If you're interested in language, please take a minute to read the Spotlight on Translators that we (=Translation committee) just put out.

Me and my committee would appreciate it immensely if you helped spread the word by signalboosting the spotlight. Firstly, we would love for our translators to get some appreciation, and secondly, we are looking to recruit more people for the teams:

Translators (or wanna be translators!), we want you!


Even for established fannish concepts, there's frequently no existing translation While German and Spanish often solve this by borrowing English terms like “vidding” wholesale, Finnish grammar does not allow for this degree of integration. Because of the way Finnish words are inflected, our translators created the fresh composite “fanivideo” for “vidding”. (Here's an example: Fanivideoprojektit [Finnish].)

Come joiiin usss~ :D

ETA: Just saw that AO3 coder [personal profile] rebecca2525, who is building the Archive translation interface for us, has posted a bit about her work.. This is one of the softwares that we'll be working with, and it's interesting to see rebecca build it bit for bit (to our specifications! ♥) One of these days I'll have to tell you about our design meeting back then with Eylul and rebecca, because it was *delightful* and complex and funny.

daughter of ETA: oh! haha. Hey. I never thanked you (to whom it applies) for voting me on the 2012 Board of the OTW, did I? Well.

THANK YOU. Thank you for this mandate -- I'll do my best to live up to it.

I totally neglected to post about it after elections results were published because I segued right into "alright, now get ALL the work done!" mode. One thing I did today: recruit my successor for the Translation committee so I can devote myself seriously to my Board duties. It was a good day!


Nov. 18th, 2011 10:32 am
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Graphic displaying text 'I Voted!' in black on a white field. A red OTW logo replaces the letter O

Home stretch! Polls close in 2.5h, so get your vote in if you haven't already :)
julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
It belatedly occurs to me it's odd I never said anything about this here, so:

I'm reading pretty much ALL the posts about OTW elections, and I've been bowled over by the support and the many positive mentions I've received for my candidacy. I'm not commenting much because I feel like an empty skin under this ID -- a simulacrum without a verifiable history outside of the OTW context, and commenting under my fan name without acknowledging the connection* seems slightly disingenious as well. Catch-22.

So I wanted to take this late opportunity (literally the eve before the elections) to thank everyone who expressed their trust in me. It means the world to me, and it has both humbled me and given me a lot of hope, either way this turns out on the 19th.

Thank you.

*(PM me if you'd like to know. Sadly, it's not very exciting: still not secretly a BNF! :D)
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I feel very raw and sad today, so have some unpolished thoughts on two related things.

[personal profile] lim: apology and resignation

[personal profile] lucyp: Withdrawing from Board election

Related? How?

The common thread to me is individual responsibility, and the feeling of (expected, as in the case of Lucy, or perceived, in lim's case) failure.

No one person should have to shoulder this kind of burden.

High, unrealistic expectations for an organization are a-ok with me. Bring them on -- chances are that I share them. Criticism of the archive, of the current deploy? Necessary and justified, even. (Just...please remember that Support and coders are people working their asses off to make your experience better, ok?)

Inhuman expectations of perfection for an individual person? No. Never okay. I'm not saying that anyone expected this of lim but herself -- I don't know lim at all, either. But what I do know is that it wasn't her fault, and it hurts me to see herself taking on that blame.

That's what stewardship and mentoring are about, to me: making sure people don't get in over their heads. Making sure that the burden is spread out across several people, that the shock of criticism is absorbed by a collective [or the person who knowingly signed up for it (chairs, Board.)]

This is what connects this to Lucy, for me -- I don't think for a second that I would do a better job than Lucy. A slightly different, not less important one, but not better. No way. And Lucy says that the expectation for Board members for the next term are too challenging for her to balance with her life and responsibilities. Recusing herself is a smart and courageous choice then. But.

Even considering that her RL responsibilities are inarguably more serious than mine, it scares me. Because if this is too much for someone as capable, as amazing as Lucy, how can I think of taking on that ridiculous challenge?


My answer, for myself, at this moment, is that I refuse to take on this absurd burden of having to be perfect. Of working harder than anyone else, of funneling ALL my time into the organization -- in other words, to set myself up for utter failure. I just can't be that magical girl, and I sure as hell don't expect it of anyone else, either. I hurts me personally to see people being so hard on themselves -- first [personal profile] renay, now, awfully, [personal profile] lim.

If we expect an insane level of personal engagement from [insert: staffers/chairs/Board members], I despair of ever finding anyone else to take on the job. (raising my glass to anyone who expressed skepticism about chairs doubling as Board members right now omg.)

The crux is that this, too, is an aspect of sustainability. Instead of depending on the raw energy and enthusiasm of individual volunteers, let's develop better structures to distribute the burden, infrastructure to protect volunteers from feeling desperately inadequate. And this goes for Board too.

And... because I'm just me, not a superheroine, I already know that I will fail more than I will succeed. (Ahahaha will I ever. ... -_-;) There's just no way we can reform the organization to a degree, and at a pace, that will satisfy all our diverse stakeholders. [Seeing as I have a pretty good understanding of what I'm getting myself into -- trust me, all these ~shocking~ recent revelations about Board dynamics aren't exactly news to me.]

If I weren't certain that this awful mix of sadness/frustration/failure I'm feeling right now, and that I'm expecting to be feeling a LOT next year (either way this falls out)... if this wasn't ever-so-slightly offset by my belief that I can, somehow, effect actual progress, and do incrementally right by our volunteers and users... I would not have signed up for this.

I hope I'm not wrong.
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(That's right, Filter. Fwiw, my OTW theme song atm is "We're in this together now" by NIN. Heh.)

There's some great conversation about strategic planning going around.

"Strategic planning" is another one of those buzzwords, but it has very practical implications (I've been running up against some personally).

It means: How do we want to move forward, as an organization? What are our priorities? Are we fulfilling our mission? Where are we falling short? And what is our mission, anyway? (You'd be surprised -- many people would argue it's to build an archive, period. ...Uhm, not quite.)

I think it's time we stop for a second and consider where we're heading, and where we want to head in the first place. I'm not seeing that sort of conversation inside OTW, even though we're far from unified on that issue. I believe it's long overdue to consolidate the myriad viewpoints insid ethe organization into an actual strategy, and this needs to be initiated on the Board level. I've felt for a while as if we're flying partially blind, and that's one reason why I initiated the survey projects. There are a lot of assumptions about our target groups, but we need to base our conversation based on facts instead of assumptions.

Who are we serving? And how can we best serve those people and communities? How can we communicate with them (Communications strategy!) and gather feedback?

Some people argue that the OTW was meant to build an archive, and so any protests that it should not be the sole priority are misguided. But the thing is -- the OTW has evolved, and we are a long way from the founding days. The OTW is what people make of it. We had a roadmap then; where are we on that roadmap? How do we want to continue?

On a tangent, because it's an argument that often comes up against outreach: "but we simply can't cater to everyone". Well, yeah. That's a fundamental misunderstanding of outreach, though.

To quote my thoughts from the 2nd chat follow-up batch No. 1:)

I don't believe we have a moral duty to serve any and all fans in the abstract. It's perfectly fine if a fandom doesn't have need of the OTW or its projects, so there's a difference between "collect ALL the fandoms under the OTW umbrella" vs. "be welcoming to all fans that WANT under the OTW umbrella". For anime/manga fandom the latter is absolutely true as witnessed by the fact that fans have repeatedly said that they *want* to use and like the OTW's products, but they can't fully do so at the moment. (The same is true for non-English language fans.) So, while I think we need to work on making fans from all corners more aware of the OTW and its opportunities, this doesn't translate into trying to be representative of fandom. We're not, we will never be, and that's okay. It's a tricky balance to get right, though, because it can translate into complacency and lack of outreach: we're certainly not in danger of overextending ourselves right now, quite the contrary!
julia_beck: GIF with Sackboy and captions "cute. capable. determined!" + "OTW translationmasters!!" + "now with added jetpacks" (translation_masters)
Following recent examples by [personal profile] via_ostiense and [personal profile] jennyst, here's what I'm doing right now as part of my OTW work, in broad strokes.

Translation: I think I finally mastered context rules. GO ME. What's context rules? Simply put, they're an integral part of the translation interface for the Archive of our Own that the inimitable rebecca is building for us. (It's beautiful. It's for translating the interface only, though, not for stories.)

In more detail, it's grammar nerdery*: How many potential versions of a phrase/word are there in language_x, depending on context? We have to determine that to teach it to the archive so that it produces as many versions as we need.
(*Actually, it's information science slash grammar which makes for a slightly brain-breaking combination -- hence the taking a bit to wrap my mind around it...)

An example: in Polish, the possessive form varies depending on whether the subject is male of female. Now...this means we need a way to tell the gender of a name. Now imagine pseudonyms in their infinite variety. It's not possible. So what do we do? Add a "gender" setting? Uuuh...You see this is getting into volatile territory. There are a couple of other possibilities, thankfully, but this is the kind of eventuality we have to consider.

So we've been gauging the limitations of the system for a while by testing for as many languages as we could get our hands on. If we don't make context rules flexible enough for just about *any* language and script system, we'll get into real trouble once it's implemented on the live site and it turns out that, say, new language_x makes a distinction between animate/inanimate objects that we hadn't considered.

We've already tested to varying degrees for Finnish, Italian, German, Korean, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Romanian, and Polish; we're hoping to test Chinese and Hindi soon, because as you can see, we have tons of Indoeuropean languages that are relatively similar, and desperately need other script systems and language families. And yes, we totally want you for this! We'll make an open call for testers soon, I'll signal-boost once it's up.

Other than that, I signed up two Italian translators last night, one an old friend. I always enjoy these introductory chats because of the high energy and (often) wacky cheer that inevitably develops! :> So now I'm dropping website texts for translation into Gdocs and assigning them via GQueues (our new to-do-list tool). Go go Italian team! *\o/*

For Internationalization & Outreach (eh, I&O), meeting up with Claudia from my committee later to work on Internal Survey. Lots of food for thought from the recent discussions, thinking about how to integrate that meaningfully into the survey. Later this week, I need to work on our term evaluation (what have we done, what are the loose ends in need of following up?) and a collaboration with the Archive peeps. Oh, and do some wiki gardening because of the rename. >_>;
julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
Hi! Sorry for the long radio silence. Sickness, shame, etc. I meant to post excerpts from the candidate chat follow-up answers (are you reading them?) (massive pages of text, but so, so interesting.)

But then something else happened -- being seriously alarmed by some of the recent rhetoric that paints some candidates and volunteers as "too angry" and incapable of collaboration.


Whoa. False dichotomy alarm!

Here's the thing, seeing as I'm being described as so balanced.

I decided to run for Board because at one moment, I was SO FUCKING LIVID that I cried. One more of the people that I depended on was leaving, bogged down by politics and silence. I felt so hurt, and so bereft, that I said, fuck this shit, one last try. One last try of throwing myself into the breach and doing the fucking scary thing of standing up for my people, for what I believe is right, and necessary, and telling people I love and respect that their shit.is.not.on. Just, you know, nicer, because I'm not that angry anymore. (It's a character flaw. Seriously, I wish I could hold onto anger better). But no, I'm always and compulsively trying to look at all sides of the equation, and my solution is and will always be dialogue and consensus-building, where-ever possible. It's how I roll. But I'm not a doormat either. I *get* anger, and I still get angry.

To be clear: I don't hold grudges, and I'm not going to lash out at anyone. I want pragmatic resolutions. Because at the end of the day, I need to look beyond whatever history I may have with a person and trust that they, like me, want the best for OTW, and that we respect each other for that.

So yeah, I do expect Board members to challenge me, and to allow me to challenge them. We will never solve our huge, extant issues by being *nice* to each other; if we're on equal footing, but you don't respect me enough to call me on my shit, how can we work with each other? (If we're not on equal footing, the initiative is on you, actually. See #5 below.)


Speaking of trust, and how scary it is? If you say "they're so angry" or "they've really hurt person X", then I can only reply: then talk to them. Because it all boils down to trust in the other's good faith, doesn't it? And it's curiously asymmetrical to expect one party to act in good faith, be conciliatory and diplomatic, and not act accordingly yourself.

So, you know. If you have issues with [personal profile] sanders, take them to her. From my own experience: she will listen.

[I hold myself to that, too, obviously. If I've hurt or dismissed you, or made your work harder, let me know? I know this is asking for your trust, but I'd be honoured if you felt you could talk to me openly. The thought that I'm going all holier-than-thou on people here is making me squirm.]


If we can't tolerate that level of open, constructive criticism as an organization, what does that say about us?

(...and people are seriously wondering why some people refer to an atmosphere of fear inside OTW? Have a taste.)


So is [personal profile] sanders wilfully creating dissent and strife out of thin air? Or is she giving expression to existing, but suppressed attitudes and feelings that continue to cost us volunteers?

I'm not going to defend [personal profile] sanders because I don't think she needs defending or justifying, and you can make up your own mind if you support her or not. I'll just say this: She's been an unknown quantity to me too, but I made a leap of faith and reached out. Worth it. As someone who has worked with her, talked to her, and has actually read what she has to say, attributes like "crazy" (wait, seriously???) or "unreasonable" simply do not compute. (Nevermind that I'm frankly appalled that the tone card is being pulled on the candidate of colour, here.) Being critical of another candidate's statements calls for comparisons to the Israel/Palestine conflict? I don't think so.

Sanders has also gone out of her way to engage with and talk to people where she could; she has been honest; she has made mistakes, and apologized for them. I respect that. (Nevermind that I've grown to like her: she's calm, thoughtful, and funny.)

[random data point: It was [personal profile] sanders who came up with the suggestion to have a moderated candidates-only roundtable, so we could engage in dialogue *with* each other, in contrast to the more performance-focused public chats. (Considering the effort of coordinating the first two chats, and the energy consumed by the follow-up questions, it sadly did not come to be.) Sounds pretty constructive to me, and I'm sorry it didn't work out. (Next year!)]

I'd like to take a step back and remind everyone that we are not talking about random outsiders out to destroy OTW. We are talking about people who have a multi-year history of successful collaboration inside OTW. Have they fucked up? I don't doubt it. So have I. The real question is: are we seriously dismissing their experience and opinion only because they are not palatable, or don't match ours?


There is value in anger, and in being sincere. I believe there is incredible value in speaking out publicly, because it means these statements and issues cannot be easily ignored.

Do I wish we could have had these conversations internally, before they boiled over into public? Yes. Do I ever. The pressure created on the parties addressed is so much more likely to make everyone defensive and unresponsive to critique; and Lord knows the last thing we need is more siege mentality.

Public pressure goes both ways, by the way -- I am unhappy with Naomi's very public declaration of wanting to make the internal wiki public, not because I disagree with the idea per se (I mean, yay openness!), but because it was extremely inconsiderate of any committee other than AD&T and created a lot of unexpected pressure on volunteers (and a couple near-nervous breakdowns). It's that pressure that has made the reactions to that particular suggestion so uncharitable. (I'm sure some of you have wondered "why so hostile?", so here's part of an answer.)

Another part is that thing about power. I think the illusion of equality within OTW is disingenious, and yes, I do think it's troubling if (founding) Board members don't acknowledge their position of power. I don't believe that it's intentional -- I wasn't lying when I said that I trust in everyone's goodwill and best intentions. But I also feel that many people inside OTW don't get power inequality and marginalization at *all*, because we all identify as "the little fan", because we all, as fans, are marginalized in some way. But I know I'm not the only one who wavered between writing That Critical Mail and potentially damaging her committee by the repercussions. I'm not the only one who picked her (and her committees') battles very, very, very carefully. (I don't think this is true for all committees, and it shouldn't be.)

This is also why I believe it is the Board's responsibility to initiate conversation. It's somewhat naive to expect your random intimidated volunteer/member to bring up concerns and criticism with the People Wot Can Make Their Life Very Very Difficult if there is no real precedent of those people actually listening/taking criticism to heart.

If it is one lesson I have learned that I want to take to Board, it is this. I may feel like The Little Fan, but if I was on Board, I'd have a certain power, and with great power...well, you know how it goes.

And...the thing is, I get that this is hard on the current Board members, because suddenly so many people are telling them that they've been suffering in silence all these years, or something, and they just didn't know. No-one told them. I do sympathize, but...as Board, gauging the atmosphere in the *entire* organization, seeking out opinions, is your job. I'm sorry, but it is.


I don't want to end this with criticism of the current Board, because you put yourselves out there, and I am grateful for what you did accomplish (-> Diversity brainstorming!). It's kinda hard to balance exasperation with gratitude and be sincere at both, but there you are. (That's me, always with the complex emotions.) Mostly, I am certain that I am failing miserably at some things that you are doing splendidly. And now I'm going to do something unbelievably sappy. I'm allowed, I'm still sick and all. >_<;

[personal profile] rbarenblat: thank you for all you've done for Fanlore, and personally, for being open, kind, and gracious when I criticized your actions that time. (When I grow up, I want to be as well-spoken as you.)

[personal profile] general_jinjur: ugh, for EVERYTHING. *squishes*

[profile] fcoppa: Thank you for listening to I&O, and going above and beyond with the Fan Video pages! (also, you gave us our name, inadvertently. Tho I should have considered that it's totally untranslatable D: Trufax.)

[personal profile] hl: thank you for being my better half in everything, and for building bridges. I will do my best to emulate you.

Sheila: I'm sorry I didn't get to work with you more, I hear you're awesome! Thank you for your time on Board.

[profile] igladkova: Thank you for your passion and sincerity and your continued advocacy for anime/manga/gaming fans. *fistbump*

[personal profile] juniperphoenix: TRANSLATIONMASTERS!! forever. That is all.

julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
Quick rec to a couple highly critical (in both senses of the the word) posts:

[personal profile] via_ostiense OTW Election stuff

We are not just an archive, and fandom is about more than reading fic, and if the OTW is to be an advocate for fans, we have to first of all respect our members and fandom enough to think that they care about the organization that purports to represent them and to which they donate, and then we have to prove ourselves worthy of their trust by being open to dialogue with people outside of our staff and volunteers.

[personal profile] troisroyaumes OTW Elections

I've been involved in volunteer organizations offline that had this same problem: it is extremely frustrating and often leads to implosion and leadership vacuum when the one key person burns out or gets sidelined by other commitments. There needs to be collaboration, delegation and procedures for transferral of leadership. To put it abstractly, a robust network needs to build in redundancy and crosstalk in order to tolerate perturbations. That's why biological systems have paralogs and epistasis, people!

[personal profile] facetofcathy Further to the OTW election post.

But worse than that, worse than utilizing the content providers' creations largely unrewarded and unacknowledged, the OTW itself has rarely expressed any interest in the input or ideas of the masses since the first blush of public discussion back on LJ.

I'd just like toss out there: you're a random fan who likes the idea of giving back to fandom a little through volunteering. You get involved in the OTW. You evolve to the level of staffer! (Score!)

But then you realize you have even less say than before because you've traded in the right to publicly criticize it openly for a chance to make things better. But the structure is not set up in a way that allows you to effect much change.

So. What do you do?

This is why critical outside voices (or bold internal ones like via's) like these are so vital at this point.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, or that I agree with everything they wrote. But I don't need to -- I just need a willingness to listen, to take this very, very seriously, and take a lot of notes.
julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
There's been a flurry of talk after the Oct. 17th candidate chat, so if you're looking for a one-stop overview, check the information digest compiled from candidate statements & chat [personal profile] facetofcathy created. Highly recommended, also: unbiased.

A look at the OTW Board of Directors elections and the candidates.

My other recommendation for you, after facetofcathy's digest, would be to read read OTW Board member [profile] hele's OTW Election post, because it articulates very well what the current challenges inside the org are by giving a candid high-level overview from an inside perspective.

I think the org is coming (has been coming) at a crossroads. It's growing, and it's really big already, and diversity and sustainability are becoming Issues. I mean this seriously. There's a lot of talk, and I want you, if you care about the org (and I know this sounds patronizing, sorry, but yeah), to pay attention to what is said by each candidate, because it's true that there's a limit to the org's resources, but that's a given, and the fact is, if the org doesn't start pulling itself together on those issues, it will only become harder. Failing at it not only will weaken the organization, it also means that it will be failing at its mission.

My post, though, is inspired by my tl;dr reaction to [personal profile] elz's comment in [personal profile] jennyst's journal. Different perceptions of the state of OTW, basically.

what codes of conduct have to do with diversity. )
julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
I was prevented from posting about the membership drive by computer troubles, but at least I got the machine up an running again in time for the first candidate chat, phew!

It's tonight at 7pm UTC at the public chatroom.

Stop by, say hi, lurk, ask difficult questions! I'm looking forward to seeing you there :)

(If you can't attend, drop your questions at the contact form and/or watch out for the chat transcript. Everything will be posted to the OTW Elections website.)
julia_beck: GIF with Sackboy and captions "cute. capable. determined!" + "OTW translationmasters!!" + "now with added jetpacks" (translation_masters)
Happy Ada Lovelace day!

Your task for today: highlight one excellent woman in tech. You have 20 minutes!

Truth to be told, if it weren't for the OTW, I'd spend these 20 minutes frantically trying to remember female game designers/writers (uuhmmm... Jennifer Hepler? *blank* ... ... oh brain, why so scatter?)

But since I am a happy little cog* in that glorious open culture contraption, I'm faced with an embarrassement of riches -- only one woman? /o\

My first inclination was to write about Kristen Murphy, our Webmasters chair. But that would mean ignoring allison morris, who has been coaxing Drupal into cooperation before her; and then I thought about how inspiring Elz has been to me; and of Rebecca, who has my undying gratitude because she rose up to become the "someone" in "someone should build that Archive translation interface..."

...cue INDECISION 2011...

Faced with so many choices I... decided to return to my initial inspiration, the one I'm acquainted with most closely.

Why am I choosing Kristen as my tech heroine?

Together with the webmasters team, she administers the various OTW websites, from our mains site transformativeworks.org to the Transformative Works and Cultures platform, all based on existing OSS like OJS or Drupal.

...that doesn't sound very creative on the face of it, does it?

But it means adapting and maintaining sometimes extremely recalcitrant content management systems and modules. That is, constant problem-solving and bug-sleuthing and hand-wringing (okay, the hand-wringing is usually my part, Kristen herself always exhibits extreme serenity under pressure.) I wasn't joking when I wrote about "coaxing Drupal into cooperation" above -- and Kristen, who took over liaising with the Translation committee from allison, has always been very diligent in trying to accommodate our translatorly needs, keeping us up to date, and in explaining problems and hiccups in a way that we can understand.

It's not that she can bend Drupal to do everything we want it to, sadly, hah. But her friendly, respectful and transparent communication inspires confidence that we'll get there, eventually, together. That is worth so much to me as someone who is very curious, but has all too often experienced equivalents of "just sit back and wait, you won't understand this anyway."

In fact, that "oh! I get this!" impulse has made me confident enough to lurk the Drupal forums and wanting to get more involved (*knocks on wood*), to the degree that I've now decided to learn PHP. (/o\ YES I am actually kind of terrified? Look I can't even play Metal Gear Solid without tears of frustration. Sad truth.)

I'm pretty sure I will be mediocre at best, and, knowing myself, I won't get very far before ultimately throwing my hands up in frustration. But what I've finally grokked is that it's perfectly okay to try scary technical things out ...and fail at them abyssmally.

I just shouldn't let my preconceptions keep me from trying. That's all.

(and imagine, it only took three years in the OTW for this to seep in! Hah. Those were some persistent internalized attitudes.)

Let's celebrate those preconception-busting heroines today :D Do tell/link me yours?

Related links:

- [personal profile] lucyp (herself an inspiration): portrait of [personal profile] lim

- the AO3 team's celebration of [personal profile] sidra

- plus, of course, the general OTW post on the subject

- [personal profile] via_ostiense's three heroines: undersigned.

* oh, right, happy little cog? )
julia_beck: Rectangular cake with white frosting and yellow inscription "AO3= <3" (Default)
[personal profile] watersword does some sleuthing about wannabe-Fanlib fanfic.me. I admit I'm staring in vague puzzled amusement at their claim "The BEST fanfic archiving software anywhere! We're just getting started!!!" [Facebook link; see their twitter for similar claims. (No, scratch that, their chummy pseudo-slang that is missing the mark a mile wide (fans react so well to the word "freak", let me tell you...) makes me squirm in embarrassement rather than amusement.)

I mean...have they even looked at other fanfiction archives? Their list of features is rather ... adorable.

I'll just sit back and wait for others (hi hi [personal profile] unjapanologist!) to deliver a scathing analysis, and go download a story with -- gasp! embedded art at Archive of Our Own in the meantime. <3
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