Thursday Threads: Developer Genders, Facebook Release Engineering, Alcohol Among Technologists
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DLTJ Thursday Threads is a weekly summary of technology, library, and publishing topics (and anything else that crosses my path that is worth calling out). Feel free to send this to others you think might be interested in the topics. If you find these threads interesting and useful, you might want to add the Thursday Threads RSS Feed to your feed reader or subscribe to e-mail delivery using the form to the right. New this year is that Pinboard has replaced FriendFeed as my primary aggregation service. If you would like a more raw and immediate version of these types of stories, watch my Pinboard bookmarks (or subscribe to its feed in your feed reader). Items posted to are also sent out as tweets; you can follow me on Twitter. Comments and tips, as always, are welcome.
An Inclusive Table
But here I am, with a constant background obsession, now, of how to get more librarians involved (and involved more deeply) in tech, how to foster collaboration on library technology projects, which is inseparable from the problem of how to get more women involved more deeply and collaboratively in technology. So I can’t not look at that room and see how the status lines fracture, along code mastery but coincidentally also gender, written in the physical geography of the room, where I’m the only one sitting at the table. I can’t not wonder, how can I create spaces which redraw those lines.
Andromeda attended the DPLA hackathon last Thursday and posted this very pointed view of the perceptions of women in library technology.
A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Facebook Release Engineering
I recently had a unique opportunity to visit Facebook headquarters and see that story in action. Facebook gave me an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the process it uses to deploy new functionality. I watched first-hand as the company's release engineers rolled out the new "timeline" feature for brand pages.
That was where I met Chuck Rossi, the release engineering team's leader. Rossi, whose workstation is conveniently located within arm's reach of the hotfix bar's plentiful supply of booze, is a software industry veteran who previously worked at Google and IBM. I spent a fascinating afternoon with Rossi and his team learning how they roll out Facebook updates—and why it's important that they do so on a daily basis.
I'm pointing to this story for two reasons. First, it is a fascinating look at how one of the top internet operations manages its processes for rolling out new software. Second, how the wheels of the release process are greased feeds into the third story below.
Our Culture of Exclusion
Lately there have been a lot of great articles being written and discussion happening around sexism in the tech industry. And the flames are being fanned by severalhighprofileincidents of people saying and doing just plain stupid things.
It reminded me of this draft post just sitting here, uncommitted. For quite a while I've been collecting links, tweets and other stuff to illustrate another problem that's been affecting me (and other people, surely). I thought it was finally time to write the post and bring this up because, honestly, I feel excluded too.
The role of alcohol in technology events was a topic of discussion on Twitter and elsewhere at the end of last week. There is a term for this that I heard for the first time last week -- brogrammer -- and I don't think it is a flattering persona for the technology profession. The way in which Facebook releases its code, described in the thread above, is one data point. Ryan's message, quoted above, points to some high-profile conferences where alcohol seems to play a central part of the event. His article was the source of some introspection among the Code4Lib community as well.
The text was modified to update a link from http://dp.la/2012/04/06/dpla-hackathon-gives-developers-first-look-at-dpla-platform/ to http://dp.la/info/2012/04/06/dpla-hackathon-gives-developers-first-look-at-dpla-platform/ on September 26th, 2013.