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June 01, 2003

Newly Digital

He stood in the doorway that separated the PC and Mac sections of our computer lab.

"Regina. I need to see you."

It wasn't unusual for Will to come into the lab looking for me. He was a computing staff member and I was serving on the Academic Computing committee for the college. We had developed a friendship over the previous year or so, as I sat in the lab for hours on end, teaching myself how to use Aldus (!) Pagemaker 4.2(!), Photoshop (3.0, I think), and editing a variety of campus publications. I never was much of a programmer, always an application person. A constant presence in the campus labs, I was a resource person that knew how to fix the printers when they got jammed, how to format your resumes, and how to use nearly every application available on the servers, without ever taking one computer course. We had email on campus, with a long, complicated address that got forwarded through another server and dumped every 4-6 hours onto our campus servers. We were waiting for when the T1 would be up. A whole world was awaiting us out there.

"What's up?" I asked Will, as we walked down the hall. I headed to his office, but he stopped at the server room. I stopped, curious. We didn't usually go in there, but he opened the door, beckoning me. We walked up to where the routers were.

Smiling, he handed me a cord that looked like a phone line. "Congratulations. You're connected to the Internet."

The T1 was here.

Written as my contribution to the Newly Digital distributed anthology writing project.

[revised and updated -- 6/2/2003, 6pm in response to Adam Kalsey's comment] A side note:There's a distressing lack of women contributors to this project. As a female who is always looking for role models, this bothers me. Not because I think Adam Kalsey is some sort of female hating prig; far from it. Rather, I just wish there was at least one woman on the list because I think that would show how women and technology are in our collective consciousness. When we make a list of 11 people whose stories we want to hear, and a woman isn't on that list, the omission is glaring, because that shows how far we still have to go. I see a list like that and I want to identify with someone on the list. That's human nature. As it stands, Chris Pirillo leaps out at me because he's around my age-ish. I guessed he'd probably started out with Apple ]['s, just like me. For me, that sense of identification is what an anthology like Newly Digital is all about. And I honestly can't help but wonder how many women had the same response when they saw the original list... not anger, really, but just that little niggle of disappointment, that we haven't quite "made it". This isn't an indictment against Adam Kalsey. It's not his fault. But it is a plea to women. Share your stories!! We've been there all along, after all, side by side in the computer labs, playing with those little LOGO turtles, saving our BASIC programs on cassette tapes, making our way through RPG's, being awestruck at compuserve, and with our own very long web addresses at geocities. It's a shame that when someone makes a list, one of us isn't on there, that's all I'm saying.

And thanks to Christine for sharing her story, so that I got to read it and thus read about Adam's project. Here's to girls starting out at our local Catholic school -- mine was St. Patrick's, too!

Posted by at June 01, 2003 06:19 PM

Voices:

2 Comments

Christine Jun 1, 2003 9:17 PM

I shared mine earlier today - and I think I might have been the first woman to ping it. (I could be wrong though...) You're right - we were there all along, designing cute and cheesy home pages! You should have seen mine on GeoCities - it was quite cute and country!

Adam Kalsey Jun 2, 2003 5:06 PM

That makes three entries from women. This one, Christine, and Raena. There may be others; I don't investigate the gender of every contributor.

Why is it a glaring omission that there were no women on the list? I'm sure there are many groups of the human population that aren't on the orignial contributors list. When I was inviting writers, I wasn't trying to build a diverse population, I was inviting people whose work I've seen that I thought might have interesting stories.

Yes, there were no women on the list (although I've got suspicions about Pirillo). There were also no Pakastanis, as far as I know.

I didn't think about the race, age, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, computer OS preference, or pet ownership when I invited contributors. Want to know why? I didn't care. I don't look at the world as women vs. men, black vs. white, us vs. them. At what point did that attitude become a character flaw?

I want everyone reading this to know that if whatever group you identify with was under-represented in Newly Digital, I'm terribly sorry. I consider everyone to be a person, regardless of what you look like. (*GASP*)

If you go through life looking for reasons to be offended, you will probably find them.

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