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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A picture named shubs.jpgI've known Shubhangi for almost 15 years. We worked in the same company then. We still do. She's been my mainstay at Explore Research and Consultancy, ever since she came on board way back in 1999. I've never known her to panic, feel out of control and never once has she met any of my requests (however absurd they may seem) with anything less than a smile and a "we can do it". She makes my life so easy really.

Tremendously talented and always looking out for something new to do - yeah - she does yoga, is a full-time mum, rides bikes, paints Tanjore paintings, is an expert in Japanese - and now a fantastic photographer. Match that with her deep understanding of humanity, her strong sense of what's right and not, her ability to question life and you find a precious gem. She has her feet firmly on the ground - and a heart of gold.

Recently, she discovered Flickr - go check out her awesome pictures there - each one has such depth and tells a story. The image in this post is by her - and one that I feel reflects who she is perfectly. She's also discovering the joys in sharing herself as she has so quickly built a community around her images. And now she's blogging and learning the ropes - I am so thrilled about this - welcome huggggggs Shubs. For long, I have felt she hides herself away - not anymore I hope :)

8:28:03 AM    comment []  trackback []

I am shocked at the venom and death threats against Kathy Sierra - it is sick, mean, even anarchical and evil, totally unethical. My first reaction was disgust and dismay and I have the greatest sympathy for what she is going through - but I find myself as appalled at the knee-jerk reaction of hate going around about a set of people implicated in her post - its not doing much good I'm afraid. Truly *Evil* minds whoever they are in this case, feed on such things.

I feel Mitch Ratcliffe's post is a really balanced take on the whole thing, especially this from Mitch - "We are further from that moment of truth now, however, because the silence of mock outrage reigns."

There are many conflicting thoughts in me right now around this issue. The woman in me is enraged at what Kathy is going through - and yet am not sure its a 'woman' thing at all. Lots of the American blogworld , esp at the A-list level, is fairly obsessed by how few women are really respected in Tech - this is evident by the endless debates on inviting women speakers at conferences. And yet, apart from BlogHer I don't see much happening to change this, as I see the same set of women speaking over and over again. The outrage against what's happened to her, is possibly greater because Kathy happens to be a woman. Are we perpetuating this gender divide by making it a woman thing - am not sure.

As a blogger, and one who has been around since 2003 this sort of stuff has been around. [link via Doc Searls]. Hate is just simply bad. Cyber bullying is bad. That's what we need to address. Whether against victim or accused (note here - I make a distinction between accused and convicted). Whether its against an A-lister or a Z-lister. Whether against man or woman. Its a reflection of a society gone badly wrong. Only the social system within which it exists can correct itself. In this case, blogs. Blogs and bloggers often reflect mob-like mentalities - some call it the echo chamber - and while there are many positive aspects of this - we must guard against the negatives.

I've had all sorts of threats and quite a bit of hate mail - I found the best thing is to simply ignore it and it usually goes away. I'm glad Kathy brought it out in the open though, its an issue that needs to be debated and addressed - and still I wish she hadn't made those really serious and clear accusations against specific individuals until after all the investigations by the authorities were done. Blogs are so powerful and the internet is an unforgiving place - entire reputations can be ruined thus.

We had an incident, not half as offensive as this, but the fallout was pretty severe, in the Indian Blogosphere - where a guy who was plagiarizing content from blogs was really beaten up by Indian bloggers - and I got tons of really bad hate mail for calling it Mob Justice and a witch hunt - although I will say this once more, that I would never condone plagiarism. - check the comments out there - these are only those that I let through. There were tons of mail and other comments that crossed my line of acceptability and were really lewd, hateful and full of threats. I ignored them and deleted them. And they went away.

Censorship and more regulation is not the answer - has it ever really worked where the internet is concerned? Andy Carvin has called for a Stop Cyberbullying Day. That's the sort of action that makes sense.

Kathy Sierra's an amazing blogger. I hope this horrific nightmare passes quickly for her . I do hope her  real 'attacker' is caught and is punished.  I also hope she gets back to blogging and shares as openly, the results of the investigation. Her silence will not do much good. Her voice is important for the blog world. Even half-way around the world in India.

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12:16:43 AM    comment []  trackback []