Generations of change

18 September 2016

"I thought then: no matter how deep the dung, no matter how long the task, if you just go at it one shovel at a time the day will come when you can see clean earth at the bottom of the pile.
...I know better now. The unit of time that must be taken into account here is not decades but centuries, and tens of centuries. It has meaning only in the context of eternal time... I was a human being; I was ill-prepared to set my mind to plans that must be based upon thousands and thousands of years. Nothing about me was large enough to stretch itself to such a scale. And so, because there was quite literally nothing else to do, I set Time aside. I pretended that there was no such entity as Time; I abandoned it utterly. And then I set my shovel to the pile. I began to do whatever I humanly could. Outside the context of Time.

Read Post

The rationality of imposter syndrome

06 September 2016

I've just started my fellowship at Data & Society, and I wanted to write about the feelings I had a few months ago when I found out about it. Long story short, I got the strongest case of 'imposter syndrome' I've ever had. As I've learned from smart friends, vulnerability is strength, so I tried to be open about how I was feeling.

Read Post

Brexit: heartbroken, but not broken

24 June 2016

Morning clouds of disbelief have given way to sadness. I'm grieving, as are at least 16 million other people around me. Not only for the EU and for a united stance against the horrors of the world today - but for the country I grew up in.

Read Post

The potential role of newsletters in community building

12 June 2016

3 months ago, I started writing a newsletter for the engine room, on the topic of Responsible Data. As a result, I've been thinking a lot about the potential role of newsletters in online communities, and trying to work out what value this particular newsletter could bring.

This NYMag piece on newsletters as online 'safe spaces' made me think a lot about what that means for community building. Sadly, nowadays, 'open' social media platforms which are used to provide channels of communication and discussion can be dangerous places for feminist activists, women or other marginalised communities, or simply people talking about topics like social justice or social change. Despite this, lots of online community gathering still happens on social media platforms - tweeting with a certain hashtag, participating in online discussion forums, or joining a specific Facebook group, for example. What other options are there for bringing together a community, without venturing into increasingly uncomfortable social media spaces?

Read Post

Bridging the gap: CSVConf

14 May 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honour of giving my very first keynote, at CSVConf in Berlin. It was a lovely, community-run conference "for data makers everywhere", and I appreciated a lot about the way it was set up.

Read Post

Group discussions: learnings on facilitation

10 May 2016

Over the past year or so, I've been trying out a couple of informal event styles to bring people together around a certain topic, and enable a deeper style of discussion than often happens at bigger conferences.

Read Post

Women tech critics - a reading list

13 March 2016

Warning: really long post. For a reading list of books, blogs and more which take a critical perspective on tech/data and are written by women, scroll to the bottom, or check out this Twitter list of the women mentioned below!

Read Post

Step up, step back

13 March 2016

If we think long enough through the 'theories of change' of many of the organisations and movements I find myself around, we should eventually come to the step of making ourselves redundant. In my previous role with School of Data, we were very clear about this: we even had a workshop session once where we were tasked with drawing up our own project 'obituary'.

The idea of playing a certain role for a certain time - that is, until others can do it better, and where at some point, that particular role will be unnecessary - appeals greatly to me. It means my job will keep changing, and I'll have to keep learning new things. It means I'll have to, by necessity, be flexible, and not become too attached to a function or a role. It also means that other people will step up and at some point, I'll have to recognise that it's time for me to step away.

Read Post

International Women's Day: On inspiring with vulnerability

07 March 2016

Tomorrow is International Women's Day; in my mind, a day for celebrating, and thanking, inspiring women. When I think of the most inspiring women I know personally, and the most important conversations I've had with them, almost all of them have one slightly counterintuitive thread running through them: vulnerability and weakness.

Read Post

Being intentional about what's in our networks

06 March 2016

Last week, my friend Tin wrote about being intentional about who was in his networks. His thoughts got me thinking about not only who is in my own network, but also what, and how to widen both.

In lots of ways, this is actually the opposite of what many social networks and platforms are trying to do, and this worries me greatly. "You might also like...", or "Recommended for you" features point us towards things that we'll like because they are similar to us, rather than things that will make us think.

Read Post