"Take, for example, the opening to Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries: 'The twelve men congragated in the smoking room of the Crown Hotel gave the impression of a party accidentally met.' This is emphatically not the same as starting a novel with 'So there they were: a dozen men in the Crown Hotel, all together in the smoking-lounge, looking like they'd only met there by chance.' Yes, the explicit narrative data conveyed in the two are the same, but just as you wouldn't be happy with your publisher simply producing a sort of casual paraphrase of your writing and publishing that under your name, so your foreign-language publishers are hiring people to write exactly the same book as the one you've written. (Except for all the words, obviously.) Sound difficult? The reality is harder still. Every language is different. There's no single word in one language that maps perfectly onto a word in another - not one. And every language has things it can do, and things it can't."


"Once the contract is signed, the translator takes a deep breath and dives in. Their job is two-fold, and simple: they read you, then they write you.
They read you with more care than anybody else will, more demandigly, more inquiringly. Yes, your editor might take a moment to consider your punctuation if it doesn't work and needs rethinking, but translators have to think hard about it even - or especially - if it does."

A beautiful piece on translators: "The curious condition of being a translator" by Daniel Hahn via Paula Góes on GV-Authors mailing list.

Posted Wed 02 Apr 2014 12:24:30 PM CEST Tags:

First of all, let me say this: Barcelona MiniDebconf was awesome.

So the most important part of this post is a very big thank you to the organizers, volunteers, speakers, sponsors and attendees.

Now, down to business.

Day 0

Day 0 was a day of travelling, more or less: the Italian Cabal (me, Enrico, Elena and Diego) left in the early morning from Varese (where we had an epic Munchkin Apocalypse game the night before), and we travelled by car across Liguria and France and finally reached Barcelona in the evening.

(Boring! Even more if you don't drive. I hate long trips by car)

We reached Barcelona in time for the pre-registration event at Falstaff Bar, eat a great Falafel and hugged lots of people.

Day 1

To me the highlight of Day 1 was to finally meet in person Laura Arjona, Spanish translator, publicity volunteer, pump.io and mediagoblin contributor. We had decided to have a workshop together about translations and we spent the morning more or less tweaking our presentation and chatting :). So, save for Elena's talk on 3d printing in Debian ("The Universal OS: now making tabletop games and cookie cutters!" -- which was great!) I missed all the talks in the morning.

But thanks to the always amazing videoteam, I'll be able to watch them later, when the recordings will be published :).

For me, the best talk of the day - well, no, actually of the conference! - was that afternoon: Ana Isabel Carvalho told us about the Libre Graphics Magazine project.

Libre Graphics Magazine is a well written and designed magazine at the crossroad between Free Software tools and ideals and graphic arts and design. A crossroad not very much frequented, I'd say. But then, maybe I'm wrong: it's not that graphic artists don't use Free Software tools, it's more like the one who do are invisible.

This is one purpose of a Libre Graphics Magazine: to serve as a catalyst for discussion, to build a home for the users of Libre Graphics software, standards and methods. In such a magazine, we may unite all our previously disparate successes, all the successes which have, until now, stood alone as small examples, disjointed from the larger community. We have the opportunity to elevate the discourse around Libre Graphics as a professionally viable option, to raise previously unmentioned issues and to push forward the conception of just what Libre Graphics can produce.

If you are even only vagued interested in typefaces, fonts, design and graphic art take a look at the magazine: it's CC-BY-SA licensed and you can download it for free, or buy a paper copy (which is amazing, really!). And it's not just about graphic arts: if you skim over the titles of the issues, you can find that they've talked about things like "Localisation/Internationalization", "Use Cases and Affordances" and, my favourite, "Gendering F/LOSS".

On a similar topic, Siri's talk about "Why aren't more designers using Debian or working for Debian?" tried to shed a light on the difficult relationship between Free Software tools and graphic artists.

These are the voices we need to listen to if we want to bring more graphic artists to Debian, and $deity knows that Debian needs them a lot :).

After Solveig's talk about bug triaging and Miriam's one on packaging, it was time for the l10n workshop. I think it went well: we tried to briefly explain the translation workflow in Debian, and to translate together with the audience a po-debconf message. It wasn't maybe enough to complete and submit a translation, but hopefully it gave the audience an idea about how to do it.

The day ended with a party for Debian Women 10th anniversary. And the cake wasn't a lie, beside being very good.

Day 2

This, I'll remember as "the day I exited my comfort zone". Ok, I'm making a bit of fuss about it, but it was my first talk in English all alone. I spoke about the non-uploading DD process and how to keep your (and others') sanity in a big community project (slides here). I think it's very important to remind people that not all DDs are coding persons. And you don't need to be a developer to love Debian, contribute to it and become an official member of the project.

But writing this presentation was for me also the occasion to take stock of my experience in Debian so far: in that talk slipped many of my demons, as impostor syndrome or overcommitment. But all the things I said are more or less, common sense - nothing new! - and lesson learned on the road: it's been now 2 years as DD and 4 as contributor. I'm pretty sure it's thanks to the special conditions of this conference (only speakers identifying themselves as female, a safe and very friendly environment) that I had the courage to give a talk. So the conference was a complete success on that regard, too.

In the afternoon I was able to do one of the things I love: videoteam duty. Though I convinced Riccio to switch roles and to give me the camera: my experience in directing during last DebConf left me a bit scarred.

Special mention for Laura speaking of pump.io and MediaGoblin and Solveig of Tails during the "Lightning Talks" and the people from LelaCoders during the "Bits from Local Communities" session.

The Day(s) after: a Debian Contributors hackathon

In my experience a measure of a conference's success is the burst of activity in pet projects just afterwards.

In this, also, Barcelona MiniConf was a success: during the weekend, Enrico, Laura and I had the chance to talk together about Debian Contributors and make some plans.
So, as soon as we got in Italy again, I took possession of Enrico's couch for a couple of days and we did a little bit of hacking on Contributors.

For my part, I mostly worked in trying to add more data sources to the site: my (not so) secret agenda is to map most of the non-coding contributions. That basically means: translators, publicity editors, event organizers and volunteers, etc.

Being in the same room as Enrico, gave me the chance to ask him how to add data sources and to test the existing code (we spot a little problem in the prototype for svn repository mining he made a while ago). At the end of the hackathon, I had managed to:

Please note that if you have contributed to one of the repo above and you are not listed there, it means that the automatic recognition of your email address didn't work. We still need to implement a manual interface for the recognition of email addresses: patches are very much welcome!

Meanwhile Enrico:

  • Implemented showing the log of all changes involving a person in the personal page
  • Implemented visibility settings in the personal page
  • Redone data aggregation, so that it can be computed after each setting change and after each data submission
  • Implemented editing one's own display name
  • Autofill people's display names from Debian and Alioth user full name information
  • Read Debian and Alioth email forwarding fields to auto-associate more contributions to people
  • Show activity of teams, not only of people
  • Main contributors.debian.org page only shows the last year, with pagination for the previous ones
  • Added some statistics to the Site status page
  • New version of dc-tool, with fixed svn data source and quiet operation by default
  • Auto-associate OpenPGP key fingerprints using Debian's LDAP
  • Drafted about/privacy page

If you care about recognition of diverse contributions in Debian, help us: read the project todo list and subscribe to the low traffic mailing list or browse the project Git repository.

Posted Mon 31 Mar 2014 11:57:42 AM CEST Tags:

A quick roundup of things I made during the last months, following tutorials here and there.

finished projects for babies

1: a soft bunny more or less based on this one

2: skelly man! You can find pattern and instructions on Chez Beeper Bebe's blog

3: bibs: the embroidered one is based on this pattern by Charlotte Lyons on SouleMama's blog, the other re-uses the same pattern but add a bird applique instead.

finished projects for women

1, 4: my first try with the beautiful Weekender Bag ended with something else entirely: apparently, where euclidean geometry principles apply, cutting a piece of fabric 10 cm smaller will result in a bag 10 cm smaller!
Go figure! Fhtang!

I'm happy anyway with the final result, but it resembles more a tote bag than a weekender one. I then made also a successful Weekender, but haven't taken a pic yet. If you try that pattern, you may find this blogpost helpful.

2: This is my try at copycatting this model without a pattern and didn't end very well.
However, a couple lessons learned:

  • you don't improvise armholes and sleeves: you have to carefully plan them. I know this now, but at the time I was just a kid with a crazy dream ;)
  • a-line dresses with straight necklines are definitely not meant for my body type. no matter how cute they look on someone else.
  • I really should hack my mannequin, so to have it of my actual size. Or I will continue sew clothes fitting it, and not me.

3: Blouse with knit-stretchy stuff! (You love me when I speak technical, don't you?)
I did that without pattern, mostly using a similar top I have as inspiration/guide

Posted Tue 25 Mar 2014 04:25:06 PM CET Tags:

With the help of Enrico and the Debian Listmaster Team -and in particular Alexander Wirt: thank you very much! - the spam reviewers of the Debian mailing lists have been added to the list of Debian Contributors.
While some statistics about the reviewing job already existed, adding these data to the Debian Contributors list is another little step to map all kind of Debian contributions.

Wondering what exactly is the job of the spam reviewers?

It consists in checking all the messages of the Debian mailing lists reported as spam: if a message reported as spam gets three reviews as spam (and none as ham) it is removed from the archive.
Only DDs can do this: if you are one check here how to do it.
But there's one - and probably more important job - that everyone can do: report spam. When a message is reported as spam by 5 or more persons, it will make to the reviewers' queue. There are some organized spam cleaning efforts you can join: here there's a list of them, while on this page you can find more information on the whole process.

Wondering what exactly is the Debian Contributors list?

It's a brilliant effort started by Enrico to map all kind of contributions in Debian.
You can read more about it here and here.

Posted Wed 12 Mar 2014 07:07:32 PM CET Tags:

community tip

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist: words so good need a pretty (fsvo pretty) framing.


Posted Sun 23 Feb 2014 02:29:04 AM CET Tags:

A couple of days ago, AO3 reached 1 million fanworks in 14,353 fandoms.

The AO3 is an archive of fanfiction for multiple fandoms, founded and run by a non-profit organization, Organization for Transformative Works with the aim of "providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms."

The code behind AO3 is open source, their servers run Debian and they even have a Diversity Statement! How cool is that? :)

And, well, there's also the fact that...

"[...] the Archive is one of a very small number of open-source projects founded and largely staffed by women, another contribution fans have made to the internet as a whole. Many women who were not previously involved in technology have learned new skills in the name of fannish activities, and the AO3 is proud to stand as a shining example of this growth."

So, congratulations AO3!

Posted Mon 17 Feb 2014 10:49:32 PM CET Tags:
  • Where The Grass Grows Green I: We May Yet Stand (Lord of the Rings)

    "AU. The Quest failed. Sam killed Gollum before the Ring was destroyed and now darkness rules the lands of Middle-earth. A small group from the resistance battles both hunger and mistrust, to keep hope alive. But will the sacrifices outweigh the gain?"

    A what-if fic where one (arguably) minor event (Sam killing Gollum) changes drastically the future of Middle Earth: Sauron regains the Ring, his enemies are destroyed or captives and the only resistance comes from the Rohirrim. It's written wonderfully and features some interesting OCs, beside the canon characters. Note that is quite a dark fic, and many major characters are dead. This is the first installment of six, the second is already online, but not complete yet: Where The Grass Grows Green II: On Bended Knee. The author uploads slowly, but for a fic of this quality is worth the waiting.

  • Ned Stark Lives! (A Song of Ice and Fire)

    Exactly what says on the tin: how events would have been different in Westeros had Ned Stark lived? The author maintains the multiple pov structure, alternating among the different subplots, and everyone is - more or less - in character. The sequel is online, currently in progress: Ned Stark Lives! Part 2

  • The North Remembers (A Song of Ice and Fire)

    "In the ashes of war-torn Westeros, the fate of the remnants of House Stark - and that of their lovers, allies, friends, and foes - hangs in the balance."

    103 chapters and counting, this is a good continuation fic for those who need their Westeros fix while waiting for The Winds of Winter. The story is mostly focused on the Starks.

  • A Bit of Rope (Lord of The Rings)

"What would have happened if Gandalf hadn't fallen in Moria? Would the outcome have been better, or worse? Here's a darker-than-the-original but not-as-dark-as-some AU version of how things might have turned out differently...and the same...if Sam had remembered to bring a bit of rope"

Another what-if dark fic, dealing with the survival of Gandalf the Grey in Moria, the consequent absence of a Gandalf the White and a Balrog roaming Middle Earth.

As usual, if you want to suggest a good fic, drop me a mail.

Posted Wed 05 Feb 2014 12:52:07 AM CET Tags:

"I am now 33 years old, and it feels like much time has passed and it's passing faster and faster every day. Day to day I have to make all sorts of choices about what is good and important and fun, and then I have to live with the forfeiture of all the other options those choices foreclose.
And I'm starting to see how as time gains momentum my choices will narrow and their foreclosures multiply exponentially until I arrive at some point on some branch of all life's sumptuous branching complexity at which I am finally locked in and stuck on one path and time speeds me through stages of stasis and atrophy and decay until I go down for the third time, all struggle for naught, drowned by time.
It is dreadful. But since it's my own choices that'll lock me in, it seems unavoidable -- if I want to be any kind of grownup, I have to make choices and regret foreclosures and try to live with them."
David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again

I feel the passing of the time mostly the same way, and the possible consequences of everyday choices always nag at my mind. For a long time, I've been afraid of consequences, of inevitable choices you come to regret, sooner or later.
And then I guess I level'd up without even noticing, because I don't feel anymore paralyzed by the fear of The Worst Thing In The World.
There's always a way out. And you can always go back, if something - a relationship, a job, the new colour of your hair - it's not as good as expected.
I can very well stop reading a book I don't like, and use my time for something else.
Human life can be awfully short, and there's really no point in wasting time with something you don't like.
You cannot live without trying things, that's how we experience the world, and trying things means that sooner or later you'll find something you don't like.
But when you do, you're not condemned to live with it.
You're only dead when you're dead: til then, you can turn tables as often as you like.

Posted Thu 19 Dec 2013 07:33:47 PM CET Tags:

[...] this is a great example of overcoming something that we call "problem A, problem B" paradox.
So you've got a group of people coming together, and they're all trying to solve the same problem (problem A) and they're really passionate about it. And then, you've got this problem B thing, which is that you got a bunch of people with different views.
And they may seem to be conflicting, and it seems like a paradox: the same differences that we need to solve the problem are getting in our way. But if you think about it as a paradox, you can get through it.
You think: OK, we've got all these differences. You have to identify the differences that actually are going to move us forward and those that are getting in our way.
And the differences that are getting in your way, set them aside. Push them off to the side and focus on the ones that are helping you move forward.
Kathryn Jablokow

Well, I noticed that at first everybody was saying "Yes, but this is my idea".
And as we got closer and closer together, it became "Yes, and".
Jack Matson

(Quotes from a lecture about "Collaboration skills", part of the Creativity, Innovation and Change course on Coursera)

IMO this is an important lesson to learn if you want to work effectively in a community project like Debian.
We talk much about diversity, and the added value of diversity in our project.
But diversity also means that to converge towards consensus is difficult and requires a specific set of best practices.

A little thing like saying "Yes and" instead of "Yes but" could be of help. Words definitely matter.

Posted Tue 22 Oct 2013 02:02:37 PM CEST Tags:

Recently, I've been attending a training course in Moldova about the representation of gender in the media and the influence on society of gender stereotypes.
The course was organized by Inesa Lupu, of Invento and financed by the UE as part of the Youth in Action program.

It was the first time, for me, in this kind of international project and it was, in a word, fantastic.
Among the participants, there were people from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Moldova and Slovenia.
That meant a great mix of cultures, languages and experiences.
And that was the key, in my opinion, of the success: coming from different countries and different social and cultural contexts meant that we were able to have a very broad and diverse point of view on the problem of gender stereotypes.

So, here's some highlights on what we discussed.

The media representation of gender (aka: gender issues are not only women issues)

Tough Guise by Jackson Katz is a interesting documentary about the way the modern society - particularly in the US - defines masculinity as intrinsically tied to violence, aggressivity and "toughness" and on the consequences of this on the society as a whole. The author's theory is "that male violence, misogyny, and homophobia are inextricably linked to how we define manhood as a culture. The film gives special attention to how American media have glamorized increasingly regressive and violence masculine ideals in the face of mounting social and economic threats to traditional white male heterosexual authority".

It then results clear that we cannot avoid to think about gender issues as women and men issues, because after all is the cultural definition of both femininity and masculinity that heavily influences the behaviour of men and women and their interaction.
In particular, I liked Katz's analysis of media's use of victim blaming speech while reporting of violences against women which tend to shift the focus from the violence perpetrated by men as part of definition of masculinity.

Another documentary we watched, more focused on women representation, is MissRepresentation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
The film analyses the under representation of women in position of power, and the issue of women and leadership, especially in politics, in the US. Nothing too new, if you are interested in gender issues, as it is a widely discussed and studied topic, but still worth watching.

After watching them, we formed little groups of three-four persons from different countries to discuss them, and it was even more interesting to listen the opinion of the guys (we had four male participants).

The guys talking about Tough Guise

Photography and Phototherapy

As a workshop on media representation of gender, photography and advertisement were two of the main argument we spoke about. We focused on it for two days: our trainer, Lietta Granato - photographer and phototherapist - first gave us a lesson on photography, making us experimenting a bit with exposure times and diaphragm's aperture.

a lesson on photography

Then she presented the evolution in the last 50 year or so, of the depiction of women in the ads.
And that, to be honest, was a bit upsetting.
I've already had seen one of the most important and widely known films on this theme, the Killing Us Softly series by Jean Kilbourne, but some of the ads Lietta showed to us were really really horrible. Actually, most of them were horrible.

Commenting and deconstructing these ads would take a separate blogpost, probably, and there are many people more competent than me on the topic, so I've decided to simply share some of the worst ads in a collage, without much commenting.

These are vintage, from the fifties to the seventies.

a collage of vintage sexist ads

Do you think we got better? Pff.

a collage of recent sexist ads

They go from promoting violence and rape to heavily objectifying women. Special mention for the Compaq ad: as a geek woman I feel particularly insulted by the idea that I'm supposed to use a "pocket pc" as "pocket mirror". Because I wouldn't be able, obviously, to use it as a computer.

Lietta also introduced us to photographic therapy and particularly the work of Jo Spence and Rosy Martin.

If you browse Jo Spence's site, please be aware that there is a series of pics documenting all the stages of her illness (she died of breast cancer) and they are pretty intense.

"In 1984, alongside Rosy Martin, Spence developed ‘Photo-Therapy’, adopting techniques from co-counselling. The considerable achievement of Photo-Therapy was to invert the traditional relationship between the photographer and the subject. If historically the subject had little control over their own representation, Photo-Therapy shifts this dynamic. The subject was able to act out personal narratives and claim agency for their own biography." (source: http://www.jospence.org/biography.html)
I love this concept and I really really love Spence's photos.

To close on a happier note, I really suggest you to allocate 20 minutes of your time to watch this great talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about the role of "single story" in shaping stereotypes and misunderstandings.

Posted Sun 13 Oct 2013 11:00:00 AM CEST Tags:

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