@ The Promised Land, 23/09/10
This was my first Cardiff Girl Geek. I brought along my fellow blogger vanillalatte_1’s other half Drew as my ‘plus 1’ (guys can only attend if they are invited by a girl).
We were greeted by Chyrelle and Claire the two very smiley and friendly organisers and asked to wear name stickers which was a really good idea although I think I should have put my Twitter handle (@raitapaita) on my tag a la @reinikainen to try and get some more follows. Plus it might have been a conversation starter.
Drew and I jumped straight in there chatting to Aussie twitterer and techie Mark (@markheseltine) about whether blogs should be used as money-spinners through using adwords etc (Drew is of the strong opinion that they should) and I whinged a little bit about how tweeting about two niche interests – Finland, and MotoGP – means I’ll never have many followers and am constantly alienating at least half of them at least half of the time.
After a little more chitchat dinner was served. Drew saved me a seat whilst I had to do a little eyelash fluttering at the server to give me two plates of chilli. Whilst in the queue had another little chat with Mark about school dinners and tuck shops as the guy ladling out chilli and us all forming an orderly queue (with @reinikainen first in line) had reminded me of school days.
Over dinner Drew and I discussed his MsC dissertation project and the problem of referencing code written by someone else (well, look this is a geek dinner!)
After dinner is was time for a talk by Dr. Kelly Page on ‘The Gendering of Digital Media Knowledge: Is it really all about Sex?” The talk was a short introduction into her research interests and some of the issues, questions and problems surrounding using ‘gender’ as a definition and a quantifier in research. I especially agreed with her point that gender is not binary (boy/girl) but a spectrum of masculinity and femininity and therefore to group results into boys think/say/do, girls think/say/ do is fairly meaningless. But then we’re faced with the problem that making gender a spectrum “muddies the waters” and makes the answers to a lot of questions “we just don’t know.” The gender issue of course applies to any field of research but is perhaps especially interesting / relevant in the emerging field of digital media knowledge which, although perhaps seen by some as a male-dominated field is affected by the gender-neutral and anonymous nature of the online world. The talk blew my mind a little bit and I’m not sure I (after 2 glasses of wine and a belly full of chili) completely grasped everything Dr. Page was saying but she was a great speaker: bubbly, lively, inquisitive and engaging. She asked for questions at the end and quite a few people piped up. The question that interested me most came from @reinikainen who, after Dr. Page made the slip up of saying “The web designer. What does he do at the weekends?”, introduced the idea of how language influence gender stereotyping. He used the example of the Finnish language where one word – “hän” – means both he/she and it so in Finnish you can’t gender stereotype in the same way.
After the talk there was more mingling and chatter. I enjoyed listening to Girl Geek organizer Claire and Drew discuss the South Wales music scene and community with especial reference to under-used concert venues in Cardiff. We moved downstairs after the advertised finishing time of 830 and I got chatting to a group of Cardiff girl tweeters including @grainyknits and @nicintosh – nice to make some new Twitter friends.
The chattering continued and I ended up outside under the patio heaters with Chyrelle, Claire, @reinikainen Dr. Page and some others to carry on slightly more tipsy and less geeky conversations on, amongst other topics netball and cigarettes. We stayed until the staff switching off the heaters gave us the sign that perhaps we should let them close up and go home for the night. I then shared a hilarious taxi ride with Chyrelle, Claire and @reinikainen. All in all a great night. See you all at the next one!