megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)
[personal profile] megwrites
1. Not precisely writing related, but it struck some very writer-y thoughts in me: [staff profile] denise explains about Technical debt and the making of payments on it.

The thing that impressed me most about this post is that not only did I understand it, but I was very interested in a topic that otherwise bores me to tears. Also, I always wondered what happened to old software and the like. Apparently there's a term and an entire process for it: End of Life. Although I wonder what happens when somebody is using a computer or program that's gone past it's End of Life, and if there are lots of instances of this, especially in areas where the most up-to-date technologies are not made available.

But mostly, I also kind of realized that this technical debt which is such an obstacle for programmers is kind of what a lot of fiction writers I know rely on in order to be able to edit a work meaningfully. As [staff profile] denise explains it:

it's a common truism that code you yourself wrote six months ago is as impenetrable as code written by a complete stranger, and you have to spend a great deal of time puzzling out what the heck you were thinking back then. (Code that is brilliant, flawless, and crystal clear when you write it slowly morphs into idiotic, bug-ridden, and clear as mud over time. This is a well-known process. I suspect pixies in the source code repository, working their anti-magic while nobody's looking.)

The same thing is true (at least for me and lots of folks I know) about writing. The manuscript that you wrote six months ago will become less comprehensible and obvious to you as time goes by. What seemed flawless becomes riddles with typos and sentences that make no sense and all sorts of errors.

For me at least, this has to happen or I can't even spellcheck with any degree of accuracy. When I know what I intended to say, my brain has this way of filling that in instead of letting me see that I've completely skewered the word or phrase on the page such that nobody else would ever be able to comprehend it.

More than that, when I know what I intended a scene to feel like that and when I'm still able to recall that I thought an exchange between characters was quite funny or a scene was quite sad because I felt it as I was writing, I can't judge whether I accomplished my goal. When those feelings and memories fade as I move on to other projects, I get a better estimation of what I've written.

Thus, I have to come at the manuscript as though I'm someone who knows nothing about it, who doesn't have that bright, clear image of a character in mind to fill in the gaps where the writing doesn't create a three-dimensional person, who doesn't know what that sentence was supposed to say before I typo'ed the hell out of it and put words in the most confusing order you can in the English language.

I suppose it's just sort of odd to see someone bemoaning the very process that I rely on to help me make a piece of writing clear and enjoyable.

I'm also sort of wondering if this is true:

There's a thing about old feminists. By the time a feminist gets old, she has heard the people around her, people she depends on and people she cares about and just all the damn people, tell her she's wrong about everything a million billion jillion times... And to get anything done at all, you are forced to learn to ignore the vast floods of people telling you that you're wrong.

And when your old feminist does something wrong - which she will do sometime - and people come along and see it and go "Holy crap woman! Can you even hear what is coming out of your mouth?! Please reconsider your terrible statements! You are so hideously wrong!" she's going to ignore it. She may not even hear it. Because when 99% of all the people telling you that you are wrong are full of shit, you tune them all out. And maybe 1% of the time that results in you acting like an embarrassment in public. But if you spend all your time carefully evaluating each message of wrongness to catch that valuable 1%, really entertaining the possibility that this time you really are wrong, letting it in emotionally: you will drown beneath the 99%, and no one will ever hear from you again.

- [personal profile] vito_excalibur, con and on anon.

I'm going to leave aside that a) I don't think "old" is necessarily appropriate here because I've seen people who are relatively young who exhibit this after a while and not just with feminism and b) not all feminists identify as women -- there plenty of, say, genderqueer, binary, or otherwise not woman-identifying feminists out there and they, too, can fall prey to this.

That said, the Oblivious Feminist Cycle described here seems like it might be very true. I've seen it a lot. Those who once were all about truth and justice turn around and become much like the folks they were once protesting against.

So, I ask, how do you think activists (of any stripe) can prevent this while still dealing with the hate they get in such a way that they can guard their spaces and their well being without dismissing other marginalized people?

Basically how does one avoid the Oblivious Activist Cycle? Or can you? Is it inevitable?

Date: 2011-03-31 01:28 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Photo of baby wearing huge black glasses  (eyeglasses baby)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
I'd hope one could innoculate one's comrades. Make them aware of the dynamic, provide a language to discuss it with so that we'd be able to bring clarity and minimize bluster. We could schedule progress examinations -- internal, within-the-cadre, and public -- on a rotating basis so that those with less power wouldn't have to fight for the right to even request the discussion.

(I'm a youngish Second Waver, as well as a former Marxist-Leninist. Mao Zedong tried hard to include this sort of meta training in his political theories: they're in the theory but significant disaster in the lived experience. I've had better luck looking to the Society of Friends, intentional communities, and other communal live/work structures.)

Date: 2011-04-26 07:21 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
(meandering in via Twitter) Ah, software! And hardware!

What happens when it's gone past its End of Life really depends on what it is and how it was built. The official thing that happens with everything that's EOL-ed is that the company that is responsible for it stops supporting it, and everyone who was using it is without their help. The practical effects depend on details. If the program is entirely contained on the user's computer, then it won't get updates, and if something goes wrong with it, the company that made it won't help. This can be pretty benign if it's a stable little program that not much can go wrong with and it doesn't need to change with the times (like a game or something). If it's something that has to periodically check in with the mothership for some reason, and the mothership's not there, it's broken, even if parts of it still work. Especially dangerous is something like an antivirus program, which depends on regular updates to be able to catch the newest and worst things going around -- people running out-of-date antivirus software may think they are protected, and do things they wouldn't do if unprotected. If it's something that has all of its functionality "in the cloud", like Delicious -- it's just gone.

Places that don't have access to the most up-to-date software -- again, this is not my area of specialty, but I've heard enough about old versions of Windows with out-of-date protection in those areas to think that it's quite a thing, and that lower-tech areas are going to have a higher rate of malware infection. Though they're also likely to have slower net connections, which makes them less of a target-of-choice.

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