Skip to main content

Kimberly Blessing

Giving Credit Where It's Due on Ada Lovelace Day 2014

3 min read

I haven't written a post for Ada Lovelace Day in a few years (last in 2010) and recent conversations have made one feel necessary. When the contributions and accomplishments of my female contemporaries on the Web are unknown to people just a generation behind, I get extremely concerned. After all, the making of the Web is the making of history in modern times. As I've pointed out before, we have the opportunity to document our times and lives unlike never before -- but data loss can occur. And it is.

Twenty years ago, when I was in college and learning how to create web pages, I pretty much had two sources of information: documentation written by TimBL and USENET newsgroups. But once I started working professionally, I realized that there was a wealth of information being printed on paper. And what I saw was that large numbers of these books on web development and design were being written by women.

Me and Molly HolzschlagMe with Molly Holzschlag

Women such as:

I wish I could tell you exactly how many books these women have collectively written -- I'm sure it's over 100 -- but quick searches of their bios and websites doesn't always make this data clear. Is it modesty? Do multiple editions make the numbers tricky? I don't know.

But when I mention the names of these women -- all of whom are still active online, many of whom are still writing (or speaking) about the web and programming -- to web developers today, I'm often met with blank stares. I'll have to mention that Lynda founded, (still!) one of the top online training sites, or that Jen co-founded the extremely popular ARTIFACT conference. I have to explain that Dori has helped run Wise Women's Web, one of the earliest communities for female developers online, and that we have Molly to thank for convincing Bill Gates and Microsoft to be more open about Internet Explorer development at Microsoft (there are so many articles to link to, but I want to link to Molly's old blog posts, which are gone *sadface*).

While my past ALD posts have been happy remembrances of people who've made positive impacts on my life, this post is written out of frustration -- and even a bit of anger -- that the contributions of these women are being forgotten or overlooked in their own time. Let's give credit where it's due. Comment or blog or tweet about the books written by these women that helped you learn your craft. Send them a thank you email or tweet. (In Molly's case, you can give to her fund.) Share this post or the links to these women's websites with someone who needs to learn about their foremothers. And just be thankful that women helped light the path for others by sharing knowledge about building the World Wide Web.

Kimberly Blessing

BlogHer '14: Preserving Your Online Content

4 min read

BlogHer 10th Anniversary Celebration

Earlier this year, I read (and raved about) Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore. One of the obvious realizations when reading this book is that today we have little first-source material of the average person's life from this era -- and especially little of it from women. It's only because of Jane's famous brother that her writing has survived -- and through that correspondence, we can learn so much.

That seems to be a theme for me, this year: I've been thinking a lot about how we document and preserve information -- stories, photos, videos, etc. -- online, whether for ourselves (ooh, the cloud), to share with family and friends (social media), or for posterity. I was first drawn to the web, 20 years ago, as cheaper means of communication... but like so many others, have realized the wealth of history we're documenting as well. It's important to me that we preserve that history... because, even though we think the Internet never forgets, it does.

So, when the good folks at BlogHer approached me about participating in this year's 10th anniversary conference, I thought this would be the perfect subject to talk about. Except I'm not talking... I'm running a Geek Bar instead! This means that I'll be helping bloggers who are interested in hands-on learning and help on how to preserve their online content. This post is a short summary of some of the material I expect we'll review and resources we'll need to reference, mostly for WordPress users (non-developers). Whether you're at my session or not, you may find this information useful and you're welcome to contribute your own! (I'll update this post later with anything else we cover.)

Backing up your blog

If you're blogging on a free or paid service, learn about what backups they're creating and whether or not you can get access to them. If you're paying for hosting and running your own blog, add a backup subscription service or set up your own backup solution.

  • For WordPress: VaultPress, Backup Buddy, and loads of other plugins.
  • If you're looking for something that will (likely) outlive you, submit your site to the Internet Archive for archiving (via the "save page now" form). Make sure your web page templates or robots.txt do not include NOARCHIVE.

Better broken links

Nobody likes getting a 404 (page not found)... and they're not good for search engines or archiving tools, if you want them to get your content! Help 'em out:

Moving and taking down content

If services go offline, you choose to switch providers or domains, or you simply choose to take content offline, you're going to want folks (and search engines) to know.

  • Familiarize yourself with the HTTP status codes. Here's a quick review of the most relevant ones:
    • 200 OK - this is what you want folks to get, in addition to your content
    • 301 Moved Permanently - if you're moving between services/URLs, you want this to be the redirect type
    • 302 Found or 307 Temporary Redirect - if you're having momentary issues and want to send readers somewhere else for a short time
    • 404 Page Not Found - the one we don't want people to get
    • 410 Gone - what you want to send when you've taken something down and don't ever intend for it to come back
  • If your site runs on Apache, learn about Redirect and Alias directives which you can set in your .htaccess file.
  • Yes, there are WordPress redirect manager plugins, too.

Solutions for all of your online content

What about your Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram pics, and other content on third-party sites? You can save those, too!

Kimberly Blessing

Geeky news stories you might have missed

2 min read

Some of these stories are a few weeks old -- sorry, that's what happens when you go to SXSW!

Kimberly Blessing

Last week's links

1 min read

Kimberly Blessing

Last week's links

1 min read

Kimberly Blessing

More thoughts on gender in the Web world

4 min read

Wow. This whole gender diversity thing really took off, but I wonder if it'll continue, or if it's dying. If you haven't gotten in on it yet, read Virginia DeBolt's summary at BlogHer. Some opinions I've enjoyed on this topic come from:

I also thought more about Eric Meyer's comment about publishing, and it took me back to the publish or perish concerns that many scientists and researchers have. Am I a woman scientist? pointed to this paper, which, while relating to the biological sciences, reiterates what I've learned about academic paper publishing both in general and in the computer science field.

There is a clear difference between men and women in science with regard to the quantity of their research output. On average, males publish more papers than their female counterparts, a trend that is consistent across scientific disciplines and exists even when obvious mitigating factors are taken into consideration. The causes of this difference are mysterious ... However, it may also be a consequence of social factors.

I believe that all of the above is true of publishing in the Web world.

The study also goes on to state that while women produce fewer papers, their papers are generally rated as being of better quality than those produced by men, and are more often cited in other research. I don't want to extrapolate this particular statement and apply it to the Web world, but it's something to think about.

Getting back to quantity, however... if the bulk of publications are produced by men, one might assume that the tendency to publish is more male than female. And thus arises another concern that I have -- that, in order for women to gain more prominence in our field, we're expecting them to behave like men. Is this fair? Is it right?

Robert Scoble said on Shelley's blog that one has to learn to beg [for links] via email and/or face-to-face meetings... men do this far far more often than women do. I also took issue with this, because, again, the expectation is that women should do what men do to get noticed.

I know it's been done already, but I'll again ask all of the people involved in this ongoing conversation to to stop and think not about what women can do to get noticed or be seen as an expert, but what they can do to help identify, encourage, and support women. The confidence to ask for links or the opportunity to publish or speak may need to be socialized more with women first -- you can't just expect them to be told to do something in order to see change.

And I'll ask the women out there to think about what we can be doing to help raise awareness of what we do as individuals, about what we contribute to the field, and how we should be promoting these things to the industry. What can we do to promote opportunities to contribute, what opportunities can we create for ourselves, and how do we foster this ongoing dialog?

While it was a man who helped to reignite this discussion, I ultimately think that women need to own it. I don't want to say that we've all been happy to take a back seat and be content with what we've got, because I know that's not true... but unless we continue to fuel this discussion, and unless we take ownership of steering it and educating others, we won't see many gains made.

Kimberly Blessing

SxSW podcasts!

1 min read

Sure, this comes a little late, but better late than never, right?

The good folks at the SxSW Festival have finally posted the podcasts for the panels that I was a part of. The following links will take you straight to the MP3s:

Kimberly Blessing

SxSW notes, for you and for me

2 min read

(This post originally started on March 13, 2006 at 10:36 AM CST)

The crazy thing about SxSW is that you get busy and don't have time to do the things you mean to do. It's not a bad thing, it's just the way it is. So you go with the flow.

Anyway, I wanted to post notes, cool quotes, and links to folks I've met (or reunited with). I'll update this whenever I have time... maybe not until after I get home!

So far, here are some new folks that I've met:

There are many people here that I already knew (virtually) but am meeting for the first time:

  • Chris Kaminski, a fellow WaSP member, and the guy who saved me from having to take time to write some scripts for the new site when I was still busy working on templates and design issues
  • Drew McLellan, another fellow WaSP and creator of 24ways
  • Kazuhito Kidachi, yet another fellow WaSP, whose done a fine job of translating and testing for the group

And I've gotta call out some of my AOL and ex-AOL friends:

  • Tom Crenshaw, fellow hockey fan, Corrado enthusiast, and author of the foreward to the Flash 8 Bible
  • JoRoan Lazaro, creator of the AOL Running Man

There are some really good pictures up on flickr from various activities, too:

And all of my photos are up on Flickr as well.

And here are the slides from the panel I did with my AOL pals!