Monthly Archives: January 2005

Apparently I can’t add

NYTimes: Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, who offended some women at an academic conference last week by suggesting that innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers, stood by his comments yesterday but said he regretted if they were misunderstood. About 50 academics from across the nation, many of them economists, participated in the conference, “Diversifying the Science and Engineering Workforce: Women, Underrepresented Minorities, and their S. & E. Careers.”  He discussed several factors that could help explain the underrepresentation of women. The first factor, he said, according to several participants, was that top positions on university math and engineering faculties require extraordinary commitments of time and energy, with many professors working 80-hour weeks in the same punishing schedules pursued by top lawyers, bankers and business executives. Few married women with children are willing to accept such sacrifices, he said.

Not only are Dr. Summers’ comments short-sided and bigoted, they don’t even make sense in a scientific sense.  If you take his comment about working 80-hour weeks, that means that he is judging S&E ability based upon whether or not you become a “top position” in a University.  So all the real world working scientists, engineers, etc. apparently don’t count in his assessment at all.  Plus, apparently men don’t care as much about their family and children by his statement.  Also, does this mean that if there are gender differences for S&E ability, that men without this ability are somehow not as manly?  In our family, there are three daughters of a computer science teacher and an English teacher.  Two of us are S&E majors – one a computer engineer and the other a chemist.  The third is an art teacher.  In our small subset of the population, who all had the same elementary and secondary education, we were more likely to go into S&E.  Perhaps the reasons are more linked to education and the fact that women are just reaching higher positions in the workforce and universities in order to encourage the younger generations?

When Spam Protection Goes Wrong

WIRED: Verizon’s E-Mail Embargo Enrages Verizon Communications customers expecting e-mail from across the pond may be in for a long wait. The internet service provider has been blocking e-mail originating from Great Britain and other parts of Europe for weeks, and customers are upset about having their communications disrupted without notice. Verizon began blocking ranges of IP addresses belonging to British and European ISPs on Dec. 22, according to the company. The blacklisting of e-mail from abroad was in response to spam coming from the region, according to a customer service representative at Verizon who identified himself only as “Gary.” He said company policy prevents him from giving out his last name.

It would be nice if they would get on with fixing the mail protocol so that it becomes impossible (or at least much harder) to send email without proper credentials/return address. At least you would be able to track the email back to the mail server who authorized it and be more likely to find offenders. Blocking off huge amounts of email seems like a very poor idea for an ISP – what else are we paying you for?

The Future of the Net

NYTimes: The Internet’s Future? It Depends on Whom You Ask The survey results solidly confirm what media watchers may already know (and perhaps fear): that the Internet and the rise of the blogger are expected to drive greater change in the news media and publishing industries than in any other sector of society. Internet specialists also expect broad changes in education and working life, and 50 percent of respondents say they believe – despite all of the lawsuits filed by the recording and movie industries against online pirates – that the vast majority of Internet users will still be freely trading digital materials via anonymous networks by 2014.

Interesting article based on a survey of technologists. Overall the survey seemed to uphold most theories on the future of the Internet. It is good to see that most technologists who answered uphold the idea of blogs and communities driving news and information. It also adds weight to the ideas of Dan Gilmor and his Grassroots Journalism idea.

The lurking danger in the future of the Net is security. We are bombarded by news of viruses and worms and security seems to be on the mind of most IT departments. However, only the future will tell whether there is a wide-scale attack which shuts down a good-sized portion of the Net.

New Media

Dan Gillmor, who has written a column about technology for the San Jose Mecury News for 10 years, has decided to uphold the principles he writes about in We the Media. He has quit his journalism job to explore grassroot journalism through a new blog and by supporting and promoting these changes in the way we get our news. His new blog is at http://dangillmor.typepad.com/. I have changed the link on the right to reflect the change in his blog address. Dan has some interesting ideas on how the ideas of a community can affect news and the way it is broadcast. This grassroots journalism allows small events which could not normally be covered by large media companies to get some of the spotlight and also allows everyone to have a voice. Of course some of the issues are the legitimacy of the news and the people reporting. But by collaborating and pulling tidbits of information from different sources, people can get a broader, more detailed view of the world and specific situations. The future of this type of voice is sure to change how we communicate and view the world.