Recently in Gender Category

A large percentage of World of Warcraft players appear to be men, but there are quite few people who play female characters. The gender issue has always been interesting to me, but an episode a few nights ago was a special highlight. Jason started a new character and decided to pick a female character. I asked him why and he said that considering the number of hours he would be sitting there looking at his character, that maybe it would be more fun to have a female character. Jason, Sean and I grouped up and went on a quest. I noted to Jason that his character was pretty cute. As we jogged across the countryside, I noticed that she also had a nice bounce to her walk. In WoW you can type /flirt and your character will say flirty things and make flirty body motions to the target. I started flirting with Jason's character. Then something hit Jason. He suddenly said, "oh man, that's SO wrong..."

On the other hand, there is a very cute Gnome Warlock that I often quest with. I flirt with her too, but the guy who plays that character seems to enjoy the role playing.

I think that people's relationship to their online character is really interesting. It's clearly not the same for everyone. I'm on a normal server, but I'm sure that it's more interesting on the role playing servers. Has anyone studied this academically?

I've been hanging out a bit with part of the Wikipedia community since meeting Jimmy Wales in Linz. One thing that has struck me is that many, if not most, of the people I've met from the community who are involved in managing Wikipedia seem to be women. I haven't conducted any scientific analysis or anything, but Wikipedia seems much more gender balanced than the blogging community. I know many people point out that ratio of men at conferences on blogging and ratio of men who have loud blog voices seems to be quite high. I wonder what causes this difference in gender distribution? Is it that the power law aspect of blogs is inherently more competitive and appeals to the way men are "trained" in society? Or is it that we're just talking to the "head" of the blog curve and that the more interesting blogs are actually by women in "the long tail"? Or is it something about Wikipedia that attracts powerful women? Has anyone else noticed this or done a study on gender distribution on wikis? I wonder if this true of wikis generally? I don't think Wikipedia is a "traditional" anything let alone a traditional wiki. Has anyone noticed this on other wikis?

iranclothes
photo from Hoder's photo blog
The New York Times
Those Sexy Iranians

...True, girls and women can still be imprisoned for going out without proper Islamic dress. But young people are completely redefining such dress so it heightens sex appeal instead of smothering it.

Women are required to cover their hair and to wear either a chador cloak or an overcoat, called a manteau, every time they go out, and these are meant to be black and shapeless. But the latest fashion here in Shiraz, in central Iran, is light, tight and sensual.

"There are some manteaus with slits on the sides up to the armpits," said Mahmoud Salehi, a 25-year-old manteau salesman. "And then there are the `commando manteaus,' with ties on the legs to show off the hips and an elastic under the breasts to accentuate the bust."

Worse, from the point of view of hard-line mullahs, young women in such clothing aren't getting 74 lashes any more — they're getting dates.

Iranian blogger Hoder has started a photo blog and some of the recent images show us what they're talking about.

Pakistani council aproves rape to avenge honour. "A village council in Pakistan permitted a landlord to rape the sister and sister-in-law of a man he accused of an illicit relationship with his daughter, police said Thursday. (...) The council members, all of them landlords themselves, ruled that Ghaffar, who uses only one name, could avenge his honour by having sex with the farmer's daughter, who is 16, and daughter-in-law, who is 22." (BBC version here). "An estimated 80 percent of women prisoners in Pakistan are in jail because they failed to prove rape charges".
This is totally disgusting. Is my blog becoming depressing lately, or is it just the state of the world?

Friends of mine who have been waiting for a long time were finally married as San Francisco allowed same-sex marriages. It was a day of joy. We drove by City Hall here and saw a huge line of people waiting to get married. This is a great thing. Dan Gillmor has sparked an interesting discussion about the legal ramifications of the Mayor's decision and Lawrence Lessig comments on this.

Lawrence Lessig
Presidents’ Day lesson: the mayor’s duty

The Mayor of San Francisco has decided that a state law is unconstitutional under the state constitution, and has therefore ordered city clerks to disobey the law and obey the constitution. This troubles my friend Dan Gillmor, who on last count was right about everything else. And it is an action by a mayor, who on last count was wrong about a bunch of very important things. So who’s right now? I try to answer that in the extended essay that follows.

Many people seem to think I'm a woman because my name is rather gender neutral if not feminine. I am a short, straight, 37-year-old, Japanese guy who lives in Japan. I've noticed some people are very careful not to reveal their gender on their blogs. Others are clear. Others probably fake it. I'm sure danah can give us a list of people for whom it is much more complicated than "are your male or female." Anyway, I suppose I should make it more clear, but where? Picture in my "about section"?

UPDATE: I just posted a picture. I hope this helps. I just realized how few pictures I have of myself...

Lou Marinoff described one definition of Justice as "doing the right thing at the right time." He continued by explaining that it means you have to define "right thing".

There are at least eleven ways of being right.
  1. deontology - rules tell us what is right and wrong
  2. teleology - The end justifies (or sanctifies) the means
  3. virtue ethics - goodness comes from virtues, which are like habits
  4. humanistic existentialism - what we choose to do determines what we value
  5. nihilistic existentialism - "God is dead." And we killed him. So all moral bets are off
  6. analytic ethics - "Goodness" cannot be defined or analyzed
  7. correlative ethics - every right entails an obligation, and vice-versa
  8. sociobiology - ideas of "right" and "wrong" are motivated by our genes
  9. feminist ethics - women have different moral priorities: e.g. ethics of caring
  10. legal moralism - if it's legal, it's ethical
  11. meta-ethical relativism - each situation has its own unique ethical dimension

Aeons ago, Clay asserted that power-laws existed in blogs and that it was in-equal but fair. Maybe he is basically being a deontologists with a bit of legal moralism thrown in. The rules are fair so it's OK. Marko (a philosopher among other things) asks the question, "So the interesting question this raises is: What are the principles if satisfied that would show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure? And the meta-level question: How would we justify these principles to each other?" I know that Marko is an expert on "justice" and my simple explanation above is far to simple, but this dialog about whether blogs are fair, good or just forces us to examine what we mean by fair, right and just. I think that in order for us to justify these principles, we might need to define Virtue. (Since defining "right" is so difficult.) According to Lou:

Aristotle said that Virtue is the Golden Mean between two extremes. It was all about balance. "Rational" comes from "ratio". The idea was to triangulate from two extremes of vice. For example, Courage is the mean between cowardice and rashness.
I know Dave Winer likes the word "triangulation" and the blogs are good at that. Is it possible that blogs can help us get out of the echo chamber and achieve the Aristotelian Virtue of the Golden Mean? (I know many people disagree with this, but I continue to believe as I argued in my Emergent Democracy paper that this is possible.) danah expresses her opinion that blogs are not an equalizing technology and that it is the a technology for the privileged. To her, fair (and probably just) isn't about having rules that are difficult to game, but rather about being available and designed to promote equality. She is probably more of a teleologist with a bit of correlative ethics and feminism thrown in. (Sorry, just playing with the labels a bit. Don't mind me.)

To finally tie it into the discussion about technological determinism vs social constructivism, I think we need to be aware that we have an active effect on how the architecture of this technology evolves. I don't think we can yet "show the blogging world to be a just institutional structure", but rather we can try to determine what is just and strive to make the blogging world into something we feel is just. This requires us to dive into some of the questions that even Aristotle didn't answer. What is right? What is just? Hopefully the tools themselves will help guide this discussion, but rather than be nihilistic or deterministic, I think we should be actively involved in a dialog that best represents a consensus of our views. In order for this to be just, we must try be as inclusive as possible of everyone and on this I agree with danah. The tool is not yet inclusive. I think that blogs are right in many ways, but are far from right in many others. How can we try to make blogs as right and just as possible. I think that this is the question that faces us today.

Emily - Smartmobs
«Intexicated»: Texting under the influence

The Sunday Mail reports that the problem of texting under the influence has become so common, it has been given a name; «intexicated».

According to research by Virgin Mobile, out of the 60 million texts sent daily in December, 15 million of them are sent by people who have had one too many.

Virgin said that two thirds of women who text while drunk send messages to former lovers and some text the wrong person.

A public relations officer in London sent a sexually explicit message to dad instead of boyfriend Dan after hitting the wrong button.

Lucky for me I don't drink anymore. I can see how intexicating could seem fun at the time, but could be trouble.

danah points out the gender bias in the article.

This relates to my last post. In an email exchange, someone mentioned that their friend switched to broken English when speaking to their foreign friends. When asked why, she replied that otherwise they would think she was elitist.

I find that my English language accent is SO affected by who I'm talking to that it's embarrassing and I'm self-conscious about it. I sometimes try to resist it, but it happens. I see other people doing this too, but I find mine particularly bad. It is obviously happening in my sub-conscious, but it might have something to do with the "girls playing dumb" thing.

Goffman wrote this in 1959. Is this true today?

Goffman
American college girls did, and no doubt do, play down their intelligence, skills, and determinativeness when in the presence of datable boys, thereby manifesting a profound psychic discipline in spite of their international reputation for flightiness. These performers are reported to allow their boy friends to explain things to them tediously that they already know; they conceal proficiency in mathematics from their less able consorts; they lose ping-pong games just before the ending.
Mirra Komarovsky
One of the nicest techniques is to spell long words incorrectly once in a while. My boy friend seems to get a great kick out of it and writes back, 'Honey, you certainly don't know how to spell.'
According to the marketing talk on bowling alleys that I heard the other day, there is a funny behavior that is quite common. The guys try very hard to impress girls at the bowling alley and they start out OK, usually doing better than the girls at the beginning. These guys start to get tense and begin to perform more poorly towards the end. The girls, on the other hand, start to get the hang of it, remain relaxed (which is important for bowling) and usually win at the end, leaving the guy grumpy. Many bowling alleys have ping-pong tables which allow the guy to try to regain their pride and allow the girls to give it back.

A Meta Note: reading a book while thinking about what to blog is a slow, but interesting way to read a book. I hope you don't mind if I continue to share short passages that trigger weird musings...

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