Oct. 7th, 2013

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
The last five days have been one full day of travel, preceded by three full days of Mozilla Summit in Toronto, preceded by another full day of travel. It's been quite a time, with not much sleep involved, but (for me) a surprising amount of code getting written and interesting sessions being attended and pure fun being had (karaoke night Friday and dance party Sunday -- if any of the organizers were reading, both of those were really good ideas). Actually, watching "Code Rush" -- a documentary made in 2000 about the very early history of Mozilla -- with Mozilla folks was quite an experience as well. You can watch it for free online; it's only about an hour, and I encourage you to if you have any interest at all in where we came from. (Passive sexism and other kinds of isms aside.)

So far as sessions, one of the highlights was Jack's talk on the Servo strategy on Saturday -- featuring about 30 minutes of lecture followed by a full 80 minutes of Q&A. The questions were the most focused, on-topic, respectful set of questions I've heard after any talk I've been to in recent memory (and it wasn't just because Jack prepared a list of suggested questions to ask in advance!) The other highlight for me was the excellent "Designing your project for participation" session with David Eaves, Emma Irwin, and Jess Klein on Sunday. One of the reasons why this session was so great was that it was mostly small-group discussion, so everybody got to be more engaged than they might have been if most of the time had been sitting and listening. I came away with a better understanding that a lot of different people are thinking about how to make the volunteer experience better in their specific project, and there are lessons to learn about that that are transferable. For example: volunteers are much more likely to keep participating if they get a prompt review for their first bug; and, it might actually be okay to ask volunteers to commit to finishing a particular task by a deadline.

During downtime, I got a few pull requests in, some of which even landed. One of the bigger ones, though, was #9732, for making automatically checked-out source files read-only and overhauling where rustpkg keeps temporary files. (That one hasn't been reviewed yet.) #9736, making it easier to get started with rustpkg by not requiring a workspace to be created (it will build files in the current directory if there's a crate file with the right name) is also important to me -- alas, it bounced on the Linux bot, like so many of my pull requests have been doing lately, so I'll have to investigate that when I'm back on the office network and able to log in to that bot tomorrow. Finally, I was excited to be able to fix #9756, an error-message-quality bug that's been biting me a lot lately, while I was on the plane back to San Francisco, and surprised that the fix was so easy!

Finally, I request that anyone reading this who's part of the Rust community read Lindsey Kuper's blog post about the IRC channel and how we should be treating each other. Lindsey notes, and I agree, that the incident that she describes is an anomaly in an otherwise very respectful and decorous IRC channel. However, as the Rust community grows, it's my job, and the job of the other core Rust team members, to keep it that way. I know that communities don't stay healthy by themselves -- every community, no matter how small, exists within a kyriarchy that rewards everybody for exercising unearned power and privilege. Stopping people from following those patterns of non-consensual domination and submission -- whether in such a (seemingly) small way as inappropriately calling attention to another person's gender on IRC, or in larger ways like sexual assault at conferences -- requires active effort. I can't change the world as a whole on my own, but I do have a lot of influence over a very small part of the world -- the same is true of most other human beings. So, I'm still thinking about how to put in that effort for Rust. The same is true for community processes as for code: patches welcome.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
It took me about six weeks, but I finally finished reading Samuel Delany's recent novel _Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders_. Maybe I just have a kink for long books -- it's 804 pages and, like _Infinite Jest_ (which is even longer), I suspect it's going to be one of those books that keeps being important to me for a really long time. (The third one like that is _A Suitable Boy_ by Vikram Seth, though it hasn't stayed with me quite the same way _Infinite Jest_ has; I've also only read it once.)

In lieu of more thoughts, some quotations from it:

"'There ain't no normal," Shit said. 'That's what he always told me.' With his scruffy beard, Shit pointed his chin toward Dynamite. 'There's just comfortable and uncomfortable. And I like to be comfortable with pretty much everything.'" (p. 305)

"'Well--' Eric looked back up and put his hand on Shit's warm shoulder--'state supported marriage comes with a whole lot of assumptions about how it's gonna be, a history of who has to obey who, when you're justified in callin' it quits, all sorts of things like that. Now, you could agree with each other to change some of those things or do 'em differently, but for thousands and thousands of years gay men and women didn't have even that--except for a few Christian monasteries here and there, where the monks were allowed to marry each other. But nobody likes to think about those. For us, decidin' to be with someone else wasn't a matter of acceptin' a ready-made set of assumptions. You had to work 'em all out from the bottom up, every time--whether you was gonna be monogamous or open; and if you was gonna be open, how you was gonna do it so that it didn't bother the other person and even helped the relationship along. Workin' all that stuff out for yourselves was half the reason you went into a relationship with somebody else. We had some friends once--back when we lived in the Dump--that was faithful for ten months out the year, but for two months they'd go on vacation and do all their tom-cattin' around.' He realized he was making that up, but hell, it was plausible. 'Then they'd be faithful again. But that's how they liked to do it. Then there were guys like us that just had to make real sure that the other person was feelin' good about things, when they did it and knew they were number one and didn't mind. See, that's what people who get married don't have. Or don't have in the same way." (p. 785-786)

"'Bein' a pervert was the only was I ever learned anything worth knowin'.'" (p. 792)

There's also this epigraph, which, if I ever wrote papers anymore, I would try to include in a paper about GC:

"Except there's garbage, which is part of what we're trying to include in our work and our thought, which is to say, we are attentive still to what remains, what gets tossed away and off. We want to include the trash in many ways, thinking of this refuse according to all sorts of disposal systems." -- Avital Ronell

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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