Monthly Archives: March 2015

Cellophane: An Unsung Technology

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“Wow!”

And just like that, the art of pantomime gets us.

Our attention is snatched away and whatever we were purportedly doing– strolling along, roller blading or running, we stop to do an about face to our own reality, to watch his painted face.

Desperate outstretched fingers seem amphibian and web-like; pressed against a sheet of glass that isn’t there, tells a compelling story of anguish.   We empathize with his herculean effort to get from underneath the crushing weight.  And even though we know it’s simply air that holds him back, we cheer for his freedom!

The street artist treks up Mount Ceenomore, to hear nothing and say nothing in a magical show of humanity.  The myth of Sisyphus intrigues us, the daily grind is mesmerizing and so is the mime’s control over his agile limbs, taunt muscles and loose facial skin.  And his thorough command of silence that calls out to us, not to help but to simply share the experience.

Like a glass ceiling or an invisible box that only he can feel, processing…

The mime’s performance reminds me of how modular obstacles in life can actually be; easily moved and erected.  Constructed of short-comings, self-imposed lamentations and even by the most loving, a grandmother or doting father.

Harmless, ambiguous words that provide their own walls, that are systemic to a nation or a culture, that reiterates a woman’s role as a mother.  And leaves her to languish in a kitchen.

Small girls are given baby dolls and miniature tea sets, dressed up to mimic their mothers in some infused setting, a long ago time and place.  Where etiquette modified behavior and nods of approval were given each time she remembered to cross her legs at the ankle.

Stay clean and to be sweet…

Women do it to other women.  Discussed and served on a platter and covered with cellophane, used to preserve the female.  How her life should be, what she should do and old innuendos.  It may be too late for my generation to dismantle the invisible walls that shuttered off technical spaces, but I imagine a different existence for my daughters.

A digital world where we’re mindful of our words, that we don’t recreate a mime’s struggle of walls and elevator rides that don’t go up.  Where she’s paid more than chump change, pennies tossed into a basket for a million dollar act.

Someone asked me about my bucket list, I don’t have one.   If I did it wouldn’t be a list of things I wish to achieve in my lifetime, but rather a list of dreams I was told couldn’t come true, without ever having dreamt of them.

Like a mime on a street, as we stop and watch him, as he does nothing.

 

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Filed under Coding, Girls, Women

Technology Encourages Her

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Free speech!

We all do it, not necessarily well and not always effectively, but we do it just the same.  It is, after all, one of the inalienable rights of our citizenship.

But who could have imagined the impact of technology, with the grand dame social media!  Gossip never had such a fabulous platform.

Even voices that were once stifled can now be heard, carried over mountains, through valleys and across rivers, oceans and flatlands.   Echoed reasoning from the past meet fresh rebuttals that finally lay to rest, time weary old arguments.  And all that once was, is no longer as it seems.  Spring risings aren’t always unfurled leaves limited by season; but can also be correctable injustices.

From the safety of a touch screen, or from behind a computer monitor, both the extrovert and the introvert are on equal footing, each explaining and being heard.  There’s an invisible swagger to keystrokes and finger swipes.   Technology has that affect, makes us all the same.

Our thoughts typed into an oblong word box limited to 140 characters and tossed onto the web like verbal signage.  Where it will be liked or unliked; followed or unfollowed by the whims of anonymous readership.  Such power!

And so now our words are being added to the English language, like one of the 1600 words that William Shakespeare added.  A mix of his flipped verbs added to our slang, bantered about in lively discussions that convey our deepest feelings ending with an emoji, as if it were a cherry topping.

Technology has set words free.  They’re strung together across cyberspace, wearing lipstick, fully clothed or naked; it doesn’t matter.  They’re being read like history.    In a letter dated March 31, 1776, when the Continental Congress was meeting to draw up the Declaration of Independence, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband,  “ In the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would  Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”

Back then technology hadn’t invented the bullhorn or the microphone; there was no television, no radio and no internet.  No Marconi, and no Morse code, only her voice and a quill pen.  She spoke quietly and mostly went unheard.

It’s 2015 now, and March is Women’s History Month.  Here’s what having a voice looks like, I hope you’re listening.

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Filed under technology, Women

Gender Technology

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“Hello, up there!”

From the ground looking up, technology looked completely incapable of bringing anything of value into our homes.

Outstretched aluminum rods, like the arms of an umbrella’s skeleton were mounted and fastened on rooftops, so television signals could find their way into the living room.  It flowed along copper wires and quietly took over our lives.

It took less than 60 years for technology to completely shrink our world and go global, connecting us in ways vastly different from the box that allowed us to first watch a man land on the moon; an image that came across airwaves, like wings of a prayer, unseen.

We tuned into the same programs, at the same time and talked about the show for days.  We laughed at the same jokes, re-enacted parodies and fell in love with Lucy.

After a night of storms, people emerged and yelled out of windows that their television set now got a clearer channel, as though God and the wind had favored them. Particularly because their aerial antenna hadn’t been disturbed, they were spared of having to prop a ladder against the house and make adjustments. For better or worse, it was a marriage that required better positions to catch airwaves. Serious hi-tech stuff!

Responsive to either gender, equally manipulated and made to work or improved upon by a calloused hand of a man or the soft tender skin of a woman.

But back then, who knew that a girl could climb a ladder and make it picture perfect.  Norman Rockwell  had never depicted it that way in magazines. Instead she was dainty in her dress, with legs crossed properly at the ankles.

It took a long while, but now we know that technology has no gender bias. It favors neither pink nor blue; it’s ageless and doesn’t discriminate.

In fact, it encourages across the board collaboration and it’s empowering. Coding schools have opened doors to girls and to those who are impoverished, giving them amazing opportunities.  And in addition to that, an ecosystem has been created which shows gaps for skill sets needed to maintain the technology!

It’s more than we could’ve asked for, that a job shortage could actually bring about wage parity.  Imagine that, women being paid the same wages for the same work. We’re not there yet, but technology knows no gender.

 

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Television, Women