lucyp: OTW logo in red, surrounded by fireworks (OTW: Fireworks)
This will have to be a super-hasty post, because RL work has been NON STOP and I haven't slept in what seems like forever, but voting is now open for the OTW elections! \0/ I am very sorry not to still be a candidate, but given the way work has been kicking my ass in the past couple of weeks I feel like I made the right call in stepping down, because there's no way I could manage to do all the things I'd want to do on the Board while doing this amount of work (and it's not looking like it will calm down any time soon).

ANYWAY! This post not actually about me, but a last-minute yeay for two particularly awesome people! I'm sure whoever winds up on the Board will do some great work, but there are two candidates who I have direct experience of who I would like to give a shout-out to!

Julia Beck is a smart, thoughtful, and sensible person with great people skills. I really respect and value the specific mission she brings to the org in terms of outreach and diversity: I think she is spot-on when she says a large part of this is about recognising where there are barriers for people who want to come in rather than about stomping into other communities and proselytising about how they should want to come in! I've really valued the times she's pointed out specific things I can do better, like including a range of different fandoms when I give examples in docs or communications posts - a simple but effective way of ensuring it doesn't look like the OTW is all about specific fandoms (this is especially important given I handle a lot of the public posts, so if we just went with personal fannish pleasures that would be pretty limited!).

I haven't always agreed with Julia - in fact, more than once we've wound up on opposite sides of a debate. Or, more specifically, I've started out on the opposite side, but one of Julia's great gifts is to convey her passion and belief while also keeping a debate calm and productive. The result is that even when things are getting heated (as fannish debates are wont to do!) Julia reaches out to the other people involved, shows she respects their opinions, and presents her view clearly and usefully. I've almost always wound up sharing common ground with Julia even when at the start we seem to be polarised, and she's been good at finding a new way forward in situations when it was clear that a consensus was unlikely, and that's a direct result of her skill for productive discussion and disagreement. I think this is a really, really valuable skill to bring to Board. I think a vote for Julia will be well spent.

Naomi Novik has been really important to my work in the OTW - and clearly important to the org as a whole! She is a great mentor and spent unbelievable amounts of time and energy in the first couple of years of the org building the coding team. I came in as a newbie with zero coding experience, and Naomi's dedication to helping, supporting and encouraging me was absolutely astounding. Having been on the other side of the equation (albeit I will NEVER have the skill Naomi has) I can say it can be very challenging to support someone through the initial baby steps of coding, because they need a lot of feedback right away and you don't want to spoil their momentum by having to back away at a crucial moment! I can truly say that Naomi's mentoring not only gave me coding skills, it transformed my whole idea of myself: if you had told me in 2008 that by 2010 I would be chair of AD&T I would have been astounded! I think some people who joined more recently haven't seen Naomi's mentoring skills in action quite so much, partly because she's been busy with minor things like having a baby, and partly because she did a great job and some of the people she mentored are now doing that task (or have even passed it on another level). That's a huge success!

I really respect Naomi's ability to combine getting stuff done (and boy, does she get stuff done) with a willingness to hand things on - she was chair of AD&T for just two years, including the startup year, 2007, and then passed it on to the awesome awesome Maia who moved the project on in the ways it needed to be moved on (Maia passed it to me, and I passed it on again to the current chairs Elz and Amelia <3). She was really supportive of me when I was AD&T chair even though it would have been really easy for her to take over on some things (since her technical knowledge far outstrips mine), so I know she is good at bringing her expertise where it is needed while being sensitive to other skills and roles. As a member of AD&T, I do feel like right now it would be really really valuable to have someone with high-level technical expertise on the Board, because so much of the work of the OTW is built on a tech foundation (not just the AO3, but also Fanlore, the website, some of the work of Open Doors - even Journal needs tech backup). As a member of AD&T, I've definitely felt like the lines of communication between the Board and AD&T were not always that clear this year (though I LOVE our liaison hele and think she has done a great job) - it would be helpful to have at least one Board member who could bring the technical perspective.

I could ramble on a lot because I've worked with Naomi extensively so I know all the things she brings, but I fear i may be descending into incoherence as my lack of sleep kicks in! So I'll just end by saying I think she is great and will bring a lot to the Board. :D

The other candidates all bring something valuable, but I wanted to give this rather belated yeay for Julia and Naomi specifically because I have direct experience of how great they are, and because I think they would make for a great balance on the Board - they have differing concerns but a similar great ethos, and that kind of productive difference on the Board is very very important.

Now going to pass out because the sleep! It has not been a feature of my life! Offline for the next several days so I will not be about in chat (OTW folks) or probably answering comments.
lucyp: Logo for the Archive of Our Own (stylised image of a person with arms raised in celebration), red on red (OTW: AO3 logo)
Well, that was a weekend I don't want to live through again.

As most people reading this will be aware, we deployed new code to the AO3, and it didn't go well. There are lots of things which went wrong with this deploy, and lots of ways in which it could have been managed better, so people were understandably upset. But.

All the people involved in this deploy are people. Coders, testers, designers, managers, support staffers, docs writers, communications folk. They are people. And they are all, individually, doing the very best that they can, for free and because they love it.

I think that we made some mistakes with this deploy, and it's fine to point that out. But this weekend, I've seen people call our work shit, I've seen people tell us that they hope that whoever did the redesign feels like they fail, I've seen people heaping vitriol on the AO3 and the people work on it in support requests and on their journals and in the comments of news posts and in Twitter. And all of that anger, all of those hurtful words, they're directed at real people. I don't think the people who are saying these things remember that.

I've also seen a lot of posts starting 'someone should have..'. Well, yes, we made mistakes. And there are things we could have done better. But here's what 'someone'* did this weekend:

  • Someone coded for hours straight without a break to fix bugs.

  • Someone tested the fixes as fully as they could in a very small amount of time.

  • Someone took care of a sick child.

  • Someone stayed up till the small hours to answer support requests, and kept a positive and helpful tone even when they were responding to angry users.

  • Someone juggled childcare and OTW responsibilities.

  • Someone did their best to put news out on Twitter and to make sure people sending feedback that way got a response.

  • Someone put aside pressing real life concerns to do OTW work.

  • Someone stepped in and fielded comments on the various news posts.

  • Someone deployed code to the Archive, several times.

  • Someone did their best to help, in any way they could.

  • Someone stayed positive and supportive and encouraged everyone else even when they were heartsick and exhausted.

  • Someone fixed the most critical bugs within 48 hours.

And I will also say: someone sent in support requests and posted in their journal and sent in Twitter messages to say they appreciated the work of all those other someones. And that made a huge difference: thank you.

Here's the truth: there are lots of ways in which the OTW could be better, and lots of ways in which the AO3 could be managed better. And I want to see those improvements happen. But ultimately, we are people. We're never going to be perfect. We make mistakes. We have feelings. I've seen a lot of people forgetting that, and it's pretty damn soul destroying for the team of people who work their asses off and do their best.

THANK YOU to the people who invested a huge amount of work in this project, this weekend and every day for the last 4 years. And THANK YOU to the people who stopped to say, 'Thanks, we know you're doing your best, we're grateful for your work, maybe we don't like this or that but we appreciate you're trying'.

Let's keep working. Let's keep doing amazing things. And let's keep remembering that we are all people.

* And in case it's not clear: in every case these are multiple someones.
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
As most people will already know, I have withdrawn from the OTW Board election.

I don't have a lot of time right now, so a long, thinky post about this will have to wait until later. But I just wanted to reiterate I said in my formal withdrawal statement - all the discussions surrounding this election has made me realise that the coming year will be a really complex and challenging one for the incoming Board. If I were elected, I would want to be 100% dedicated and able to contribute constructively to all Board work, and able to mentor and support other people across the org fully. In light of the tasks facing the Board this year, and the fact that my own real life work is ramping up faster than I had anticipated, I just don't think I can do the job I want and need to do as a Board member without significant costs in the rest of my life. If people are going to vote for me on Board, they deserve to get my best work, and I don't want to risk finding that I can't keep my promises.

I have a lot of feelings about this election, but ultimately this was a personal decision based on my assessment of my own resources. I don't rule out running again sometime in the future, and I won't be leaving the org, so I hope I will be able to act on the ideas and policies I've talked about with you all in other ways.

I'm extremely grateful to the many people who supported me on this journey, and sorry to have to disappoint those of you who hoped to vote for me.

ETA: I'm up against some deadlines right now, so if people comment here I may not be able to respond right away - I'll get to you at some point though. <3
lucyp: Text icon reading 'OTW: Evil mush, flavoured with the delicious berries for social change' (OTW: Delicious mush)
One of the things which has come up a lot during this election is the issue of burnout within the OTW, and the need to promote sustainability and protect volunteers from burning out. I think this is a challenge for any non-profit, because where you have a (relatively) small number of dedicated people working on a big project that they passionately care about, there are all the ingredients for people to get overworked and/or frustrated. We've definitely lost a lot of people to burnout since the org began, and finding ways of preventing this in future is something that I am really invested in as a potential member of the Board.

In which Lucy talks forever about things she has valued and how she might spread them through the org, and still doesn't get through everything she wants to say! )

tl;dr: Board needs to encourage praise, friendliness, and working together, along with a dollop of 'let's all step back', and people are much less likely to get burnt out!
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
Belatedly, if you missed the candidate chats for the OTW Board election the other day, or you want to remind yourself what was said, the transcript is now up on the OTW website (link goes to the concise version, which strips out all the general chat so is a bit easier to follow). For bonus noms and information, you can also check out the follow-up questions which we answered by email after the chat, since we ran out of time.

I have to say that the candidate chats are always one of my favourite bits of OTW elections, because I love seeing people talk about the org and formulate their ideas for how things could be even better. It's a bit scary being on the side of actually answering the questions, but I also really value having the chance to HEAR those questions and think about what is important to other people inside and outside the org.

There'll be another chat on 26 October 2011 from 8pm to 9pm UTC (see when that is for you) - as before, it will be held in the OTW Public Discussion room (Link teleports you into the thick of it!). If you can't make it, or you don't feel like asking questions in public chat, then you can send in questions via the elections webform. And of course you should feel free to drop comments here or PM me if there's something you want to her from me specifically!
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
The first of the OTW Board Candidate chats starts in around three hours - see when this is for your timezone. They'll be held in the OTW Public Discussion chatroom (link takes you directly into the room). Come along and say hi to me and my fellow candidates!

This is a chance to ask us the important questions, like why was Firefly cancelled and when are the OTW going to launch an upload-from-brain interface for the AO3, and maybe something about our respective philosophies on the OTW and Board membership. :p

Be there or be a rectangular thynge! (Or if you can't be there, you can show up to the next chat on 26th October or send in some questions for us via the elections contact form.)

lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
OTW logo: red circle with an arrow. Text reads: Organization for Transformative Works Membership Drive October 9-16, 2011

It's the OTW biannual membership drive! Become a member now and you can vote for me (or any of the 5 other lovely candidates) in November's Board election!

More membership donations also mean more money for AO3 servers, omnomnom! It's $10 for membership; if you want to donate more you can also get fabby premiums such as a stylish OTW mug. Plus, right now a lovely anon donor has offered to match donations up to $3000, so you get more bang for your buck!

The OTW needs YOU!
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
It's Ada Lovelace Day! There are lots of events throughout the year celebrating various different causes, but I'm particularly fond of ALD because it gives me a chance to celebrate this awesome, exciting community I've become a part of.

Four years ago, I was someone who saw technology as something which didn't have very much to do with me - although there lots of tools that I used, it never occurred to me that I might be able to create or change them in any way. I could code an LJ entry (with bad code) and that was about it. So, I'm not quite sure how I wound up doing the Python vs Ruby deathmatch when the OTW called for volunteers, except for the fact that a. they stressed that they wanted people with no prior knowledge (this was something I could fulfil!) and b. [personal profile] cal lured me into it. I distinctly remember finding even that fairly simple task hard; in fact, I really struggled with the Ruby coding in particular. Four years on, I've not only learnt some coding, but committed code to the Archive, served for three and a half years on the Accessibility, Design and Technology Committee, and been AD&T chair! I think it's fair to say that my relationship with technology has been utterly transformed!

That transformation has come about because of the amazing culture that exists within the OTW. There's something really special about the simple fact that the OTW is majority-female, since this isn't something that I see very often in day-to-day life. More than that, this awesome group of people demonstrates every day that technology isn't something alien and outside of the control of ordinary people's control. I log into Campfire chat (where OTW volunteers hang out) and I get to talk with people working on systems administration, coding, web development, social media networking, and much, much more. I can take part in these conversations and everyone I meet is incredibly generous with their time and knowledge, so that I can learn some of those skills too. All these things are not unique to the OTW - they are characteristic of the fannish culture in which the OTW is rooted - but for me, the OTW was the place where all of this came together and where I began to feel enabled to contribute myself.

Each and every person who contributes to the OTW is a tech heroine to me, but I'd like to single out one person in particular today because she exemplifies so many of the things that I think are awesome within fandom and within the OTW. [personal profile] lim is well-known for her beautiful vids, which are widely admired throughout fandom and have also been exhibited in non-fannish spaces. Non-fannish folks who see lim's work often assume that she is a professionally trained artist, but in fact lim has little formal education. Rather, she had the urge to create something beautiful and set out to acquire the skills to do so. Armed with an internet connection and a curious mind, lim has scoured tutorials, talked to other fans, and worked incredibly hard to produce amazing work. As well as her vids, lim has contributed a wealth of code to fandom: working with HTML and CSS she has helped countless fans to produce beautiful and accessible websites. Perhaps most significantly, it is lim's hard work and dedication which produced much of the front-end of the AO3; she's currently working on a massive overhaul of this now that changes in the site have undone some of her good work and created new challenges to be solved. Again, lim's never taken a formal class in coding, but she has acquired a phenomenal depth and breath of knowledge just by working hard to acquire the skills she wanted. She's passionate about accessibility, and watching her work on the AO3 front end and test the site in multiple browsers, assess it for accessibility for screenreaders and other assistive tech, and make it all look good is truly inspiring.

lim isn't someone who wants to spend a lot of time talking about what she does: the final output is what she wants to say. However, when it comes to sharing knowledge she is incredibly generous. Her website kit walks you through creating a beautiful fannish website step-by-step website. She's written huge amount of documentation laying out useful things to know for coders on the AO3. And if you really want to learn, she's also incredibly generous with her personal time: if I ever manage to do something right with HTML and CSS, it's because lim has spent the time to talk me through it step-by-step and make sure I really understand what I'm doing. She's challenged me to really think and learn it for myself, and everything she's ever taught me has stuck.

One of the most important things about Ada Lovelace Day for me is the dea that women can be on the inside of tech, doing it for ourselves, rather than on the outside and experiencing it only as consumers. Working with the OTW, I've become passionate about the idea that fans can acquire all the knowledge and tools to do exactly this, so that we're not only creating our own content but also creating and controlling the tools which are needed to support that content. Being willing to learn and to help each other is what gives us the keys to the kingdom; lim is an inpsiring example of how much you can achieve once you get inside those gates.

lim: you're my tech heroine this Ada Lovelace Day.
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (OTW: Founding member)
It was my birthday on Sunday, so I have spent a delicious weekend celebrating. A day warm enough to spend on the beach is rare enough in the North East of England in the height of summer, but to spend the first of October drinking champagne by the sea and plodging is absolutely staggering! It was very happy-making.

While I was off enjoying myself, my fellow committee members on AD&T and Systems were working hard deploying new code to the AO3. This... did not go quite as smoothly as hoped. Various unexpected problems meant that they had to take the site down several times while they sorted things out, but because they are MADE OF AWESOME they worked like crazy until everything was fixed. Coming back after a weekend of relaxing to a chat transcript of people brainstorming fixes and working late into the night to restore fannish funtimes really underlined for me just how amazing the AO3 team is. One of the things I love about the OTW as a whole is that it represents not only a lot of fun (we wouldn't be in this project unless we liked it!) but also unbelievable levels of hard work and dedication. It's both amazing and wonderful to me that people are prepared to work late into the night to fix a server, or translate a news post, or answer one... last... support request.

♥ our awesome team. You are the best birthday present ever!
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
Fandom is abuzz today with the news of the relaunched version of delicious - now 90% less useful! I don't have a whole lot to say that hasn't already been said at length elsewhere (I expended most of my energy writing the official Ao3 post), but seeing a great fannish resource like this in crisis is a great reminder of why I am a part of the OTW, and why I think it's worth running for Board. Delicious is a prime example of how commercial/general sites are used by fans in exciting and creative ways... and how that fannish work can quickly be lost or undermined by changes instituted by a provider who doesn't care about fans. Creating our own tools, hosted on our own servers, is the only way we can be sure of preserving all that fannish awesome (although happily fandom is like the hydra - it doesn't matter how many times platforms are pulled from under our feet, we'll always grow another head elsewhere).

I'm proud to be part of an organisation that is creating great tools like the AO3 and helping fans to build their own solutions. As [personal profile] julia_beck points out, the AO3 isn't the right platform for a complete Delicious replacement (even if we could offer the necessary upgrades, what about the meta, and fannish wank, and those random sites on the rate of bodily decomposition you looked up for that one fic...), but I think the OTW as a whole is a great symbol of the way fandom can create its own tools. ♥

Edited to add the link to Julia's post and the crucial words 'in crisis' without which the meaning of my sentence changed quite a lot!
lucyp: Cartoon picture of a duck wearing wellies and holding an umbrella, with text 'OTW Founding Member' (Default)
I'm Lucy Pearson* and I'm running for a seat on the Board of the Organization for Transformative Works this year!

The Board of the OTW oversees the general activities of the org, providing support to committee chairs and taking care of the big picture. When one of the committees wants to spend some money, or launch a new project, or wants to bring a new staffer onto their team, the Board discuss and decide that. While the work of committees is really at the heart of the org, the Board makes sure everything is tickety-boo and helps to give some overall shape and direction for what's going on. It also has a certain legal role - since the OTW is a 501(c) registered non-profit, there has to be a group of people who can legally represent it (and be held accountable).

I joined the OTW way back in 2008, when it was just a wee baby organisation - this is my fourth term as a staffer! I've had my finger in a number of pies - beginning as a coder (and I really was a beginner), I have done testing, support, communications and served as the chair of the Accessibility, Design and Technology Committee. Right now, I am a staffer on the AD&T, Communications and Support committees. Serving in these various roles has given me a chance to interact with lots of different parts of the organisation, and with the users of some of our tools (mainly the Archive of Our Own). In addition, having been around for a while, I've had the chance to see what works well in the org and what could be even better. So, running for Board seems like the next logical step!

I'll be posting more updates on the OTW and the Board election here as things progress. You might also want to follow the OTW blog for official updates.

If you have questions, I'd be super happy to hear them. Comment here or feel free to PM.

Wheee! Exciting times!

* I'm probably better-known under my fannish id, which many of you will be able to guess. However, please don't link it to this id publicly, as I prefer to have a little separation between the two.
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