This week, I have a bunch of links related to computers for you. But wait! They're interesting, I promise!
First up, an interesting Wall Street Journal blog post about one researcher's theory about why some technologies (like the internet) cause moral panic amongst some segments of the population, while other technologies (like fountain pens), do not. She also points out that this panic is usually framed in terms of the impact of the technology on women and children.
Speaking of women and technology, here is a depressing story about an open source software package with an inappropriate name. The worst part of the story, in my opinion, is that one of the lead developers on this project was a woman who is not a native English speaker, and one of the male developers basically lied and told her that this was a good name. She is apparently fairly distressed by these events, and has decided to stop contributing to open source projects. Score one for the sexist pigs, I guess. Comments around the geek blogosphere are predictably up in arms over potential "censorship" and the "free speech rights" of the male developers. That is all poppycock, in my opinion, but I know better than to wade in and try to argue the point. However, I can say here, on my own blog, that this sort of nonsense contributes to the perception that the software/IT world is a male culture- and one that is stuck in the freshman year of college, to boot. This perception, of course, tends to make some women decide that they'll look elsewhere for careers.
This story about vacations in IT made me chuckle, particularly since I stumbled across it the day after I posted something that included a whine about my lack of vacation time. I actually agree with the argument that having people in IT/informatics take vacations is a good risk management practice. It certainly exposes the areas in which you are heavily dependent on one person.
Finally, Marion Nestle had a post about Google's food program. It is interesting to read about how Google tries to make its free food program healthy. I don't know if I'd like to work someplace with unlimited free (good food), because the cost of food is actually a useful reminder not to overeat. As I discovered when I rather effortlessly lost some weight after being laid off from my last job- free candy is awfully easy to overindulge in.