Media Moms, Engineers, DigiGirlz and Purple Tornados at She’s Geeky!

purple-tornado-cupcakes.jpgLots of ‘purple tornados’ of energy swirling around the media environs at the eclectic She’s Geeky “unconference”…as ‘firestarters, rainmakers, and project wranglers’ shared their expertise.

Heather, ‘benevolent commander’ of The Purple Tornado (and supplier of yummy evil food noted at left) helped organizers Kaliya Hamlin of and Mary Hodder of new video search site, (in beta) pull off an incredible first unconference of she-geeks! (full link list of organizers on Beth Kanter’s blog)

To give you a broader scope of the event’s power and purpose, see my original post here, as well as the San Jose Mercury News event wrap-up found on Social Media.

VERY interesting to see mega-minds flow freely in the intellectual sphere of digital potential…as math mavens, science engineers, entrepreneurs, VC gals and Web 2.0 techies converge in casual, unstructured, learning conversations.

The purpose? Explore new ways to make the digital space more inviting, ‘girl-friendly,’ techno-proficient and productive far beyond click-n-twitch games and pocketing profits.

There were wicked-smart synapses firing “fresh electrons” hither and yon, swapping skill sets across multiple disciplines of media and technology and lobbing ‘what-ifs’ into the arena. From giants like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo to indies with innovative ideas, it was great to hear people talk about building useful, inspiring technology with form and function.

Many of these passionistas are eager to make inroads advancing far beyond ‘girl tech’ or kids, but for the planet and humankind. Education. Open-source collaborative tools. Health care technology for lifestyle enhancement. Stuff that matters…Refreshing!

In the kids media realm, Debbie Heimowitz from the new cyberbullying film Adina’s Deck was there to share her work.

We’d pinged back and forth about doing an interview, and I bought the dvd earlier, but we hadn’t had the chance to have our youth team feedback/comment on it yet…so stay tuned for a feature with Debbie coming soon! We also opened up a conversation about mutual alliances and potential pairings with Shaping Youth, since we’re constantly dealing with peer to peer media literacy and parent education.

I also mentioned to Debbie that anyone with an interest in capturing the ‘real world’ zeitgeist of “what tweens and teens are really doing online” (as Anastasia Goodstein’s book, Totally Wired conveys) should reach out to the Stop Cyberbullying site pronto.

It was created by pbs teachers’ Andy Carvin for resource sharing, and up to the minute ‘issues’ in cyberbullying landing on the opening page via RSS feed, much like Anne Collier & Larry Magid’s ConnectSafely forum keeps you au courant on most any social media scenario. Both are open to the public, so have at it!

I was thrilled to also meet one of my nonprofit/tech idols, Beth Kanter, who I just blogged about sending an orphan to college in 24 hours, here.

Really enjoyed hearing her personal take on the nonprofit world, as well as finding out about her amazing musical/flute background melding philharmonic aspirations into the nonprofit arts. (who knew? wow. There’s something synergistic about technology and instruments; several of my talented friends share that crossover for some reason) Liz Henry also ‘liveblogged’ the session and a bounty of flckr photos tagged ‘She’s Geeky’ will give you a feel for the informality here.

Beth shared facilitation with Liz Perry, who’s the tech specialist at an indie all girls K-12 school back east, and Liz amazingly has been painting her daily doings…which left me slack-jawed.

Can you imagine just whippin’ out the ol’ paintbrush as an expression of your day? Yowza. What talent. Plus, it reaffirms all the stereotyped polarities (geek/engineer vs. tactile/artistry) is bogus at best, since Liz and Beth are living icons of high tech’s mind-meld with the creative arts.

Gosh, could we possibly debunk any MORE stereotypes about women in technology in 48 hours? Um, yes, we can.

You’ll notice the notes on the liveblog refer to me as ‘blonde woman’ until I acquire a name as we made our way around the table of introductions…funny stuff. (albeit a fair descriptor)

I admittedly felt I was bucking stereotypes a bit, even among the women themselves…

For instance, I wore dresses both days not to make a statement, but because that’s what I’m most comfortable in (I hate things around my waist) so it cracked me up when several women approached me and said “Thank you for wearing a dress!” It was very sweet, but I can’t take credit for just ‘being me.’

Appearance-based cues are pretty firmly embedded in our culture these days; they’re hard to ignore…even among ourselves.

I’ve always self-identified as an odd duck, probably I am one. As a Barbie-antithesis who refuses the rut of putting on “take me seriously clothes” or the uniform of “blend at all costs” invisibility, I figure I’m human anecdotal evidence for my “Squashing Stereotypes in Media” sessions with the teens next week at Girls For A Change!

More on this tomorrow, I’m off to Dallas for a teen/new media digital strategic session with the American Heart Association in the hopes of getting kids thinking in a healthier direction. And you know who brought me into this national brainstorming meeting of minds?

…Yet another ‘virtual friend’ I’ve never met face to face, but feel like-minded in spirit…Brian Reich, one of the co-contributors for our children’s charity book, The Age of Conversation!

Now, ain’t technology grand? Definitely a fluid, vibrant, engaging form of community-building and personal connectivity. Online. Offline. The opportunities are limitless…

My big take-away so far? (aside from the purple tornado cupcake for my daughter!) “Unconferences” like She’s Geeky inspire free-spirited thinking to embrace innovation and education by appealing to the masses and ‘lowest common denominator’ in the geek realm…(that would be me!)

Albert Einstein said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

At She’s Geeky, I’ve met women who can give that hope for humanity back, and they have the technological chops to do it.


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