Monthly Archives: April 2011

Princess Power

Debra Levin Gelman wrote a terrific post about the princess paradox on Wednesday that I’ve been meaning to comment on here. Toys, clothes, media, just about any kind of consumer good marketed for young girls uses ‘the Princess’ as a hook to get your child to ask you to buy it. Disney and others are using this powerful imagery to reach every younger children in pursuit of purchases and life-long relationships with their brands. Some, like Peggy Orenstein (Newsweek), think these things can actually harm children.

We are pretty much in the same boat as Debra and many other parents – it is almost impossible to avoid the onslaught – so we are forced to find ways to provide our daughter with imagery, stories, media, and other toys and material that can expand and widen her horizons. For us that means a house filled with story books, musical instruments, arts and crafts, Lego Duplo blocks and lots and lots of creative play. It’s fun and I think we’d be doing this whether we were reacting to gender-stereotyped consumerism or not. But I gotta admit – I get mad at times at the marketing of goods aimed at her whose goal seems to be to encourage her to be passive and wait for someone to save her (and yes, I realize there are exceptions).

Related links:

Boing Boing: Gender stereotypes woven into toy ads

The Achilles Effect: Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes

Smithsonian Magazine: When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink (the Pink/Blue thing is *recent*).

Elisabeth Sladen, “Sarah Jane Smith”, Rest In Peace

Elisabeth Sladen, the actress who was Sarah Jane Smith on “Doctor Who” and the spin off children’s show, “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, passed away on Wednesday the 20th, at 63 from cancer.

I could probably write quite a bit about the effect that Doctor Who had on me as a kid, on late night public television, and her role in that was substantial. Back then, and growing up into my twenties, other than my brother and a few friends, it seemed like such a cult thing. You either knew about Doctor Who, and Sarah Jane Smith, or you didn’t. And the numbers of those who knew were few and far between.

These days, with the debut of the latest series happening same day with London, well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The news of her passing was talked about from many corners of the web, resulting in tributes, shared stories, and more. Here are some that caught my eye.

BBC: original announcement

Metafilter conversation

Twitter: search: Elisabeth Sladen

Reddit conversation

Slashdot.org: conversation

Tom Baker’s tribute to her

Talis Kimberley wrote a great song, from her perspective talking to her daughter, about her passing, named Goodnight, Sarah-Jane

NPR.org: story about her

Boing Boing: Doctor Who actress Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith) dies

BBC: Tributes paid to Elisabeth Sladen

BBC: Children share their thoughts and memories

Tor.com: My Sarah Jane: Remembering Elisabeth Sladen

Leanne Hannah:Elisabeth Sladen

YouTube: Doctor Who – The Time Warrior – Meet Sarah Jane

YouTube: The Third Doctor regenerates

YouTube: Doctor Who Farewells – Sarah Jane

YouTube: Best of School Reunion

YouTube: The return of Sarah Jane – Dr Who Confidential – BBC sci-fi

YouTube: Sarah Jane and Davros in “Journey’s End”

YouTube: Say goodbye

YouTube: Sarah Jane Says Goodbye to The Doctor on Sarah Jane’s Adventures

“‎The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world, or a relationship… Everything has its time. And everything ends.” – Sarah Jane Smith

I’m not sure anything ends Sarah Jane. In many ways, you’re going to live forever.

11 Years of Experience Growing Metafilter

Metafilter has been running for over 11 years now and it remains one of the greatest online communities. Matt Haughey’s SXSW talk, “Real World Moderation: Lessons from 11 Years of Community”, was videoed, it’s 40 minutes well spent, covering the technology, techniques, and practices that keep it a favorite corner of the web for me and thousands of others. It’s about the people. (via kottke)

An open data challenge from Anil Dash

Anil Dash: “The Health Graph: Mortal Threats & Signs of Life”:

As a community of developers and technologists, we have to build powerful, indispensable apps and services on top of this data. Killer apps that save lives. If we can make ourselves invaluable, they won’t have the chance to try to cut off our oxygen.

Be a Builder, not a Leader

Read Umair Haque’s Builders’ Manifesto and get inspired. Screw that actually. Put it into action. Be it. Because the organizations we are part of need it to navigate the fast pace of change. Because our communities need us to act and make a difference. Because the world needs more than words to move the needle in a positive way. For more thoughts on this piece, Joe Campbell. Now for some quotes, including how you can be a builder:

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately. Specifically: why, today, when a wave of crises is sweeping the globe, does leadership seem to be almost totally absent?

The answer I’ve come to is, ironically enough, leadership itself.

…Here’s the problem in a nutshell. What leaders “lead” are yesterday’s organizations. But yesterday’s organizations — from carmakers, to investment banks, to the healthcare system, to the energy industry, to the Senate itself — are broken. Today’s biggest human challenge isn’t leading broken organizations slightly better. It’s building better organizations in the first place. It isn’t about leadership: it’s about “buildership”, or what I often refer to as Constructivism.

Leadership is the art of becoming, well, a leader. Constructivism, in contrast, is the art of becoming a builder — of new institutions. Like artistic Constructivism rejected “art for art’s sake,” so economic Constructivism rejects leadership for the organization’s sake — instead of for society’s.

Builders forge better building blocks to construct economies, polities, and societies. They’re the true prime movers, the fundamental causes of prosperity. They build the institutions that create new kinds of leaders — as well as managers, workers, and customers.

…How can you become one? Here are the ten principles of Constructivism (contrasted with these principles of leadership).

The boss drives group members; the leader coaches them. The Builder learns from them.

The boss depends upon authority; the leader on good will. The Builder depends on good.

The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm. The Builder is inspired — by changing the world.

The boss says “I”; the leader says “we”. The Builder says “all” — people, communities, and society.

The boss assigns the task, the leader sets the pace. The Builder sees the outcome.

The boss says, “Get there on time;” the leader gets there ahead of time. The Builder makes sure “getting there” matters.

The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The Builder prevents the breakdown.

The boss knows how; the leader shows how. The Builder shows why.

The boss makes work a drudgery; the leader makes work a game. The Builder organizes love, not work.

The boss says, “Go;” the leader says, “Let’s go.” The Builder says: “come.”

I’m adding this to my “Words to Live By” page. It has been ages since I’ve added anything to it.

The News needs an Anti-Virus (and it’s us)

Passing this one along from Dave Winer because the sooner we think of passing along things we dislike on the Web, that only can exist with our attention, as viruses, the sooner we remove their influence.

So you *hate* the Rebecca Black video? Well by linking to it you gave her a record contract.

The link economy is an attention-based economy. Links, whether you signify hate or love for the thing you are linking, give it attention and influence.

Think, before you link.

(and yeah, that’s no fun, and yeah, I’m not gonna follow my own advice, so there!)

Oh, and… YouTube: “Death Metal Friday”: