[Freedombox-discuss] Freedombox-discuss Digest, Vol 20, Issue 14

Sean O'Brien me at seandiggity.com
Mon Mar 12 20:22:14 UTC 2012

> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2012 18:15:27 +0000
> From: Ted Smith <tedks at riseup.net>
> To: freedombox-discuss at lists.alioth.debian.org
> Subject: Re: [Freedombox-discuss] updates to plinth
> Message-ID: <1331576127.26390.4.camel at anglachel>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> On Mon, 2012-03-12 at 18:47 +0100, Mathieu Jourdan wrote:
>> - my girlfriend took briefly a look on it, she said those colours were
>> for males. 
> I'm no authority on this list, but I'd appreciate it if the freedombox
> initiative would use actual research for things like choosing
> gender-neutral design elements whenever possible. Most actual, empirical
> research on gender differences runs against gender stereotypes and finds
> mostly similarity, not differences, between genders. Further, the
> gendered context of design elements will change drastically between
> cultures. As such, our intuitive judgments as individuals will not be
> the best indicator of the actual gender-neutrality of design elements.
> I can devote some of my copious free time to doing some of the
> scholarship necessary for this (and I can act as a proxy to retrieve
> paywalled papers for anyone who asks). I will need guidance and specific
> questions, rather than general ones.

I'm familiar with the field of Women's Studies and the theories put
forth there, so I'm not a stranger to these concepts.  Here's my $.02 on

- There's no reason to include the typical masculine or feminine imagery
that's shoved down our throats by Western corporate media.  However, I
think there's good reason to believe that the pursuit of "gender
neutrality" is Quixotic, for many reasons...some of them rooted in
cognitive science.

- I'm not convinced that the quality of research into gender differences
is very good.  It's a problem for studies of cultures in general, and is
one of the big difficulties in the humanities.  Perhaps I'm wrong here,
but I think I've seen enough to be wary.

- Studies trying to map out a "universal moral grammar" have given some
insight into the similarities between all humans.  It's exactly what we
should expect.  However, when you move into complex territory like
personal preference, things get very murky.  That said, I know the
reason I see American girls wearing the color pink is not arbitrary.
Neither is my decision to grow a beard, etc. etc.

- Plinth can have other themes built for it, but we need a default of
*some* kind.  I don't see any reason to harp on this question for
long...we need to do actual work on the code.  The current theme just
uses the visual vocabulary that's sprung up around sites like Twitter
(where Bootstrap originates), mobile OS's like Android and iOS, and
modern content management systems (WordPress, phpBB, and so on).

- As it stands, I don't see any reason that the default them I whipped
up is "masculine" or "feminine", any more than, say, Wikipedia or Gnome.
 Calling cyan masculine is no different than calling a butterfly
feminine, and both of those elements are in the design.

We could end up going on and on about this, ad infinitum, I'd rather
not...let's focus on getting "proof of concept and running code".

~ Diggity

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