Last weekend (2009 10/17~10/18), I went to Yahoo Open Hack Day Taiwan. The event seems has been become a big PR issue of Yahoo, only because a few minutes of lap dance.

Before I talked about what I feel about lap dance as a developer joined this event, I like to share about what we did in this event. As a team with hychen, tusng and honki, we were thinking about implement a self-learning web site, which provides a bookmarklet or plugin to let you look up the English words. And also help you to convert unfamiliar word on computer into physical flash card. But after we got there, we found this web site does not really use any Yahoo!API. :p

So, we pick up another idea from my never-have-time-to-start TODO list. We called it Synker,the original idea is to help people sync photos from any social network website into their own Google/Yahoo contacts. But we don’t want to have an avatar, we like to have photos with really face of our contacts. So we only use photos with face identified by integrated face detection technology. If you use these contact services on your phone, you will find it extremely useful when you try to remember someone when he/she calls.

After changed the idea, we start to implement it at Saturday afternoon. And finally we do can login with Yahoo account, download the contacts and find possible photo from Wretch profile and albums. It’s quite slow but it works. We tried to find Wretch girls hired by Yahoo as staffs to be our beta testers, it turns out that much of people don’t really use Yahoo! Contacts or Yahoo!360 lately. So most of the contacts are added very long time ago when YIM is still popular in Taiwan. For the local Wretch users, it might be much more useful if we can help them link their wretch users back to Yahoo contacts. However, Synker should be a service to help people sync photo into different contact service, the web site is now still a prototype, we might finish it later when we are available.

However, we did not win any award. Thanks to Erik Eldridge, at least we are mentioned in his favorite hacks list. But still, I have a lot of fun work with my teammate to implement a web site from scratch. I do enjoy to get tired, beard grown and smelly with friends after a non-stop 24 hours hacking. It’s exciting to experience issue and fix them together. It’s fun and we never stop laughing.

Thanks to Yahoo for organized this event. Without this event, I probably won’t get any chance to study Yahoo!APIs, and work with my friends on these APIs all day long. Thanks!

Sexism ?

So, many people feels women are offended, and they said sexism is bad for creating an inclusive environment in industry. I have to say please don’t judge the organizer before you understand the local culture. Applying your own viewpoints to the other side of earth is globalism, which does not help to create an inclusive environment.

As a developer staying there for the whole event, I don’t see the any lady are offended. But we, the shyly nerds are probably more insulted. :p

One my the other female friend XDite, she has been attend to Yahoo Open Hack Day since last year. She has same feeling as I do, we don’t feel it’s offending women. The dancing show is only a few minutes. We disliked it because it’s very annoyed for developers, since we have been coding for hours, a loudly music and dancing show just make us headache. It’s just annoying as the anchorwoman made some stupid jokes and asked developers to dance before the warding ceremony. It’s perhaps humiliated us much more then the dance girls.

Seriously, No! There are many female staffs around and many of the many of the top managers of Yahoo!Kimo Taiwan are female! And also the other female members in the other team. I don’t see there is any sexism issue in Yahoo and this event. However, I can understand why they like to have the dancing show, one for cheer the developers up after long time work, the other reason is to satisfy the local sick mass media.

The dancing show is only a few minutes, not the major part of the event. And we don’t care about the show, since we are really busy on get the things work. And yes, the kind of entertainments are expected in many IT events. It might comes from the history of southerns Taiwanese funerals and temple fair. People think it’s important to entertain Spirits, and living people, so they hire strippers to dance in public. It’s a symbol of supplicatory.

And somewhat this kind of traditions infected the IT event, but much more refined. Now, without Show Girls in a IT event, you will never get reported on local mainstream media. And this kind of tradition are spread in the world, which you can see many show girls on the online IT web sites.

It’s now become yet another industry for provide profession performing in IT events (commercial IT events does not mean open source software conference or hackathon). In addition, the dancing girl are professional dancers, they are not just boob girls or some woman found from the strip club. They are payed as profession for performing. I meant is creating something with your mind is much respectable then creatively with the body ? And what’s wrong that these ladies choose dancing as profession, is that one of talents should be appreciated ?

If you ask my opinion, I dislike this kind of arrangement it’s because it disturbed me. And don’t blame Yahoo, it’s totally not an issue of sexism of the event, you idiot. It’s about the sicked (local and global) media. Please go fight with the mainstream media if you think they are sexist, and many Taiwanese are already doing so.

  • [D]on’t blame Yahoo, it’s totally not an issue of sexism of the event, you idiot. It’s about the sicked (local and global) media.

    Are you saying that an event isn’t sexist if it simply doesn’t intend to be? Behavior does not extend from intention alone. Regardless of how innocent Yahoo’s intentions might be, I think an event that featured sexualized portrayals of one gender and not another in a context that, as you say, is completely inappropriate to do so (I would get annoyed if I was coding for hours and someone told me to get up and dance, too), is sexist.

    Whether you were offended is not is another matter. (Sexism !== offensive) evaluates to true, but (innocent intent !== non-sexist behavior) also evaluates to true.

    Please go fight with them if you think the media is sexism, and many Taiwanese is already doing so.

    I think by speaking up about the sexism that was displayed by Yahoo!’s actions, they are doing exactly that. How else would you have people protest the idea that objectifying women in the industry is inappropriate, if you don’t want to see them do so in the industry itself?

  • As a woman programmer, I want to comment. It’s not so much the objectification of women is so bad. What really wears me down is how entertainment, jokes, stories, *everything* at tech events seems to assume that the audience is all male. That sends the message to women, “This event is not for you.”

    Imagine, men, if you were at a tech event, and there was a woman emcee who kept cracking jokes which had lines like, “You know how your boobs get sore right before your period?”

    Or that instead of giving away XL t-shirts with the name of the sponsors on it, gave away bras with logos? Or if the entertainment consisted of male strippers? You would pretty quickly start to feel like you were not in the right place.

  • I agreed with both of you.

    However, in my post. I simply ask you to see this thing in a different angle as native. I am saying in the local distorted culture, that’s common. The SG and dancing girl are hired as professional like programmers, to deliver their works.

    And it becomes so, mostly because the sick media culture. Most of these media may report the debate and also promote other IT event with SGs at the same. And hire SG for IT events has been accepted as kind of popular culture, which can not be denied.

    And even local female programmers are getting used to it (sadly). The lap dancing is more like a result for satisfy the media, the local people might see it naturally only for marketing benefit. Before Simon Willison covered this, all the local news are only reported this event with a SG in photos.

    It’s a big PR mistake for Yahoo as global company. But it’s even big mistake for the local feminism communities who has been ignored this for years.

  • Fred Chien

    I’ve been there as well, I think Yahoo! has a good intentions to prepare a very short term show to let players to take a break. As a player who hard to work on creations, I don’t like this show personally, it makes a lot of noise to effect my thinking.

    Indeed, the performance is no problem, the problem is performers overdo I think.

  • tan

    i’m from taiwan. i would say it’s simply ridiculous to point the finger on so-called “sick media culture”. it’s not true. Yahoo in Taiwan has used this tactics many times, mainly use pretty young girls to attract eyeballs, only it backfires this time. they deserved it:)

  • @tan, Can not agree with you! Every big companies in Taiwan are doing the same thing, and they are doing so are because not only the media and the audience like the tone.

    If you can not agree with me, go back and check your own flickr to see how many booth babe photos in your albums. 🙂

  • Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  • @Polprav You are free to do so. 🙂