So… look.

I am part of a wonky industry. And by wonky I mean hugely imbalanced, superficial, bubblicious, and lined with unkeepable promises.

I’m a web presence consultant, and I’m good at it. I build nice websites that people can update themselves, and I train people on how to use the Internet better so that they can survive and grow on their own. I’ve been building websites for 12 years, and I’ve been completely self-employed in the industry for five. Despite having just ended a large contract that was my primary (and often only) source of income for the last two years, I (magically) have no lack of clients right now.

But I also have an identity crisis. (You’d think I’d be good at those by now, but no, they still get me every time.)

I present to you Exhibit A, courtesy of the Laughing Squid blog:

It’s parody, but it’s not a joke. This is my industry. Or at least, it’s one of them — the “Social Media Douchebag*” industry.  The other professions I pledge allegiance to seem to include:

– Sleazy Marketers
– Naive Self-Helpey Life Coaches
– Overpriced Web Designers
– Out-of-Touch-with-Reality Engineers

Apologies to all the peers I just offended, but come on, you know what I’m talking about.

Normally I don’t let this reputation game get to me, but I’m going through one of those Repositioning phases where I have to start telling people what I do for a living again. Unfortunately, this is quickly turning into a game of, “No, I’m a good witch. You want to drop your house over there, on my sister, the green one.”

You ever try to define yourself by explaining what you’re not (like how I’m doing in this blog post)?  It puts the focus in the wrong place.  DON’T THINK ABOUT THE GROSS STUFF!  I SAID DON’T THINK ABOUT IT! EWWW!  (Bear with me — I’m getting this out of my system.)

Now couple this industry reputation crisis with the fact that clients’ needs, on the whole, are changing dramatically.  Tools have gotten easier to use, and the people who hire us are so much more capable and Internet savvy than they used to be. We no longer just build a website, optimize it for search engines, and walk away until something breaks. “Success” on the Internet now requires frequent content updates, and clients are willing to take that work on themselves. The ones who want help want long-term partnerships with consultants who can advise them on their processes and fix little techie things when they get stuck.

It used to be all about building the website, and everyone left the maintenance as an underfunded afterthought (meaning that’s when consultants moved on). Now it’s all about the maintenance… the kind that says, “You’re doing great work. What do you need?”

But tell me honestly: who here is setting up sustainable businesses that support the “I just need a few hours of help a month” clients?

My hunch is that we may need to drop our Web Development Consulting models and go learn from accountants, therapists, attorneys, doctors, and professors.

How do we build a business on maintenance?  How many clients can one consultant handle?  Can we teach our peers to do this, too?  And can we do it all without being Sleazy Naive Out-of-Touch-with-Reality Overpriced Douchebags?

If you’re already doing this work, please come find me.

And I’ll keep the rest of ya’lls posted on what we figure out.

* Yes, I do know the term douchebag is offensive and tasteless, and represents a form of social oppression, and refers to something completely useless and bad for people. That’s partly why I accept its usage in this context.

We, the people who spend most of our waking moments immersed in Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google, smart phones, and email, despite overwhelming evidence that we’re so good at this stuff we’re over it already, are still trying to figure out how the Internet works.

We are explorative, experimental, creative, excited, and highly judgmental of how everyone else is doing it. We universally agree that spammers and trolls are lame, and we believe we know how everything should be done better, despite the fact that our rules and tools change every day.

Me being no exception to this trend, I hereby proclaim my manifesto of how everyone should use the internet without sucking.

——-

I believe that all web-based interactions operate on the same principles as in-person interactions.

I believe in social karma. I believe that all people deserve to be respected and treated with kindness, and that whenever you choose not to do this, you set yourself up to suffer consequences, whether directly or indirectly. I don’t care how much they pissed you off. You still have the choice to be nice. (“Smile from the wrists down.” –@Gwenners)

I believe in social capital. I believe that if you have something to sell or promote, your existing relationship to a community determines your ability to get what you want when you ask for favors or put things in front of people. I believe that if you want your community to support you, you need to first support your community.

I believe that your web presence is an extension of your offline presence, and that the sum of all your parts make up you as a complex human being. I believe it’s okay to represent different personas online as long as you can face the fact that they’re all parts of you.

I believe that too many people put ads on their blogs expecting to eventually earn good money from them, and are disappointed. I believe that using your blog to build community and attract or maintain clients, customers, support, and exposure is often a much more realistic and higher-yield endeavor.

I believe that the best opportunities never make it to Craigslist. They go to friends and to friends of friends.

I believe that in order to get followed, read, or subscribed to, you need to first be worth following, reading, or subscribing to. If you look at your web presence from an outsider’s perspective and aren’t excited about what you see, chances are you have more work to do.

I believe that people are here for themselves. They care about you to the extent that you have an impact on them. Even in their most generous moments, it always comes back to them somehow. I believe you should look for how, and feed that.

I believe that “opt in” only counts if they really want it and it continues to benefit them. If you stopped sending your regular newsletter/posts/updates/etc, would your network be disappointed? Or would they not notice? Or would they be relieved? I believe you already know the answer to this question.

I believe you can make money on the Internet with just as much social manipulation and sleaze as you can use in person. I believe you know the difference between benefiting the people around you and exploiting their weaknesses. I believe you understand that, in terms of long-term strategy and overall quality of life, the latter approach has severe drawbacks.

I believe you cannot escape the practical importance of personal ethics by doing business on the Internet, even if you attempt to be anonymous.

I believe that creating meaningless clutter, promoting low-quality products, or talking about things you don’t actually care about on the Internet is littering, and that it affects both your social karma and your social capital, even if you don’t tell your friends about it.

I believe that if you’re blaming the Internet for your problems, you’re not looking at your problems hard enough.

I believe that if you’re starting to hate the internet, it’s time to turn it off and go outside.

I believe that social media only works well when people genuinely care about what they’re talking about.

I believe that if you’re excited about something, you have a responsibility to both yourself and to your extended communities to explore that and express it (in a way that respects both you and them).

I believe excitement is the best indicator of what’s worth sharing.

I believe that if you’re not excited about anything right now, you should seriously consider fixing that.

I believe that showing off is usually okay because a lot of people get excited about watching. I believe that watching is usually okay because a lot of people get excited about showing off.

I believe we have more success to gain from being honest, open, and sincere online than we do from acting like the kind of person we think will be most successful.

I believe that when try to make others feel more comfortable by ignoring what motivates us, we deplete ourselves, and by extension, we damage our relationships.

I believe we benefit ourselves best and most sustainably if we are continually benefiting others.

I believe that sucking at the Internet is both voluntary and optional.

I believe the Internet is awesome, and that it is worth getting excited about.

I believe that we are awesome. And we are worth getting excited about.

———

I believe a lot of other things, too. But I’ll stop here. For now. Until I get excited again.

(What do you believe?)

So… yes. The subtle references and whispered insanities are true: I’ll be leaving Cerado in September.

This means I’m voluntarily entering the worst job market ever to happen in my lifetime — a market in which heartwrenching handfuls of talented peers and friends have been unemployed for over a year now — as a free agent.

There. It’s acknowledged. And that is the last we ever speak of the Impossible Economy in association with me looking for work again. If I can get my mother to stop reminding me of this dismal fact (and I have), surely you can play along with my game, too. Do it as a favor to a friend.

The other seemingly ludicrous point to note is that I’m leaving on very good terms with a high regard for the company, and I’ve sincerely enjoyed working with them. Chris Carfi is an impressive hybrid of creative genius and brilliant storyteller — when it comes to social media marketing, he gets it on both a theoretical and a social level. I’ve learned a lot from working with him, and from working alongside fellow mad genius Mark Resch as well. The clients (hi, BlogHer) and developers (George the PHP guru, Eric the King of iPhone dev, …) I’ve been paired with have also been top notch. I will be sad to let them go.

So why am I leaving?  Because it stopped fitting me.  What the Job Needed From Me and What I Wanted to Do crept further and further apart over time, and it finally became evident that something had to change.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was just growth. And it has a hidden upside for Cerado: being able to let go of the role means I can now help them restructure their management process without my interests in the equation. The result is shaping up to be something that’s much more tailored to their changing needs, with a more efficient use of resources.

I kind of enjoy working myself out of a job.  It has a certain satisfaction to it.

It just leaves one question: What’s next?

I don’t know.  And call me crazy (I’m used to it by now), but I’m not really interested in job leads just yet.  I’d like to give a little more thought first to what I’m looking for.

When I was in Chicago for BlogHer recently, I ran my situation past a childhood friend, Jim Conti.  He gave me a useful way of approaching the “what should I do next?” question:

Ask yourself…

What am I good at?
What brings me joy?
What does the world need me to do?

…and find the intersection of all three of those.

In other words…

whatshouldido

When the grownups asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, they forgot to explain that this was what they meant. Most of us probably answered based on how we wanted to be seen, realizing that “astronaut” and “veterinarian” sounded worthy enough of praise.  So do “rich” and “famous.”

A psychologist friend of mine made an interesting comment to me recently.  She said, “This is going to sound terrible, but I strongly prefer working with wealthy clients. It’s not because they pay me better. It’s because they already know that money’s not going to fix their problems.”

Neither is doing what they’re good at even if they don’t like it. Or doing what they enjoy when it’s useless to the rest of the world. Or being a miserable martyr for the sake of humanity. We have more work to do than this.

And I still haven’t answered the question.

I know some of the things I’m good at…

– XHTML/CSS development
– Product and project management
– Social media consulting
– Technical and promotional writing
– Public speaking
– Building community spaces

I’m feeling the tugs of what the world wants me to do in terms of social media marketing, community development, and LGBT activism.

I just… might need to get back into the groove of what brings me joy for a bit.

Then maybe I’ll know what I want to be when I grow up.

I recently overheard a very useful quote, which was something along the lines of…

“Engagement leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to sales. A good product leads to repeat sales.”

And I just wanted to jump up and scream, “AMEN! YES!” But instead I politely continued my meal and tried not to interrupt the strangers’ conversation.

Can I say it again, though?

Engagement -> Loyalty.
Loyalty -> Sales.
Good Product -> Repeat Sales.
Burn it backwards into your forehead.

To the social media marketers, please notice that Engagement and Loyalty don’t directly lead to a Repeat Sales, because they often have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have a good product.

To everyone else, please notice that Engagement and Loyalty are important for getting Sales. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your product is — if you’re not telling the right story and getting people emotionally involved in it, they probably haven’t realized how great it is yet.

The point is, you have to do both.

And while I’m standing up here on this soapbox, let me yell a little louder to those in the back who are zoning out: Product is just a jargon placeholder for Anything, and Sales is another way of saying Commitment.

Whatever it is that you want people to connect with — your blog, your outfit, your party, your basketball game, your performance, your job hunt, your friend, your hot sexy body, your tweets, your…. (keep going, I’ll be here all day) — you care about it, so you’re interacting with the world in a way that helps you get the response you want. But unless that thing you care about actually matters to the world in the way it wants, even if you’re a great storyteller, you’re only gonna get that response once. If you want it again, that thing you care about has to be good. Good means it meets their needs. This isn’t about yours.

But then again, if you never tell the story — if you never break the ice, or use that cheesy pickup line, or send in that resume, or pass out those invitations, or hand them your business card, or twitter it, or give them that elevator pitch — then they’ll never know.

It’s both. It has to be both. If you’re only doing one well, you’re limping.

(And frankly, you look pretty silly, since we all know that both of your legs work just fine.)

I had the giddy pleasure of speaking on the Indy Arts and Media panel last thursday on DIY Online Promotion for Artists (alongside the inimitable Abi Jones and Hannah Eaves). We started a wiki of good online resources for the topic, for those looking for the Cliff’s Notes.

Things I wanna keep pontificating on…

Addictomatic — Woah! Hannah brough up this resource, and it pretty much won for Awesome Tool Recommendation of the night. It aggregates all online vanity searches onto one page (think google alerts + twitter search + everything else you forgot to check). My only complaint is that doesn’t seem to do daily email summaries (I want info to come to me). Maybe we can join together and sway them to add the feature. (They’ll probably find this blog post within minutes of it going live anyway.)

Bit.ly — I had NO IDEA this URL shortener included analytics tracking! (This means you can tell how many people clicked on it when you posted it to twitter… and whether or not they did it through a web browser or another client.) Sorry, is.gd — I know your base URL was a character shorter, but think just found my new best friend.

Asking for money — One of the audience members jumped in with an important question: “So if your bread and butter is getting people to buy your art, where do you put the ‘ask’ in all of this communication stuff?” We fumbled a bit on this one because it’s kindasorta not about that, except it always is. I said: treat social media as a metaphor for your in-real-life friendships… if you ask your friends to buy your stuff every time you see them, you’re not going to have many friends. But if you never ask them at all, they won’t realize the opportunity is there. So you have to strike the right balance of reminding them without being annoying.

There’s more, though, and I realized it on my way home from the panel (so question-asker, wherever you are, here’s what I meant to say): it’s not about asking. It’s about making it really easy for them to buy when it occurs to them that they might want to. Yes, your job is also to get them to want to, but that doesn’t have to be an ask — it could be a matter of talking around it, about it, over it, between it, and consistently building buzz about the awesomeness that is inherent to everything you do. What’s way more important is having the Buy button right there (or as close to “everywhere” as you can get while still being tactful), with a super easy checkout process and as much perceivable instant gratification as possible. We are an impulsive people, and we like to think that buying stuff is our own idea. But we also get distracted by the next shiny thing really easily, so turning our interest into a sale before that happens is your real challenge. The ask is secondary to that.

And in other news… I’ve been avoiding upgrading to iPhone 3.0 software because I’m moving to a place that doesn’t get AT&T, and if I decide to change phones along with carriers, I’d rather do it with a maintained resentment for my current phone’s lack of copy-and-paste and video-recording than with a feeling of lost love.

But someone demoed the new copy and paste function to me at the panel, and my blissful ignorance has been destroyed. Thanks, dude.

micropaymentheart.pngI want to believe in micropayments.

It’s like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the economic stimulus package, predefined timelines for large projects, nonfat lattes, and God. I want to believe in micropayments because it gives me hope

I’m talking about hope that we’re on the right track. Hope that we have a viable, sustainable alternate plan for the business models we’re turning upside down with our new technology. Hope that we can decentralize power without losing it altogether. Hope that we can survive without the monopolies. Hope that artists will be able make a living just by inspiring people. Hope that the average Internet user will soon derive as much satisfaction from giving financial props to someone they find valuable as they’d get from buying them a beer.

I naively believed we were close to this reality because someone — iTunes — is actually finally doing it well. I believed the biggest barrier was form of payment: if you have to enter your credit card number or go to a separate payment website or do anything that takes more than a click or a few keystrokes, the method won’t catch on.  iTunes broke that barrier for iPhone users when they required us to sign up for an iTunes account (and enter our credit card number in advance) just to download those nifty free apps. We didn’t like entering our credit card number, but it was Apple, so we knew everything was gonna be okay. Now that we’ve done it, whenever we get a song stuck in our heads at 3 AM and decide we need to listen to it right then, all we have to do is enter a password and it’s ours for 99 cents. A password. Just a password!  Anywhere we are.  It’s brilliant.

It was so easy to take it a step further: if Apple can do it, other industries can’t be too far behind.  Heck, we could even let Apple become the new PayPal and run all of our micropayments throught them, since they already have our trust.  Why not?  Let independent artists have their own merchant accounts.  Expand the system to cover writers, filmmakers, painters, and photographers.  Let high school kids make 50 cents each time one of the cool screen savers they create is downloaded.  Let me pay for shareware incrementally based on the number of times I use it.  Let me donate to a nonprofit in small chunks whenever they inspire or move me.  Empower the bloggers to fund each other.  Make it easy for us to put our money where our hearts are.  

I was this close to swallowing the whole story of technological utopia when Clay Shirky — in his infinite clarity — shot it down this morning.

“The essential thing to understand about small payments is that users don’t like being nickel-and-dimed. We have the phrase ‘nickel-and-dimed’ because this dislike is both general and strong.”

So… people don’t like micropayments.  Oh. Right.  (And… now that I think about it, yeah okay, I kinda hate them, too.)

And…

“The lesson of iTunes et al (indeed, the only real lesson of small payment systems generally) is that if you want something that doesn’t survive contact with the market, you can’t let it have contact with the market.  …small payments survive in the absence of a market for other legal options.”

So… iTunes is an aberration that only works because the music industry is kinda screwed up at the moment.

He ends with:

“We should be talking about new models for employing reporters rather than resuscitating old models for employing publishers; the longer we waste fantasizing about magic solutions for the latter problem, the less time we have to figure out real solutions to the former one.”

But Clay!  I wasn’t talking about employing publishers! I want the micropayments to go directly to the reporters!

But okay… fine… you win.  It won’t work for that, either.

So what’s our Plan B?

Dear Silicon Valley,

First of all, I don’t know if I’ve told you this lately, but I love you.  We do great things here, and this life is pretty damned fun.  You’ve taken very good care of me, introduced me to brilliant people, given me the tools to stay connected with a world of friends, and even started paying my rent.  I’m forever grateful that we found each other.

And I have a favor to ask.

I’m noticing that the stuff we make here — these websites and tools and communities — can influence the rest of the world pretty significantly.  It used to be that only the geeks were using the Internet, but now it’s becoming “pretty much everybody.”  And here’s the powerful thing: when a website is considered “good,” whatever that website displays as content, images, default settings, or options is considered “normal” by its users. You have the power to influence “normal.” I could give you examples, but I know you already know what I’m talking about.

The favor I want to ask is this: please think about how you’re handling race and gender on your websites.  Just look at it.  You don’t have to change anything.  Just make a mental note in your head about what your saying to your users about the importance of race and gender, and the categories that exist for them.

I’ll give you a hint: If you’re still asking about race in a required drop-down menu, you’re way behind.  Because doing it that way says to a user:

  • You have a race.
  • It’s really important to me.
  • It’s one (and only one) of these listed here.

Seriously, I really don’t think you’re doing this, because it would be horribly weird.  My friend with the half-Jamaican-half-Chinese father and Irish immigrant mother would either laugh hysterically at you or be extraordinarily offended.  “You want me to tell you what? WHY??”

The way we build a profile page matters.  You get that it matters.

So… this next part’s gonna sound a little weird, but hear me out for a minute.  I think gender is taking the same path as race.  It’s still visually defining, but people are starting to acknowledge that there are grey areas. And those grey areas are growing.

There’s a longstanding argument that “male” and “female” are a biologically-defined and relevant way to split our population in half. But if you’ve ever met a feminine man or a masculine woman, you know that these categories are way too rough to mean anything more than a stereotype sometimes.

It goes deeper than that.  For example, within lesbian communities, “butch” and “femme” have been considered separate genders for awhile now.  Yes, they’re both female (well, sometimes), but they have different roles both in the community and in relationships (except when they don’t, which is true for any gender).  There’s also a growing presence of people who are living today as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Sometimes you notice them and sometimes you don’t.  (Hint: You won’t know how many you aren’t noticing — that’s the point.)  There are people born intersex — with the biological features of more than one gender (and there are more of these than you might expect).  And you may have noticed this in cities and among young people — there’s also a growing presence of folks whose genders you just can’t identify.  Some of them, if you ask them respectfully, will tell you they feel like both genders.  Or neither gender.  Or a gender that needs a new name.  They might answer to both “he” and “she,” or they might prefer something different.  They’re in-between, and that’s where they belong.

Just for a minute, try to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone who has spent a lifetime feeling just as uncomfortable in the men’s locker room as in the women’s locker room — for whatever reason.  Imagine having to dress in clothing that just feels wrong to you, everyday, because you know it means you’ll be treated better than you would if you wore what you like.  Imagine walking through the world knowing that everyone’s first assumptions about how you see yourself, who you love, and what feels right for you are completely wrong.

Now imagine signing up for a cool website, and then being required to select an option from a drop-down menu that doesn’t include anything that represents you.  If you don’t decide to close the browser window right then and there, you’ll probably pick the gender of the restroom you still use in public when you have no other choice (even though people might stop you to tell you you’re in the wrong one no matter what), and you’ll feel defeated. You’ll want to argue that whatever they think they’re learning from that drop-down menu, it’s not really true. You’ll want to tell them that they’re adding to your humiliation by making you do this. You’ll want to tell them that they’re missing a huge part of you by boiling this rich and beautiful characteristic down into a two-option drop-down menu.

Okay, you can come back now.  That’s all I needed from you — just to think about it. The truth is, there are no perfect solutions to this problem right now.  Gender is still relevant (except when it’s not) and drop-downs are still the cleanest way to gather data (except when they’re not).  To quote Facebook (a site that’s only sort of doing it wrong), “It’s complicated.”

So just keep an eye out.  Be aware of what you’re calling normal.  Make a mental note of who it might be excluding.  Make conscious choices about how you handle things.  And please remind the web developer in the next cubicle to do the same.

Thanks and love,
Sarah Dopp

When Katie Green shot this, I had just been fixing blogs and ranting about better marketing practices for about 5 hours straight. So I was a little manic in the moment. Enjoy!

I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

Correction: I misspoke on one point in this interview: I haven’t “been to all of the major BlogHer conferences except for the first one” — I’ve also missed the BlogHer Business conferences. Sorry about that.

The BlogHer Geek Lab in Washington, DC was loaded with questions about how to improve a blog and increase its reach.  I ended up on my soapbox more times than I expected, ranting about misinformation and imploring bloggers to rethink their strategies.

I’m summarizing most of my rants below because I think they’ll be helpful to some people.  Please keep in mind that I’m coming at this from my own experience.  I’m not an “ad revenue” blogger, and there are plenty out there who can give you tips on what they’ve done to be successful. I encourage you to go talk to them, too.

The Goals Rant

If you ask me, “How can I make my blog better?” I’m going to ask you what “better” means.  What are your goals? If you don’t know, stop whatever you’re doing right now and figure them out.  Here are some common ones:

I want to…

  • express myself in a creative, positive way.
  • vent my frustrations in a safe and constructive way.
  • work through some challenging issues.
  • document a process or experience.
  • create a space for myself that’s separate from my daily life.
  • establish a certain kind of reputation.
  • convey a certain tone and aesthetic.
  • serve a certain community in a certain way.
  • build a community that supports me.
  • make money with ads and affiliate revenue.
  • find new work/jobs/clients/customers.
  • maintain my existing work/jobs/clients/customers.
  • give friends and family a way to keep track of me.
  • keep track of my thoughts and the interesting things I’ve found on the web.

If you have a lot of these goals (and hopefully some others I haven’t named yet), that’s great!  Now you need to prioritize them. Which ONE do you care about first and foremost? How about second? Third? Fourth? Lay them all out in order — NO TIES! It’s fine if your priorities change in the future, but you need to be honest with yourself about what they are right now.

Once you’ve got that, you’ll know what “better” means. And you’ll probably be able to brainstorm about 20 answers to your original question without any help from me now, too.

The Money Rant

So you want to make money from blogging, and you’ve heard that ad revenue is the way to go.  That’s great and I completely support you, but let’s talk about it for a minute.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself in a series of (mostly unrelated) events that all drilled into this same themes from different angles:  Women. Technology. Sexism. Sexual tension. Sexuality. Sexual privilege. Sexualization. Sexual harassment. Feminism. Power. Reaction. Anger.

The tech industry is a male-dominated field, and it doesn’t have a lot of social infrastructure in place for dealing with its sexual transgressions.  To add insult to injury, we’re stuck with woefully inadequate language to describe what’s happening in general terms.  The phrase “women in the tech industry” doesn’t refer to a unified group of people with common opinions and experiences.  Instead it describes a scattering of individuals who are, far too often, trying to get a job done as the only woman in a room.  They face sex-related challenges in professional situations on their own, and they’ve found their own ways of walking through them.

As a young woman in the tech industry who’s still just trying to figure out the rules to the game, I have to admit I’m a little pissed off about how much in-fighting, criticism, and judgment I see women dishing out to each other on the subject of sexism, sexual harassment, and other concepts that start with sex.  Forgive me for sounding naive and idealistic here, but it seems like our energy would be better spent respecting the differences of our individual paths over such a rocky terrain, and throwing each other a rope when needed.

As a gender-bending queer, I’ve always felt like mainstream representations of “women’s issues” included a lot of things I didn’t identify with, relate to, or experience in my daily life.  On the same token, I fight my own unique list of social battles that many “mainstream women” (which is a bullshit notion in itself) don’t have to deal with.  Our paths are different.

Except when they’re not.

Every single person on this planet can look at any large group of people and say, with plenty of evidence, “I’m one of them.”  That same person, looking at the same group of people, can also say with just as much truth and proof, “They’re not like me.”

And when we’re talking about sex -ism/-uality/-ualization/-ual harassment, what we’re talking about is a big fat knot that has no right answers, and we all have to find our own paths through it.

I’d like to walk through it with the support, thoughts, ideas, respect, and understanding of the women around me.

(p.s. Just dawned on me: stuff about sexual harassment in the tech industry is usually about office politics.  I’d just like to say that I work with the best, most respectful team on earth, and that area in my life is just fine.)