August 1, 2012

Color Scheme Suggestions

Category: Academic,Uncategorized — Biella @ 10:45 am

Ok here is the new (and final) cover:


So I really like my book (on free software) cover but I am not convinced by the yellow/red color scheme. Any suggestions that would work with the beautiful blue background?

I am also going to suggest placing a black outline around the birds too as they blend a little too much in the background.


October 13, 2011

Jobs vs Ritchie

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 7:18 pm


Best said here Let not make the final statement “and not a single newspaper cares”" into a reality.

PS: Do check out Against Nostalgia, a great jab at Jobs.

September 26, 2011

Photos for Coding Freedom

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 6:18 am

So my first book, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking is mostly sort of done. All the arguments are in place and I am doing the final, very annoying, seemingly endless work of adding a few final citations, hunting for permissions, and tweaking about 10 paragraphs that I feel can be slightly improved (down from about 20 last week). The book is based on the dissertation but re-framed significantly with lots of new material and best of all a lot of the cruft has been zapped away, I think.

The book will include two published pieces, although slightly revised. One of them is one of my all time favorite pieces on the hacker conference (which is the least academic/jargony of the peer reviewed articles). I thought it might be fun to change some of the photos for my book: so if you have some awesome, high quality photos that exude the joy of conferencing from past Debconfs or ANY hacker conference (preferably with computers in the background) please share.

I am open to anything although I am looking for a high quality/sharp photo of people hacking away in the hack lab. The photo I have is good but I would like one with better lighting/sharper focus.

The book will be published under a CC license (the most restrictive one, but heck as a junior scholar, I took what I could get and it is the first book that Princeton University Press is releasing under such a license). If you hold the copyright, I will need more official permission, otherwise, if it is under a CC or copyleft license, I will be adding the correct attribution/notice in the book.

January 5, 2011


Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 11:18 am
July 24, 2010

Silent Cry for Help: Debconf Volunteers

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 8:33 am

silent-cry-for-help, originally uploaded by the biella.

Hi Debcamper’s and Debconfer’s.

I am currently coordinating volunteers and can use your help! Here is a list of our current and most pressing volunteer needs.

If you are interested in volunteering and know what you would like to do, drop me a line with details. If you are interested in volunteering and are up for anything, drop me a line. If you want to volunteer but can only spare a couple of hours, drop me a line! You can reach me at biella(at)

We are most in need of finding help for the front desk and for assisting with the talks (starting/ending on time and fielding questions). This year if you are a coordinator for a track you will be in charge of doing this, so we only need volunteers for non-track talks.

Volunteers get a free, volunteer tee-shirt and a huge huge thanks from the orga team who simply cannot do this without you!

April 30, 2010

Baby Panda wants YOU to submit to DEBCONF

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 9:06 am

bad mood destroyer, originally uploaded by the biella.

People’s the deadline is fast approaching. Don’t worry though, the best ideas come under deadlines and your proposal need not be lengthy. So get those typing hands out and submit a proposal (a few sentences suffices) for a presentation!


February 10, 2010


Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 4:49 pm

p1050051.jpg, originally uploaded by the biella.

January 16, 2010

Being Bad-Ass w/o the Arrogance

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 3:21 pm


For the first time in a long while I took a vacation in New Zealand where I am for LCA. I decided to also take a break (mostly) from the Internet but I decided to it was worth to come back to write a brief response to Clay Shirky’s “rant about women,” which I find pretty unsettling. So the basic upshot of his entry is that for women to get ahead in this world, they need to not only behave more like men but in specific, like all the effing blow-hard jerky self-promoting men like, well Clay Shirky (I guess, right? and he in fact might be proud, I a woman, made this accusation).

What I appreciate about the post is the fact that he does not pigeon hole women as caring, maternal, and meek. I have always resented the idea that women can’t be assertive and confident. However, confidence and self-esteem, which I agree are vital for getting noted, does not inherently entail jerky behavior.I think Shirky’s perspective might be skewed because of his home field, which is filled with just the type of guys he is describing. I call them pundit-entrepreneurs (though to be sure some are pretty darn nice).

If you take the field of anthropology, for example, it has traditionally and for a long time been known for grand slam female scholars from Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead in the past to the ones of the present like Nancy Scheper Hughes and Jean Comaroff. During grad school, I was surrounded by strong, smart, witty, confident ladies and always felt I had role models to follow and emulate. They were not, however, low-life jerks clawing their way to the top of the academic mountain leaving a trail of destruction behind their path.

Then when I started to go to the tech and media academic conferences, I was soon swimming in a sea of mostly white men and the vibe was different. I was ignored and talked over a handful of times, which had never happened to me before. There was a lot more self-promotion than I had seen in other fields, in part, it seemed because the media pays more attention to this field so folks are trying to get the media light focused on them.

While I don’t disagree that many fields from medicine to law promote and reward “blow-hards” and massive unrestrained arrogance, I would rather not create a false binary between meek/low self-esteem/female and total-jerky/arrogance/confidence. Why not instead promote and highlight behavior that rewards confidence sans the arrogance?

Here are some thoughtful related posts.

November 20, 2009

Moral Grey Zones: Roller-Hitching

Category: Debian,Geek,Geekitude,Humor,Uncategorized — Biella @ 2:58 pm

Moral Grey Zone

Many moons ago while doing fieldwork I went to a radical tech activist camp sponsored by The Ruckus Society to give a presentation on Free Software (which I actually still have online in the gaudy orange I so loved. I could only stay 2 days as I had to go to Debconf2 in Toronto for fieldwork but it forever changed my life in pretty significant ways.

One remarkable thing about Ruckus was that for the first time I meet a particular kind of geek I had yet to come across: the crunchy and chewy granola/environmentalist/hippie hacker– a type of hacker that can be found world over but is likely to be (unsurprisingly) living, sometimes in the trees (literally) in the Pacific Northwest. They are one of my favorite kind of people as I can talk endlessly to them about 2 of my great passions: Free Software and environmental justice. Comfrey, pictured above, was one such hacker from Portland who I met at the Ruckus event and now routinely shows up, usually unannounced to our house at least 1-2x a year.

I woke up this morning to find him on our couch, got a bunch of knot-weed to chew on compliments of his foraging, and took the afternoon off to share some food. Among many stories, he told me of a new transportational pursuit of his, Roller-Hitching, which he uses to get around the country. He uses old school roller skates to skate along the road, even highways, until he gets picked up and get where he needs to go.

Naturally, these old school states are not just functional in the sense that they are faster than two feet in motion, but since they signify a particular spirit of the 1970s–you know, the groovy, dynamite, free love spirit of things, they draw positive attention and apparently when he roller-hitches, he gets picked up frequently (and made it from Minneapolis to Portland in 2 hours and 2 days: not shabby).


In California while on the 101 north of Arcata, California, Comfrey got stopped by the highway patrol and basically the cop wanted to kick him off on the grounds the he was a pedestrian (apparently prohibited on this patch of the 101). Comfrey, being a bright fellow, basically noted that roller skating is not really a pedestrian activity, that he was using, much a like a biker, a transportation device of sorts, so that he was in a grey zone between bikes and walking.

At the time, the cop was convinced enough but did tell Comfrey to look up the law in the library cuz the next time he would give him a ticket and the next time after that throw him in jail. Comfrey has yet ‘sourced’ the law but soon will. When he does, since I like to report on geeks and the law, I too will report on whether one can roller skate down or up the highway for those that might want to give Roller-Hitching a try.

October 27, 2009

Pragmatism vs Ethics

Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 6:34 pm

Pragmatism vs Ethics, originally uploaded by the biella.

On Thursday I will be helping to kick start a debate about some of the possible differences (or not) between free and open source software at Eyebeam, which will be hosted by Upgrade. If you are interested but are not in NYC, there will be a live stream and chat.