December 2018

A year of finishing things

by Suw on December 27, 2018

2017 was a year (well, nearly) of trying new arts and crafts, of learning and of expanding my creative horizons. It was awesome. My ulterior motive was to get my creative juices flowing so that I would once again feel the urge to write, and it worked very well. After a hiatus around Ada Lovelace Day, I started writing on a new book that I’d been researching for a couple of years, and continued working on that through November and December.

2018 was supposed to be a year of writing and finishing off my craft projects, but after a productive January, things all went a bit to pot when Kevin got a new job in the February and all my time went into moving house, travel to the UK, unpacking, and then Ada Lovelace Day came round once again. I didn’t write much at all, or do much more than knit basic things.

So for 2019 I have two goals: Keep writing, maybe even to the point of finishing up a first draft, and start finishing off my craft projects. I have so many works in progress that just need to be polished off, it’s ridiculous. To aid my resolve in this latter goal, here’s my list of half-finished projects in no particular order (completed projects are struck through):

  • Knitted scarf for Kevin
  • Knitted blanket for the cats
  • Small picture frame that needs restoring and gilding, and a tintype going into it
  • Very badly broken plaster mirror that I need to finish mending and gilding
  • Sister mirror to the above that will need refinishing and gilding to match
  • Large mirror that needs restoring and gilding
  • Medium sized picture frame that needs possibly refinishing, but certainly needs a picture going into it
  • Knight and snail embroidery that needs finishing off, for my friend Steph (I’m very delayed on this!)
  • Large frame that needs restoring and then I need to decide wtf to do with it. Might put a mirror in it.
  • Nisse (Christmas gnome) army needs expanding
  • This year’s Christmas decorations – crocheted snowflakes – need doing (quite behind on this given Christmas is soon to be over)
  • Refurbish an old chest of drawers

In addition to this, I need or want to:

  • Hang our art, plates and mirrors
  • Get two pieces of artwork framed (been putting this off for about 3  years)
  • Get two new mats for two pieces of artwork that are framed, but not neatly enough for my sensibilities
  • Hang a rug
  • Hang a Malaysian wall hanging (both of the rug and the hanging need to be somewhere out of direct sunlight, which is hard in this house)
  • Find another chest of drawers to refurbish as we don’t have enough drawer space
  • Knit a cardigan
  • Steek two jumpers that were gifts, that I don’t wear because I don’t really like jumpers (steeking is to cut knitting, eg to insert a zip or fastenings)
  • Do some embroidery for a half dozen frames that I bought from Ikea a couple of years ago for some artwork that turned out to be too big for them. Oops
  • Paint the dining room
  • Sew some curtains for the bedroom

I shall report back on every success, starting, I hope, with finishing Kevin’s scarf!

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Who gets to invent the future?

by Suw on December 3, 2018

Nike and Boeing Are Paying Sci-Fi Writers to Predict Their Futures, apparently. I have to admit, I was very excited to read this article when I stumbled on it. I’ve done some futurology projects on a couple of occasions, and it is always a huge amount of fun. This kind of work, using sci fi and world building to help companies understand future opportunities and risks is both exciting and smart. We are all narrative creatures and we understand the world through stories, so using stories to imagine different scenarios is a good way to think about the future.
 
But as I read on, I became really disturbed, and then quite cross. Of all the 21 real people named in this piece, precisely zero are women. Of the two fictional people, one was a named man, the other an unnamed woman, “grandmother”. The author was a man. The illustrator was a man.
 
And whilst the author acknowledged the gender bias, ‘the men behind these companies (and yes, they’re largely run by men)’, he did little to mitigate it.
 
He even included a stereotyped and factually wrong scenario posited by DIY store Lowe’s:
 
‘The story prototype follows a couple who try to renovate their house the old-fashioned way but keep running into problems. “The husband thinks he can solve it all, the wife is fed up, and the contractor is going ‘hehehe.’ The client loved it.”’
 
Women actually make more DIY purchase decisions than men. They are 60% more likely to complete a home improvement project than men, and 66% of women pay for DIY out of their personal bank account. Women initiate 80% of home improvement projects, account for 50% of DIY store customers but spend 50% more in store than men do. They are not ‘fed up’ whilst waiting for their husbands to fix things, they are the ones driving the projects.
 
To me, it’s a major problem that women either aren’t involved or aren’t recognised in this kind of future scenarios work. What kind of futures are being dreamt up by these men? Are they futures that include women? That recognise women’s decision making and buying power? Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases. 91% of women feel advertisers don’t understand them.
 
Just look at those numbers.
 
Yet businesses are asking all-male or majority-male teams to try to imagine the future, and I would put good money on those teams seeing things through a skewed male lens that doesn’t recognise or account for the role women play across all areas of life. In futurology work, whether it’s sci-fi based or straight scenarios thinking, diversity of thought is paramount if the results are to be of any use. Heavily male teams do not generally show much in the way of diversity of thought, as amply proven by the tech industry where women’s needs go frequently unmet and their voices unheard. 
 
Which does, on the one hand, mean that there’s an opportunity here for any woman willing to grasp it. And I’m seriously considering a project, once my current one is safely launched. 

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