Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Totally re-energized!

Oh my great goodness, what a wonderful event the eclectic tech carnival can be! I am now back to domestic reality and the washing machine is humming in the background. Yesterday I cut my son's hair, put him into a bath and kissed my partner until I fell asleep. It took me two days to get back into the Dutch suburban groove. This morning I finally unpacked my bag as a signum of return.

One of the participants said the last day of the carnival that it was we were all like a bunch of teenagers, playing around. Yes, yes, I agree with this quote. I have met so many beautiful, strong, smart and charming women when learning and teching computer specs (specifications). The eclectic tech carnival was almost radiant with energy in huge masses floating around. New collective projects like /etc 2005 and "server assembling & maintenance" (name yet to be decided) were started. According to evaluations from the participants this year's /etc was a successful event, and everyone is looking forward to it next year. Many organizers view the event from other perspectives as well. It was clear that issues like internal communication and information sharing need to be improved, and that we should look into different schedule dynamics. The overal bottom line though, as I see it, is that the /etc2004 was a success.

Personally I feel totally re-energized and happy. This /etc ment much to me as developer and participant. I have learnt so much about group dynamics, how to moderate role-playing (more about that later in another article), and I feel great support from this particular group of women in becomming an IT professional. Next step is how to learn the Java programming language. I have the book, a teacher, access to Java collectives, three hours per day, and moral and spiritual support from /etc. I estimate that it will take me about six months to learn enough for a first job as IT nerd. Meanwhile I will financially support my family working as a postwomyn for Dutch postal services.

Java, Oracle databases and world of programming, make way for a new female programmer. It is time to reclaim territory and make it into my own. Thank you, women of /etc and Hivos for making this possible!

/me happy

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Daily Sessions of Human Hubbing

You know, I think I will skip the daily reports from now and simply write what I see and experience here in Beograd. During the eclectic tech carnival there are shorter daily sessions like the silc screen printing where Urska and Maja prepared two screens with femi, lesbian or genderchanger logos. Each participant can print their own t-shirt or bag on or more of these logos.

Another daily session is the half hour organizational meeting where all /etc-developers come together and discuss issues of the day. It is a very good way to avoid misunderstandings and to get to know each other better. I believe there are about twenty of us now, coming from all around the world.

Maya introduces a juggling workshop every morning. Each day we make new juggling balls as people tend to take them home. We make them using stockings filled with barley. There is an open market close by and the man who sells socks and stockings must believe we are crazy about his products. We should get a discount by now as we bought more than 40 pairs (size large, black) the past three days!

The third sessions which is more or less always going on is the video filming and editing by Marishka and Maria. Together they collect loads of material of the event, interviewing people and try to put together some short clips to present at the end of this week. Everyone is welcome to join and learn more about filming and editing techniques.

Last daily session is the Pippi Kalora HubDub Session. It is a fifteen long workshop where we all make noices and movements to avoid the typical nerd positions too long: bent over a keyboard, staring at a screen for hours and hours. We have done theater improvisation of repeating rythmical sounds in subDUBgroups, conductor of kakaphony orchestras, and created organic noices using half filled Serbian (0,5 liter) beer bottles. Each day there is another one of the participants leading the session, and everyone can add their own ideas. It is great fun and at least twenty people join daily.

Each one of this daily events contributes to the concept of the eclectic tech carnival as it is about having fun together and sharing each others creativity and sense of humor. It is also about widening the ideas around computer technology. We try making processes around organizational issues more transparent and easy to access. But first of all we get to know each other, and that is what is important in these sessions.

Talk to you soon,


Collection of quotes from /etc 2004

"Can English speaking people please speak louder?!"

"Oh, look! They have embroidery in this restaurant."

"Where's the politics?"

"We love computers."

"We like to brake up boundaries."

"Serendipity is the art and faculty of happy discovery by chance."

"Nu erejul ijen nu erejul ijen majulen waren e te poska!"

"/etc can be a place where I can rest, a place where I can be myself."

"De panty meneer was er niet (the panty mister was not there)"

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Check us out!

Have a look at one of the webcams! Live daily.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Log from Saterday July 10: In transit to Belgrade

Quote of the Day:
"You are the last ladies?" (air steward of Swiss Air)

Early morning:

On the plane between Zurich and Belgrade. What a stress! Delays everywhere. It is like there is a curse on genderchangers when we are travelling: we always have to run like crazy to catch our planes! In Zurich we just made it with two or three minutes left before they close the gate behind us. But, now finally, we are on our way, and on schedule to Beograd, the White City (Beo means white and grad is city). I wonder what kind of person she is. What are her surprises, how are her moods like? How does she look like in the rain? Will she reveal a secret or two? Dear White City, are you aware of that Sara, Maya, and Sisi are soon entering your domain?


Since we were the last ones on the plane our luggage did not come aboard in time. Sigh. It is hot and humid in Belgrade when we finally come out of the airport. There is a bus leaving to Hotel Slavia in the center of the city (120 Dinars per person and the busdriver does _not_ accept Euros!). Look out for greedy clerks at exchange offices at the airport. They tend to forget to give you the small change. The first landscape impression: flat country. Somehow I had expected to see hills but I guess I was fooled by tourist impressions. We pass by empty commercial boards along the well kept road, and there is an odd mixture of post-communist "fit-as-many-people-as-possible" appartment blocks with new fancy office buildings.

Coming to Hotel Slavia we send an SMS to Milica, one of the main organizers of /etc, and ten minutes later her sister Zoe picks us up with a taxi and takes us to the office of Zene Na Delu. Many of the developers have already arrived. There are hugs & kisses and delicious food, and we all enjoy being together again after months of online chat. After this we split up and go to our appartment where we will stay for the week. After some freshining up we go to the Republic square in the center of the old town to attend a Women in Black demonstration against war crimes. This particular group met at this square every week during the war, and is one of the strongest forms of protest I have ever seen. Women dressed in black stand together in a circle and hold up placats, ignoring sounds and occasional protest of other people. Very strong.


Milicia shows us the space REX. We enter a large lobby with a small bar. On opposite sides there are two rooms, one small one with eight computers, and one big hall that really looks like a mid size theater. It is all there, a podium, a balcony, and a large open space for our autonomous zone. On one side of the room there are two large windows facing a backyard where laundry and old cars mix. It looks great! We meet people from REX and discuss logistics and technical details. After a short discussion which Linux distribution is the best (difficult to avoid in a group of nerds ;-) there is enough mutual trust for cooperating together for the coming week. OK, so we do prefer Debian, but they can use Suse if they want to ;-). Well oh well. There are drinks and icecream, and late at night we all go home. Time to sleep. Definitly.

the lights went down

this is sisi, my account is still pending so i am writing as an etc developer.

the lights are going down because they are preparing for a performance, the people are walking about, the lights go up, dim, down again. today was the second day, with the morning covering juggling once again (popular with all the ladies), a workshop that spills out into all the gaps in the schedule, official and people's own.
donna kicked off the technical day with a quick workshop on installing and using mozilla and open office, two open source applications, on windows. a step towards open source that is not too steep for anyone. (so we are hoping that it is a step lots of people choose to take...) the time keeping was smooth; linux basics then continued, little groups with more than one teacher. each group with their own teacher. trish, ursula, ivana and amaia. each one had different students, different courses, different outcomes. i saw none of them, shamelessly out buying audio cables and lots of fruit for healthy snacking. with maria driving us, showing us the city, raph and marishka filming, k cable seeking and me tea watching, and being a fruit buying controller.
the rain threatened all day and delivered, though the sun made patches on the outside steps of the REX. and if anyone is interested, crossing over to the other side of the street proves the building to be amazing on the outside too. a little castle for the small foot worn street.

sara to my left, sucking on a lolly, is in nerd mood. not asked yet what that means. a REX technician controls the aircon with a remote control.

want to write more about politics, but it seems to be a word with too much hanging on to it, so i am leaving it alone. words at the moment seem to have an undercurrent of other people's histories (for instance i will be told off for not saying herstory, but i have other connotations). i think i will leave them well enough alone and continue tomorrow, with more better life...

Thursday, July 08, 2004


What are we going to do in Belgrado during seven days? Beats me. Something with tech, women and culture I guess :-) Around twenty teachers are joining the carnival. There are women coming from countries like Serbia-Montenegro, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, the US and Australia. Each one with their own speciality, knowledge and interest in computer technology. I am proud to be a part of this group. Check out the introduction of us all (still growing) at

Monday, June 28, 2004

Oh, it is getting near.

July 11-18 - an instance of joyous excess - week. The week it all happens. A week full of surprising schedules, swinging swimming, and singing sweeties. So much fun, and so much stress! Who will come, and who will join the workshop(s)? There are already many tech items on the wiki schedule (hardware, Debian, Gimp), and also more 'carnivalesque' workshops like the Pippi Kalora Hub Dub Session.

Another issue that has come up is on how to recognize and define an /etc-developer. I developed a concept today and it looks like:

What is an /etc-developer?

This is a person who activily contributes in the development of the eclectic tech carnival. She is either subscribed to the etc-devel mailinglist and/or will contribute in a substantial manner during the event self. An etc-developer takes part in at least one workshop (off-or online) as an (assistant) teacher, and has a reasonibly good overview of the event itself. She helps out (when needed) with coordinating items as food, lodging, and simular. She is also ready to answer questions regarding the /etc, or at least point out the person who can. Last but not least she makes sure she is having a good time together with the other developers and participants of /etc.

Now I will wait and see what the other etc-developers think of this definition. Maybe it will become tshirt material.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

IRC meetings

The main communication between /etc-developers is happening via online live chats. We are using Inter Relay Chat which is a text based way of communicating. On forehand we decide on a common time and date where the time is related to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). As there are organizers from Croatia, Canada, the Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, and the US it is not always that easy to find a date and time that suits us all. We all have fulltime positions, study and other commitments outside the organization of /etc itself.

We all do this because it is fun, exciting and a wonderful experience to meet up with creative and independent women, and to be working together on a mutual project.

Please note that this blog is only the perspective of one of the /etc-developers. I will post general thoughts and specific examples of how we work towards /etc Belgrade 2004.

Gender Changer Academy


This is a blog for the development and organization of the /etc, the eclectic tech carnival.
In July 11-18 2004 there will be a seven day event in Beograd, Serbia, where women from all over the world will meet and play with computer and media technology. It is about sharing experiences, learning and discover new ways of communicating.

This blog is a collection of thoughts from one of the organizers of this event.

For more information about the event visit:

Eclectic Tech Carnival