Profile

Cover photo
Lisa Grossman
Works at New Scientist
Attended Cornell University
3,342 followers|7,194 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos

Stream

Lisa Grossman

Shared publicly  - 
 
Help send my Wired.com colleague +Dave Mosher to spend a Month at the Museum (of Science and Industry in Chicago)! Vote early and often: http://www.msichicago.org/matm (Seriously, you're allowed one vote per day, use them all!)
2
Marielle Volz's profile photoShauna GM's profile photoLisa Grossman's profile photoKore Bobisuthi's profile photo
4 comments
 
Me too
Add a comment...

Lisa Grossman

Shared publicly  - 
 
More interesting thoughts on the end of the Shuttle program from +Dave Mosher
4
Add a comment...

Lisa Grossman

Shared publicly  - 
 
I'm impressed. Send G+ feedback if you feel strongly about this.
Randall Munroe originally shared:
 
I know I have strong opinions on this subject, so I'll try (but probably fail) to keep this relatively brief. I promise to go back to frog photos after this.

Google+ forces you to have a public gender in your profile (although it can be 'Other'). I know they have reasons for this, but I don't think they're good enough.

Many women grow up with a sense of physical vulnerability that's hard for men to appreciate. Our culture's relentless treatment of women as objects teaches them that they are defined by the one thing that men around them want from them—men who are usually bigger, stronger, and (like any human) occasionally crazy. This feeling—often confirmed by actual experiences of harassment and assault—can lead, understandably, to a lifetime of low-level wariness and sense of vulnerability that men have trouble appreciating. A male designer building an interface should try to keep in mind that there are reasons a female user might feel uncomfortable being told she has to broadcast her gender. Sure, someone's gender is usually obvious from their name, but there's no need to force people to draw extra attention to it—introducing myself with "Hi, I'm Randall." sends a different message from "Hi, I'm Randall, and I'm a MAN."

I don't think making this option mandatory is a significant cause of the major Google+ early-adopter gender split, but if you're worried about how few female users your project has, marginalizing their potential worries on your introductory screen doesn't seem very bright.

There are reasons Google+ might want your gender. For one thing, the interface may need to use pronouns, and in some languages there's no way to avoid this. We have a chat-bot in the #xkcd IRC channel which serves as a repository of user nonsense. At some point, we decided to program in the ability to use pronouns, and it was surprisingly complicated:

http://wiki.xkcd.com/irc/Bucket_Gender

Now, I went out of my way to support the various options for referral that users asked for (although I drew the line at recently-invented pronouns like "xir"). But even covering the basics in English is tricky, and the situation gets more so in languages like Hebrew. (It looks like Google+ punts on that issue by making all "other" users male in all languages, which is a can of worms in itself.) Yet none of the linguistic issues mean you have to make gender a broadcasted part of the user's profile.

They also (obviously) want to know more about you so they can serve ads; advertisers care about gender. But again, that's no reason to make gender public.

The "other" option is nice, but I don't really feel comfortable setting my gender as "other". There are a huge number of people whose gender is actually best-described as "other", and they come in astonishing variety, even if you set aside the issue of social gender and just ask about biology. This article has a fascinating list of eleven particularly tricky situations that lead to someone having no easy-to-agree-on biological sex:

http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Essays/marriage.html

There are quite a few people who are accurately described by an "other" option, and when they're sometimes struggling for recognition, co-opting their label for anyone who doesn't want to broadcast their gender seems a little off-putting.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of reasons Google+ would want to ask about your gender. But there's no good reason to pointedly make it the only thing in your profile that can't be private—and many reasons not to, starting with basic courtesy. It may be a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but I think it's worth getting right.

(P.S. I know I post a lot about interface quibbles and feature suggestions—and I do use the feedback button heavily—but I don't want to give the impression I'm generally unhappy with Google+. Fundamentally, I really like this system, which makes me want to tweak things in this early-adopter period so it will be as well-designed as possible, so it will survive and be around for me to use for a long time.)
13
2
William Raillant-Clark's profile photoCharles Redell's profile photo
2 comments
 
Very well said and very true. thanks for sharing.
Add a comment...
Have her in circles
3,342 people
Michael Reilly's profile photo

Lisa Grossman

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is so great. Especially +Catherine Jolicoeur Lussenhop at 4:48. Science!
5
Hy Carrel's profile photo
 
Nice. Especially the 5 minute mark.
Add a comment...

Lisa Grossman

Shared publicly  - 
 
There she goes. Last one ever. It hasn't hit me yet. (PS +Dave Mosher's on-the-ground reporting is awesome. I'm equal parts proud and insanely jealous.)
4
Charles Redell's profile photoDave Mosher's profile photo
2 comments
 
Totally sad because it's so cool to think of people going into space. But, as a friend pointed out to me recently, as empires begin to die, they stop exploring.... Think back to the end of the British Empire, or the Spanish and Portugese explorers... We are on the down swing, for sure.
Add a comment...

Lisa Grossman changed her profile photo.

Shared publicly  - 
 
Lisa Grossman changed her profile photo.
10
Jai Withani's profile photoLisa Grossman's profile photoDave Mosher's profile photoDaniel Lepage's profile photo
4 comments
 
My first thought was that, given a sufficiently bright light source in your eye, you could use a telescope like that to burn a hole through the moon.
Add a comment...
People
Have her in circles
3,342 people
Michael Reilly's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Science writer
Employment
  • New Scientist
    Space reporter, 2011 - present
  • Wired.com
    Science writer, 2010 - 2011
Basic Information
Gender
Female
Story
Introduction
Science writer, astronomy nerd, singer of songs and knitter of mittens.
Education
  • Cornell University
    Astronomy, 2004 - 2008
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
    Science Communication, 2008 - 2009
Links
Contributor to