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audio, video, and diversity

A while ago I posted a recording of a poem I wrote, Punctuated Equilibrium. I knew that the volume on it was too low, but at the time I didn't want to think about how to fix it and I figured whoever listened to it could just crank up their speakers. Last night I was playing around with sox a bit and realized it's fairly trivial to adjust the sound level, so I updated the version that the link points to, and in the process I added an echo. I think the echo adds a great bit of improvement to the recording, as it kinds of goes with the whole theme of the poem. I think it also kind of goes along with the way in which I think. A lot of time when I hear myself speak (or type) I hear and echo in my head... everything sounds kind of delayed. There was something that sounded kind of off about the pace originally, and I think the echo fixes it... perhaps it fills in the implied echo I was imagining that was left out.

Jeff.L.Jones-Punctuated Equilibrium.mp3

I look forward to possibly playing around with more voice posts in the future. Not sure if they will be poetic or something else, but I enjoyed making this one and I like listening to it. Also on the topic of audio, and actually the reason I started playing around with sox in the first place, I set up a myspace account a month or two ago, but I'm very slowly filling in the details and finding people. (If you are on myspace, and on my lj friendslist, you're encouraged to add me.) Last night I finally got around to adding music to my profile... but I didn't want it to take forever loading, so I took a copy of my favorite NIN song, Just Like You've Imagined, and did a fade out right after the initial build. Came out pretty good:


I'm still looking for ways to recompress an MPEG (video) down to further compression. I would be very greatful if anyone with knowledge of the best way to do this under Linux would give me suggestions. I used Kino originally to import several videos over firewire, and then to do the editting, and then the compression. However, even though I tried several different combinations of options on the compression (done by mpeg2enc), no matter what I tried, it gave me ridiculously large files. So large that even the shortest clip I made, which is about 9 minutes long, is still 250MB and thus too large for YouTube, googlevideo, or myspace to accept as an upload. Ultimately, I want to put a 2 hour video online, which takes up about 4GB at the level of compression it's at now. One of the videos I have is of the James Hughes lecture from May, and the other is the physics lecture Sean and I gave at Burning Man.

Oh, and congratulations to moonaysl for a well-written and thoughtful guest post on CosmicVariance, a blog that is read and respected by a wide array of physicists around the world, including my advisor (if the fact that it was up on his browser one time as I walked in is any indication!). I'm kind of curious about who is right, in regards to steuard's comment about the statistics on where women get lost in the pipeline. But regardless of where the problem is, I value the opportunity to hear about how different things can seem for a person trying to get through the system who doesn't have the "white male" gold pass.

Our Future Salon tonight went pretty well. Two professors showed up, and one of them brought two students who actually took notes as the speaker was talking! I asked them if they had been offered extra credit to come, and they just said the professor had suggested it and they were interested on their own. Everyone appeared to have a good time... although one guy did point out that only 2 females were there. After hearing that and then coming home to read moonaysl's post, this has me wondering about gender diversity and how it relates to my own life. Mainly, I keep wondering why it seems like--with a few exceptions like cuddling and perhaps drama--the clubs and activities I've been involved in, have always been heavily dominated by men. (Actually scratch drama, because as I recall now, my longest involvement with that was with the Let's Try This improv troupe at Georgia Tech, which was still around 90% male dominated!) Whether it's computer science or engineering, BBSing, electrical engineering, HAM radio club, objectivist clubs or other philosophy clubs, skydiving boogies, physics lectures, internet startup companies, technology discussion forums, Linux conventions, transhumanist gatherings, libertarian conventions, or AI conferences, I've always seemed to wind up in places where there are very few women. This is much to my dismay, as I would almost always prefer the company of women, given the choice and given equal intelligence/personalities. And actually, now that I think of it, it's a downright miracle I can even interact with the opposite sex at all, given how little time I've spent around them in my life. It's not fair! :( Well... at least I'm not a big sports, cars, or guns fanatic. :-) Come to think of it, do women just join clubs less frequently? Or are they all hiding out at the same one where none of us guys think to look?


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 23rd, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
I think the joining clubs less frequently theory might be a good one, because of the listed interested that I'm involved in/have large parts of my social circle involved (objectivist, libertarian, transhumanist stuff)there's definitely a male dominance but not as dramatic as you seem to be noticing. (But it could just be the purple part of our Venn diagram isn't an accurate sample size...~shrug~)
Oct. 24th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
well, one of the big factors I think in why I've experienced more male dominated crowds is because I've spent most of my adult life--8 years--living in and around Georgia Tech which has a 70% male student body (I think that was the statistic, last time I checked. May have changed slightly by now.) Most of the classes I took were either computer engineering, electrical engineering, or computer science, all of which were closer to 80-90% male dominated. The physics classes I took were actually the most mixed (aside from the few general education requirements I took in the beginning), some of them having as many as 8 or 9 females in a class (out of 30). But that was the exception--many of the EE and CMPE classes I was in had only 1 or 2 females per class. So naturally, this kind of environment skewed the clubs and activities a bit too. Ever since I moved to California, there have been a lot more women in and around my life, which has been an extremely nice change from what I was used to. Even though our graduate physics department has only a handful of women, and only 1 female professor, I meet a lot more women here and have almost as many female friends now as male friends.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
Women join clubs all the time. They just tend to be on more social/creative type subjects, rather than deductive/analytical things.

Go to the social sciences and there are a preponderance of women. Whether it's nature or nurture (and I won't get into that debate here), women tend to cluster around things that are language and relationship oriented. And the ways women communicate generally are different from the ways men communicate, both in subject matter and style. Add in that men tend to interrupt more than women, and tend to interrupt women more than they interrupt other men, and you can see how socializing around deductive/analytical matters could occur as more intimidating for the average woman than for the average man.

I would say that women express a tendency toward intellectualism at similar rates to men (or more, if college attendence is the measure, although I think that other factors are at play there), they just tend to cluster around different subjects... but they do cluster.
Oct. 23rd, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC)
That's actually reassuring :) I knew they must be joining stuff and doing stuff, it's probably just not the things I've spent most of my life doing or thinking about. Thanks for the comments, this gives me some more insight into what's going on with women and "analytic" type activities.

One of the reasons I'd hoped our club would attract women (as well as men) is that we try to emphasize it's not just a bunch of gadgetheads getting together to talk about cool new technology... it's as much about the social and ethical impacts, and how society and culture gets transformed by technology. However, sometimes it does end up being more heavy on the former and less on the latter--perhaps because of the bias in the type of people who show up (is it the chicken or the egg?)

That actually reminds me of an issue that came up last night. One of my current roommates, and a fellow founder of our club, keeps complaining that he doesn't like the word "salon". I actually adore the name, so I get quite frustrated when he suggests we get rid of it or hide it away where people can't see it. He said his concern was that, according to him, the "dictionary" definition of a salon was something that women only attend. That's not my understanding of the word, but even it if were... it seems like a good thing to have in there if we are serious about diversifying. Maybe the technology aspect will draw men, and the salon/discussion aspect will draw women. Ideally, in the long run I'd like for everyone to stop thinking in terms of gender dichotomies like that, but as you say... whether it's due to nature or nurture, there does seem to be a split in behavior and attitudes here.
Oct. 24th, 2006 03:23 am (UTC)
Well, I do know from personal experience that the vast majority of girls I knew while growing up didn't care all that much about science. Not many boys did either, but most of those who did were male. I seriously think a lot of it has to do with how girls are usually raised. I've always been very adept at not falling prey to social pressure, and that's probably partly genetic, but there's also the fact that my dad was a pretty major geek himself (again, probably some genetics there, but it influenced my environment). He always encouraged me and my brother equally in things like math and science. (And my younger sister as well, though it all bounced off her and she became a Mall Chick).

I'm also not much of a "joiner" though. Transhumanism is the first thing ever that has made me compelled to coordinate my activities with those of others; I think it's just because it encompasses so many of my interests anyway. I think maybe a lot of females are socialized to focus on interpersonal contact for its own sake, rather than more objective subject matter. With me, it's all about the subject matter.
Oct. 24th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)
When I say it's all about the subject matter, I don't mean that the people aren't important. I definitely like communicating with others. However, I would much prefer no company to bad company. Good company, as far as I'm concerned, consists of people I can share ideas about interesting things with. I've never seen the point of just being around people for the sake of being around people. But when you can find good people to be around, there's a sort of feedback loop between the subject matter and the interpersonal communication, which makes things fun.
Oct. 24th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
yeah, I'm mostly the same way. Occasionally, I enjoy human company for its own sake, but usually it's more about exchanging ideas and learning from each other. Humans interaction is among the most important things to me, both because they're one of the most complicated and interesting mysteries in the world, and because they can learn things on their own and then teach them to me, thereby making less work for myself. But I have noticed that others tend to place more intrinsic value on interacting with others. One of the things I've always felt was a waste of time is "chit-chatting". I've gotten better at it over the years (used to be pretty horrible) but I still don't find it enjoyable... I see it as one of the unfortunately high costs of "doing business" with other humans. Something that is necessary, but perhaps only because of social norms that will hopefully be replaced eventually. (On the bright side, I think the internet is really helping to change that. One of the big reasons I spend so much time online.)
Oct. 24th, 2006 04:41 am (UTC)
Humans interaction is among the most important things to me, both because they're one of the most complicated and interesting mysteries in the world

I heartily agree here! Consciousness and intelligence have always fascinated me, so when I'm in a pleasant interaction there's also that aspect -- that of realizing that the other person is another complex and conscious creature -- that makes things all the more interesting.

The chit-chat annoys me as well, and I think it's mainly a vestigial primate grooming ritual. One thing that worries me sometimes, though, is the notion that some people might mistake these "primate grooming rituals" for the way things should be. I've actually read articles in which parents are happy that their kids have learned how to lie, because that's some kind of developmental milestone. I'm sure it's only considered that because honest people tend to get screwed (and not in a good way) in The Real World. To me, this definitely means there's something wrong with the world, rather than something wrong with people who are honest by default. One of my particular H+ "things" is that societies need to evolve just as much as organisms do.

I certainly wouldn't want to see human enhancement be turned toward making people as mediocre as possible (since "average" people tend to get along more easily with others). One thing I brought up on a mailing list a while back was the fact that socialization should not be construed as the most important thing in existence. The example I used was the case of "religiosity" -- being an atheist in the USA basically takes you out of the running for being elected to office, and could threaten your employment, and certainly means you don't have as much default access to "community"-type services and activities (since so many of these are church-based). Obviously all of that is rather unfortunate, but the answer isn't to brainwash atheists or make sure children grow up religious so they'll be more socially acceptable, but to keep pushing for more acceptance of rationality in society.
Oct. 25th, 2006 04:52 am (UTC)
I agree... socialization is way overrated.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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