Hi. I announced a year ago that I was going to be speaking at NSScotland. I had been invited to speak while I was still a student, but I was broke and couldn’t afford to go. I was incredibly sad about it and was really looking forward to going this year.
I have written on here about how I went through a divorce this year. I lost all the equity in my house and lost any savings I thought I had. I basically started out from zero this year. Honestly, it was terrifying. I have never paid my own bills or done a budget before. Having no buffer and not being certain that I would live within my means terrified the crap out of me. When we filed for divorce, we were $30,000 in debt. I was going to have less than half the money available to me to pay more expenses and I was honestly terrified.
I gave up a few trips this year to give myself some breathing room. I was told by a lot of people to go to Alt Conf when I didn’t get a ticket to WWDC, but I really couldn’t justify taking my buffer and spending it on that trip. I also couldn’t justify spending the money on Scotland, so I tearfully had to tell Alan that I couldn’t make it this year. He was very understanding.
I have been very troubled over many of the things I have heard about NSScotland over the last few months. I was at a conference where a friend of mine told me that Alan had gotten into a huge fight with Cate Huston over her attending NSScotland and had behaved rather badly.
This took me by surprise. I have not met Alan in person, but I have known him for two years and have not seen him behave this way. This friend of mine is very involved in the feminist tech community, which I am not, so I wasn’t certain what was going on. I didn’t defend Alan at that point because I felt it was necessary to hear all the sides of a story before I pass judgement.
I met Cate Huston at 360iDev. We spoke briefly. She mentioned not going to a conference because of a Code of Conduct issue. Having spoken to both Alan a friend of mine, I asked if she was speaking about NSScotland.
She became very hostile towards me and snarled at me, “How do you know about that?! I only told three people about that and one of them certainly wasn’t you!” I panicked a little and mentioned my friend who talked to me about it a few months earlier. She again snarled at me that she didn’t know this person. I was honestly a little frightened. This was, at this point, common knowledge among people in the iOS community and having someone act like I had hacked their email or read their diary was a little unsettling.
I thought all of this would die down, but it hasn’t. So I am going to defend Alan.
Running a Conference
Running a conference is a pain in the ass. People do not make money off of conferences. Conferences are a service that people do in order for our community to be an awesome place to be.
I have met a lot of amazing people at conferences and been able to maintain relationships that I otherwise would not because I get to see people a few times a year at a common gathering place.
I have become friends with people who run conferences and their selflessness always astonishes me. These are wonderful people who deserve to be treated with respect who are working to make the community a better place.
I really try to give the organizers the benefit of the doubt because of the work they do and the impact it has had on me personally.
I honestly do not give a shit about Codes of Conduct.
I attended one conference with a Code of Conduct where one of the keynote speakers made sexist remarks and insulted everyone in the audience. I live-tweeted what was going on and rather than taking my concerns seriously, the organizer pressured me into removing them rather than listening to the fact that he had hired someone to come and insult the people at his conference. I will never go to this conference again. I understand that he was under a lot of pressure, but the way he behaved was atrocious.
I know that Alan sometimes makes comments that could be considered inappropriate. I know that he knows that. We speak a lot and he is always worried about offending me. I am an adult and if he says something that crosses a line, I tell him. I have an inappropriate sense of humor and I don’t want people walking on eggshells around me worrying about offending me. If something offends me, I will tell you. If you don’t do it again, we’re good.
I only have problems when someone tries to exert control over me to manipulate me into doing something I don’t want to do. That is what happened and the previously mentioned conference, which is why I will never go back there.
I tried to get Alan to come on my podcast, but he won’t speak publicly about what happened. If Alan was a woman, this would elicit outrage and whoever was causing the issue would have a hoard of people spamming their Twitter feed yelling at them. I don’t think it’s okay for this to happen to Alan because he is a man. Bullying is bullying and it makes me angry that a member of our community doesn’t feel comfortable talking about what is happening with them.
I want people to lay off of Alan. He has been nothing but supportive of me since before I was anyone. He sent me a copy of “Smalltalk Design Patterns” by Kent Beck when I said I wanted to be a better programmer. He was very disappointed that more women couldn’t speak at his conference. I think he’s trying to make the community better for women and I am deeply disappointed that this is happening to him. He’s one of the good guys. I support him. I hope that this blows over and that his reputation isn’t irreparably damaged by this, but I don’t hold out hope on that front. I am saddened that this is happening in a community that I love and I hope that it can be cleared up and resolved without anyone being the bad guy.
I do not want to make this sound like a hit piece on Cate. I do not know her well and I do not want this to come off as me attacking her. I know that she has gone through things I have not. I can see a scenario where the two of them misunderstood one another and things escalated in a way neither of them would like. I am not saying that either of them are wrong, I simply think this is a situation that has grown out of control because no one has been willing to say anything about it.
I know this will probably earn me some angry responses, but I don’t give a shit. I will speak my mind. I am sorry if my opinion is different than yours, but it is my right to say what I think. I have become somewhat prominent in the community recently and I feel I have a responsibility to use that visibility to make this a better community for everyone. Making Alan’s life miserable doesn’t make things better for women.