Hacking Identity

It's been an action packed semester, so much so I'm just now squeezing out a blog post. New department, new lab, new classes, it's been a whole lot of new and as is natural in these situations it's been a time of reflection upon old. In one of the classes I'm taking we've been reading and discussion topics related to identity development in engineering. We've talked about the intersection of many of the identities that we carry around with us all the time: gender, race, class and sexual orientation are the big names (unfortunately there just isn't a lot of research out there exploring gender identities other than cisgendered). One facet that we haven't discussed yet, but one that has been fairly salient for me this semester, has been the relationship of ourselves to our tools, especially computing tools.

My computing identity has been shoved to the forefront recently due to the change in programs and having to collaborate with people using the Microsoft-approach to computing, operating systems, content editing and collaboration. Actually, the fact that I'm only encountering some of these issues now is perhaps more a fluke than anything else: even in a Unix-based philosophy towards computing and document editing certainly isn't main-stream, I just lucked out to be in a lab that shared these values (and to be completely honest, the computing culture in that lab played a large role in developing my own values, it was during my time in the ASCL that I transitioned to Linux as my primary operating system. It had primarily been a hobby/dual boot ordeal until that point).

The switch to Engineering Education has generally also been accompanied by a better sense of place and lowering of feelings of 'otherness'. I am surrounded by like-minded people who care deeply about education and value creativity. I feel like my ideas are appreciated and encouraged, and my commitment to social justice is valued. All in all, I feel like I've found my place in academia.

But there is one facet of my worldview that still causes some tension. Generally people are open minded but I feel because I haven't been able to articulate certain values and ideas, people just don't quite get where I'm coming from with my commitment to open source software and computing tools built around the Unix-philosophy.

My choice of operating system and tools is more than a casual decision. It is a conscious choice that reflects my values and worldview.