Thanks to a healthy dose of impostor syndrome, I had never expected to be either teaching or speaking, but I love it! But in the past couple of years, starting with one teaching event in Edinburgh at Codebase, I've realized the importance of teaching, mentorship, and the expression (and discussion) of ideas and perspectives on this web of ours.
Below are a couple of talks that I've given previously, along with a short synopsis. Want me to ramble at your event? Cool! Give me a shout!
A talk on the changing nature of identity. Online anonymity for the purpose of self-exploration is hard to find: as we increasingly move towards tying our faces to data for advertising and marketing purposes, we remove barriers between the digital and the physical, barriers which were built for a reason. So how are we— as designers and developers of the web— responsible for others' identity expression? How does our code help (and hinder) the building of online communities? I wax nostalgic a bit about the internet's early days and ask how users build their identities around those products and our code.
A talk about how the internet can offer us different contexts in which to act and feel free, feel anonymous, and to both escape and express ourselves, to forge identities without fear of judgment. For some generations, it was IRC and ICQ, for others it was Neopets and Geocities and LiveJournal. However, with the increasing tendency to tie our faces to everything we do online, this expression is being curtailed, with potentially hazardous consequences. Lines are blurring between our 'real' and 'digital' lives. It's our responsibility, as designers and creators, to take responsibility for this, and reflect upon how what we make and the world we inhabit reflect who we are.
When tech companies encourage employees to be role models of diversity, they may unwittingly be undermining their self-care and desire for inclusion, by focusing only on what makes them different. Well-intentioned diversity initiatives can miss the mark if people don't first see their differences as positives. Employers should focus on achieving inclusion first, attending to self-care needs in order to create a platform for diversity to flourish.
Growing up in an Eastern-European family, Cyrillic letterforms were always a part of my life, though I never learned to read or write it. The Cyrillic writing system drew a sharp divide between cultures, ethnicities, and ideologies at the time of the Bosnian war. A writing system was tied directly to identity, to the expression of that identity, and the danger that self-expression carried in the early 1990s. When creating typefaces, we have more power than we think. We can look to history, be inspired by it and learn from it, but also take into account what effect our decisions will have in the future—typography is often more powerful than we give it credit for.
I've been involved in teaching/assisting with courses both in Scotland and in Canada, and I'd be very interested in getting more involved.
While living in Toronto, I got involved with Ladies Learning Code, and was a mentor for girls aged 8-13 at a learn-to-code March break camp. I wrote a guest post for the LLC blog about the experience, and when I returned to Vancouver, I was a mentor for an introductory CSS course. I'm always looking to be more involved in events like this, to help others get a foothold in the sometimes-overwhelming world of code.