Ivana McConnell // Blog

Speaking & Teaching

I had never expected to be either teaching or speaking (see: impostor syndrome), but I love it (retrospectively)!

Speaking

Here's some talks I've given:

CSS and the hierarchy problem: What makes a CSS developer?

CSSConf EU, May 5 2017 [Video]

This talk is about hierarchies; the categories of our development are unclear, and the stigma of “CSS isn't real development” remains. In this talk, I dissect how power dynamics and implicit hierarchies threaten to devalue the work we do, and how that hurts us both individually and as a community.

Inclusion Before Diversity: Creating A Culture Of Learning and Encouraging Getting It Wrong

CHIFOO, March 1 2017

Why tech companies should focus on achieving inclusion first, attending to employees’ specific self-care needs in order to create a platform for diversity to flourish, and better software made. People are chaotic, and product design has to account for them— this is challenging, and often solved by doing research and testing.

Our Identities Have No Bodies: Web, Code, and Self-Exploration

CascadiaFest, Aug 3-5, 2016 [Video]

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.

Identity, the internet, and a walk down digital memory lane

&yetConf, Oct 6-8 2015

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.

Inclusion Before Diversity

AlterConf, July 11 2015 [Video]

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.

Typographic Flashpoints

TypeBrigade, June 4, 2015

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.

Teaching

I've been involved in teaching/assisting with courses both in Scotland and in Canada:

Ladies Learning Code & Girls Learning Code

Code First: Girls

The event that started it all! The aim of the CF:G initiative is to get more women coding, and myself and Alan Gardner endeavoured to teach the basics of HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, and Javascript in one weekend. It was challenging, due to the diverse nature of the group (their degrees ranged from computer science to ancient history). My first teaching experience, I wrote about it for the Pastry Box Project.