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The Back Page

By Kat Tanaka Okopnik

Once upon a time, when the Internet was young, most everything that happened was all about text. We interacted with words on a screen. No one really knew whether those words and thoughts came from the proverbial dog, axe-murderer, 13-year old girl, or the occasional net-savvy granny. Some of us are old enough to remember the shock and thrill of pictures attached to e-mail for the first time, or the giddyness of the nascent World Wide Web - "Hey, guess what company showed up on the Web?"

Sometimes it's hard to believe that we all lived without technology we take for granted in the present. It's an unusual company that has no Web-presence now. I find it amazing how ubiquitous and indispensable cellphones have become. I used to wonder why anyone needed text-messaging on their phone plan, and now I use it constantly, between querying Google for directory information and sending pictures of our kids off to Grandma, on the other side of the continent.

Linux Gazette has always been an evolving concept, from the very first issues written by John Fisk, to all the changes written up by Rick Moen in http://linuxgazette.net/issue96/moen.html. It's been available as a PalmDoc for quite a while now, as well as an RSS feed.

Recently, we've been talking about changing directions for LG; in today's world, those who don't change, and change fast enough, get left behind - and at Internet speeds, too. We held some discussions where some pretty radical ideas were floated, including some wild technical proposals. What made more sense, though, were the social approaches - going through our various contact lists to find more of the willing volunteers that have always made LG work, whether by finding entirely new faces or welcoming back veterans. Now that we're getting that ball rolling, it's clear that we've rejoined the front lines of net.culture, by jumping into the whirl of social networking.

Given all that, it's hardly surprising - although much appreciated - that one of the people who rejoined LG recently, Anderson Silva, started a Facebook group for Linux Gazette, with Ben's blessing. We're still working out all the initial details, but it's very likely to lead to as-yet unexpected and unenvisioned connections. Come join us at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=110960368283&ref=nf!

Meanwhile, special thanks are due to Suramya Tomar, who brought Pete Trbovich's "Doomed to Obscurity" trenchantly funny cartoons to our attention, and Steve Brown, who's been doing amazing work getting current and former LG staff and authors re-energized. Joey Prestia has been inspiring his talented friends to contribute, and we're slowly getting more and more volunteers pitching in to edit at publication time, as well.

As always, LG needs more people - so if you can spare some time to help the community, we'd love to have you! You can start by taking a look at our jobs page; if you notice something clever that can be done that we've forgotten to ask for, do let us know.

Maybe you don't have time to give to LG yourself, but you might know someone else who would make a great addition to LG. Or maybe someone you know knows someone else who...? Spread the word!

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Bio picture

Kat likes to tell people she's one of the youngest people to have learned to program using punchcards on a mainframe (back in '83); but the truth is that since then, despite many hours in front of various computer screens, she's a computer user rather than a computer programmer.

Her transition away from other OSes started with the design of a massively multilingual wedding invitation.

When away from the keyboard, her hands have been found wielding of knitting needles, various pens, henna, red-hot welding tools, upholsterer's shears, and a pneumatic scaler. More often these days, she's occupied with managing her latest project.

Copyright © 2009, Kat Tanaka Okopnik. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 166 of Linux Gazette, September 2009