In celebrating two uber-known bloggers, david armano recently said, "You can tell who the pioneers are from the arrows sticking out of their backs."
I thought a lot about this saying tonight. Wrinkled my brow over the connotations of words like pioneers and arrows. I've come to the conclusion that pioneers are not always -- nor often -- heroes. Often, pioneers come looking for fame and fortune, put conquest over content, rob native people of their land, their crops, their livelihood, their dignity, and sometimes their lives. Smallpox infected blankets might ring a bell. And arrows in the back might be a proper thank you.
So, pioneers have their own history book pages. I'm here to celebrate the contribution of an ancestor from the original blogosphere, the pre-historic times of online publishing, an indigenous person, one of those who came before the others, who after-settlers have tried to contain and oppress on their way up the twitter scale without success.
One woman in tech comes to mind above all for me, and that's Shelley Powers, Burning Bird, the native, not the pioneer.
Shelley is an indigenous netizen, an original woman technologist and author, photographer and activist, online and off - the earliest female tech blogger to stand up for women's issues online when there weren't many women being heard, when debates got hot and heavy and personal, the brilliant writer who talked until the men went nearly mad from her unwillingness to submit.
What Shelley has done for tech is a matter of public record and Internet lore.
What makes Shelley special is not just what she has done with and for technology, not only her many books, but the richness of her writing and photography beyond the topic of tech. She is proof that the most interesting of us in any discipline are those who have multiple dimensions.
We shout we whisper we cut we bleed we code we paint.
Visit the many dimensions of Shelley, and tell her thank you.