Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sexperience: educating the parts that broadcast can't always reach

Last night saw the first of four more Sex Education programmes on Channel 4, this time addressing the specific issue that the ready availability of pornography online has skewed people's understanding and expectations of sex and all the bits involved (see embedded video below for one of the main bits involved).

The website (commissioned by Adam Gee) once again goes that extra step to dispel myths around body parts and experiences by allowing anyone to pose awkward questions like how do you manually stimulate a woman? (Ok, the questioner didn't quite put it like that), answer questions like what's the best position? and share stories like the always interesting tales of people's first times.

I am so passionate about the fact that the website extends the programme into areas broadcast could not reach and enables real and positive impact on individuals' lives I felt compelled to share one of the videos and encourage you to participate in the site.

Personally, I found it really rewarding to answer a few questions posed by some young women, hoping that it will help them make better, more informed decisions around sex and feel more confident about themselves. (I didn't find it quite so rewarding to have my boss walk past my desk just as I was embedding a cock in my blog, but then he didn't bat an eyelid, which some may say just goes to show why Channel 4 really is the home for such tough subjects.)

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day: Shobha Dharmarajan

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, created by Suw Charman-Anderson as, in her words, "an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology".

I loved the idea, and immediately pledged to post. Then wondered who to write about out of the women involved with technology who've personally inspired me. Esther Dyson? Judy Gibbons? Martha Lane-Fox? Does Arianna Huffington count now?

After some wondering and worrying, I decided to move away from one of the new media superstars who should be experts at self publicity anyway, to someone much closer to home.

Instead I have chosen to highlight an extremely unassuming but incredibly reliable, personable and interesting colleague, Shobha Dharmarajan (that's her on the right), who I've worked with on the technical development and implementation of some of our web components, and, most recently, some improvements to the Channel 4 News website. I asked her a few basic questions listed below and hope you find this brief profile interesting.

What's your job and what does it involve?
I’m a technical project manager for Channel 4 Future Media and Technology. My job is delivery focused, and largely involves translating business requirements into a product, making sure it does what it says on the tin. Most of my work involves risk and issue management, facilitation and coordinating with people with very different backgrounds and needs.

What was your first job in technology and what was it like?
After I finished my education, I joined the R & D Division of Apple in India. It was quite challenging, one of the most cutting edge companies who at the time were releasing the first iMac, and had just integrated the first version of Java for Mac OS. It was also the really early days of the Internet, with the very first versions of Netscape and IE. I was involved in some internal projects, merging all these technologies together, so there was a real challenge as everything was either an initial release or even beta. So nothing quite worked how it was supposed to – it was fun!

What’s the best thing about working in technology?
It’s never stagnant, there’s always something new to learn, always a challenge to keep your mind young, fresh, agile and alert.

What’s the worst thing about working in technology?
It’s the same point really. You have to keep learning otherwise your knowledge becomes obsolete. It doesn’t feel like other jobs where you can become an expert; things constantly change, whether it’s technologies or processes. Even before you can say you’re an expert along comes some new development or application and you’re onto the next. But like I say, that’s also what’s great about it.

If there was one thing you could tell yourself aged 16 about your future career, what would it be?
It’ll be good fun, loads of fun, but you have to be prepared to work hard. You could just stick to one thing but if you want to move with the times you want to work in this area and work hard. For me, it’s been a very rich experience, through my career I’ve met very different people from different cultures, the exposure you get from working with all these different people and cultures is definitely the best thing about working in IT.

I'll finish up by agreeing wholeheartedly with Shobha's last point.