Something funny and possibly troublesome happened this afternoon. I was reading Caitlin’s thesis to get a better idea of what focus to take with my poster, and I stumbled across what could have been my own thoughts. The philosophy behind Storyteller Alice, the idea that girls belong in STEM, is something I have only come to understand since entering college. But it is an issue that has grown extremely important to me. Therefore, my rough draft of my research paper at this point is almost entirely a statement of philosophy, an explanation of purpose and a call to action to dramatically broaden the computing community. In some circles, however, it could be called “plagiarism”.
Reading Caitlin’s thesis seemed very familiar because I have expressed very similar thoughts before, to my teachers and peers, on my university’s website and in our newspaper. Naturally, I had to keep checking back and looking at my rough draft as I was reading her work to make sure I wasn’t writing my thoughts in exactly the same way she did hers. This practice would be understandable if I had started writing after I had done my background research into Caitlin’s published work. But in fact, just the opposite is true. I had started writing long before I read her thesis (possibly not the wisest choice, but here we are).
Although this could be a problem, seeing as it could look like I just took her perspective, I instead choose to see it as encouraging. What are the chances of two people who had never met having a nearly identical viewpoint on such a specific topic? I am so excited to know that we come from the same angle on something that matters so much to me. It’s obvious from her work that she cares deeply about girls’ computer education, but I feel I understand it so much more now that I have read her explanation of it all.
That being said, I suppose I should talk about what I’ve been coding this week. I decided that I want users to be able to delete tags on their own worlds, which will be a screening process for hurtful tags. Until that is fully implemented, however, I have added a “Mark as Offensive” option for tags on the sidebar on the tags show page. This way, any user can see a tag and report it to us if they think it could be hurtful to someone. I didn’t want to have a filter in the Add Tag feature because I didn’t want to censor their descriptions. But if someone tags another person’s world just to be mean, then the creator should be able to remove it if it bothers them.
I also wanted to increase tag browsing, so I added a tag cloud to the sidebar of the home page. It appears whether or not you are logged in and gives thumbnail previews of the tag when you scroll over it. I’m working on the visual editing right now, but the point is it works properly and it is very visible on the first page of our site.
I also finished installing the autocomplete gem (with a lot of help from Jordana as always!). Now when users want to search for something or add a tag, a list of similar previous options will pop down and they can choose one from the given list. Hopefully this will help streamline searching, eliminate frustration from spelling mistakes, and encourage people to use tags that others have also entered. Next week is all about finishing up my tasks, creating my poster, and planning final algorithms for the next phase in my project. Hopefully someone will be able to pick up right where I left off, thanks to my two full notebooks full of detailed instructions and logic, not to mention two folders full of sketches. Final overdrive, here we go.