Monthly Archives: March 2010

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Those annoying reminders about my background

The past week I have been traveling again. First to Switzerland and then to Rome in Italy, both were business trips. Last year I had some bad experiences were I obviously was not passing and got some really bad comments from people. For some reasons these things seem to be more common during spring and summer time so I really hope the experiences over the past week is a precursor of that this year as well.

There were two different kind of situations. The first one was when I together with three older male collegues were visiting Switzerland and one of them several time addressed the Swedish team with expressions like “Hey, boys lets have something to eat” (Grabbar, nu ska vi…). The hard part is that it is from a person that I have worked with for some time and really respects me for my knowledge and experience. So it is not at all meant to disrespect me but said spontaneuosly and almost without even noticing his error himself. I guess it has something to do with the English expressions “Hey, guys…” which can be used for both males and females in some occasions. What really sucks is that when collegues such as him has spent sometime with me there is obviously something about my appearance or voice that makes them not clearly see me as a female. At least not completely. Sure, these kind of comments can happen to genetic females as well but during the trip one of the Swiss officers even said “Let’s have the woman in the middle in the photo…” and he was referring to the other woman in the group. Again clearly spontaneously not thinking of me as a woman. Again not meant to be disrespectful because this was a high-level visit between two countries. Still it happens.

When I think about this I realise that this “Hey, boys…” happens to me at least every months or so at work. Or some other situations were someone starts by saying that, than pauses for quite a while and adds “…and girls…”. It happens in emails were they can start with “Gents, lets have a teleconference….”. It does not hurt the same way as when someone says “he…” maybe because it is an effect of a male-dominated workplace but somehow it adds to put a dent in my self-confidence.

The second situation was the Ergife Palace Hotel in Rome when I went to my room during lunch time and found the cleaning staff working in my room. I was wearing my pink shirt, jeans, Coach sneakers and Coach handbag. I met the young women working there for maybe 10 seconds before they went into the room again. Inside the room I heard them whispering in Italian and I understood that they were discussion whether or not I was a transvestite. I became cold and it felt so unfair. What did I do so wrong that they read my so fast? It is of course an impolite and unprofessional behaviour from hotel staff but that is not the thing. The thing is that it put another dent in the self-esteem saying I am not seen as real woman. Again.

All of this puts my recent issues of feeling very uncomfortable at bars and my feeling of not being able to believe in myself as being attractive in the eyes of lesbian women. I mean what is the chance that I am passing at all? And if I am not, what is the chances that she thinks it is ok even though she reads me as woman with transsexual background.

Second time at the public bath – much less nervous

At my birthday party in October last year I got a wonderful gift from one of my closest friends. It was two gift certificates for a Spa Bath at one of the old bath facilities in the city of Stockholm called Centralbadet. It was the place were I had my bikini debut last summer together with my dear friend Puck. He thought we seemed to have such a nice time there so basically he gave me her as a birthday gift to me 🙂 And she seemed pleased to have another relaxing evening at the Spa.

This Tuesday we had planned to go there and as an even better touch I had been given a Spa treatment as well so she had made an appointment for that at 1900 hours. Last summer I was nervous beyond belief before going there and I frankly would not have made it would her at my side. This time I was way more relaxed. Still a bit anxious about how much people there would be and whether or not I have fixed my body enough before. But apart from that quite calm and very much able to talk.

I was a very nice feeling to enter the old building again since I had so fond memories from it the last time. I think the worst part was approaching the reception and passing over all the gift certificates. It is almost as that is the point where I feeled judged to which sex I do belong. Again, this time without any makeup and my own long hair. We got dark green towels and a white bath robe each and headed for the women’s changing room. A bit more women there than the last time but not totally crowded. Think I was mostly worried about my voice and how feminine that would sound. I don’t want to experience anyone turning around with some confused look on the face looking at me. I think I managed to look around a bit to experience the whole situation. I mean I am a lesbian and just had to look a little bit at least. Even though it feels a bit strange. Well, we changed and went for the showers where it felt nice to have been there before so I knew how everything worked. It felt so nice to be there in my bikini and showering, feeling my hair down the back as it was becoming wet.

This time we left the shower room in our white bath robes and I guess that was a bit worse than last time because people saw almost nothing of my body and I believe that really helps me passing. But it was a bit chilly so it made sense to wear them. We found the waiting area for the spa upstairs and chatted a little about life and love. Something that really have not worked out for me yet. Love that is. Well, after a while a young lady called my name and I went off to the spa area for a hot stone massage. It is hard to know but somehow I did sense a hesitant reaction from the young women. At least she did nothing to make me feel extra welcome and at home. However, the massage was just wonderful. Those hot stones were just the right temperature and I almost dozed off at the massage bench.

Coming down from the spa treatment area I started looking for my friend and found her in the bubble bath. I looked at her with a question in my eyes and she signaled to me to come join the bath beside her. There was a small empty spot there. Again, approaching a large group of people in my bikini is something special. Tried to move graceful and slipped into the bath beside my friend. It seemed to work this time as well. However, without a bachelor party in the pool this time!

We spent the rest of the evening eating and talking in the relax area and finished off with a long sauna bath at the end. Again I remembered how nice it was to be able to do these things again. Used the same hair conditioner as last time in my long hair so I had a scent memory of the experience. Last time the scent of the conditioner last at least 24 hours.

Back home I felt the same kind of harmony as last time. Feeling proud of myself challenging myself again. Feeling fortunate to have such a wonderful friend. Feeling soft and tired of the massage and the sauna bath. Fell asleep.

The third P-anniversary…

Three years ago I was at the hospital having a lot of pain and frankly quite scared because I did not know yet that the surgery had been a success. It was March 12th 2007 where I did one of the biggest things in my life. Longing for it so much but also worried about things that could go wrong. However, it felt absolutely the right thing to do. This year I did not think if it until today and maybe it is a good sign that it is not that present in my daily life. Maybe, it would be better to celebrate some other day which corresponds to when I was feeling much better rather than the day I was stuck in a hospital bed with an epidural.

So how is life these days then? Well, in general life is pretty good, a lot of the fears I had after the process have not been anything to worry about. I mean the surgery here in Sweden has a mixed effect on very intimate aspects and things that affects the everyday life. In fact since quite few people see your private parts most of them are everyday things. Being able to wear any kind of clothes, having a gender-correct personal number (social security number) and of course a much better effect of the hormone treatment. I think I pass much more and it makes everyday life so much better without being questioned or looked at all the times. I think I can spend a lot more energy on other things as a result.

The work-related stuff has also played out more than good. I think I have the best job in the world and my background does not seem to affect it in any negative ways and I feel very proud in my female dark blue Air Force uniform when at work. It is also great to be noticed for what I do and not just for who I am. Being on the first page of one of the Swedish top tech magazines is such a thing. From one perspective it feels wonderful to have been able to achieve this despite my background but on one hand it is also just as natural as it should be. I like to be somewhat of a geeky girl who are passionate about what we are trying to achieve at work. Being able to speak at conferences like Momentum and EMC World is really cool to me.

From a personal perspective it is a bit more mixed. As I have said many times before here I feel so alive nowadays and it means both ups and downs. I like my new body very much and it feels great to be able to go around Stockholm without feeling a need for make-up and all of that all the time. It is a wonderful freedom to be me, a woman, all the time without feeling the cinderella effect each night.

One important point of any transition process is to be realistic about expectations both from a body perspective but also from a life perspective. I think I was really aware of that and I guess that is also why I am so pleased about my new body. I had lower expectations and it turned out better than that. Just as I don’t think it is fully possible to prepare for the rehabiliation after the first main surgery I don’t really think it is possible to fully imagine life post-op. I think I at least hoped it would be a little bit easier to feel confident at bars and night clubs. I mean I am so much more confident in most other parts of my life, often to a degree that I rarely think about my background or at least not worrying about it. However, the fear of being read as not a genetic woman is still there.

However, looking at the past ten years the relationship aspect of my life has not become any better after the surgery – it feels more difficult than ever. That is so mixed because I feel so good about myself in general and even proud of where I am today and still I am getting nowhere to find love. I wonder if it is the process itself that does things to me which takes some effort to overcome. I have many nice friends, many of them women and it feels great to hear that they think I am a wonderful person. Somehow that does not seem to matter, since I have no luck at all. These things become so obvious sometimes in the casual social environments at work where a common question is: “So, do you have family and kids?” It is not that I don’t have that NOW – the hard thing to process is that I never had and does seem to be very far from it. I wonder if I women simply aren’t attracted to me or if they are and I am not noticing it. I am not sure which is worst.

It is easy to think I am doing anything wrong, even though my friends insist I am not. However, something stops me from finding love. Sure, there are always things to work on but for me I have fought so hard to be where I am today that it also feels strange to start changing things. I mean to me it is very attractive to be who you are in a natural way and be proud of that. I am proud of that I am a woman now but ten years of experiences continue to remind that some people do not look at me that way always. That makes it more difficult to believe in yourself with a constant fear of being seen as strange. Maybe online dating sites is not so good even though I only use gay ones. Being open with myself is important to not be forced back into that dreaded closet again but on the other hand may scare women off. Not because of my transsexual background per se but because there is always an interesting woman around who isn’t at the next place in the search listing. In that case life is quite unfair, but that is no surprise of course. Also being in small lesbian world most likely makes it even more difficult…

So, on my third pussy anniversary my life is pretty good in many respects but with a growing frustration over a missing piece  (the only?) in my life…

The Long Tail of Enterprise Content Management

Question: Can we expect a much larger amount of the available content to be consumed or used by at least a few people in the organisations?

Shifting focus from bestsellers to niche markets
In 2006 the editior-in-chief of Wired magazine Chris Andersson published his book called ”The Long Tail – Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”. Maybe even the text printed on the top of the cover saying ”How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimted Demand” is the best summary of the book. This might have been said many times before but I felt a strong need to put my reflections into text after reading this book. It put a vital piece of the puzzle in place when seeing the connections to our efforts to implement Enterprise 2.0 within an ECM-context.

Basically Chris Andersson sets out to explain why companies like Amazon, Netflix, Apple iTunes and several others make a lot of money in selling small amounts of a very large set of products. It turns out that out of even millions of songs/books/movies nearly all of them are rented or bought at least once. What makes this possible is comprised out of these things:

Production is democratized which means that the tools and means to produce songs, books and movies is available to almost everybody at a relatively low lost.
– Demoractization of distribution where companies can broker large amount of digital content because there is a very low cost for having a large stock of digital content compared to real products on real shelves in real warehouses.
– Connecting supply and demand so that all this created content meets its potential buyers and the tools for that is search functions, rankings and collaborative reviews.

What this effectivly means is that the hit-culture where everything is focused on a small set of bestsellers is replaced with vast amounts of small niches. That has probably an effect of the society as a whole since the time where a significant amount of the population where exposed to the same thing at the same time is over. That is also reflected in the explosion of the number of specialised TV-channels and TV/video-on-demand services that lets views choose not only which show to watch but also when to watch it.

Early Knowledge Management and the rise of Web 2.0
Back in the late 90-ies Knowledge Management efforts thrived with great aspirations of taking a grip of the knowledge assets of companies and organisations. Although there are many views and definitions of Knowledge Management many of them focused on increasing the capture of knowledge and that the application of that captured knowledge would lead to better efficiency and better business. However, partly because of technical immaturity many of these projects did not reach its ambitous goals.

Five or six years later the landscape has changed completely on the web with the rise of Youtube, Flickr, Google, FaceBook and many other Web 2.0 services. They provided a radically lowered threshold to contribute information and the whole web changed from a focus on consuming information to producing and contributing information. This was in fact just democratization of production but in this case not only products to sell but information of all kind.

Using the large-scale hubs of Youtube, Flickr and Facebook the distribution aspect of the Long Tail was covered since all this new content also was spread in clever ways to friends in our networks or too niche ”consumers” finding info based on tagging and recommendations. Maybe the my friend network in Facebook in essence is a represention of a small niche market who is interested in following what I am contributing (doing).

Social media goes Enterprise
When this effect started spreading beyond the public internet into the corporate network the term Enterprise 2.0 was coined by Andrew McAfee. Inside the enterprise people where starting to share information on a much wider scale than before and in some aspects made the old KM-dreams finally come into being. This time not because of formal management plans but more based on social factors and networking that really inspired people to contribute.

From an Enterprise Content Management perspective this also means that if we can put all this social interaction and generated content on top of an ECM-infrastructure we can achieve far more than just supporting formal workflows, records management and retention demands. The ECM-repository has a possibility to become the backbone to provide all kind of captured knowledge within the enterprise.

The interesting question is if this also marks a cultural change in what types of information that people devoted their attention to. One could argue that traditional ECM-systems provide more of a limited ”hit-oriented” consumption of information. The abscense of good search interfaces, recommendation engines and collaboration probably left most of the information unseen.

Implications for Enterprise Content Management
The social features in Enterprise 2.0 changes all that. Suddenly the same effect on exposure can be seen on enterprise content just as we have seen it on consumer goods. There is no shortage of storage space today. The amount of objects stored is already large but will increase a lot since it is so much easier to contribute. Social features allows exposure of things that have linkages to interests, competencies and networks instead of what the management wants to push. People interested in learning have somewhere to go even for niche interests and those wanting to share can get affirmations when their content is read and commented by others even if it is a small number. Advanced searching and exploitation of social and content analytics can create personalised mashup portals and push notifcations of interesting conent or people.

Could this long tail effect possibly have a difference on the whole knowledge management perspective? This time not from the management aspect of it but rather the learning aspect of it. Can we expect a much larger amount of the available content to be consumed or used by at least a few people in the organisations? Large organisations have a fairly large number or roles and responsibilities to there must reasonably be a great difference in what information they need and with whom they need to share information with. The Long Tail effect in ECM-terms could be a way to illustrate how a much larger percentage of the enterprise content is used and reused. It is not necessarily so that more informtion is better but this can mean more of the right information to more of the right people. Add to that the creative effect of being constantly stimulated by ideas and reflections from others around you and it could be a winning concept.

Sources

Andersson, Chris, ”The Long Tail – Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More”, 2006
Koernan, Brendan I, ”Driven by Distraction – How Twitter and Facebook make us more productive workers” in Wired Magazine March 20