Coming up with the title for a blog is always a tricky process. How do you best explain the direction and purpose in just a couple of words? I chose the name “Digital Mystique” for a number of reasons, which will give you a glimpse into what this column will bring.
First of all, the name I chose is a nod to “The Feminine Mystique.” In this book, Betty Friedan challenged women to expand their sense of self beyond that of wife and mother. A lot of women still view technology as a “guy thing,” but this severely limits their career possibilities in a world where being skillful with computers is a necessity for virtually everyone.
Growing up, I was fortunate, to have parents and grandparents who never thought that a computer was a “boy’s toy.” My younger brother and I were given a VIC-20 when I was five-years-old, which meant I got almost-exclusive access to it until my brother was old enough to read and use the computer on his own too.
That said, I never thought of computing as a career possibility for me until I stumbled into it. I used a computer as a toy and as a tool for socializing, nothing more. My entrée into security was very much an accident – I had been a florist previously. The difficult, seasonal nature of florist jobs pushed me to look elsewhere. My early experience with computers made it possible for me to take advantage of the opportunities available in the early dot-com era, to switch careers.
We’re well past the dot-com era, and now there is an expectation that people must already be expert in specific computer skills to get into this industry. Many people still manage to do this with no formal education or degree, so opportunity certainly still exists. But as the bar is set so much higher, we need to expose more people to this career path and encourage them to seek that training. I hope to encourage and challenge people to view digital mastery as a necessary skillset, regardless of gender or other cultural expectations. This includes children in particular, as understanding computers and security from an early age can be a lifelong benefit.
Another reason I liked “mystique” in the title of this blog is because I’m fascinated by the X-Men character Mystique, especially as a metaphor for privacy in the Internet age. She is a shape-shifter and has the ability to take on a variety of different personas. As privacy and anonymity become more difficult to achieve in the digital world, the ability to choose which aspects of our personalities are visible becomes a far more challenging task. But as yet, I do not believe it’s an impossible task. I also hope this blog can be a place to discuss the importance of maintaining the option to retain digital privacy and techniques to do that.
In short, you can expect a lot of posts discussing computer and security education for all ages and all types of people, especially women and other folks that currently make up a minority of the population in technology. And you will see a lot of information pertaining to the ways we can improve security and privacy for all of us, lest our remaining avenues for retaining them vanish into obscurity.
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