When you visit LinuxJournal.com, you’re looking at the work of Katherine Druckman, LJ’s webmistress extraordinaire. Though we chatted electronically beforehand, I met Katherine face-to-face for the first time at OSCON 2008, and we discovered that we both have geek streaks miles wide.
Last week, Katherine took a few moments out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for dotFiveOne.
How did you first get into web design and development?
[This] is a long and random story. I have always been geeky, but technology was not generally my focus. I did work as a multimedia developer back in the late ’90s, but my education revolved around art and art history. I got this idea that I was going to go work for an auction house in a Decorative Arts department. I went to grad school in New York and studied History of Decorative Arts, and did an internship with Sotheby’s, among other things. But, as I mentioned, I have always been pretty geeky – I was the only one of my classmates to get a cable modem so I could have high speed access in my apartment. They all thought I was pretty frivolous I think. So even when I was working in galleries and doing that sort of thing, I gravitated toward the web stuff… [though] I never did too much of it because I was always in a library somewhere or reasearching old smelly records from the 18th and 19th centuries.
I started doing things like selling antiques online, and making websites for it but ultimately I found I preferred doing the web stuff to the rest of the business. The more I started doing this web stuff, the more I needed robust functionality, and this led me to Drupal. I met Carlie Fairchild [Linux Journal's publisher] and she needed someone in Houston who knew Drupal well enough to take on Linux Journal, and I guess I fit the bill.
The greatest thing about LJ is that I get to work with a lot of really brilliant people, and brilliance is always regarded more highly than quantity of experience. Open Source – more than anything I have worked with – truly is a meritocracy.
Toughest question: what’s one thing about your work that drives you nuts?
I love that I get to work with brilliant people, and that I get to be part of this huge, international community of brilliant people, [but] I think I never feel like I quite know enough, which is a double-edged sword. I am constantly learning, but at the same time I want to plug in like in “The Matrix” and just download some really useful, advanced skill sent directly to my brain but I find the constant learning to be incredibly gratifying at the same time. A conundrum.
Other than LJ’s site, what’s the geekiest thing you do?
I can pretty well geek out about just about anything. I think “geek” is a personality type more than anything about tech.
I get geeky about Antique Chinese Ceramics, or historic architecture. I also get geeky about cooking and making things.
So nothing leaps out as being the Geekiest Of Them All?
I can quote Star Wars at the drop of a hat.
(At this point, the interview digressed into a discussion about Robot Chicken Star Wars and the various merits of the Acer Aspire and the ASUS eeePC, as well as a brief distro comparison – which is unavoidable when Linux geeks converse – before we got back on task. This is what happens when geeks try to interview via IRC.)
Lastly: what do you want from a “geekspace for women”? What does it mean to you?
I love the idea of a non-pandering tech site for women…I just want to talk about geek stuff. I don’t necessarily want to talk about being female. I am, and I am happy to tell the world, but ultimately, I just like the idea of knowing some women geeks.I love the idea of a place where women can be geeky together without it being all about our gender. Let’s get together, acknowledge that we are women, and that we are awesome.. then move on the the toys!
Many thanks to Katherine for taking the time to chat with dotFiveOne. Check out Katherine Druckman’s work at LinuxJournal.com. You can also see what she’s up to on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KatherineD.