Milan, Christmas 2008

^ sparkly crystal display in the dome of Milan’s Galleria After a disastrous trip from Denver, Ross and I made it back to Italy the Saturday before Christmas, rather than the Friday as originally scheduled. Which meant I was still exhausted and jet-lagged when I made a dash into Milan to see friends that Monday. After Read More…

^ sparkly crystal display in the dome of Milan’s Galleria

After a disastrous trip from Denver, Ross and I made it back to Italy the Saturday before Christmas, rather than the Friday as originally scheduled. Which meant I was still exhausted and jet-lagged when I made a dash into Milan to see friends that Monday. After having tea downtown with Mary Ellen, I had some time to kill before meeting Enrico, so I wandered over to the Duomo and Galleria area to enjoy the Christmas decorations. It was a foggy night (typical of Milan in winter), which lent a magical softness to the scene.

This year’s theme at La Rinascente, the fancy department store next door to the Duomo, was apparently crystal, resulting in some unusually attractive escalators: Swarovski crystal decorations at La Rinascente, Milan The outside windows contained tableaux of “Swarovski-inspired” fashions which mostly looked weird, but I did like the beds of crystals the mannequins were standing in. Swarovski space family Beneath the central dome in the Galleria is a mosaic floor including this representation of a bull which I believe is a symbol of the city of Torino (torino literally means “little bull”). There’s a custom in Milan to place your heel firmly on the bull’s testicles and spin, as this man was illustrating to his wife: img_5525 …resulting in the damage you can see below (the mosaic is repaired from time to time). the bull in Milan's Galleria This is supposed to bring good luck, though it seems to me it might have originated as a dispetto (sign of disrespect) for the rival city. La Scala, Milan, in winter fog La Scala. I’m still not used to it being painted white. The vertical and horizontal strips of lights behind outline the new wing that was added in the recent restoration.

Milan Cow Parade 2007

above: Pippi Longcow with a junior art critic – Piazza Castello Street art didn’t fare so well in Milan. The newspapers reported that Milan set a record for the number of cows vandalized, particularly during the night that the AC Milan football club won the European championships for the seventh time. The poor cows were Read More…

above: Pippi Longcow with a junior art critic – Piazza Castello

Street art didn’t fare so well in Milan. The newspapers reported that Milan set a record for the number of cows vandalized, particularly during the night that the AC Milan football club won the European championships for the seventh time. The poor cows were variously burned, thrown into a fountain, or simply taken away. They had been intended to be sold to raise money for charity. Alternative ways to raise this money are now being explored.

Here are a few I managed to salvage photographically.

metro station at Cairoli

 

La cow é mobile, qual pium al vento…

 

via Dante

Pandecena Milano June ’07 – In Which a Cunning Plot is Hatched

Famed Italian blogger Luca Conti (pictured at top right, showing off his Nokia to Sara Piperita) has pulled off what many bloggers dream of (and quite a few actually do, in other parts of the world): making a living by blogging. Or, at least, managing to get paid for various kinds of consulting (as a Read More…

Famed Italian blogger Luca Conti (pictured at top right, showing off his Nokia to Sara Piperita) has pulled off what many bloggers dream of (and quite a few actually do, in other parts of the world): making a living by blogging. Or, at least, managing to get paid for various kinds of consulting (as a result of his blogging) while also running around the country blogging various interesting events he now gets invited to, plus other perks like fancy cellphones. The Italian PR world has figured out that bloggers are influential, and is courting them assiduously – or at least a small fraction of them. I am jealous that Luca’s job now includes boat trips on the Amalfi coast but, hey, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. (And I’ve got nothing to complain about: my own professional life is shaping up interestingly lately…)

Whenever Luca comes to town there’s a dinner (Pandecena), and these are excellent occasions for social and professional networking (aka lots of conversation with people I enjoy). This dinner was particularly well-populated because it had been scheduled for the night between the two days of a conference called Web 2.0 Oltre (Web 2.0 – Beyond) being held in Milan at which many of the “usual suspects” of the Italian blogosphere were panelists, speakers, etc. No one in the room had actually paid to attend the conference, for the excellent reason that it cost 1600 euros to do so!

I’ve been using Twitter lately (not today – stuck til I get my password fixed), which breeds an odd sense of familiarity with people I’ve barely met, and, having seen something day-to-day of how their minds work, it’s fun to then spend some face time. One such person at this event was Marco Formento, but the photos I got of him were scary…

I also enjoyed meeting Madga of Spotanatomy, a fun and insightful blog about advertising that has been referenced on this site before.

Quintarelli, Orban

^ A woman I didn’t meet, Emanuele Quintarelli, David Orban, and Marco Palazzo of DueSpaghi, an Italian social network about restaurants. The structure of the site is due to be translated soon, but that doesn’t help with the meat of the matter, the actual reviews. Translation is a thorny problem for websites. It’s so hard (and expensive) to do it well.

occhiali

^ Marco had fun with some PR stickers.

^ Thomas Christel, a Chicagoan now living in San Benedetto del Tronto, gets tagged by Lele. How one earth did he end up in San Benedetto, you may ask? (And I did.) The usual story: married into it. But he’s managed to keep a high-tech career going, in addition to running a B&B: Thomas is an executive for Yoo+, an online project management application now in beta testing.

^ I can never resist taking pictures of Fabrizio (Biccio) Ulisse – he’s so damned cute!

^ Emanuele and Luca Mascaro manhandling the spumante, courteously supplied by Reed Business.

I did have a bone to pick with Emanuele. He was (one of? chief?) organizer of the Web 2.0 Oltre conference, which somehow did not manage to feature EVEN ONE WOMAN speaker in two days of talks and panels. I had noticed (and been irritated by) this lack on the Web 2.0 Oltre site months ago, but didn’t know then who was responsible.

later – Emanuele tells me there were three women on the stage: Daniela Cerrato (who was in the original program and I must have overlooked her – my bad), Anna Masera (who was added after I saw the program), and a manager from Renault who spoke about that company’s recent push into Second Life.

I had had a battibecco* with Emanuele a few months ago in his own blog comments about the Italian Web 2.0 boys’ club he (and others) organized. He now came over to ask whether I was happy with the presenza femminile at this dinner.

I counted. Maybe ten women out of 40 people. Not great.

“Is that our fault?” he and David Orban asked.

No, not directly, obviously – anyone who wished could join this dinner. But the women aren’t coming to these events, and we need to figure out why. For starters, about that conference of yours…

Emanuele said something about not knowing any women who could have spoken.

“I’ve been online for 25 years,” I said. “And am now a Senior Web Producer for Sun Microsystems.” At which point he asked for my card.

I probably came off as bitter and aggressive in this exchange – a woman making her points strongly always risks being labelled a bitch. So be it.

I don’t believe that Emanuele (or Lele, who also recently had a restricted-invitation event to organize, and somehow ended up with very few women) is a chauvinist (or, as Italians would say, anti-feminist). But there’s a dangerous mindset in which, when you’re drawing up a list of influencers and experts to consult, invite, etc., somehow the people who come to your mind are all male. Women aren’t consciously excluded from your thinking, but… they don’t end up on your list either, do they? And that perpetuates a vicious cycle in which men are publicly identified as the experts, and women remain on the margins, waiting to be invited to the dance.

Well, I went to a school where anybody who wanted to, got out on the dance floor and danced – both literally and metaphorically. And I am by now too old and wise and bitchy to play the wallflower.

So, ladies, it’s time to do something about it. In October I will be hosting Web Women Weekend, at my home in Lecco. It will be an opportunity for girl geeks / technedonne / web women to get together, have fun, and figure out how we can support each other. (Invitation only, so, if you’re a woman in technology in Italy, let me hear from you.)

And that will be something to celebrate.

^ Coda: I took this picture just so we could start a nasty rumor that Luca only organizes these dinners because he makes money on them.
; ) – just kidding!

* battibecco – “a clash of beaks” – umm… birdfight?

What do you think? how do we get more visibility for women in technology in Italy?