July 15, 2020

I’m So Very Sorry

sorryTwo different but very related things happened last week which brought my own fallibility into painful focus for me.

One is that I blogged in support of the work of the Ada Initiative. They do great work to advance women in open technology and culture. If you are not familiar with their work, then by all means go and find out.

The other is that I discovered I had acted badly in exactly the kind of situation where I should have known better. The wake-up call came in the form of a blog post where the writer was kind enough not to call me out by name. But I will. It was me. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

This, from someone who had fancied himself a feminist. I mean, srlsy. To me this shows just how deeply these issues run.

I was wrong, for which I am now apologizing. But allow me to be more specific. What am I sorry about?

  • I’m sorry that I shoved my way into a conversation where I didn’t belong. 
  • I’m sorry that I was wrong in what I advocated.
  • I’m sorry that my privilege and reputation can be unwittingly used to silence someone else.
  • I’m sorry that ignorance of my innate privilege has tended to support ignorance of my bad behavior.

I can’t change the past, but I can change the future. My slowly growing awareness of the effects of my words and actions can only help reduce my harmful impacts, while hopefully enforcing my positive actions.

Among the things that the Ada Initiative lists as ways that they are making a difference is this:

Asking men and influential community members to take responsibility for culture change.

I hear you, and I’m trying, as best as I can, to do this. It isn’t always quick, it isn’t always pretty, but it’s something. Until men stand up and own their own behavior and change it, things aren’t going to get better. I know this. I’m sorry for what I’ve done to perpetuate the problem, and I’m taking responsibility for my own actions, both in the past and in the future. Here’s hoping that the future is much brighter than the past.


Photo by butupa, Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Roy Tennant About Roy Tennant

Roy Tennant is a Senior Program Officer for OCLC Research. He is the owner of the Web4Lib and XML4Lib electronic discussions, and the creator and editor of Current Cites, a current awareness newsletter published every month since 1990. His books include "Technology in Libraries: Essays in Honor of Anne Grodzins Lipow" (2008), "Managing the Digital Library" (2004), "XML in Libraries" (2002), "Practical HTML: A Self-Paced Tutorial" (1996), and "Crossing the Internet Threshold: An Instructional Handbook" (1993). Roy wrote a monthly column on digital libraries for Library Journal for a decade and has written numerous articles in other professional journals. In 2003, he received the American Library Association's LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Excellence in Communication for Continuing Education. Follow him on Twitter @rtennant.