Elle has been helping out with the Bloghercon effort that Elisa has bee driving. I wasn’t sure if they wanted to make info about the effort public yet, but apparently is was announced this past week and discussion is underway. They’re not sure yet if men will be welcome at the session yet, which I admit I don’t agree with. But I do agree with a lot of the stuff that Charlene says about the effort. Although I can come up with a dozen or so women who blog faster than I can say them normally, a lot of the other points in there I agree with. Jessica Baumgart recently posted some points as well.
Here’s my story about getting noticed from just about a year ago. For about 3 years I was working for a company in Palo Alto doing Linux embedded systems work. We did some pretty hardcore stuff, and I learned a ton in the process. When it was time to move on I felt that I had a really strong set of skills, and that now that I was in Silicon Valley and had learned a ton about working at and with a startup company, that I was ready to strike off on my own and do some consulting for a while. I wanted to get exposed to a whole bunch of new ideas floating around in the environment, and I figured that a boatload of technical ability could just cary me around to all the places I wanted to go. I was wrong, no one came around beating a path to my door to hand over a part of the project they were working on. Eventually, after a whole bunch of painful arguments and me not understanding why no one was paying attention to the things I was saying, Elle eventually showed me what I needed to do to get tied into the environment I needed to be a part of. And amazingly enough it had nothing to do with knowing how to write a plugin for a dynamically typed interpreted language or how to capture snapshots of serial interfaces for debugging. There is a group of people for whom that kind of cred opens doors, but I had “shifted my audience” so to speak, and I needed to learn how to talk to them. And all the yelling in the world, no matter how valid it might have been, would have gotten the attention of the people I wanted attention from. It’s a common mistake apparently, and one that geeks make all the time. I ran headlong into it, I admit it. But it’s not only a mistake that geeks make, it’s a problem general to shifting communities. The techniques and models that work in one area don’t work in another. Sometimes the right thing to do is to change the way things work, sometimes the right thing to do is adapt personally. Sometimes the right thing lies somewhere in the middle.
So my question to the Bloghercon folks would first be are you looking to get noticed by the Technorati 100? Because that’s going to take a much different strategy than trying to form an alternate network more friendly to the interactions of women within the blogging community. If you’re looking to change the way that things are done, make sure that you include some of the people making the tools. The tools in part shape the way you can interact, and part of the reason the link reigns supreme in this environment is because all the tools are made to respect them. It’s not like you have to look far for a woman very unfluential in the way that blogging tools are made. If you want some woman to talk about online communities where female participants have enjoyed as much success as the men, the Wikipedia is a great place to start. I would also personally recommend Anita Wilhelm, Susan Mernit, and Betsy Devine. And I would love to attend, if I’m allowed.