I’m at Blogher, which is a trip. Of course, the first thing you notice is how people greet each other – hugs, kisses, screams, joy. There’s no feathers flailing, chests puffing. I smiled – i’m so used to the boys’ world. I decided to sit back and watch the boys who are attending. The ones who usually have the most colorful feathers are sitting back, shoulders hunched, listening, trying. I remember what it was like when i first went to etech – i didn’t know how to talk to anyone. I knew no one and i felt like such an outsider. I was afraid of looking stupid. I wonder if they feel that way here.
I have to admit that the beginning conversation really got to me. There’s definitely a lot of frustration and anger here, frustration over the purported authority of the men in blogging, anger over the validation that the mass media gives them. So there was a lot of airing that negativity. That’s hard to hear.
Some of it, unfortunately, was lacking facts. One issue came up over the fact that women don’t network. Well, that’s bullshit. Actually, women are traditionally the maintainers of domestic social networks. They tend to network more than men. The gender difference concerns the style of networking. Men are more likely to gather many weak ties; women tend to work hard to maintain strong ties. Each have their value. But when it comes to technology like Technorati, there is a validation of weak ties over strong ties. Or more actually, there’s an assumption that all ties are created equal, which inadvertently validates the weak ties over the strong ties.
My argument here is that we need to pay attention to the network structures. If folks are angry about their position in some purported hierarchy, they need to understand how the hierarchy works. And then change it. I’m not interested in having separate networks; i’m interested in making certain that people understand the gender bias they build into the network and that it represents a diversity of perspectives, is flexible to deal with a diversity of social structures.
Anyhow, it’s a fascinating place to be. I’m not going to be good about blogging this conference so definitely watch the links on Blogher.
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