The new world paradigm of blogging
Duncan Riley> I’ve been tossing up a post along the lines of Blogging: geography is dead for the last week, but time limitations meant I never got around to writing it. Then on the weekend I was reading about the BlogHer Conference, and reading on Arienna’s blog about some of the speakers and the topics. Whilst there was, by all accounts, some excellent speakers and discussions, there was also touches of debate that centered on socialism and concepts of women as victims that I just felt unconfortable with, and not just as a man, but as a blogger. Why? because the blogosphere doesn’t play by these rules, and if you are, you should leave the building right now because you’re not going to like what I’ve got to say.
And here it is:
The new world paradigm of blogging is that everybody is created equally, irrelevant of race, sex, sexuality or religion.
The only areas that prohibit all of mankind having the opportunities that blogging presents are access and language.
Talent, determination, patience, and creativity are the measures of one blogger to another, not whether they are a man or a woman.
You know, when I think of bloggers, I don’t think of their nationality, their race, religion (unless of course they are preaching it), their sexual preferences or whether they are male or female. I consider one blogger to another based on what they write and whether its of interest to me. Occasionally I might note, through a post or localized reference, that a blogger is from a particular area, region or country, but it makes no difference to me where that place is. And I’ll draw an even longer bow here: neither do 99% of other people either.
The whole conspiracy theory, A-Listers are all men and are keeping us out, companies are evil, and the blogosphere is a glass ceiling women can’t break through is utter nonsense, and I hope the few people at the BlogHer conference sprouting this crap were given a cold reception, although I am unable to clarify from the notes exactly what the reaction was.
Women are successful in the blogosphere, there isn’t a glass ceiling, and more and more women will feature amongst the so-called A list over time.
If we must pull apart the imbalance between women and men amongst the Top 100, or A list or whatever (and here in lies another problem, there is no agreed list for this either, Im in the Top 300 at Technorati for example but I was No 97 on Blogpulse yesterday). Blogging emerged out of geek culture, and rightly or wrongly, geek culture was, and remains dominated by men. Don’t believe me, check out some of Jason Calacanis’ photos from Defcon. Geek culture spawned blogs, and that’s why you’ve still got more men then women at the top because more men got involved with blogging earlier on, and given the lead in time have had longer, and a head start if you like, in building links and profile. This is changing as the blogosphere and blogs go more “mainstream” if you like, and those reading blogs change from geeks to everyone else as well.
Secondly, making statements about an imaginary glass ceiling, and about A Listers excluding women, insults every women who is currently on one of these lists, because it totally ignores their achievements, not based on their gender but based on their talents. No 1 blog in the Technorati Top 100 today: Boing Boing. Editor: Xeni Jardin. No 10: Dooce: Heather Armstrong. I won’t go through the whole list, but credit where its due, any one of the main Gawker Media sites has featured women of stature and immense talent such as Jessica Coen, Ana Marie Cox.., others include Michelle Makin and Singapore blogger Xiaxue, and there a probably others as well.
If we want to talk about gender issues lets talk about how to resist the small minority who are obsessed with notions of gender and race. I can remember reading Michelle Makin a while back where she wrote about some of the hate mail she was getting, how people were referring to her as an Asian whore and far, far worse. You know what, I think it actually made her stronger, where as others, irrelevant again of gender, race etc… may have wilted from the horrid nastiness of what she received. These are the challenges facing some women bloggers, and it would be far better to focus on these problems that the rubbish sprouted by some at Blogher who clearly have hidden political and social agendas.
I would disagree, mainly because I don’t assess bloggers based on those notions, and neither do most people. Sure, bias exists on a face to face level, but our only face with a blog is that of our writing, so we are judged on our writing and not the old world equations.
I should clarify since that’s subject to misreading as endorsing biological determinism..
I meant that being treated equally can be believed in the senses of an ideal (we should strive for this), and a delusion (this is the way it is). These should not be conflated.
“our only face with a blog is that of our writing, so we are judged ,,,”
The logic error is right there. One’s opportunities depend on many factors. Here, for example, one notable factor can be connections with the existing media structure.
Right, first and foremost I declare that I’m not a writer of philosophy, and that may be self evident, but I must contend with a few of your points here. Connections with the existing media structure are totally irrelevant to setting up and writing a blog, because I would argue that blogging has become a media structure within itself. I can write about how I mowed the lawn yesterday or about World Peace, my constraint of knowledge of other items does not limit my ability to write. I can see where you are coming from with the ideal vs delusion argument, but unless you post your photo on a page, or use a clearly defined name, people aren’t going to know what your background is. Judgement in the blogosphere is being made by 99% of people based on content and not any other notion. Sure, if your a member of the Ku Klux Klan your probably going to read stuff from white guys who share your views, but again, I’d say that 1% of people would take the time to judge a blog based on any other than the content they are reading.
“Connections with the existing media structure are totally irrelevant to setting up and writing a blog, …”
Regrets, I don’t want to be rude or dismissive.
But that statement is simply false. It is like writing
“Connections with existing wealth and privilege are totally irrelevant to setting up a dot-com business, because the Internet is a New Era”.
I mean, I don’t know what to say that will bridge the gulf. There is an entire social infrastructure which you deny exists.
â€œConnections with the existing media structure are totally irrelevant to setting up and writing a blog, â€¦â€?
“But that statement is simply false.”
Sorry, Seth, it’s true. For $zero and no connections, anyone can set up a blog and publish it regularly. That’s self-evident.
On the wider point, the situation of women is reflected in many other activities. In politics you’ll occasionally get a Margaret Thatcher or a Hillary Clinton who will force themselves in by weight of personality and intellect. But such women don’t come in numbers, they are exceptions. In Britain Labour had to have all-women shortlists, and a lot of arm-twisting, to get 100 women into a Parliament of 650. Unhappily, many of those women were simply not up to the job and are quite an embarrassment.
I’ve always believed in letting nature take its course. There should be no barriers, but we shouldn’t construct quota systems either. The women who want to step forward, whether in politics, blogging, business or whatever, will do so. Many won’t.
The Government also changed the education system to favour girls ~ coursework rather than set-piece exams, which boys do better at. The result is that girls now get more university places than boys. This is changing the landscape, but it’s still not resulting in a flood of women into traditionally male areas. A steady trickle would be the best description. BUT it is their choice. There’s no glass ceiling in a country that recently had a woman Head of State (the Queen), a woman Prime minister (Maggie) and a woman Speaker of the House of Commons (Boothroyd).
Sure, but the point I’m making, Mac, is that women mostly don’t choose to exercise the power option as much as men do. Any man who’s in, or been in, a close relationship with a woman, knows that they have very subtle means of getting their own way without kicking your butt around the house. Someone once said ~ maybe Voltaire ~ that women create the civilization, while men (through politics) mess it up. Let’s not suggest that women have to be like men in order to be taken seriously. Personally, I like them just the way they are :-)
“zero and no connections, anyone can set up a blog and publish it regularly. That’s self-evident.”
And without SOCIAL connections, almost certainly, essentially nobody will read it.
Look, where’s the burden of proof here? I’ve been through this many times, and there’s a pattern. No matter how much evidence is amassed that “who you know” can be important, it’s always possible to repeat that writing a blog is unlike any other human activity ever done in the history of civilization, utterly unique, that the only thing which affects it is materials cost (conveniently trivial), and marketing and promotion are completely absent as influences.
Isn’t this an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence? (and re-iterations of the initial idea don’t count).
Qualifications, like high readership, A-list status etc., weren’t made in the original claim. If you want to bring those in, then you’re confusing blogging with MSN.
Take another link on this site, where Steve Rubel invites everyone to share their top ten blogs under Technorati tag “10blogs”. Anyone can contribute. I’m about to do so myself. I don’t need media connections to be part of this interesting exercise. That’s the magic of blogging.
Read MSM for MSN.
Some people want more out of “blogging” than diary-writing. Isn’t that an overall aspect of this discussion? If we were all happy little journal-keepers, there wouldn’t be an issue. But we’re not. Nor should we be.
“Anyone can contribute” – But that’s hardly the last word as to who has a good chance of winning. Anyone meeting certain very loose qualifications can run for President too.
I repeat: Is the burdern of proof properly on those who assert a “new world paradigm”, to provide *extraordinary* evidence to back up this extraordinary claim, or not?
The Long Tail is the essence of blogging, and is a genuine new paradigm, in my opinion. It’s not about mass media. By thinking of blogging in those terms, you miss the whole point. Read Chris Anderson.
It’s not evidence to repeat the initial claims. Again – what would be sufficient to disprove the “genuine new paradigm”? That, for example the “Long Tail” is just “niche marketing / low-profit-high-volume” old paradigms dressed up in genuine new verbiage?
Everything is re-dressed, isn’t it, to some extent? But the ease with which almost anyone can enter the media fray, albeit on a small scale, is rather awesome, I think. … Anyway, this is Duncan’s argument! Come on, Dunc, say your piece :-)
Duncan – I appreciate that you see an argument to be made here and reading through the commentary, I see others both for and against your argument, although commentary has degraded a bit. However, I want to get back to the issue we addressed at BlogHer. Not that women as a whole are excluded from blogging – we are not. Not that we are not good at blogging – that room would speak otherwise. Not even that we feel angry, for the most part, about our minority in the A-lists – reasons shed light otherwise.
Here, I will refer you back to my blog to reread my commentary. You’ve read me before and know I don’t take gender issues on. I feel equal in many ways, and have never looked at gender as a plus or minus. So, please reread what I have to say and note this:
Gender is just a foreground into what was discussed. The discussion was that, based on how the blogosphere developed, a certain network started out and became dominant and this network has, and still is, male dominant. Now, although it may be protested that the list should be more inclusive, the issue is NOT the list.
Great on you for pointing out that the blogosphere is inclusive. It is, in many ways, We can all do it. But we are not on equal footing for being read or not, regardless of quality. I cited my own experience in learning the blogging ropes and reading blogs. How I skipped from one to the other – starting at the centre of the main network and moving outward. In this experience, I come to realize what others have – that the perspectives are fairly similar to my own, mostly caucasian, and mostly male. So, the issue is that the blogosphere may be open but that we don’t read openly because the links are not network wide but exist in small subset networks. The interconnectedness needed for utopic communications is not there.
Now, I hope to avoid gender commentary here. I am not strongly for or against gender issues. I say again this is about making us realize that the blogosphere is not as connected as we think in terms of opinion, perspective, and with that gender, race, etc. Look at your own list and assess this idea. There are incredibly smart people all over the world you likely miss out on – that is the lesson I think we tried to bring out. To go outside the main network and seek those you enjoy and value – and who are likely top in their own little network.
Good commentary Duncan (in email). I think a lot of it is cultural – ie many more problems exist in North America than outside it. I think we have a lot to learn in terms of how we organize ourselves and perhaps all this fuss over the a-list debate, and this subset debate, will shake things up a bit.
Just to add what Arieanna said, I’ve compromised a little bit in saying that issues of diversity as opposed to meritocracy may be true in some people, but its more likely that this is more representative of American’s than others. I’d still argue that merit is still the case for the vast majority of people, however some cultures are more insular than others.