"The A-list? Sometimes I think it's stupid. But if you don't play into it then you don't get the visibility--and I think it is important to get visibility for what you do. It's a Catch-22: You have to play their game but their game kind of sucks." --Private conversation with a woman who has blogged for six years about her life and her work as a developer
"It gets very tiring to be the "Who" Horton never hears...don't intimate that I and others like me don't exist simply because you don't hear us. Or because you don't like what you hear." --Roxanne Cooper of Rox Populi, responding to Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly
It's time we got back to rocketing the conversation about women and blogging to higher ground. Like a different galaxy. Now that we've demonstrated where (some of) the women bloggers are, let's leap-frog tokenism, push past lip-service, and frame a discussion about our future with this technology (not their plans for it).
The BlogHer Debate question for 2005 is this: Women bloggers, how do you want the world to learn about what you're creating -- if at all? Do you want to play by today's rules or change the game? Because, really, it's your call. Now that women represent between 43 percent and 56 percent of all bloggers, we're in familiar territory.
Yet at the same time, as we all know, women are virtually missing-in-action in the game of best-known blog listings, like the Technorati Top 100 and TLB Ecosphere, which rank blogs based on the number of incoming links (not quality). The miniscule number of women on these lists is as unrepresentative of women bloggers as the number of women CEOs in the Fortune 500 (eight) is to the number of women working (nearly 50 percent). Bottom-line: It's hard to find you. And if you care, then it looks like we'll have to fix that ourselves.
But--do you care? Even if you have no interest in appearing on any of these lists yourself, is it a good thing or a bad thing for women bloggers that some men (bloggers and/or media types with huge audiences) either cannot find us or can get away with saying they cannot find us? Hint: A simple yes or no is not an adequate answer.
Let me be more specific. Here's the list of questions I'll ask in our opening debate on July 30, where Charlene Li and Halley Suitt will strap themselves into the hot-seat for 45 minutes. Take a shot at answering them yourselves or, if you prefer, add some you'd like to ask on July 30:
The BlogHer Debate
1. Does the lack of links from link-counters and the so-called A-list represent real, institutional barriers to entry or contrived barriers to entry--economically, personally, professionally, culturally? Does the lack of links hurt/help/not affect women bloggers who seek to:
- Gain professional recognition, credibility and rewards (including funding and community)?
- Gain personal recognition and credibility and rewards (including readers and community)?
- Generate revenue via advertising and/or sales?
- Make a living?
- Make a cultural change?
- Advocate for an opinion or a perspective?
2. Does playing by the existing rules of blog link-counters shout down alternative, diverse and new voices? Are we participating in our own demise? Why/Why not?
3. Do we owe it to ourselves and/or other women to win this game even if we don't personally care about the lists? Could separate ever really make us equal? Why/Why not?
4. If we want a meritocracy, do we need to code one ourselves? Let's rewrite the rules and/or write new code -- how do/don't you want to:
- Tell the world about your blog?
- Recruit the readers you're looking for?
- Communicate the quality of your blog to readers?
- Communicate the quality of your blog to potential sources of revenue?
- No, no, no - these questions suck almost as much as the A-list!
5. What should BlogHer Conference '05 work to accomplish today and in the next year to help individual women gain reater visibility and/or learning and/or success, by new definitions?