Question: Should Bloghercon be open to men?
Answer (short): Yes.
Answer (long): Yes. I’d like to open Bloghercon to anyone who wants to learn more about what women are doing across the entire blogging spectrum, from work to play. I agree with the last sentence of Sylvia Paull's post . (Hat-tip to the unsung: I don't think this idea is new--I hear we're in a long line of women who have tried this concept.)
I’m also going to answer Dave Winer’s questions below, but as they beg questions of the DNA of Bloghercon, I’ll briefly digress.
Why Bloghercon? Here, courtesy of a private email I received from an enthusiast this week, is why I suggested Bloghercon, and why anyone who shares this interest—female, male, cat, dog, kitchen sink--should attend:
"The guys all know each other, but we don’t...What I want to get out of it [Bloghercon]? More leads to interesting women so that I can follow their writings and mention them in my blog."
– Source: Charlene Li, via private email to Surfette
It is often said that the good blogs get read, that's why they're in the Technorati Top 100. I suggest Bloghercon because we have to be able to find quality bloggers in order to read them and to link them. Bloghercon fills a niche unmet by Technorati, Feedster or Truth Laid Bear. Bloghercon is one more tool to support and feed the meritocracy.
Here’s what I’m on about: These sites measure and recommend blogs at least partially based upon blog traffic and/or the quantity of links from other blogs (this is a somewhat gross generalization; please visit these sites for a complete explanation). To be sure, links and traffic denote one type of popularity. But the degree to which blogs are linked or trafficked is not always a harbinger of quality or relevance.
At least not to me, the reader. Why do I have this opinion? Because in the past year, I've spent a lot of time surfing the long tail of the blogosphere, first for the Los Angeles Times, then for Law.com and most recently for Knight Ridder Digital. In each case, my assignment was to assess and report back on as diverse a cross-section as possible of blogs on the subjects of politics, law and NASCAR.
In each case, my editors said, “What’s really going on out there?” Answering this question was a challenge because I was limited by the quality of my search techniques and the time I had to invest in those searches on deadline. I found I could rely on services such as Technorati, Feedster and Truth Laid Bear, but only to a certain extent. Why? Because the same bloggers kept popping up on my searches. I found it surprisingly challenging to extend one’s appreciation of the blogosphere beyond a list of the usual suspects in any individual subject/category—even when I scoured to blogrolls.
My time paid off. I still found Baldilocks and Carolyn Elefant and Kathy’s Pit Stop. But it was work—and what about the blogs I missed? What about the casual user who isn't paid to be, well, a surfette? This experience is why I find Jeneane Sessums’ question so important. This experience is why it was easier than it should have been for Kevin Drum to miss the kazillions of bloghers who have since chewed his, er, lunch.
I’ll repeat: I submit that you have to be able to find blogs in order to read them and to link them. Bloghercon is one more tool to support and feed the meritocracy.
Just like Bloggercon, Dave Winer's brainchild, which I attended last November. I enjoyed myself. I learned a lot there. And I grew my own personal network there, too: I met Jay Rosen of Pressthink and I ended up guest-blogging for him a few times. Voila, connection made. There were some terrific women there -- Rebecca MacKinnon, Chris Nolan, Susan Mernit, Elisa Camahort, many others I didn't get to meet--but it was mostly men, for whatever reason, both attending and facilitating. I see Bloghercon as an opportunity to extend the experience to another facet of the blogging community.
Dave Winer’s questions. I also want to directly address Dave's questions here, because they're important. These are my opinions, not those of colleagues-in-concept (Elisa Camahort et al.) whom I am sure will chime in if they disagree. These bullets are Dave's questions:
- "Will there be male discussion leaders?"
Don't know yet. This is a forum devoted to discussing the work and experiences of women bloggers, so I would presume the grand majority, if not all, will be women. Speaking of which, email me with suggestions, please!
- "Will men be allowed to speak without being ridiculed?"
Let me be clear: I recommend that asshats of all genders who ridicule anyone be asked to leave. Disagreement’s one thing, ridicule’s another. I think we need plenty of community feedback on discussion guidelines and dedicated moderators in each room to promote these guidelines and further the subject of discussion: women bloggers. So I suppose the correct answer is an if:then string--If attendees [be they women/men/kitchen sink] do not adhere to the discussion guidelines, then, yup, they will risk expulsion (and, it's likely, ex post facto) ridicule. If they do adhere to the discussion guidelines, they won’t.
- "Will women who say sexist things about men (yes, there are plenty of those) be challenged, or will people who disagree be shouted down? In other words, how "her" is this going to be? And why?"
Please see my comments above and here: “Bloghercon 2005: Is this the way to run with Halley’s Comment?” In other words, I think you can expect this conference to be plenty “her” –after all, Bloghercon is about women bloggers and creating a network to discuss and extend their work and interests. It’s about interpersonal networking to pursue those goals. However, IMHO Bloghercon is not about women vs. men. IMHO that's missing the point.
In summary, if I had to write a tagline for Bloghercon, it would be "Where women are blogging". Bloghercon is a big tent. Bloghercon is designed as a global idea exchange for and about women bloggers, who will make it what they will. I would never attempt to articulate why so many women are interested in Bloghercon--they're saying it for themselves. Here’s a sampler:
Burningbird (See comments)
Elisa Camahort (one of many posts)
Jude Nagurney Camwell (An example of the Bloghercon spirit in action)
Nancy White (one of many posts)
Special mention: Eleanor Kruszewski who disagrees with me over whether men should be invited.
Please weigh in women – who do you want at Bloghercon?