Elizabeth Spiers on women blogging.
Steven Levy has an article called Blogging Beyond the Men's Club in this week's Newsweek about the lack of diversity in the blogosphere as represented by a conference at Harvard. He points out that though there is a great diversity in the blogosphere, the top rung is homogenous. Even as he acknowledges this he doesn't really tackle the issue of how the definition of a blog plays into the exclusion.
There are at least 8 million blogs, but the ones that get quoted in the news most often come from this small circle who blog on current events, and who sometimes do investigative journalism. Representatives from this group were invited to the Harvard symposium on which Levy is reporting. To my mind they are begining to resemble the Astor 400, seeing themselves over and over at different events. It is a group that seems to believe itself engaged in defining a new set of ethics and journalistic standards for this new medium (if it is a new medium).
What about the rest of the blogosphere? Every week I read fantastic cooking blogs, design blogs, wine blogs, technology blogs (in fact Meg Hourihan who co-created blogger has a blog, as does Caterina Fake who co-created Flickr.com), and glance at a few parenting blogs. Gawker is edited by a woman, and she is not alone: there are financial blogs, publishing blogs, fashion blogs , blogs about writing, blogs about design and art, and blogs about sex and, blogs about dating. You name it, and I bet there are blogs written by women about it. Of the six personal blogs currently posted on TypePad's home page, three are by women. Most of these blogs are filled with exciting voices, good writing and in general much better punctuation and spelling than my posts often have.
So if women are missing from the blogosphere, they are missing from this small niche within the giant movement. This is important and it needs to be fixed, and it will be. Yesterday I read a post on Susan Mernit's (Susan - a woman whose blog people simply need to read, which makes me realize the paidcontent.org is also partly edited by a woman) blog about Bloghercon a new grassroot's effort to take on the Blogosphere and promote women. Enter the term on Technorati. High time for this but let's not buy into the idea that women aren't blogging.
I think the question is: how do we get these blogs recognized and quoted? Last week's blogads report showed a 25% and rising readership of blogs by women. How does one get that number up to 50%? I guess it is of no real use to rail against the term blog. But I wonder if the people who run knitty.com -- a great knitting site -- talk of their site as a blog, or a site, or a community, or even a knitting nation? Not to beat a dead horse, but would it help if we just called them sites? For what site, large or small, can justify not being a blog or having many blog elements? Would doing this really take away from the momentum? Isn't this a bit like private accounts versus personal accounts?
In the meantime, I have some ideas about how to spread what Steve Rubin talks of "link love" and I'll start by posting the names of some of the sites by women that have caught my eye in the past month. in the coming days.
Brian Dears has a very nice post on "the long trail", the old is new kind of phenomenon that we've all been feeling lately.
The thing about remixing is that it makes something new out of something old. The act of remixing itself is nothing new. Remixing even in media is nothing new. Remixing in music in particular. Maybe Larry Lessig only found out about remixes in the past few years, but mash-ups, remixes, all that stuff has been around for decades. The path hewn by the pioneers of remixing goes way back. It's a long trail...
So much of what we think is new is not. In computing technology, this is painfully true. Particularly if you were around and actually used the old technology (say, the PLATO system). Speaking of PLATO . . . seeing Ray Ozzie now reporting to Bill Gates . . . now there is a long trail story if there ever was one. Ray started out on PLATO in the 1970s, went on to build Lotus Symphony and then Lotus Notes, then built Groove . . . now absorbed by Redmond.
Jon Udell posting on Screencasting, as if it is the newest cool thing . . . old hat in the computer-based training world. A world, by the way, that has gone through many a relabel over the past 40 years: programmed instruction > computer-assisted instruction > computer-based education > computer-based learning > web-based training > e-learning. Same old thing, really.
From one of the comments on the article which I think it puts it very well. This is the real difference between RSS and BackWeb, between tripod and live journal;
But I think each new emergence gets filtered through the current environment, leading to those slight differences in degree, that (may) lead to differences in kind, as Jon Udell suggests. I think you made a key distinction between a "significant" number of users and a "substantial" number. I would say that "substantial" is the critical mass needed for this "new" technology to become self-sustaining. Each emergence of an old technology or idea into a new context affords the chance that a critical addition or modification can be made, which then attracts more attention, leading to more users, and so on...
I've been looking too literally at comparisons and I think that this comment hits it right on the mark.
Steve Rubel gave a presentation earlier to the staff of the company where I am consulting. He was great. It will be interesting to see how his ideas about change, transparency and dialog with users is embraced. I read his site often and highly recommend it.
Started reading The Paradox of Choice; Why More is Less, by Barry Schwartz
When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize. -- pg. 2 (I said I just started)
Does the ever expanding blogosphere help reduce this tyranny by filtering out the choices or does the cacophony of voices overload us? Or does it do both?
I'm was working on a post about ringtones and the size of the market and how after reading an article in The New Yorker last week I finally understood what had created a multi-billion dollar market from 25 second $2 clips and, how I now understand that they are part of taking a common item and customizing it like the billion dollar market in wheel hubs, which has also eluded me, when I discovered that am somewhat obsessed over finding a particular pair of sneakers. Killing time in SOHO the other night I went into the Adidas Store and asked to try on a pair of sneakers. They only had them in size 7 and 10 1/2. This has led to my looking online at various coolhunting and sneaker websites. Now it seems to be an unwritten rule that all sneaker sites have t-shirt components, so now, naturally, I am looking at a large number of t-shirt sites and have discovered a form of subscriptions I never knew about. T-Shirt subscriptions.
From Tim Bray:
Ten Reasons Why Blogging is Good For Your Career:
1.You have to get noticed to get promoted.
2.You have to get noticed to get hired.
3.It really impresses people when you say “Oh, I’ve written about that, just google for XXX and I’m on the top page” or “Oh, just google my name.”
4.No matter how great you are, your career depends on communicating. The way to get better at anything, including communication, is by practicing. Blogging is good practice.
5. Bloggers are better-informed than non-bloggers. Knowing more is a career advantage.
6.Knowing more also means you’re more likely to hear about interesting jobs coming open.
7.Networking is good for your career. Blogging is a good way to meet people.
8.If you’re an engineer, blogging puts you in intimate contact with a worse-is-better 80/20 success story. Understanding this mode of technology adoption can only help you.
9.If you’re in marketing, you’ll need to understand how its rules are changing as a result of the current whirlwind, which nobody does, but bloggers are at least somewhat less baffled.
10. It’s a lot harder to fire someone who has a public voice, because it will be noticed.
If anyone would like a 1 month free Netflix account e-mail me. Just got offer and I thought I'd post it.
Posted at 02:56 PM | Permalink
This image shows how people look at Google pages. It sort of resembles Africa with the hot spots corresponding to the desert and the sponsored listings being Madagascar. Seriously it is interesting to see the results of this study. Organic listings rule. The facts behind this study on searchengine watch. (via Seth Godin's blog which has a link to a new blog for his upcoming book)
How about putting your money and ideas where your mouths are? Why not work with independent book publishers to share with the public your thoughts about progressive politics, social justice, sustainability and media reform ... instead of lining the pockets of the corporate publishers (and ultimately the five or ten rich white men who control nearly every media message we read and hear in the U.S. today).
Kos happens to be shopping around a book so his response is interesting.
Ouch. And this is an issue that resonates with me, personally, since we're currently putting the finishing touches on our book proposal (Chelsea Green is one of the publishers we have talked to).
There are several obvious reasons to go with a bigger publisher -- prestige, big advance, better promotional opportunities (e.g. getting on the Daily Show), and better bookstore penetration. Of course, you surrender something when you sell your soul to the Bertlesmanns and Murdochs of the world.
Chelsea Green looks to have effectively boxed me and Jerome in -- we'd look like hypocrites writing about building a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy to battle the VRWC, all the while publishing with a big corporate publisher. That's fine, because we were leaning on running with an indy publisher anyway. But here's the problem -- we do need an advance of some sort.
So there's a poll attached to this post. Would you consider making pre-orders on a book Jerome and I were writing, to help fund the research staff we want to put together?...
This is a really interesting conundrum for an author in this day of inflated advances. Would a scrappy house where the book's success means more do a better job promoting it to interested audiences. Now that chains do their buying in centralized fashion does it matter who the house. Would a big house do a better job putting marketing budgets to work or would a small house do smarter marketing on blogs and other venues. Could a small house get people on the Daily Show conversely can a big house do it automatically. A friend of mine just produced a 12 part DVD about Iraq called Shocking and Awful for Deep Dish TV. He was on Pacifica Radio, they had a showing at the MOMA. So far they've sold out their first printing of DVD's through screenings, word-of-mouth, and affiliate sales. One of the great things about sites like Daily Kos is their transparency and it will be interesting to see the results of the poll. But I'm willing to bet that they would sell as many books with a small progressive publisher as they will with a larger one, and it will look better too.
Quote: "Magazine buying is not a selection process today. It
is a process of 'de-selection' — and there will be plenty of reasons
not to buy even a post-jail, reinvented Martha and Martha Stewart
Living," -David Verklin, the CEO of ad agency Carat in NY Post article about Martha and Hearst's new weekly magazine
John Battelle's post about a revelation he had about internet publishing he had while listening to the radio: "But what happens to advertising when distribution is secondary, and audience and content is primary?...That is exactly the question internet publishing and blogging opens up (at least, the best forms of it)...."
*Tacoda - plays a crucial part of this at some large sites.
Circuits section in the NYT comes to an end March 24th.
And something that made me laugh last night (via kottke.org)
My favorite quote from an article in the Times today about the growth of luxury magazines.
"Too much of a good thing is not so good anymore," said Mr. Barguirdjian, the diamond seller. "I'm afraid that if more people come in, it will defeat the whole purpose and that people will get tired of these magazines and won't read them anymore. Whoever is investing in these ventures should be careful."
"But I'm not a media specialist," he added. "I'm just a jeweler."
Spring is in the air. This is a photo of Witch Hazel a blooming precursor to Spring.
Posted at 03:22 PM | Permalink
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Mark Glaze, 202-271-0982
Washington, D.C. -- In a recent interview with CNET, Federal Election Commissioner Brad Smith claimed that as a result of new campaign laws and and a recent court decision, online news organizations and bloggers may soon wake up to find their activities regulated by government bureaucrats. That would indeed be troubling, if it were true. Fortunately, Mr. Smith - an avowed opponent of most campaign finance regulation - is simply wrong.
The issue the FEC - and the courts - are grappling with is how to deal with online political ads by candidates and parties, and with paid advertising that is coordinated with those groups. As the Internet becomes a vital new force in politics, we are simply going through a natural transition as we work out how, and when, to apply longstanding campaign finance principles - designed to fight corruption - to political expenditures on the Web. Mr. Smith has advocated an extreme position that politicians, parties and outside groups can pay for Internet advertising with "soft money" - unlimited, unregulated checks from corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals. A federal court rightly rejected that position, saying that the new ban on soft money in our elections obviously applies to Internet advertising, too.
These laws are decidedly NOT aimed at online press, commentary or blogs, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was carefully drafted to exclude them. The FEC has now been asked to initiate a rulemaking to work out how to deal with different kinds of Internet political expenditures, and there will be plenty of opportunity for public commentary. The Commission's duty then will be to distinguish candidate and party expenditures, and coordinated independent expenditures, on the Internet (which should be subject to campaign finance law like any other expenditures) from activity by bloggers, Internet news services and citizens acting on their own that should remain unregulated, free and robust.
Mr. Smith's comments are obviously designed to instigate a furor in the blogosphere to pressure Congress to reverse the court decision requiring that paid political ads on the Internet should be treated like any other paid advertisements. Mr. Smith has a right to try to win converts to his anti-regulatory philosophy, but he has an obligation to present the issues fairly and forthrightly, and his comments to CNET fail both tests.
For more information on why the sky is not falling, see a chapter on the history of the FEC regulation and deregulation of the Internet by Trevor Potter, former FEC Chairman and president of the Campaign Legal Center, and Kirk Jowers, deputy general counsel for the Legal Center in the Brookings Institution's New Campaign Finance Sourcebook.
Looking around online while following the trail of Moveable Type plug-ins and tricks for a project I'm planning, I came across the blog of Jeffrey Zeldman the owner of a design studio and speaker at various events. I noticed that his site carries an ISSN number. What is an ISSN you ask?
The ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) is an eight-digit number which identifies periodical publications as such, including electronic serials. More than one million ISSN numbers have so far been assigned.
It is managed by a world wide network of 77 National Centres coordinated by an International Centre based in Paris, backed by Unesco and the French Government.
The ISSN is used by various partners throughout the information chain: libraries, subscription agents, researchers, information scientists, newsagents (through its barcode version).
So this means presumably that his blog is being included on lists of library periodicals, and in all sorts of guides to periodicals both online and off. But it's a blog you say. Exactly which is why it is great that he registered it. I think there should be a push to do this. It's free and it pushes a dialog towards a definition that people understand.
I had yet another conversation this weekend with an editor from a large magazine who didn't know what a blog was. Why is that? Is there something about the term blog that is difficult to understand. We have all of these other great terms like zine, magazine, periodical, broadsheet, newsletter (now that so many of us use newsreaders to read our favorite sites isn't the line between e-mail newsletter and site disappearing as well?), and diary to name a few. Don't the sites we are reading and creating fit into those categories? In fact if you look at the wikipedia's definitions of some of these terms you will see things you find familiar. Boing-boing, and the late great Feedmag.com are linked to as examples of zines. I would argue that a site like Talking Points Memo is a broadsheet, since comments or trackbacks aren't turned on isn't it really a forum for Josh Marshall's brilliant sleuthing. That the sites weblogs inc. and corante run are akin to b2b magazines that Penton and VNU put-out. In fact paid-content's partnership with BillBoard reinforces my point. What are; The Morning News(they have an ISSN too) , the gothamist, if not periodicals - dailies if you must define them further?
A good friend has suggested that saying something is a blog is like saying a book is a paperback. I agree. Even the lyrics of the Beatles, Paperback Writer back her up since according to the wikipedia it is a song about a writer who is writing a book based on another book - and that is the essence of the original term of blogging.
What is so wrong with using these terms? Don't misunderstand me I do think something huge is going on but I don't think it is blogging. I think it is the transformation of media and the nature of the relationships we have to more traditional media. I think it is tool and technology based, in that groups can start substantial sites with little investment, that voices can be heard and now easily subscribed to, a global generation of writers, artists, and thinkers for whom the computer and the Internet are part of their everyday lives. I think that the more we use the term blog to cover a whole spectrum of activity the easier it becomes for the FEC to contemplate regulations, the easier it is for traditional media to think of it as outsider movement unlike the assault on their franchise that it really is, the easier it is to be marginalized.
I also think that it keeps the ownership of the idea with people who were involved with creating the tools. The small backlash to the Times article about Odeo points this out. Here you have one of the creators of Blogger being given credit for taking podcasting to the masses. It's like thinking about word processing online being possible only because of Microsoft word. Perhaps blogging has outgrown its creators? Does it really need a name?
Far more interesting, to me at least, is the fact that all of this is leading to discussions like the one held at the American Press Institute - Whose News? -Media, Technology, and the Common Good with notes and an ongoing dialog I can read online from many participants .
CNET has a rather alarming interview with a member of the Federal Election Commision about the possiblity of enforcing rules that would make things such as linking to a politician's site, sending e-mail about an issue, and the whole spectrum of political advocacy and or criticism. illlegal. What is also really interesting in the whole citizen journalism discussion is the fact that as outlined below it is implied that online media whehter is a personal site or the NYTimes is included in the definition of the exemption. Not sure what to believe or not to believe here . From the article:
Why wouldn't the news exemption cover bloggers and online media?
Because the statute refers to periodicals or broadcast, and it's not clear the Internet is either of those. Second, because there's no standard for being a blogger, anyone can claim to be one, and we're back to the deregulated Internet that the judge objected to. Also I think some of my colleagues on the commission would be uncomfortable with that kind of blanket exemption.
So if you're using text that the campaign sends you, and you're reproducing it on your blog or forwarding it to a mailing list, you could be in trouble?
Yes. In fact, the regulations are very specific that reproducing a campaign's material is a reproduction for purpose of triggering the law. That'll count as an expenditure that counts against campaign finance law.
This is an incredible thicket. If someone else doesn't take action, for instance in Congress, we're running a real possibility of serious Internet regulation. It's going to be bizarre.