Ashley Richards

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Creating the Chicknorati

March 29th, 2005 Posted in Stuff

Congrats to the Bloghercon women – Eleanor, Elisa and Lisa – on getting Bloghercon mentioned on CNN. This conference might just get more of us chicks on the Technorati Top 100.

So I’ve been thinking about what I want out of Bloghercon and things that have bothered me about past conferences I’ve attended. So here’s my 2 cents on potential potholes on the road to greatness for Bloghercon.

  1. Focus on a theme – Look at this as the first conference in a series of many. You don’t have to tackle all the possible topics this time. Nine months from now you can have another one.
  2. Have a goal - Ties in with #1. What do you want people to walk away with? For this year, what do you want to solve or at least start a substantial discussion that continues in the blogosphere after the conference?
  3. Get relevant people to speak – The worst thing at conferences that I’ve been to is that a big name speaks, but they don’t have a direct relationship to what the conference is about or only have a minimal idea of what it’s about.
  4. Tracks – Have various tracks related to the overall theme that people can follow. Might also be a good idea to have people sign up ahead of time for which seminars or workshops they’ll be attending so you know you have enough room.
  5. Seminars v. workshops - While I’m thinking about it, seminars are where you’d have a panel discussion and workshops are where you’d actually have people working in groups or doing exercises that relate to blogging. Some conferences don’t understand this – or maybe it’s the speakers.
  6. Keep it small – 250-300 – Faces become familiar at this size and you might just be able to meet half the people. Next year you can open it up to more people.
  7. Two days – To create meaningful connections you need more than just a day, and it’s easy for people to give up just the weekend. Maybe throw an event the Friday night to get people geared up for the next day. Also it’s easier for people to take a day or two off of work on either side if they need to fly in. And one more for good luck.
  8. Don’t be stereotypically girly – Super political correctness, everyone must feel included, hippie-dippiness leads to violations of #1 – way too many tangents form. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should be able to contribute. Whether it’s by Q&A, a back channel or a social event. And I’ve been known to participate in hippie-dippy Phishhead chanting drum circles where everyone spouts their feelings, but this is not the conference for that. But don’t overcompensate for being “not a man” either. (Yes I have issues. Four years at a women’s college and then being in tech may do that do you.)

My web hosting service has locked me out of my cgi-bin so you can’t make comments on my site yet, but hopefully this weekend I’ll get it up and running. (Elisa had said she wanted to make a comment on my last Bloghercon entry – sorry- soon!)

Bloghercon

The Birds and the Bees – Will Our Children Get the Metaphor?

March 28th, 2005 Posted in Stuff

For those who want to capitalize on possibly catastrophe, you might want to stock up on almond futures (if such a thing exists). Turns out there’s a nasty little Asian mite that has made it’s way to America and is sucking all our honey bees to death.

Turns out that 80% of the world’s almond crop is grown in California where it’s turning into “vampire mite” ground zero. If you haven’t brushed up on your ag-science lately, if there aren’t honey bees to pollenate the crops they won’t produce fruit. And what’s going to possibly happen to almonds will also happen to lemons, oranges, apples and anything else that needs a bee to reproduce.

Given the media’s penchant toward blowing things out of proportion I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about the bees dying, give that if there are no bees, no fruit, seed for birds to spread and you end up with very malnourished humans.

Yahoo! Buys Flickr

March 20th, 2005 Posted in Marketing

Congrats to Flickr (Ludicorp) on their acquisition by Yahoo! It’s one of the few Vancouver success stories that I’ve heard since moving to there five years ago. But what really surprised me when I first heard about them was that hardly anyone that I know up in Vancouver heard about them when I first told them about it! Why was that? They are based in Vancouver. The only thing that I can think of as a reason is because Ludicorp didn’t view themselves as a Vancouver company. Yes they were based in Vancouver, but they had their sights set bigger. They knew how to play the tech industry game. And being a tech company and not playing the game is probably one of the bigger mistakes that I see Vancouver companies making.

In the past year Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield have been presenting at all the big tech industry conferences- getting their name out there and developing wuffie (the father of this word, Cory Doctorow, is on their board). In addition to having a great product, this pr is what got the attention of the tech community, Yahoo! and probably other companies. I can’t tell you of any other Vancouver start-ups that I’ve known that have had their executives on the conference circuit as part of their marketing strategy. It’s not that they didn’t have products that would have been worthy of talking about. I don’t think they ever considered it.

The tech world revolves around Silicon Valley. It’s something that I knew before moving down here but is now crystal clear. If you want to be successful or have a successful tech company, the people here better know who you are and what you do and vice-versa. Once you’re secure in your reputation here, then you can go out and conquer the rest of the world.

Ludicorp seems to have done well with their initial wuffie. It will be interesting to see how much farther they get with Yahoo! behind them.

New Mount Hamilton Highway?

March 15th, 2005 Posted in Madness

I don’t like the idea of this. The California State Senate earmarked money to study if a new highway over Mount Hamiltonshould be constructed.

For me it’s a no brainer. There should not be one. The light pollution will most likely make the Lick Observatory obsolete. It’s an incredibly beautiful area that’s amazingly undeveloped while being so close the valley.

If you’re in the area, brave the twist and turns of a drive up Mount Hamiltion one sunny day to see what I’m talking about.

Sexy Condi

March 15th, 2005 Posted in Madness

Only Americans would think that Condoleezza Rice’s “transformation” equals sexiness. Watching Good Morning Americathis morning, I hear them refer that the long coat and knee high boots she wore to Wiesbaden Airforce baseas a “dominatrix, Matrix” ensemble. Yes I know this is old news, but I never got around to commenting on it. Anyway, she was covered from neck to toe except for her knees. When did wrinkly knees become sexy? And they showed other photos of her dressed in a ball gown with a wrap. Again totally covered. Yet it’s sexy?

Then they interview a Washington “insider” who said, “Who knew pretty was powerful?” Hasn’t she heard the adage “sex is powerful”? And that’s what this all comes down to. Condi has decided that she’s not going to be the dowdy old maid that blends into the background. She going out into the world and leveraging one of the things that gives her an advantage as a woman. I wouldn’t go as far as calling her sexy, but I would say she’s looks good.

She’s now the Secretary of State and needs to put her best foot forward when entering a room. And any woman can tell you that you’re first judged by how you look and then by what you say.

BlogHerCon

March 14th, 2005 Posted in Writing

A group of women are getting together to start of conference to address issues about women and blogging – Bloghercon. It’s like BloggerCon, but focused on women.

Now the question is : Should we invite men to Bloghercon or not?

Neither – Do not advertise it as a women only or men invited conference. You’re probably saying “Huh? That’s not an answer!” Just advertise it as what it is – A conference that focuses on women’s issues in blogging.

Having attended an all female college and been involved in feminist organizations, when you advertise a women-focused event, most men assume that it’s a women-only event. Opening the conference to males but framing it in such a way that we *will* focus on women’s issues in blogging, what it means to be a woman and a blogger and in a male-dominated tech environment may just in and of itself separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. The men that are interested in the subject and want to make a contribution will attend. The others won’t. From reading Dave Winer’s comments on Lisa Stone posing this question , it seems that the fear of women bloggers getting together en-masse is that valuable information and progress will exclude any male bloggers who wants to be a part of understanding the issues and making the blogosphere a better place. But it’s also a very powerful act. Maybe that’s the objection to it?

There are male feminists who help to give a different view of the issues and have valuable knowledge that enriches a discussion. I say feminist because a feminist is one who believes women should have equal rights. There’s no mention of gender in the definition. And I bring up the “F” word because the state of women in blogging is a feminist issue.

Dave Winer doesn’t like the idea of a women-only event, or, if I’m reading it correctly, a women’s issues only event. (I’m picking on him because he’s the lone male voice in this so far.) I understand part of his point of view. The only true advancements in gender issues can only happen when men and women work together, and we should be working on the human race as a whole. But I have concern that his comment is an indicator that men do not see that women still do not have an equal say in our society. Yes there are lots of women saying things, but actually influencing things, not so much. And you can’t expect BloggerCon to transcend this inequality and be able to comfortably and effectively discuss women’s issues in blogging. It’s not that the women aren’t ready for it. It’s that the men aren’t comfortable with it.

So Elle has a valid point in saying “No boys!” I do like the idea of a women’s only event. It’s powerful. It’s comforting. It’s encouraging. But I think of the one guy that was in my women’s studies class. He might have felt isolated, but when it came to questions like “Well what do guys think about this?” – we had a voice. And how can we enlighten men on what we see if we’re not even letting them into the conference. If a man is interested in a conference like this, he’ll come and hopefully will not be intimidated and will contribute. If you’re worried about sexists, my experience is that they’ll avoid it.

The conversation about allowing men could turn into a whole long discussion on the communication and group behavior differences between men and women and how the mere presence of a man in the room will oftentimes make a women censor herself if she feels she is not in an environment where the mere mention of the “F” word will get her labeled as a femi-nazi. (Ah.. how I miss those discussions in college.) And that’s why we need a conference! And to build a community of women.

Essentially, when blogging you’re communicating and forming online communities of people who read a particular blog. We’re creating groups when we form linking rings or creating a loyal audience. By having this women-focused conference we’re examining the natural progression of this medium, its place in society and the women’s issues around it. (Women’s issues run the whole gamut from childcare and healthcare to sexuality and religion.)

Just because a group of women get together does not mean that it will automatically turn into a She-woman man-haters club bitch fest. Why do people automatically assume that male-bashing will be tolerated when the ground rules and framework of the conference have yet to be established? And just because Shelley makes certain comments on her personal blog that can be taken the wrong way by the opposite sex, does not mean she’ll bitch and bash men at the conference. I thought it was a hilarious tongue-in-cheek look at linking.

For blogs that sound like they’re male-bashing, maybe the tone of the author has been misunderstood. But there are women out there that are harsh on the male sex. However it’s not like there aren’t men who harsh on the female sex. And if you can’t understand why there’s a need for a women and blogging conference, perhaps you just need to walk in my shoes for a day and know the feeling of having someone assume you don’t know a technology or issue just because you’re “a girl”, when in actuality you know more about than they do. Then you may understand why some women are getting a bit passionate about this subject.

Oh and if the men want to devote time to men’s issues and blogging, go for it.