Sunday, March 13, 2005

Ooops, I Knew I Forgot Something

Correction: I've conflated the Berkman conference with another conference on "Media, Technology and the Common Good" held at Harvard by the American Press Institute at the beginning of March. Apparently you can't throw a stone in Cambridge without hitting a conference discussing blogs (and the same people too). I apologize for confusing the two, as well for as the resulting mischaracterizations of the positions of the parties based thereon.

With respect to the issue of the gender makeup of invitees to the the conferences, however, I counted 14 women and 36 men on the invite list for the Berkman conference (link) and 13 women and 33 men at the API conference (link). So not much difference there. If there weren't "many other women in attendance" at the API conference, there weren't many other women at the Berkman conference. Why was the gender disparity so noteworthy at the API conference and not at the Berkman event? And, contrary to the MSGOP article, most of the invitees at the API conference were not "top 100 bloggers," or bloggers at all. So the point of blaming the bloggers for the lack of diversity at conference not run or controlled by bloggers also stands.

An article from asks why the blogosphere is dominated by white males:

March 21 issue -- At a recent Harvard conference on bloggers and the media, the most pungent statement came from cyberspace. Rebecca MacKinnon, writing about the conference as it happened, got a response on the "comments" space of her blog from someone concerned that if the voices of bloggers overwhelm those of traditional media, "we will throw out some of the best ... journalism of the 21st century."


After the comment was posted, a couple of the women at the conference -- bloggers MacKinnon and Halley Suitt -- looked around and saw that there weren't many other women in attendance. Nor were the faces yapping about the failings of Big Media representative of the human quiltwork one would see in the streets of Cambridge or New York City, let alone overseas. They were, however, representative of the top 100 blogs according to the Web site Technorati -- a list dominated by bigmouths of the white-male variety.

Shouldn't this article be about the perpetuation of white male dominance at Harvard academic conferences, rather than while male dominance of the blogosphere?

Last time I checked, it wasn't blogs or the blogosphere that was sending out the invites to the Berkman Center For the Internet and Society's "invitation only" circle jerk. From the website, it looks like Ms. MacKinnon had something of a say in who got invited to the event. She certainly knew who was on the guest list well before the conference began. So why did she have to look around "after the comment was posted" to realize there weren't many other women in attendance? Had Jeff Jarvis told Ms. MacKinnon he was born a woman? Did she believe that Robert Cox, John Hinderaker and Dave Winer were drag kings?

Here's a radical suggestion for MacKinnon if she wants more diversity at her next blogfest: Invite more women and people of color. Until then, stop pretending that your problem and Harvard's is someone else's.

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