mamamusings: September 21, 2003

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Sunday, 21 September 2003

the unbearable impermanence of blogging

My biggest frustration with blogging is definitely the way that ideas and issues raised in blogs seem to disappear from everyone’s radar within days. Blogs encourage a “topic du jour” approach to the world. Once the discussion scrolls off the main page, it might as well never have happened. The swarm of readers is off in search of the newest idea high.

I’ve noticed this in myself—blogs are great for people like me with short attention spans, people who like starting things more than they like finishing them. Read, write, move on. There’s too much to see, too much to think about, to stay focused on one thread for too long.

What got me thinking about this was my attempt this weekend to sit down and brainstorm a social software presentation for ETCon ‘04. And while I know it’s probably not the right direction to go in terms of (a) getting something accepted, or (b) capturing the hearts and minds of the hard-core geek audience, I keep wanting to write something about the “female problem.”

Last year’s ETCon was an amazing example of how little input from women there is in the development of emerging technologies—even in the area where you might think that input would be particularly helpful, namely “social software.” And I wrote about that. Here, and here In fact, the second one was one of most-commented-on posts I’ve written. Everyone was interested, everyone was concerned. For about a week. Then, so far as I could tell, it pretty much went back to business as usual.

In fact, when I started to write this post, I was originally going to call it “women and social software - why should we care?” Then I realized I’d already written a post called “why should we care?,” back when I was talking about the book Unlocking the Clubhouse. Which is what made me wonder if there was any point at all in writing about this again.

Eroded Rock PhotoIn the end, despite the impermanence and apparent difficulty of effecting change through this medium, I decided there was a point. Kevin Werbach, for example, invited me to speak at SuperNova, in part because of those posts. I need to remember that even little waves lapping at the rock can effect change over time. So consider this one more in a series of attempts to erode existing gender imbalances. Eventually, the message may get through to the architects of new social software environments that systems developed only by hard-core geeks aren’t likely to appeal to an audience much wider than those same geeks.

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more like this: gender
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna