Diversity Weblogging

Our weekly allowance

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I had hoped to have the first release of Wordform out this week, but ended up helping a couple of folks with their sites, so I’m behind. Hopefully after tonight, I can re-focus on this application, the modifications to my own sites, and to the search for jobs and/or writing assignments.

I did get the Burningbird Micropatron list updated with those who have contributed in the last year. If I left your name off, it was purely accidental; please send me an email with a gentle nudge and I’ll correct the page post haste.

In the meantime, a couple of articles came out recently about women and journalism and women and weblogging that have sparked some interesting debate. Steve Levy writes Blogging Beyond the Boys Club and Mauren Dowd writes, Dish it Out, Ladies.

Dowd’s article has been mostly ignored, except for a rather scathing note from Roxanne, (drawing agreement from Glenn Reynolds), which read:

Here’s the shorter version:

Women with opinions are castrating bitches … Because I want men to like me, I imagine myself a sex pot, mind-fucking them all along the way … This job is hard work … I know there are other women out there like me. Maybe they’ll get J-jobs some day.

Someone needs to smack her square across the jaw.

This was completely different than how I read Dowd’s article. What I read is that it isn’t easy being a woman and an opinion writer, because men generally don’t like to receive criticism from women, and react accordingly:

While a man writing a column taking on the powerful may be seen as authoritative, a woman doing the same thing may be seen as castrating. If a man writes a scathing piece about men in power, it’s seen as his job; a woman can be cast as an emasculating man-hater.

Dowd also wrote something I thought was rather key to much of this discussion. She wrote about wanting, at one time, to be seen as nice when she wrote; not as a hag or harridan. But contrary to how Roxanne interpreted her words, I think Dowd was making the point that opinion pieces are, many times, not ‘nice’–and if you want to do this type of writing, being ‘nice’ can’t be your first consideration. And if you aren’t ‘nice’, be prepared for the consequences.

This ties back into Levy’s piece, which I found to be vague and hastily put together, but which did have an interesting quote about Halley Suitt:

So why, when millions of blogs are written by all sorts of people, does the top rung look so homogeneous? It appears that some clubbiness is involved. Suitt puts it more bluntly: “It’s white people linking to other white people!” (A link from a popular blog is this medium’s equivalent to a Super Bowl ad.) Suitt attributes her own high status in the blogging world to her conscious decision to “promote myself among those on the A list.”

This “promoting oneself to the A-List” was echoed by La Shawn at Vodkapundit, who wrote:

I don’t think the top bloggers have much time to read a lot blogs, and I suspect mine isn’t on their agenda most days. Consequently, I made the same decision as Halley Suitt. I decided that I wanted to promote myself among those on the A-list. I have high aspirations for my career as a writer and blogger, and getting the attention of high-profile bloggers is a necessary step.

For example, I wasn’t booked on MSNBC because my blog is so fabulous. I got a guest spot because I’ve been linked to by top bloggers, and the right people took notice. Other black or female bloggers may be doing something similar or nothing like it at all, but to get where I want to go (in the time frame I want to get there), I must.

Whites are still the majority in America, and the Internet tends to be dominated by whites. It follows that the majority of bloggers will be white. I have no grand theories, at least none I’d care to discuss today, why white men in particular dominate the top bloggers.

Leaving aside La Shawn’s rather US-centric and not necessarily accurate view of the internet, is the trick for being a successful female weblogger to promote ourselves among the A-list? Does this mean, then, that we must act nice, be nice, to the A-List, in order to get the notice resulting in a ’successful’ weblog? Well if that’s true, then I’m really screwed.

I haven’t interacted with all the Technorati Top 100 but I have with a goodly number. For instance, though I’ve not exchanged any real communication with Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing, I have been critical of Creative Commons and some of the work with EFF, and EFF is near and dear to his heart. More importantly, though, I’ve been critical of the actions of some of the people within his personal sphere, and I really doubt I could count on a link from Cory–unless I want to ditch my clothes and run naked down the street crying out, “I am naked in my blog and now I am naked to the world!”, and only then if I end up on the news.

As for Mr. Glenn Reynolds, we had a minor interaction a couple of years ago, where I think I said something to the effect that he waffles in his opinion and never really takes a strong stand on any issue. He got fairly strong in responding to me before we were through, so I think we can safely count him out.

Going down the list, there are several sites that I know that are political, and I’m not a “political” weblogger, though I do write on politics from time to time. Still, I don’t take all of this seriously enough to attract linkage from Daily Kos, Atrios, or Josh Marshall. From what Chris Nolan says, Josh Marshall rarely links to women anyway. And, frankly, I don’t want a link from Kos–it’s sure to feature the word ‘moron’ somewhere in the same posting.

There’s always Little Green Footballs, but I’d rather pass on being linked to by that hate-filled crowd. I will say one thing in Charles’ favor: I was pretty sure that LGF was the first to cast doubts on the letter that led to the whole “Rathergate” thing — not Powerline. However, I think that Powerline is a more ‘acceptable’ weblog, so it got the prize. I guess it goes to show that even within the neocon ranks, there are folks that can go too far.

NZ from Truth Laid Bear linked to me a few times, and even used to run a quote from me in his little quote bar from time to time, but as the chasm of respectability between the political weblogger and “the rest of us” widened, the less relevance we ‘resters’ have, so my ‘Bear’ time is a thing of the past — I think I’m an amoeba on the EcoSystem list now.

Though most of the the political webloggers in the Top are male, there’s a few women. I like Michele from A Small Victory and link to her from time to time, and she does the same with me. I made a prediction about six months back that Michelle Malkin would end up in the Top 100 within three months, and I was right. And as Michelle’s star rises, Wonkette’s falls. Seems to me that Levy’s article is going to be used as an excuse to drop Wonkette.

Now, Malkin did link to me once, and it was a nice link, too. But I couldn’t count on her to link to me again because there’s not one single thing on which we could agree. That wouldn’t matter if I also wasn’t Technorati 550–too low to be of interest, or use.

Same could be said of most of the political sites — if you want notice, you have to pay the price. You have to put in some serious time linking to the folks (what’s the going rate now? Twenty links to a top site can be traded for one link to your weblog?), or some serious time ‘marketing’ yourself to the Big Bad Bloggers.

Now, not all the sites listed are political; in fact, there are several technology webloggers on the list, and I’ve interacted with most of them.

It’s interesting how so many WordPress related folks are listed in the Technorati Top 100. I wonder how much of this is due to the fact that WordPress comes with links to WordPress developers and supporters already pre-loaded in the weblogging tool? Binary Bonsai also has a lot of links because of Michael’s very nice design and people giving him credit. (Now that’s an idea for me–I can finish Wordform and then load my weblog sites into the links. Or I can push Floating Clouds as the next, best weblog design.)

Unfortunately, I’ve managed to piss off the WordPress folk in the list because of my criticism of the tool, so whatever brownie points I make helping folk with their WordPress tool or saying good things about the product have been flushed down the loo.

(Odd, but Photo Matt used to be in the list and isn’t now — filtered out?)

Dave Winer used to link to me off and on in the past, and not necessarily always in a critical manner, but won’t any longer. I’ve crossed the line with that boy and would have to do major booty kissing if I want to get back into his favor. Frankly, I’d rather have oral sex with a crocodile.

I’ve long had pride in the fact that I’m the last link in Doc Searls blogroll. And Doc links from time to time, but I’ve been critical of him in the past, and more importantly, critical of people he calls friends, and Doc is one extremely loyal friend. Still, he’s not one to hold a grudge.

(Just joking about the recent “blogging babe” and “links are dicks” thing, Doc. Honest.)

There’s the folks who weblog at Corante, but the problem is that some of the folk there don’t like me because of what I’ve written in the past, and wouldn’t link to me no matter what I write, or its relevance to their own areas of interest. On the other hand, a few of the folks will link to me if I write something interesting enough, so I have a rather Schizophrenic releationship with that publication.

Scoble still links to me, even though I have been critical of what he’s written a time or two. I appreciate the honesty of his linking, even though I think his views of ‘the link’ itself, are cracked.

(Speaking of linking, the ghost of Mark Pilgrim past has resurfaced, in classic Mark Pilgrim fashion. Hurrah! It’s been too damn dull without him being around. Mark’s also a loyal friend, but whatever squabbles we’ve had in the past are in the past. So don’t Scobelize links to my site, too, Mark.)

Joi Ito not only links to me from time to time, he was an early ‘micropatron’ to this site–this even though I have been critical of Six Apart, Movable Type, Typepad and other ventures he’s involved in. Frankly, he’s a class act — even if he does post dubious emails to his site without any fact checking first.

I’m not sure if Zeldman has ever forgiven me for writing “Tyranny of the Standards” but he mainly hangs with the design crowd and the WaSPers. Most of the design folk here abouts don’t consider me a web designer, even though I’ve written books and articles on the subject. Why? Probably because I sell myself as a backend rather than a front-end developer. Some might say it’s also because my site designs suck. Other would say because I’ve been critical of the Web Standards group in the past.

But I’ve seen the light. Yessir, yessmam — I have drunk the web standards koolaid. Hell, I’ve even incorporated orange back into my site — that ought to be worth something in web design circles. Luckily, I haven’t managed to piss off Dave at Mezzoblue yet, and thankfully I’ll be able to write nice things about his and Molly’s new book later in the week, so there’s still hope for me in that direction.

There’s the “weblogger as journalist” crowd, and Dan Gillmor’s old site is still on the list, but I’ve been critical of his new effort, the whole ‘weblogger as journalism’ thing, not to mention his brother’s writing, so I don’t think I can necessarily count on support from him. As for the other “webloggers are journalists”, the only other one I see on the list is Jeff Jarvis, and unless I run off and have mad sex with Howard Stern, on the air, I doubt I’ll get mention from him.

Then there’s the old time blogger group of Ev, Kottke, Megnut, Anil Dash, and MetaFilter Matt, but if you’re critical of one of these people, you’re critical of all of them, and they don’t forgive or forget.

You know, now that I think on it–if I had just kept my mouth shut more in the past, why I’d probably wouldn’t be looking at taking a nighttime janitor job now. But I never was very good at marketing, and as Dowd said, if you’re a woman and don’t stick with ‘nice’, you have to accept the consequences.

My choices, my consequences.

It’s interesting but we can market ourselves to the ‘A-listers’ and think nothing of it; in fact, we applaud it as good weblogging protocol. But if we accept ads or actively look for sponsors on our weblogs, then our writing is suspect and our motives, impure. You would think that after all these years, we would realize that the coin of this particular realm doesn’t jingle in one’s pocket, or fit in one’s wallet.