NonCon 2003

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Liz Lawley wrote a well-balanced and thoughtful essay on social software conferences and the unfortunate lack of women speakers at same:

I know, I know these conferences have open calls for presentations, and if women didn’t apply well, shame on us. (And yes, I’ve now shamed myself into at least submitting a proposal for Supernova, though I won’t hold my breath.) But I suspect that many of the speakers on the list didn’t come knocking’ they were invited. And I also think that it’s in the best interest of this burgeoning field if those in positions to affect the direction of future development do make the extra effort to broaden the range of participants in their programs.

Now, before you go there, salivating at the thought of fresh meat!, Liz also added the caveat:

Before the greek chorus makes its way from Shelley’s blog to mine, let me say as clearly as possible that this isn’t about bashing the power structure, or denigrating the men in it. Hey, I like men, really. Even white men. I’m married to one, I’m the mother to two, and I’m the teacher to literally hundreds of them every year.

I agree with Liz on this too. Why, some of my best friends are white men.

As serendipity would have it, Dorothea declares herself conference free in 2003:

I hereby declare 2003 a Con-Free Year for me. Conference, convention, both. I ain’t a-goin’, and there ain’t no draggin’ me.

Um, normally dragging’s only part of Wealth Bondage’s WhipCon, but that’s neither here nor there. I also am a committed NonCon 2003tm attendee. Not only is NonCon something I can afford, it’s also guaranteed 100% diversified across all ethnic groups and genders.

Yup, no sessions where you sit at the back and skip out half way through to see who’s trolling the hallway. No looking up from giving a presentation to a sea of winking white apple logos as half the room “blogs it live”.

No morning break with the glazed pillows the non-Krispy Kreme people call ‘doughnuts’. No after hours mixer with a room full of old-time geeks (buttoned to the chin), former west-coast dot-com employees (button down/khaki), or former east-coast dot-com employees (black leather).

No lunch sitting with strangers who stare at your chest, ‘reading’ your name badge, and you’re not wearing one. No getting run over by the hordes of fans trying to get closer to one of the Names. (I once watched as Clay Shirky and Tim O’Reilly walked side by side down a hallway at a conference, and the fans spread out behind them like feathers on a male peacock. It was kind of pretty.)

No keynote by Bill Gates, Scott McNealy, No Michael Dell, or other Important Personage of a successful, pick one (communication, multimedia, legal, university, software, hardware, or publishing) organization.

And especially, no PowerPoint presentations.

Of course, the downside is not getting to chat with people in your field, not getting to network for those 1 or 2 unfilled jobs still left in the industry, and especially, not being able to get together with people you’ve come to know and like and admire.

But there’s something to be said for staying a virtual friend – no one need ever know that you don’t really look like Wonder Woman.

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