Quick thought before I forget: over at Anil Dash's blog they're nattering about how it's bad that the 'Web 2.0' crowd is so white, male, and US/UK/Aussie-centric. Never mind the irritating 'Web 2.0' label.
I just gotta say:
That's how things start. You may recall that the Internet was a U.S. gov't/academic project, the exclusive province of white American males until comparatively recently. Get some perspective, and get some backbone.
Most computer scientists are white males, most software developers are males in any case, and the social scene seems to overlap with the professional scene when it comes to 'social software' developers. But again: so what? It's not wrong to ask 'Where the ladies at?' but we know the answer already: everydamnwhere. If they want to come to a Bay Area conference on web services and blogs, for Christ's sake let them come, the more the merrier! The door is actually wide open. Do you really think that social software types are the most egregious sexists in all the world, or even San Francisco, Cambridge of the West? Can you say with a straight face that the 'Web 2.0' conference is a harbinger of continued white male hegemony? No and no. Geeks are geeks and are drawn to a particular set of things, and the aesthetic side of geekdom is part of its appeal professionally. Blogs and the like look nothing like the Web of a few years ago - and that comes from increased diversity. All these things can change: a snapshot of the 'Web 2.0' conference isn't a final report, it's a progress report.
Now, Shelley at BurningBird (sorry I'm too lazy to link to either site today) has a point: women online have been talking about this for a while now. Yes! There are plenty of smart, interesting blogging women, and I read a few of them. But here's a thought: so what? Go to the conference, and if you don't like the tastemakers, become one and change things. When it comes to pathetic 'people web' geeks, it's not that goddamn hard.
People talk about sexism (for instance) as if it's a fait accompli. But like anything else, it's a project. It has to be maintained. It manifests structurally. And as with any such project, the cost of making changes up front is much lower than the cost of altering fixed standards and entrenched interests. The 'Web 2.0' hipsters are very, very, very small potatoes, but it won't always be that way. Now is the time to do the Web right. Whingeing about the inescapable insularity of the group is unacceptable when it's so easy to just change the group.
This isn't about changing society entirely. It's about increasing representation at a circle-jerk in the Bay Area. That's some low-hanging fruit, people. Don't let the hype machine scare you: these 'Web 2.0' fuckers are pushovers, and there's only like TWENTY OF THEM.
We can worry about fundamental shifts in the nature of culture tomorrow. Today, do what you can. It'll pay off later.