A few days ago I wrote a post entitled Bringing Affirmative Action to Blogging where I jokingly asked whether we would need a blaggercon conference for black bloggers. Less than a week later I found out there was a blogging while black panel at the SXSW conference via Nancy White's blog. The blogged transcript of the panel interesting.

Another thing I found interesting was the ratio of men to women at the panel which Nancy White put at 28:80 (35%) which is quite impressive for a technology conference. This compares unfavorably with the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference which a number of women in technology have criticized for being heavily male dominated. These posts include SXSW, why i attended and marginalized populations by Danah Boyd, why sxsw by Liz Lawley and Number 9 Number 9 Number 9 by Shelley Powers. These posts mainly point out that given that both ETech and SXSW were being held at the same time, it seems many women chose the latter over the former. Funny enough, while I did get the feeling that there were way too many white guys at ETech even for a technology conference I wasn't thinking "where are the women?" but instead "where are all the Indian men?". I guess that reveals something about me.

Speaking of conferences,  I did find Dave Winer's post on two-level communities to be quite interesting. Specifically

Last week there were two conferences that I didn't go to but followed through the Web. I could have gone to either of them in person, if I had been willing to pay their fees, and been willing to be in the audience or the hallways, at all times. In other words, I would have to accept my place as a second-level person, an outsider, in the presence of insiders...I remember well what it was like going to Esther's conferences in the 80s, when the insiders all had someone to eat with, and I was paying thousands of dollars for the priviledge of eating by myself because I didn't know anyone.

There's also a post in a similar vein from a participant at SXSW entitled How it feels to be an outsider which goes into more detail about what it feels like to be an outsider at one of these conferences.

Personally I got a lot of value out of ETech. From a technical perspective, I got first hand proof that REST is sweeping SOAP+WSDL as the technology of choice for building Web services from a diverse and knowledgeable set of folks.  From a personal networking perspective I got to chat with Sam Ruby, Steve Gillmor, Anil Dash, Brad Fitzpatrick, Ben Trott, Erik Benson, Adam Bosworth (the conversation was very interesting, expect more about this in a later post), Marc Canter, Kevin Marks, Jeremy Zawodny, Nelson Minar and a bunch of other people. Then there's the fact that I got to spend time hanging out with folks from work outside of meetings and email discussions.

I find it surprising that there are people who go to conferences to attend talks and 'eat by themselves'. However thinking about it now there definitely is a certain clique-like feel to the entire technology conference scene which I'm sure extends to academic and professional conferences as a while.


Monday, 21 March 2005 17:33:36 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
>I find it surprising that there are people who go to
>conferences to attend talks and 'eat by themselves'

Well, computer geeks aren't general known as the most social of creatures. ;)
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