Shelley Powers has a post entitled Change starts at home where she points out the speaker list of the Our Social World conference
is pretty homogenous (white males) and consists of the usual suspects
when it comes to geeking about social software. I was quite surprised
to see a comment in response to her post which stated
Shelley, you’re totally off the mark here. Firstly, there simply
are not that many women working professionally on social
software/blogging in the UK...Secondly, the speakers were
self-selecting. Geoff who organised it put up a wiki and anyone could
put their name down to speak. No women other than myself went to the
effort of putting their name down and turning up... Finally, regarding
ethnic minorities, you have to remember that the UK is not as
ethnically diverse (and that that diversity is not as widely spread
out) as the US .
I don't know about the UK but I do know that in the US, there are a
lot of women in Social Software yet I keep seeing the same set of
[white male] names on the speaker lists of various conferences on the
topic. Given that this is the second post I've read today that
points out the incongruities in the choices of geeks typically chosen
as spokespeople for the social software world (the first was Phil
Haack's Where are the Sociologists of Social Software) I decided to write something about it.
Just like with my Women in XML
post last year, Shelley's post did make me start thinking about how
many women I knew who worked with Social Software whose works I'd
rather see presented than at least one of the presentations currently
on the roster for the Our Social World conference. Here is my list
Danah Boyd - a Ph.D student at UC Berkeley who also is a researcher for Yahoo! Research in Berkeley. She has written a number of papers on social software including a number of interesting analysis of articulated social networks, specifically Friendster.
Elizabeth Churchill -
former project lead of the Social Computing Group at FX Palo Alto
Laboratory, Fuji Xerox’s research lab in Palo Alto. She has produced a
number of books and research papers on the topic of social software.
Mena Trott - president and co-founder of SixApart, she is one of the folks that is behind the company that gives LiveJournal, TypePad and MovableType which are all excellent pieces of social software that are utilized by millions of people.
- a researcher on the Social Computing Group at IBM's TJ Watson
Research Center. She has authored a variety of interesting papers on
collaboration within small and large groups.
Liz Lawley - currently a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research. She is the founder of the Rochester Institute of Technology's Lab for Social Computing
Beki (Rebecca) Grinter - a Xerox Parc alum who's done a bunch of research on how teenagers use social communication tools such as SMS and IM.
- she runs the Social Computing Group at IBM's TJ Watson Research
Center and has been involved in a number of ACM conferences on
Human-Computer Interaction (social software's cousin).
Lili Cheng -
former head of the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research. A
driving force behind innovative social applications such as the Virtual Worlds Platform and Wallop.
- a researcher on the Social Computing Group at Microsoft research.
She's worked on a number of innovative social software applications
including Swarm (group-based SMS) and Wallop.
Betsy Aoki - the head wrangler of Microsoft's corporate blogging efforts at http://blogs.msdn.com and http://blogs.technet.com
Karen Luk - she is responsible for the weblogging aspects of MSN Spaces which is one of the worlds most popular and fastest growing blogging services.
Gina Venolia - she was one of the researchers that came up with Sideshow which has inspired numerous copycats including the sidebar in Google Desktop and Desktop Sidebar. Currently researching the impact and effects of weblogging.
- founder of the Social Computing Group at Microsoft Research. She was
key in the creation of a number of interesting social software
applications including Photo Story
Nikki Santoro - she runs the client team for one of the most popular instant messaging clients in the world, MSN Messenger.
These women either are heavily involved in research around the
sociological impact of technology and human interaction or actually
work on building social software applications used by millions of
people. Quite frankly, I'd rather hear any one of them speak than the
typical geek you see at the average O'Reilly conference yaking about Social Software.
Unfortunately the people who really do the work that changes the
world often get less publicity than the ones who just talk about it.
The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent
my employer's view in any way.
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