How can the Web truly be “open” when only young white male geeks get to decide what the Web is?

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How many times have we heard from the tech world that ideas are worthless, that only the application of ideas has value?  This commonly held Silicon Valley belief – that ideas are insignificant compared to execution – is, pardon my language, Scoble slobber.  Yet, this mistaken belief drives the Web.  Moreover, it self-servingly puts all the power in very few, non-diverse hands. 

Wall Street: old white males. 

Silicon Valley: young white males. 

You can’t be offended by one and happy with the other.

Yes, application is vital.  More than vital.  But you can’t apply something that doesn’t first exist: the idea.  Poor ideas remain poor even when executed well.  The most stellar engineers can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

The opposite is also true.  Good ideas are hard to keep down, no matter what.  Twitter wasn’t executed particularly well, to which the Fail Whale testifies, yet Twitter is flourishing because at its core was a good idea.

Good ideas are just as essential as good execution.  And as “execution” moves closer and closer to becoming a commodity thanks to the Open Source movement that has made “patent” and “proprietary” dirty words and developers interchangeable and expendable, someday soon, the only wealth creation advantage for any Internet product will be the idea itself. 

 Problem #1 – Silicon Valley’s inability to judge if an idea is truly good or not

How many times have we heard venture capitalists say that in order for them to consider your project, you need to get something launched and prove traction?  What is this demand if not an admission that they don’t have a clue if your idea is solid or not?  Yes, you can choose to believe that they are testing your execution abilities, but your programming skills could be confirmed by simply pointing to other projects you’ve already completed.  What they really want to know is whether or not people will desire what you develop. 

That’s what traction is, of course: confirmation of the idea. 

Silicon Valley’s “let’s throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks” approach is extremely wasteful of time, talent and money.  It also limits executed ideas to those of mostly young (limited life experience), mostly left-brained (limited creativity) mostly males (limited accommodation).

Solution

VC firms have technical expertise to judge the technology, but as everything becomes open source and non-patentable, this analysis is less critical.  The Social Web has taken over and social science can no longer be ignored.   VC firms should hire or contract with people who can judge ideas from a human adoption standpoint.   This means people with expertise in anthropology, sociology and trend forecasting.

Problem #2 – Silicon Valley’s sexism

 “Sexism” is a word I very seldom use and certainly do not brandish carelessly.  Neither do I mean it on an individual basis.  These days most men aren’t ignorant-based bigots against women.  But Silicon Valley and the Web itself are extremely “institutionally sexist” given the fact that the vast majority of VCs, technologists, and tech reporters/bloggers are male.  Even as women are now online in greater numbers than men, female ideas and wants and desires largely go unexecuted. 

Elevating anthropology and sociology to the same plane as technology as suggested above will naturally bring in more women, but more needs to be done. 

Solution

Investors should actively seek out ideas not just from women, but also from other groups that aren’t now being included in VC’s ponder piles, like older folks and racial minorities. 

“If you could build the world’s best Internet experience, what would it be like?”  Ask that question, sift through the business plans, verify that the result would be desirable to large numbers and THEN go get the technical talent that it takes to execute.

Why is that so hard to fathom? 

Ideas may be a dime a dozen but GOOD ideas can be worth millions.  Even billions.  Open up who can offer business plans, get diverse experts to help review them from a people-perspective as well as tech-perspective – so you can stop the absurdity of “build this first and then maybe we’ll give you the money to build this” – and you’re bound to find some great ideas that can be executed.  And I’ll bet most will include monetization plans, too!

Either that or we can just stay stuck in the poverty of Web 2.0 until Scoble runs out of slobber for yet another social network by yet another young white geek male.  SIGH

PS: Before anybody accuses me of geek bashing, I love geeks.  My late husband was a geek who worked for Intel.  How could we live without you guys?  I wouldn’t want to try.  But it takes all kinds to make the world go round, and it is the Worldwide Web, after all. 

The Internet should reflect everybody.  And until it does “open” is closed.  That’s all I’m saying.

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42 Responses to “How can the Web truly be “open” when only young white male geeks get to decide what the Web is?”

  1. Marshall Kirkpatrick Says:

    Lots to think about here Dawn. Sending you my best wishes.

  2. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Thanks much, Marshall!

    It’s great that we’ve had at least some sunshine the past few weeks. Hope you’re taking some time to enjoy it. ;)

  3. mermaldad Says:

    I agree that the Web would be better served by eliminating the institutional biases. However, I disagree with your assertion that VCs have it all wrong by demanding to see evidence of good execution of a good idea. Maybe in Silicon Valley the idea is underrated, I don’t know. I live a long way from Silicon Valley. In most of the rest of the world, ideas are overrated. This is why we have so many companies stockpiling patents, either to sue others if they manage to execute an idea better or to avoid being sued.

    The truth is, you are unlikely to succeed unless you have a pretty good idea which is pretty well executed. Neither factor has to be perfect, but they both have to be there. And in general, if two companies are both working on the same idea, the “better” execution usually wins. Of course, “better” is an extremely subjective term.

    Regarding Problem #1, I would agree that VCs have a hard time telling if an idea and its execution are good because that is a hard thing to measure.

  4. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Mermaldad, “demanding to see evidence of good execution of a good idea” guarantees that institutional biases *won’t* be eliminated, because the only ones who can hack these things out without money are…well, hackers.

    Of course I understand the need when we’re talking millions of dollars. But many VC firms and angel investors *claim* they will provide seed money, but how many really do? When the idea is already launched and proving traction, it’s not seed, it’s a plant.

    All they would have to do is write a check for $15k or $30k or whatever and say “Okay, we like your idea, here is some money to hire a good hacker.” Not long ago, good software engineers were all working on their own ideas or were already employed. That’s no longer the case. There is no excuse left for not backing ideas that could be developed by proven talent that would welcome the paycheck.

    If VCs or angels were willing to invest smaller amounts in more ideas by a greater variety of people who have a greater variety of skills and perspectives and proven experience and successes in life, everybody would win. Not all would work out, obviously, but relatively few of the funded ideas we get now actually make it as successful businesses. And by the time that happens, millions could be lost.

    Look at the MyToons disaster: http://tinyurl.com/create.php If they really wanted to get into animation, they could have given $50k to six different teams based on ideas alone and found a winner they could then put more money into. But instead they flushed $6 million dollars down the tubes.

    Remember, good ideas don’t form in a vacuum. They come from knowledge and experience. And right now, most of that knowledge and experience is being shut out. Think of the Old West. The carpenters had to build the towns. But were they the ones who actually outfitted the buildings and opened and ran the blacksmith shop and the bank and the merchantile? No!

    VCs and angels only give money to carpenters and expect them to outfit and run the entire Web. It’s downright stupid, if you ask me. The Web could be SO MUCH better if more people were allowed in.

  5. Louis Gray Says:

    Living in the Silicon Valley, and having worked at companies that were predominantly male, covered startups that were typically started by men, and written about by men, yes, absolutely see what are saying.

    In March I wrote about some of the issues, saying there just aren’t enough ladies out there blogging on tech, or that I hadn’t found them yet:

    I’m Not Reading and Engaging With Enough Female Bloggers

    http://louisgray.com/live/2008/03/im-not-reading-and-engaging-with-enough.html

    To say there aren’t differences between genders would be futile. There are tendencies, either through nature or nurture, to operate in ways that push women one direction, and men in another. I also believe that some of this is getting solved over time as the generations pass. Assuming men were guided toward science and tech 80 years ago, it’s been 2-3 generations since women were even given a key to the door, so they’ve got a long way to go to catch up and gain a level bearing in terms of numbers vs. the men. As Obama says and shows, change can’t come overnight.

    Men and women have incredible ideas, and there are powerful women rising in the ranks of business and tech, but there is a lot of room to go. I wouldn’t say the Valley is inherently sexist, but it is representative of its surroundings and its ingredients.

  6. Rob O. Says:

    Maybe I’m off on a bit of a tangent, but this is precisely why – even in spite of the fact that I didn’t vote for him – I’m excited to see what shakes out during President Obama term(s). Having a young man in Washington to rattle the cages on all those crusty, scared, old white guys is a good thing. Hell, if for no other reason than the ripples of chaos, I think it would’ve even been interesting to see Hillary as President. No, I don’t necessarily think she’s right for the job and I’m not trying to spark a political debate. I’m just saying that we need some fresh perspectives. We need to dethrone some of the stodgy & complacent cranks who’re pulling the strings and running the nation.

    And yes, I agree that we need to see more diversity in tech too. However, one things for sure, the Web isn’t going to remain predominantly white (if it even still can be considered so) for long. Maybe the founding fathers of computer tech & the Web were/are white guys, but that already started shifting, albeit slowly, a decade ago.

  7. Jesse Luna Says:

    As a “racial minority” who has been part of a startup that’s knocked on VC doors, I think that the issue is much broader than having young white folks at the VC helms.

    It goes back to education level, field of study, personal and business networks, bootstrap mentality, exposure to other startups (helps if one’s parents were entrepreneurs, THEN it gets to access to VCs to pitch a winning idea.

    So there’s a long chain of things that have to be aligned for a person of color or woman to even get to even get to the VC stage. And right now, the odds are against that. That doesn’t mean people should give up. We didn’t. It just means that it’s a tough road and the VC stage is just one more of them.

  8. MiniMage Says:

    I feel that I should mention that Scoble has on several occasions lamented the absence of females and minorities at tech gatherings. It doesn’t seem apparent from your article that you are aware of this.

  9. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Thanks for all the great comments, everybody.

    MiniMage, yeah, I probably shouldn’t pick on Scoble, but I did because I think he’s a good example of being unable to listen to things that don’t resonate within the Silicon Valley echo chamber. I know because I tried for years to get him to hear me on different issues (esp. regarding the problems with “free”) and it’s only when others inside the Valley start saying and doing what I’ve been advocating for all along that he starts paying attention.

    So while Scoble might say and even believe he wants female and minority input, it’s been my experience going back a few years now that he won’t respect it unless it falls in line with what his white geek brothers think.

    Not that it should be any other way, given that Scoble’s position is to evangelize what’s happening in Silicon Valley. I’m just saying that from where I sit, it’s frustrating. I used to see Robert as a thought leader, having followed his blog for years, and thereby probably got too aggressive trying to influence some of those thoughts, to the point that he blocked me on FriendFeed as “an idiot” and “unintelligent” (it was during political/religious discussion, but I think that was just an excuse to get rid of me, which was his right).

    So, yeah, I dinged him in this article just a tad. Perhaps that wasn’t too lady like. Ironic, ‘eh? LOL

    I like what Louis Gray said: “I wouldn’t say the Valley is inherently sexist, but it is representative of its surroundings and its ingredients.” I believe he’s right. With this post I’m just hoping to get people to start thinking about maybe becoming more proactive at throwing in some new things. More flavor, more color, more nourishment, too.

    Sounds good to me, anyway.

  10. JoeDuck Says:

    Great question and the answer is as you imply: The web is not even *remotely* open yet. But it can become that way because the barrier to entry is NOT the technology anymore, it’s human folly. So somewhat ironically the reason the web stays too narrowly focused is that those who should be participating and could easily participate are actively choosing not to. Let’s shame them into blogging and twittering and changing the conversation!

  11. DaisyDeadhead Says:

    Awesome commentary. Thanks.

  12. elkziz Says:

    Inspiring post. Thank you!

  13. Julia Says:

    Excellent, thought provoking article. Thank you.
    As an older female myself, I am thought of as a bit of an anomaly in my offline life because I am so ‘geeky’. I m not really, it is just that I live and work in rural Wales in the UK and generally we are a long way behind Silicon Valley! I am tasked with developing technology enhanced learning in a local HEI and it is something of an uphill struggle with many staff and students. Nice to talk to folk who understand me and where I am coming from for a change!

  14. Patricia Says:

    I’m a woman who has a background in IP engineering, a serial entrepreneur, sold a startup last year and have a new one now. I’ve really never had any problem doing business or getting acknowledged in the Silicon Valley business or experienced any sexism really.

  15. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Patricia, that’s because your IP engineering makes you “one of the boys.” ;)

    I’ve tried to make a distinction between personal sexism and institutional sexism. I hardily acknowledge that it’s a complex issue and “individual results may vary.”

    Congratulations on your great success! Way to go!

    Thanks for the comments, everybody. I appreciate it.

  16. Sheeri Cabral Says:

    Dawn — I don’t get it — someone who’s an engineer is “one of the boys”? If someone has tech in their background, then yes, their ideas are respected more than people without tech in their background.

    Does Scoble scoff at ideas from all non-tech people that don’t agree with his “white boy geeks” or just those of women?

  17. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Sheeri, you might notice that I said that with a wink and a smile. But, yes, I agree with what you say about techs respecting techs, and that’s only natural. But shouldn’t it only be legitimate when you’re talking about tech issues?

    Take social media, for example. Why should people with *social* expertise and *media* expertise be less respected than software engineers when sharing ideas about social media?

    As for your Scoble question, you’re right…I don’t think it’s a female issue per se. He’s often said that having a lot of followers is what equals credibility to him. The practical result is that in his circles that mostly means men. But that’s not to say he doesn’t respect or listen to women who have a lot of followers and have made a name for themselves in the tech world.

  18. Robert Scoble Says:

    “He’s often said that having a lot of followers is what equals credibility to him.”

    That is bullshit. Please quote. I always say that who you follow is important, not who is following you. When others said that the number of followers equals credibility or authority I fought that idea. One reason I do not listen to what you say is I find that you are rarely accurate in your treatment of others.

  19. Chad Says:

    Yes, there is a tremendous amount of Silicon Valley waste, there has been much funding of bizarre and seemingly bad ideas. However, the internet could be considered a frontier, with nobody knowing exactly what will appeal to users. Who can explain the popularity of lolcats, or icanhascheezeburger? Without throwing a certain amount of stuff against the wall, you have Microsoft. Playing it safe, and only driving innovation that might appeal to the boardroom and management.
    What I can’t understand is why VC’s have funded startups with no plans about how to monetize the content. Just because they (users) have come, doesn’t mean they’ll pay.

    I don’t really agree that the web is that closed, nor that there aren’t opportunities for those other than the segments you suggest. Anybody can buy a domain name and write some code. If the concept is strong, and has a solid business plan, somebody will fund it. I don’t know of anyone that started using facebook or myspace because one of the “weborati” blogged about it. Other than the “technorati” nobody has ever heard of Mike Arrington, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, or any of the other “weborati”. The masses are on Myspace and Facebook, and still use AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo. We are still in the infancy of mass internet use, and the masses take time to find their way around.

  20. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Robert, cussing at me and making accusations about my “treatment of others” (How ’bout you quote where I have ever mistreated anybody, as I have no idea at all what you’re talking about) doesn’t change the fact that you have said at least three times that I recall, things like some app or other needs to show how many followers somebody has so readers can tell if they have credibility.

    Perhaps you can search the word “credibility” or “credible” in your FF feed if that’s possible. I can’t. I’m blocked, remember?

    Yes, you do often say that who you follow is more important than who is following you. And I do believe you think that it doesn’t matter if somebody has 5,000 followers or 25,000 followers. But what about a handful of followers? or 50? or 250? At what level is somebody credible? I’m sorry, but you *have* suggested that people need to check how many people are following a person to see if they’re credible. I’m certainly not making that up.

    But you’re right…I probably overstated it in the sentence I wrote above. I apologize.

  21. Michael Fidler Says:

    Thank you so much for putting down in words what has been on my mind for such a long time. I’m not much of a writer, and I don’t have a blog, so I’ve just had to keep my thoughts to myself. I think you are the first person I’ve come across who sees the value in utilizing people with actual backgrounds in the social sciences. When these disciplines are combined with someone that has good taste and common sense, they are most likely the type of person that can spot a good idea from a mile away. I can’t stress enough how important life experience is also. I call this street smarts. These are all rare qualities to find in one individual, but when one does they tend to be successful in life. I have found that many of the people we call visionaries have these qualities too. Steve Jobs has all these qualities, but he is a rarity amongst his peers. Whether it is a man or a women, VC’s should look high and low in the hopes of finding one person like this. BTW, Hollywood is suffering from the same problem. Most producers don’t have a clue what a good idea is, so they work with people that others have worked with. They do this because they can’t spot talent for themselves. They make sequels and reality shows instead of trying to create something original. I really enjoyed this post. I hope my comments makes a little sense! Now, I need to subscribe to your blog:-)

  22. Julia Says:

    I completely agree about Hollywood btw (and television generally, to be honest)…if a good idea emerges and captures the public imagination…let’s flog it to death until everyone is heartily sick of it, instead of thinking of new and fresh ideas….I give you cookery and make-over shows as an example….as well as reality tv of course! :-)

  23. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Exactly, Michael! Thank God for you for getting it! You’ve made my day! Thank you so much for writing!

    On that positive note, I’m finally going to go to bed. It’s past 3:30am. YIKES!

    P.S. to Julia: Amen!

  24. scottbourne Says:

    So if we don’t agree with you, is it because we’re sexist? That’s one of my take aways from your post and your comments. I don’t know you or anything about you. Just reacting to what I read here.

    Sorry but I think you’re wrong – if you have the right idea, the ability to execute and the determination to succeed, no white male is going to stop you. But just because they don’t roll out the red carpet for you either doesn’t mean they are sexist.

    Your blog is partial evidence that you aren’t being silenced. There are plenty of powerful, successful women online. Those who succeed didn’t wait for permission. They acted. I personally get tired of “protected” classes claiming they are victimized by their circumstances. In my opinion, that’s usually just a manifestation of our current “Everybody gets a plaque!” syndrome.

    Today is Super Bowl Sunday – everyone on the field is trying their best. But points only go to the person who takes the ball over the goal line. Trying isn’t good enough. Wishing isn’t good enough. Hoping isn’t good enough. You have to DO something to win. And complaining because the mean old defensive lineman stood in your way isn’t going to change the score. (Sorry to use a sports analogy – but hey – I am just a stupid old while male so what do you expect?)

    I think everyone should get a chance and the Web has made that possible. I hope for EVERYONE’s success, old, young, black, white, male and female. And I am the dreaded while male of which you speak!

    As for your comments about Scoble – I really think you’re confusing the bias toward “A-List” bloggers like Robert Scoble with a bias AGAINST you because you’re female.

    Maybe I should start complaining because the Valley doesn’t welcome enough old fat guys :)

  25. Dawn Douglass Says:

    >”So if we don’t agree with you, is it because we’re sexist?…Just reacting to what I read here.”

    Then you didn’t read it very well, Mr. Bourne. Happy Super Bowl Sunday.

  26. Jeremy Toeman Says:

    I have to say, I think your rant isn’t about “the Internet” or “openness”, it’s about tech startups and VCs. The *reality* is that the sites which attract the widest overall audiences, such as Perez Hilton or Daily Candy, tend to massively outperform the Delicious’es of the world. BUT, the echochamber that is Silicon Valley ignores these and focuses on the techie ones.

    So in reality, there is actually a complete lack of sexism in determining what “wins” in the long run, since women have just as many clicks at their disposal as men do. You just might not hear about it on Techmeme…

  27. Dawn Douglass Says:

    So in other words, Jeremy, women should be happy to play with the toys that are given us because at least we get to help decide which ones “win” the popularity game?

  28. Robert Scoble Says:

    Dawn: I have unblocked you and have for several weeks now. How many followers do you need to be credible? None. Bill Gates does not follow me, but saw my post about his friendfeed item about his annual letter and said he appreciated it. Thanks to search engines people can find things written by anyone ( like http://search.twitter.com ) and, when found, can confir credibility (if Bill Gates says I am credible on something I think I can safely say I am). Oh, and there are lots of people credible about a whole range of topics who aren’t even on the Internet, so credibility does NOT flow from followers online.

  29. Robert Scoble Says:

    Dawn: the reason you can not see my posts on friendfeed is that you have blocked me. I can see your comments just fine.

  30. Jeremy Toeman Says:

    Dawn: wow, way to show how close-minded *you* are on this topic.

  31. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Jeremy: Sorry, my note sounds snarky as I read it, but that’s not the tone I had in my head when I wrote it. I meant that as a legitimate question. You seemed to be saying that women have just as much power as men to decide what lasts on the Web. That’s a good point. I agree with you there.

    But what about my point that women don’t have nearly the power as men do when it comes to things like what will Web 3.0 be? What do you think about that part of it?

  32. Dawn Douglass Says:

    As an aside, I don’t understand why my avatar isn’t showing up. For weeks it’s told me: Your blavatar image has been uploaded and you should start seeing it appear around WordPress.com soon!

    How long is “soon”? I’ve literally waited weeks, then decided something was wrong and uploaded it again and have waited weeks again. I’ve even tried changing the image, and yet nothing shows up!

    I don’t get it. Maybe it has something to do with my old wordpress blog that I took down. Whatever the problem is, it’s disappointing that I can’t have a real avatar here.

  33. Dawn Douglass Says:

    My avatar is finally working! Yeah!!

  34. wahome Says:

    Excellent piece! And to those thinking this is all much ado about nothing, perhaps, without bravado or machismo, pause for a minute (likely longer) and see the complete journey that determines who gets to make their presence on the “web”, or any other “mainstream” environment. Less abstract, who’s the host, who’s talking and who’s listening! This is less of a technical question, and more of an anthropological one. Sadly the responses here are likely to be about the logical journey, rather than the social. I risk suggesting that “the web”, i.e. the “mainstream” platforms (twitter, web conferences, and the like), ultimately suffers from “a negative network externality of homogeneity”, i.e. platforms initially draw from homogeneous “neighbourhoods” that reach a critical mass that determine the nature and identity of their debate, i.e. their “brand”, before they ever become truly integrative. Think Ivy league, think country clubs, think…

    This leads to the issue of investors and opportunities. I think one of the core nuggets that gets overlooked amidst the hype of ideas is “who’s your target market, and how are you best positioned to understand and provide for their needs”. That’s business at its core. Every viable business must be rooted on a very concrete understanding of the need of its core customer, which justifies the cost invested to provide something of value to them, which will be recouped over a reasonable time (say 3-5 yrs). The science is really simple, but not the art. This might begin to explain why so many “businesses”, esp web, will have a short life, let alone make money. It’s unlikely hacker founders catering to the “web” have a clue what’s of value to such an untargeted customer base (web?). I dare say, if costs get even lower, niche is even more so the future of the web, with as many “local web businesses” as there are tribes, wherever viable. Yet again the answer isn’t a simple permutation for the hackers. It starts with the anthropologists/social thinkers. Then the hackers. Then the experts in service provision. It’s possible one combines the talents of all three to pitch a well-thought idea short-circuit the execution, but that’s the rare talent who will earn a higher return, for themselves and the smarter investor that backs them. Otherwise it’s all an exercise in playing with code. I’m just saying.

  35. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Thanks for the great comment, wahome!

  36. The Not-So Inclusive Web and Network Failure | Black Web 2.0 Says:

    […] Douglass recently asked the question, “How can the Web truly be “open” when only young white male geeks get to decide what the Web […]

  37. ed Says:

    Dawn,

    I have to agree with Robert Scoble statement:

    I always say that who you follow is important, not who is following you.

    And from what I read, it is apparent who you choose to follow and seek validation from.

    I kind of like you as the fake “harmless” buffer from the real cats like me who ain’t going to playing around with these tech bigots and the infrastructure that supports them.

    Keep being that “friendly” face for them…thank you.

  38. amy Says:

    unbelievable that of all the great comments in here that Dave Winer’s response of “what’s in their way? just change it!” comment was the one picked up by Fast Company:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/allyson-kapin/radical-tech/tech-world-really-sexist

    someone tell Dave, when he starts actually supporting the start-up community and not just tossing hyperbole because it happens to support his opinion (of a curmudgeon) then his shrugging of the shoulders in mock-disbelief of what it’s like to be a women in technology dealing with people like him can be taken seriously.

    As to Jeremy’s point, when the circle jerk gets started, it’s hard for anyone else to be heard, meaning those females who do manage to be heard above the noise had to work even harder. In general, I agree with Jeremey’s sentiment that it’s mostly aimed at the VC-start-up community here, but again once you get the circle of the handful of males who make the most noise in the world all posting and helping each other suddenly doors open up, and most of those who get the attention and funding are male dominated (founder) companies. I will try to dig out the stat of % of males running the co’s who get funding, but a quick glance down the list of influentials shows it’s not so wrong.

  39. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Ed, I think you’re criticism that I “seek validation” and am “a friendly face for them” is way off base. I’ve been so outspoken that some top people in the tech world don’t like me at all. For example, I wrote what many called “a scathing criticism” of Micheal Arrington and TechCrunch40. Robert Scoble goes out of his way to belittle me because I’ve dared to challenge him on things like his blind and gushing support of the Free Web, which I see as a collective disaster that needlessly dooms people around the world to poverty, hurts the environment and has damaged almost all professional creators outside of geeks. He hated me for suggesting that he was neglecting his blog and was trying to revive its rank by linking to dozens of other people in one “best of” post. Of course, when Arrington said he was neglecting his blog shortly thereafter, Robert took it seriously. Me, he pays no mind to unless he wants to rant about what an idiot I am.

    But I do understand what you’re saying, that you think it’s best to ignore them altogether. I think Amy’s point speaks well to the fact that yours is a strategy that doesn’t work for most of us. Sure, it’s easy for Winer to essentially say, “This field is ours, go start your own game.” But when you’re beholden to them for supplies like the football, goal posts, microphones, etc., that’s a lot easier said than done.

    If you’re successful at building your own stadium without their support, more power to you!! I wish you well.

  40. Jay Says:

    Here’s some internet sociology for you: I’m massively surprised these comments haven’t descended into a mutual support session of men denying there’s any issue here, and telling Ms Douglass she’s overreacting. Newspaper comment threads on these kind of topics (especially the Guardian; I’m British), feminist blogs or simply blogs by women about women-related issues: out come the naysayers in droves. There’s one or two here, sure, but they’re more blind than bitter and it’s all remained pretty balanced and civil. Wow. That’s actually really cheering. Good to know ideas like this can get through to (some) guys, that men will listen reasonably well to a woman saying these things

    As an aside, it’s the flame-y aggressive tendency I’ve mentioned above that I think puts a lot of women off blogging or contributing to those forums. When white male geeks set the social norms they can sometimes alienate a lot of people, but are too often too privileged/socially inelegant to care. I run into this side of web culture a lot more than I’ll ever have anything to do with any VC types, but fascinating to hear the story from that side of things too.

  41. Dawn Douglass Says:

    Very interesting and well written insights, Jay. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  42. ed Says:

    Dawn,

    I’m sorry for not following this blog in a timely manner.

    Let me make something very clear with you. Robert Scoble, Michael Arrington, or a Dave Winer or any of these characters cannot scale into critical mass or even into video. Their world is text-based and perception with a bunch of followers who give them more credit than the real-world will ever entertain them.

    I want you to truly understand what I just said. Because if you do, then you know that Dave Winer does not “own” or have anything but rhetoric as well as the rest of these characters.

    These White geeks hardly set any “social norm”, please – as I stated before, they are unscalable beyond text and their little White Privilege circle.

    I believe you are the one like many other people of color who choose to pull your chair up to their idiot box and choose to watch their content. Play around with them and think they are as important as they self-publish themselves to be.

    As I stated before – we can scale up, these dork cannot – remember that and then you really know who truly owns this.

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