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A tale of two searches: Google+ and Diversity, part 4

cross-posted on Google+ and Dreamwidth
Check out the previous posts in the series
: A Work in Progress, Why it matters, and #nymwars!

Google+ in rainbow colorsHere’s a good example of how Google+ is already influencing search results. I’ve got screenshots below for two searches on nymwars, one when I’m logged into G+ and the other when I’m not logged in.

A couple things to notice here:

  • s.e. smith’s excellent Where Identity and Capitalism Collide on Tiger Beatdown is on the list when I’m logged in, presumably because I’ve circled s.e. on G+ and several other people I followed also shared or reshared the post. Go s.e.! It’s a very good example of the potential advantages bloggers (and businesses, once they’re allowed on) can get from being part of G+
  • Skud’s nymwars strategy discussion only shows up indirectly — the version reshared by Crystal Rehula. This is kind of weird, because Skud’s post has 123 shares, and I’m following her as well as Crystal. So it’s a great example of how Google+’s naming policy penalizes people like Skud whose names they don’t like.

Robert Scoble: SKUD isn't welcome here unless she uses a common name.

Sure you can read Skud elsewhere if you can find her. But what if she doesn’t show up in search?

And it’s not just Skud. After looking at Geek Feminism’s Who is harmed by a real names policy? and My Name is Me, whenever somebody says something like “no reason G+ needs to be for everyone” what I hear is “no reason G+ needs to be for women, LGBTQs, people with disabilities, activists, whistleblowers, teachers, etc. etc.” Because, y’know, why would anybody want those people in our search results?

It seems so obvious to me. I wonder why Robert, Joseph, Bradley, and Vic can’t see it?

jon

Update, August 18: in the excellent G+ discussion, Fedor Pikus discussed the various “signals” that feed into Google search, and highlighted that right now G+ is only a very small component. And sure enough, today s.e. smith’s post is high on the list whether or not I’m logged in. But Skud’s still rendered invisible.

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Why it Matters: Google+ and Diversity, part 2

Google+ in rainbow colors

Over the past 50 hours I’ve lost a lot of friends here, and all of my transgender friends and family and all the older gay activists I was sharing with have all quietly mothballed their accounts. They can’t have their “real” names out there – they work with human rights organizations and do HIV/AIDS activism, etc.

Violet Blue, in a comment thread on Google+

Just a few days before Google+’s doors officially open on July 31, Google’s latest communications from Vic (via Robert) and Bradley on the raft of account suspensions and “common names” policy seem unlikely to put the “identity crisis” to rest.   It’s certainly a positive sign that they’re engaging, and process changes like giving people with names Google doesn’t like a week to change their account name before suspending them are certainly improvements.  That said, the impression they’re giving is that they’re going to try to hold the line with the current policy even knowing that it targets transgender people, human rights activists, people at risk for stalking and harrassment domestic violence survivors, HIV/AIDS victims and caregivers, people with names that sound weird to Americans (or for that matter people in Hong Kong who would rather go by their English names) …

Hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here.

So yes indeed, as I predicted a week ago in A Work in Progress, it’s a crucial time for diversity on Google+.  Given which it seems like a good time to step back and talk a bit about a couple reasons why diversity matters.  For me, it starts with some very intensely personal things.

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Google+ and diversity: A Work in Progress (part 1)

Google+ in rainbow colorsWith over ten million users in just two weeks, and plenty of rave reviews, Google’s latest foray into social networking is off to a great start.  Ever since it launched, I’ve spent most of my online time on Google+, and so far am very impressed from both the software engineering and business strategy perspectives. I think it’s on track to be a big success, so expect me to be talking about it a lot.

Unsurprisingly, I’ll start with diversity.

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Weekend Projects: my Seattle Startup Weekend pitch

startup weekendSeattle Startup Weekend starts tomorrow, and right now I really wish I had a good checklist for what I should be doing to prepare and what I should bringPower supplies, internet connectivity in case wireless goes down, post-it notes, my GitHub and WuFoo passwords, juice … what am I forgetting?

Oh yeah, that’s right, my pitch!

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Just two weeks until Seattle Startup Weekend!

startup weekend

Jennifer CabalaThis was my first Startup Weekend, and I decided to not just observe, but to get involved.  In case you haven’t heard of it, Startup Weekend is an event where techies try to create a business in less than three days.  Going in I didn’t know how much I could help – I can’t code – but I thought I could write some copy, or at least fetch coffee for the people who could write code.  In the end, I really surprised myself.  Both with what I could do, and what would help achieve Startup Weekend success.

— Jennifer Cabala, Lessons from Startup Weekend

This will be my first Startup Weekend as well, and I’m looking forward to being actively involved as well.  For one thing, I’m already working on a startup, qweries, so it’s a great opportunity to discover some potential co-founders or early employees.  I’ve also got another idea that might be worth investigating (more of that soon); perhaps others will be interested as well — or I’ll find out where it needs to improve.  There are lots of other great reasons to participate in Startup Weekend, so it should be a good time!

Isaac EliasIf you’re a marketing/business dev/ideaman type of entrepreneur looking to go make things happen at a similar event (like the one coming up in San Francisco on May 6 – 8), I want to help you get the most out of the experience. So, here are a few tips and insights to give you a leg-up before you start-up.

1. You are a dude going to “ladies night”.

— Isaac Elias, BizMonkeys and IdeaMen at StartupWeekend – Don’t Waste Your Time

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Equal Pay Day: Pay Equity and Startups

Next Equal Pay Day: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. This gap in earnings translates into $10,849 less per year in female median earnings, leaving women and their families shortchanged. The wage gap is even more substantial when race and gender are considered together, with African-American women making only 62 cents,and Latinas only 53 cents, for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men.

National Women’s Law Center

Equal Pay Day is the date that symbolizes how far into 2011 women must work to earn what men earned in 2010. This year, it’s April 12.

The Paycheck Fairness Act was reintroduced in Congress today (after being killed last December by a Republican filibuster), and more recently the AAUW’s come out with anothre report, The Simple Truth About the Pay Gap, demolishing the arguments of the guys who deny there’s a problem.  My posts from the last couple years ( #fairpay and Women Don’t Ask and What would it mean if women were paid as much as men?) cover a lot of this, and as always, there’s a lot of great stuff being written — check out the #fairpay hashtag for links.

After all that it’s hard to come up with something new to talk about.  So let me just spend a moment on the area of gender equity I’m personally most involved with right now: representation of women at startups.

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Sharpening and tightening: Part 4 of “the Agile one-pager” (DRAFT)

Draft! Revised version to appear on NWEN’s blog.

In the first three parts of the series (1, 2, 3) we got to an initial version of an executive summary and begin iterating on it. This installment focuses on improvements in a couple of individual sections. For impatient readers, here’s the tips:

  • Get feedback from a lot of people — they’ll see different things
  • You can get great feedback even if people don’t read the document
  • Iterate repeatedly.  Incremental progress adds up.
  • A picture is worth 1000 words

Read on for more …

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Making good use of a phone call: part 3 of “The Agile One-pager” (DRAFT)

Draft! Revised version to appear on NWEN’s blog.

In the first two parts of the series (1, 2) we looked at the reasons to do a one-page executive summary and made some initial progress — enough to get to the point where we could get some useful feedback.  Now we’re in the heart of the iteration loop, steadily improving it.  For impatient readers, here’s the tips:

  • Advisor time is a scarce resource, so make good use of it. Let them know where you want help: which questions are open, what sections you want to concentrate on.
  • Think about your goals and a rough agenda for each meeting to make sure you use your time well. Try to give people enough time to read the document before the meeting.
  • Be yourself, tell a story, and try to write the way you speak.  Try verbally explaining why your idea is so great and ask what resonates, then incorporate that language into your one-pager.

At the end of part 2, I had set up a phone meeting with somebody I’ll call “Rebecca” to give me feedback on my one-page executive summary.  I still had a lot of holes in the document, so I took another pass through it and put in something for every section except the financial projections.  As usual it took longer than I expected so before I realized it, it was almost 6 p.m.   Yikes!

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Prisms, Kool-Aid, and an Opportunity (a response to Vivek Wadhwa on Quora)

a red balloon saying Quora and a pencil about to pop it

Silicon Valley is again drinking its own Kool-Aid; it is looking at the world through its own prism.

— Vivek Wadhwa on TechCrunch

Quora has that certain magic that only one or two startups a year have. When it first launched it seemed kinda dumb, a slightly better version of q&a sites from before, that all flailed into spam. But it became exceptionally clear very shortly that it wasn’t like those other sites. that the product, combined with the launch strategy of concentrating on a certain group of people (which is how facebook launched as well) made for a very nice product. Now the question is can they turn the corner. I think they will.

TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, in a comment

Oooh, controversy!

In Life imitates art imitates life … I’ve been talking why I come to the same conclusion as Vivek, so I was looking forward to seeing what he had to say on.  And there’s some very good stuff, including an excellent point I hadn’t seen elsewhere, talking the important of topic-specific and community-oriented Q&A sites:

This is where people with common interests will gather and exchange ideas.  For example, for people seeking legal advice, there is LawPivot, and for businesses looking for experts, there is Focus.   For techies, there are sites like StackOverflow, Slashdot, Hacker News; for children, there is Togetherville; for business students, there is PoetsandQuants; for entrepreneurs in India, there is StartupQnA; for Indian accountants, there is CAClubIndia; and China has its own groups, and so do many other countries.

Indeed! So I added another bullet to my answer on How would Quora be different if it prioritized diversity.

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Life imitates art imitates life?

Talk about “ripped from today’s headlines” … here’s an excerpt I was just editing last night from g0ddesses.net, my comic novel-in-progress. The scene’s set on a discussion forum that’s modeled after Hacker News:

startup founder: ladzzz.com is like Quora meets Foursquare with questions guys want to know about.  and game mechanics.
tech blogger: i know an unnamed startup doing Quora meets GameCrush with game mechanics like Zynga
angel investor: you’re thinking small.  why not Quora plus Badgeville’s game mechanics for the enterprise?

two question marksToday, I saw a link on HackerNews to a Read Write Web story Quora for the Enterprise: Two Contenders:

Last week we asked whether we needed a Yelp for the enterprise. Ed Borasky* suggested that Quora could fill the role of providing crowdsourced reviews of enterprise software vendors. Focus.com, a more business-centric questions and answer site, could possibly do this as well.

But what about Quora for the enterprise?

Indeed!   And reading further in the story, discovered that one of the contenders is “is applying gamification principles in an attempt to drive adoption”.

Nice to know I’m in sync with the Zeitgeist.

Life imitates art.

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What can Diaspora learn about security from Microsoft? (REVISED DRAFT)

See the final version here

Thanks to Adam, Jason, and Alem for the initial list; Sarah, tptacek, Locke1689, mahmud, Wayne, PeterH, Steve, and SonyaLynn for comments on the previous draft, and Damon for the wording on #7.

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“Angelgate”: Collusion is so hot right now

Scully and Mulder from the X Files

There is an angel conspiracy.

It dark, it is devious, and it is far-reaching.

The conspirators number amongst them many of the top people in the Valley, including angels, VCs, lawyers, and yes, even journalists.

We have joined together despite our differences and conflicts for a single, sinister, self-interested purpose.

To get your attention.

— Angel Investor/Entrepeneur Chris Yeh, on VentureBeat and Adventures in Capitalism

Maybe Michael Arrington of TechCrunch really did stumble into a conspiracy of “collusion and price-fixing”, with Silicon Valley super-angels conspiring in SF’s trendy Bin 38 to fend of the threat of Y-Combinator, drive down valuations, and push VCs out of the picture. Then again maybe he’s just stirring things up prior to next week’s TechCrunch Disrupt VC/Super-angel smackdown.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal covers it well on PC World; Rosa Goligan’s got a three-paragraph summary Shady Meetings, Unlawful Acts, and One Ballsy Blogger in Gizmodo.

bin38 as a circle jerk

Yeah really. Mathew Ingram’s got a roundup on GigaOm quoting Chris, Dave, Bryce, Fred, Ryan, Andrew, and Mark.   Techmeme’s got links to most of them as well as Henry, Marc, Chris, Mathew, Ashkan, Alex, Alan, Stowe, Dean and Mark — see the comments for a screenshot. And On Google, I found links to Patricio, John, Mike, Chris, Ben, Dan, and Gautham … hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here.
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