July 2009

Diversity and technology conferences, part 1: the Government 2.0 Expo

We received 189 valid proposals for talks at Expo Showcase.  A few people, men and women, submitted two proposals, but the vast majority submitted just one.  Of these 189, only 41 (or 22% of the total) were from women, with 147 proposals submitted by men.  I have no reason in particular to offer for this. Perhaps women would like to comment on this blog about why a two month open call for proposals for anyone with a good idea for a five minute talk about Government 2.0 was dominated by 78% men.

— Mark Drapeau’s Government 2.0 Expo: Women by the Numbers

The women in technology community has been doing a great job of highlighting lack of diversity in conference speakers, using mechanisms like the #diversityfail Twitter hashtag and act.ly.   Mark’s post provides some interesting data on how an O’Reilly conference he’s co-chairing wound up with more than two-thirds of the presenters being male.  While I’m not actually a woman, I’d nonetheless like to take him up on his invitation for discussion about how the submission process became so male-dominated.

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Help us choose Qworky’s logo!

Which of the three options for the Qworky logo  would you be most likely to try out yourself?

Which would you be most likely to recommend to a friend?

Please help us out by taking this 60 second survey!

Thanks,

jon

PS: and thanks to Joanne as well for the great work on logo design!

qworky

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Qworky: the adventure begins!

Welcome to Qworky!

Pardon our construction, we’re busy designing software to revolutionize the way people work together.

Software doesn’t have to suck. Instead, it should fit in smoothly with your work life — and make you more efficient so that you can get your weekends back. By listening to you and focusing on your needs as an end user, and working closely with a diverse community throughout the design process, we’ll build products that work with how people get their jobs done today.

the Qworky web site

The startup I’ve been hinting at for the last couple months finally has a name. w00t! We’re at a very early stage: just starting the research phase for Qworky Meetings, the codename for our first product. In parallel, we’re working on creating our community, deciding on our technology base, putting together a business plan, and developing our strategies.

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A #diversityfail as an opportunity: guys talking to guys who talk about guys

How can an entrepeneur planning a startup that’s going to develop some revolutionary software that relates to how people work together discover truly game-changing product and business model possibilities?  One approach is to look at a situation in a different way than everybody else.  Easier said than done, typically … unless you’re lucky enough to discover a collective blindspot in current thinking.

Scott Page’s book The Difference highlights the importance of diversity in situations like this. The way I think of it is that a non-diverse crowd will fail to explore a lot of the possibilities.  Strategically the best opportunties are likely to be in the areas that the are getting marginalized today.  So whenever I see a #diversityfail related to the “web 2.0” and mobile technology/business world, my ears perk up and I start paying attention.

2009-07-08_1145

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#diversityfail: Guys talking to guys who talk about guys — and Chris Anderson’s FREE (DRAFT)

DRAFT!  Work in progress!

Update, July 9: my brother Greg of The Happy Accident had some great feedback on this draft: he didn’t know until the last paragraphs why he was reading it.  Until then, it seemed like an attack on Alex — which wasn’t at all my intention.   Why we do drafts, chapter 1023 and counting; thanks, Greg, for the feedback.   Apologies to all for any offense or misimpression.  I revised the final version of the post substantially.

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New strategies for fighting FISA and the PATRIOT Act

The notes from the “birds-of-a-feather” session I led at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy are written up on the CFP Wiki. Alas, we didn’t get the online aspects to work; still, we had a dozen people there in person, including Get FISA Right members Thomas Nephew and Chip Pitts. It was a great discussion. The opportunities we identified include

  • building a broad, diverse coalition
  • focusing on cost, dignity, and human rights issues as well as privacy and the constitution
  • using anti-corporate activism against the companies supplying equipment and profiting from surveillance
  • involving the technical community and domain experts

and a lot more. We also discussed some of the tactical issues about the upcoming PATRIOT Act vote: the need for an accurate vote count; a pressure campaign on key Congresspeople like Jane Harman, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Harry Reid; and the importance of powerful visual images.

Check it out!

jon

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Ethnographic observations and you!

An as-yet-unnamed potential startup company is planning to develop some revolutionary software that relates to how people work together.  One of our first steps is to set set up a research community and making some ethnographic observations — in other words, getting an understanding of how people work today.  We’re especially trying to get a diverse set of participants: not just techies, not just straight white guys, not just Microsoft-related people.

At the end of the first round of observations, we’ll provide all the participants with a summary of our findings.  And as a way of showing our appreciation, we’ll also give each participant a free copy of our first product once it’s available.

Interested in being a part of it?

To start with, we’d like to spend about half an hour on the phone with you interviewing you about your experienes related to meetings.  We’re very early on in our thinking about product lines, so it’s important for us to hear a lot of different perspectives.   We’ll also ask you to spend a couple of minutes online after the meeting: quickly double-checking our notes, filling out a quick survey, and sharing any additional thoughts.

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