Irish blog gatekeepers are men
November 19, 2006
Damien started an interesting discussion about widening the number of bloggers available to speak with journalists on blog related issues. In principle it’s a good idea…but like my previous post (and the comment thread) there’s now a debate going on over who’s an “expert” and who gets to decide. (Sounding familiar?). I guess the first rule of any club/association or event is who can’t be in.
Then EirePreneur stepped in and offered a list of expert bloggers and lo and behold who can’t be in was amply demonstrated – women. Not a single woman blogger appeared on the list. Mary called this and came up with her own list of women bloggers (on which yours truly appears). But when I hear that age old refrain about “why are so few women blogging” perpetuated by a small group of bloggers who talk to an unknowing media I’ll know the answer.
This raises a much wider issue for me concerning gatekeeping in the Irish blog community most of which is done by men. I’ve nothing against men, in fact I rather like most of them but it’s perpetuating the mythology of blogging being a male related activity which I am increasingly uncomfortable with. If something as simple as Damien’s suggestion can so quickly exclude a whole swathe of the Irish blogging community and instantly set up a male/female dynamic then perhaps there are bigger issues to be tackled here.
On a simple level a person’s blogroll gives you an indication of the shape and size of a blogger’s world but if you’re not constantly reaching out to extend and change that it becomes self-referential and fixed. Blogging may have belonged to the boys in the past but it’s certainly not true in the present as evidenced by Mary’s list. How long before more women start occupying the gatekeeping seats?
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Woah there. My suggestion, you’ll note, asks people to nominate themselves to be on such a list. It does not exlude anyone.
This popularity contest makes me want to puke.
I do note that Damien and if you notice, I said I thought it was a good idea in principle – I’m curious about how your suggestion was taken up and then interpreted by others (the who’s in and who’s out discussion leading on to the absence of women bloggers etc). I think you’re making a great point but it’s fascinating to me that as soon as you make it there’s a “need” for some kind of “membership” or “policing” of who experts are..
Colm – care to say a few more words when you have your head out of that bucket 😉
“Then EirePreneur stepped in and offered a list of expert bloggers and lo and behold who can’t be in was amply demonstrated – women.”
That’s an unfair reflection on my list Anette, I’m not making any judgment that women *can’t* be in it. Far from it. As I’ve already noted a number of times I’ll only nominate ‘experts’ in the niche areas I’m interested in and have a knowledge of. I’m delighted to be pointed to both female and male bloggers I wasn’t previously aware of but as a whole I don’t subscribe to too many Irish bloggers because I’ve already got too many blogs in my aggregator. If no women have yet made my list it’s a reflection on my subscription overload and not any bias.
Neither is it a matter of who’s in and who’s out, or being any kind of a gatekeeper. My ‘experts list’ is little more than a blogroll so I can’t understand why anyone would be upset about not making it. It’s amazing how a new name (experts list) can make people puke when we’ve already been doing blogrolls for years.
James, I don’t think there’s an “it” to be in our out of…Expertise isn’t something that’s awarded by an elite group with membership criteria. In my own case I don’t think there are too many other Irish bloggers out there with a psychodynamic frame that could challenge my expertise in this area so if someone wants to put me in or out then that’s more about their process than mine. So expertise is contingent on a knowledge base, who you talk to and the social context in which you are embedded. The one question I am always asked by media people and others is why there are so few women blogging when that’s patently not the case and I only used your list as an example of how that myth can grow “legs”.
I do believe that the gatekeeping in the Irish blog world is being done by men right now and it’s something that women bloggers need to address as much as men. I’m curious about it that’s all..
“James, I don’t think there’s an “it” to be in our out of”
Well that’s the idea of doing ‘it’ with OPML Annette – the aim is to generate a ‘wisdom of the crowd’ aggregate. So I never intended my list to be seen as any kind of master list – it’s just my humble contribution to an aggregate.
I’m interested in seeing if we can produce a listing of Irish blogs like Dave Winer has done for the wider blogosphere with share.opml.org (SYO). For that to be done would require a large number of Irish bloggers to share their OPML. Robin Blandford says he’s looking at doing an SYO clone.
It’s really not meant to be a navel gazing or gatekeeping exercise and Damien has pointed out the reasons it would be useful
Sounds great James – wish I could understand the technical details 🙂
Yet James is not (in my eyes or I suspect his as well) a gatekeeper. Any more or less than any of the other blogs I read.
My series of short interviews on Pureplay with non-techie blogs started with Rebecca (irishcraftworker.typepad.com) and Sharon (clicketyknits.blogspot.com)
Since I have never been referred to as a gender positive male gatekeeper then I guess I am not in the running for that title.
Despite that I will continue to use those examples (and yours as well Annette 😉 in my talks as they are much needed for the non-technical audiences that I work with.
Hey Keith – you must let me know how I feature in your presentations some time!
An example of a good, non-techie blogger whose work I read and whose blog positively affects her search engine rankings.
And of course if I have missed anything please let me know 🙂
And why are there no women butlers, dammit?
Hey Twenty outline the terms and conditions and you’d never know 😉
Keith – I’ll have to nick that description as a strap line thanks!
What the hell is this gatekeeper nonsense? This isn’t Arrington and Scoble, this is a bunch of individuals in Ireland blogging. You wanna blog? Then blog. If you want to be part of some gang, go for it. I blogged for three years before I even went looking to see if anyone else in Ireland was doing it.
If anyone wants me, with my derisory readership numbers, to blog about them or subscribe to them, then all they have to do is link to me or mail me or post a comment. If they don’t they are invisible to me.
As a matter of interest who do you see as gatekeepers? Damien? I only subscribed to him six months ago after blogging for 5 years. James? Twenty? Tom? Swearing? Me? The whole bloody point of blogging is that anyone can do it and anyone who wants readership can get it without too much effort. The excuse that it seems to be male dominated is exactly that, an excuse.
I was humming and hawing about doing a list but this “poor us, we’re being excluded” claptrap has sealed it. And ye know, my first draft may or may not have any women in it, or Poles, but there will definitely be one Cork poof and possibly even somone from Leitrim. I’ll be honest, you won’t be in it because I’m not subscribed to your blogs, Mary will be in it eventually when I create an Agile Languages Experts List and Swearing and a set of others will be in it when I create a Social Commentary section.
The whole bloody point of blogging is that anyone can do it and anyone who wants readership can get it without too much effort. The excuse that it seems to be male dominated is exactly that, an excuse.
The point is that the blog world isn’t male dominated (which was the reason why Mary and I orignally picked up this issue) and I really look forward to hearing more male bloggers say precisely that when asked why there are so few women blogging. In fact to quote Conor from his own blog:
“The biggest hole in the Irish Blogging scene is the lack of women bloggers.”
And btw Twenty I read on another blog somewhere that you’re in fact a woman…any truth to the rumours?
I refuse to be categorised in any way, annette.
But surely there are more men blogging in Ireland than women?
I’ve no idea how many of each are blogging Twenty, I’m not sure anyone else does either and when there’s folk like yourself who refuse to be categorised what are we to do? Stand and be counted is what I say 🙂
Of course the imbalance is there, but it is not due to or prolonged by these Cerberuses of the Irish blogosphere (jaysus, I almost sound erudite).
I’d say over 95% of the blogs I’m subscribed to are by men but that’s because about 97% of them are tech (and I’ll rant about the teaching of science subjects to girls another day).
However, I’ve noticed that, particularly in Ireland, the ratio of my subscriptions is a lot different and most of the new blogs I have subscribed to, for some weird reason, have been by women (Fat Mammy Cat, Random Grub etc).
As blogging goes more and more mainstream, the ratio will come much closer to 50:50 and not just because women are more mouthy 😉
I don’t pay any real attention to the gender of bloggers so whether Bernie or Michele are blokes or birds is irrelevant as long as they are interesting.
Give it time and let people know how bloody easy it is to blog. My sister just dipped her toe in recently to help me out with some data for my new business and she has been shocked by how trivial it is to set up and do. She has also been bitten by the bug.
I’m a bit of an evangelist when it comes to blogging and believe it’ll go the way of SMS rather than the way of CB radio.
Blogging shouldn’t be about gender, it should be about what the blogger is offering to the reader.
I see no point in subbing a blogger because of their gender, race, sexual persuasion, height, weight etc., nor do I see the point in not subbing them because of the afore mentioned reasons.
It’s been asked before, what is a blog gatekeeper? A gatekeeper, to me, is someone who guards entry to an area, which isn’t applicable to blogging.
There is no “glass ceiling” in the blog community, except the one that bloggers impose on themselves. Women have just as much access to computers, the internet and wordpress as men do…
I’m not sure what the actual ratio is in the Irish blog community, but then again I don’t give a fuck. A blogger that appeals to me will hit my radar at some point or in some way, and it won’t matter who they are, what they say will be the deciding factor in them getting onto my sublist.
As I said on Eirepreneur’s blog, his list was lacking in women for whatever reason (you’ll have to ask him for that); the original idea was to have the individual blogger chose their specialist area, present that to the journalist and allow them to decide if the blogger is qualified enough to be consulted or not… it wasn’t meant to be one person picking their favourite names and showing them to the media, it was meant to be an aggregator; a way of collating all the participating names into one list for easy dissemination.
Even if the Irish blog community was dominated by men who wanted to keep it as a boys club, there’s nothing they could do to stop women coming along and taking part.
And for the record, I’ve encountered plenty of good bloggers who happen to be female; but I didn’t come across them and read them because they were presented to me as good female bloggers, but because they were presented to me as good bloggers (which is exactly how I came across pretty much every blog I read or have read).
Let’s not create divides where there’s no need for one, and let’s not blame others because a certain section of society has, for whatever reason, failed to respond to a technology in the same way as another.
Annette, can you please explain what you mean by this:
“This raises a much wider issue for me concerning gatekeeping in the Irish blog community most of which is done by men.”
What is this gatekeeping you are talking about? Is it that Eirepreneur shouldn’t have the right to make a list of the people he considers to be experts – however questionable the value of his list is (and James even leaving aside the fact that you seem not to be aware of too many of the women bloggers, as a list it left a lot to be desired) just because he is a male? I don’t know. I don’t follow. I appreciate what Mary has done but I have absolutely no clue what you’re on about.
Or is it that somewhere, there should be a bunch of women bloggers who are de facto standardisation authorities? Because that goes against all the grain of what I believe to be important in blogging – its anarchic nature. In short – I’m female, I’m one of the longer term female bloggers and I have something like half a dozen blogs to my name not including the two which are permanently retired and I do not know what you are talking about when you talk about gatekeeping in the Irish blogging community. If there is a gate to be passed into the Irish blogging world, then I have never noticed it as I bashed my way through.
One thing about blogging is that it is user led. I sat with a senior media exec recently showing her the rudiments of Del.icio.us. She was obviously unimpressed with my initial demonstration.
When I asked her to search for what she found meaningful. Two things changed. One, the content paths she followed were profoundly different from mine. And two, her level of engagement with the software rocketed.
Gatekeepers exist in hierarchical terrain to keep people out of privileged areas of knowledge. In flat networks, all sources are open: it is common interest that creates attraction and latterly community.
From my own experience, there are good politco bloggers (maman poulet, fiona de londres, red mum and the broom are some of my favorites), but there seem not to be as many as men.
We’ve had three women bloggers on Slugger, though only one is discernible by the name she chose to use. It may be the choice of gender neutral names that leads to general underestimation as to how many women.
My understanding of gatekeepers is that they are positioned at critical entry and exit points in systems. I see them as important bridge builders in any organisation in which I work. So let me start by saying that I don’t necessarily see gatekeepers as “negative”. They are the key voices to whom the media and those outside the system turn for information about what’s happening within it.
The primary gatekeeper as I see it in the Irish blog world right now is Damien Mulley. I applaud and admire the work he’s done in establishing the Irish Blog Awards, I’m an avid reader of his blog and I think his contribution to the Irish blog community is extraordinary. I think his idea of widening out who is considered to be an “expert” is a good one, I have some issues about the methodology adopted by others.
My experience of the MSM in relation to blogging is sad – women blog about cats and boyfriends, men blog about the tech/politics (I have heard that and it’s a direct quote from someone in a media organisation who should know better and will remain namless). I also think the main gatekeepers in the Irish blog community are primarily tech orientated male bloggers – that’s for a whole variety of reasons – I am not complaining about the fact that they are men or that they are gatekeepers what I am wishing for is that more women would be in a gatekeeping position so that when the media comes knocking on a woman blogger’s door she doesn’t have to defend her blog as something more mature than a pre-pubscent diary and doesn’t have to field questions from journalists about why there aren’t women blogging (90% of the media people I have spoken with have presented that as a fact, without a shred of evidence to back it up).
There will always be gatekeepers in any system – I am just hoping that we can balance it out so that it can be a bit more representative of who is actually blogging and I think that the primary challenge in that regard is for women to step up – and that doesn’t mean toppling any men from the positions they currently hold.
I’m not viewing the term ‘gatekeeper’ as negative either, but in the context of a/the net ‘nodal point’ is probably a better term.
Probably the highest profile Irish woman blogger at the moment is Sarah Carey. But we are still in a very early stages, and as more people come on board, things may change very quickly.
Any listing of good blogs has to be both limited and temporal. Though they are good: 1 for the debate the arouse; 2, they are good at shaking people out of their usual blog round.
Critical Entry and Exit points? In the blogosphere? Seriously?
Set up a blog, start writing, link to a few people, if you are interesting, they link back, traffic builds. Job done, no sign of Damien or the Blog Awards anywhere.
If MSM exposure for women bloggers is what you are most concerned about then build relationships with Karlin, Bernie, Haydn and anyone else who straddles both worlds by commenting on their blogs or linking over to them. Otherwise, it’s a flat flat blogging world just waiting for your contribution with ne’er a three headed beast in sight.
The implosion of newspapers in the US is a sign of things to come here. Neither Bebo nor MySpace needed a piece from the Irish Times to go ballistic here. I think our energies would better be spent elsewhere (like figuring out what the media will look like in five year time) rather than worrying about how we are represented by dying media.
My understanding of gatekeepers is that they are positioned at critical entry and exit points in systems.
By that definition there are no gatekeepers in blogging; the only ‘gates’ to blogging are the need to have an internet connection, a computer (or communication device of some description) and an account with one of the millions of blog networks out there (I mean, you don’t even need a website or any technical knowledge to blog!)
I see them as important bridge builders in any organisation in which I work. So let me start by saying that I don’t necessarily see gatekeepers as “negative”. They are the key voices to whom the media and those outside the system turn for information about what’s happening within it.
I would say you’re using the term gatekeeper where I’d use the term ‘figure-head’, ‘spokesperson’ or ‘example’. All bloggers are potential figure-heads, spokespeople or examples of what blogging is; so much to say that someone dipping their toes in the blog world might be turned on or off by the first blogger they encounter. Someone searching for information on a certain topic may find that bloggers are the best source of answers, or the most unreliable depending on who they visit and what they look for… as such we’re all important bridge builders in our repsective areas and environments as we can show either the positive or negative side of this new medium.
The primary gatekeeper as I see it in the Irish blog world right now is Damien Mulley.
I’d use the term spokesperson, and I’d use it lightly too.. The media tend to go to Damien because the media tend to go to Damien (if you get my drift), but lately I’ve seen/heard other bloggers getting their voices out in the MSM, Maman Poulet and Cian O’Flaherty, for example.
I applaud and admire the work he’s done in establishing the Irish Blog Awards, I’m an avid reader of his blog and I think his contribution to the Irish blog community is extraordinary.
This is just it, it’s his contribution, not his leadership (because there are no leaders here). I understand your point, Damien tends to be at or near the centre of much of the major moments in recent blog history in Ireland; The blog awards, the political blog conference, not to mention his many other suggestions which are developing as we speak… that said he’s not the only one (Wasn’t Suzy heavily involved in the political blog conference too?) and the only reason he seems to be so active is because others are not.
My point being that anyone with a good idea and the right attitude can try something bigger than themselves, it just so happens that the number of Irish bloggers trying this kind of thing is pretty small at the moment.
My experience of the MSM in relation to blogging is sad – women blog about cats and boyfriends, men blog about the tech/politics (I have heard that and it’s a direct quote from someone in a media organisation who should know better and will remain namless).
I think the real question there is ‘how did they come to that conclusion?’ I’d venture a guess that they came to that assumption all by themselves, possibly without even hitting the blog pages… and that assumption is equally unfair to men as it is to women, because it assumes that men only talk about tech and politics.
I don’t see how any of the more prominent bloggers, or even smaller bloggers, could have given them that idea so I have to assume they just assumed.
I also think the main gatekeepers in the Irish blog community are primarily tech orientated male bloggers – that’s for a whole variety of reasons – I am not complaining about the fact that they are men or that they are gatekeepers what I am wishing for is that more women would be in a gatekeeping position so that when the media comes knocking on a woman blogger’s door she doesn’t have to defend her blog as something more mature than a pre-pubscent diary and doesn’t have to field questions from journalists about why there aren’t women blogging (90% of the media people I have spoken with have presented that as a fact, without a shred of evidence to back it up).
But female bloggers will only become prominent by their own actions, no one elses.
I mean, tech is a minority sport in the real world anyway; most people aren’t tech or gadget freaks out “there”. The point is that there are plenty of untapped topics that would set off a light in the real world, both gender-specific and asexual ones… it’s just a matter of someone (male or female) finding that topic and covering it well… if you blog it they will come.
There will always be gatekeepers in any system – I am just hoping that we can balance it out so that it can be a bit more representative of who is actually blogging and I think that the primary challenge in that regard is for women to step up
As I said before, there’s no point in women blogging for the sake of it, there’s no point in anyone doing that. If anyone out there is motivated enough to work on an idea they have, so be it. If it’s popular in the MSM, so be it. If it changes the ignorant perceptions of journalists, so be it.
The point that there is nothing stopping anyone from doing something new, fresh and original, except their own willingness to do so.
How come James ain’t go no bruthahs on the list?
I’m with Annette. People should stop pretending that because the power of the blogosphere is decentralised as far as bloggers are concerned that there aren’t gatekeepers who mediate access for outsiders. I mean, just what is an expert list of bloggers supposed to accomplish if not that?
As someone who is both a journalist who has covered blogging (for a newspaper that is editorially interested but institutionally confused about the subject) and a blogger, I can tell you that even though I know theoretically that blogging is user led and all that, when it comes time to pick up the phone or get a quote at an event, chances are I’m heading straight for Mick or Damien. I don’t begrudge them their status, but it’s disingenuous for anyone to suggest that simply because anyone can blog, blogging has abolished hierarchies. ‘Expert’ is a hierarchical term, isn’t it? And Mick and Damien have earned their status, needless to say.
To get back to Annette’s point: I think blogging has privileged certain types of subjects and expertise, just as newspapers have. Those privileged subjects seem dominated by men. We can talk chicken and egg about this, but I find it implausible that this new social sphere has remodeled an ancient and persistent gender dynamic purely by accident.
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