March 14, 2005

My Name Is Wanda

It would seem that Steven Levy has forgotten the famous cartoon punchline, on the Internet, nobody know's you're a dog. Mr. Levy thinks the top ranks of Bloggerdom isn't sufficiently representative of the rainbow of America. Well, McQ applies his usual reality check, and I'll supply mine.

Back when I started The Murphy Nexus, which was an online family newsletter with a difference, most of the people I linked to and was linked by were women. Another woman who I knew from posting at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Forums once asked my why that was, almost as if it were a bad thing. I had to consider that because I hadn't ever examined my linkeragy based on gender, race, etc. My answer was that what I found interesting in connection with a family newsletter was mostly being written by women, and the people who found my little corner of cyber-space link worthy were women.

If you were to examine my list of links from this here blog, you'll find that there are more men then women. Again, not that I've paid attention or tried to link to more men, but that's just who I've found I wanted to link to. I have never linked to anyone or not linked to anyone because of their gender, race, etc. I have linked to people simply because I like to read them. Some I have found because they linked to me first and so showed up in referrer logs. Most I have found the old fashioned way - somebody else linked to them. I try to link to people who make me think, or make me laugh, (hopefully both). I don't link to only people I agree with. Generally I don't even notice the person's name until I go to link them and I look for it as I try to list people by name and not by blog name. Now, that doesn't always mean much -- for example if you can't figure out that Busymom is written by a woman, you're not heteronormative enough.

I'm curious as to what the solution is to achieve sexual and racial parity of hits on blogs. If you're links don't match the sexual and racial distribution of ... what, you're county, state, nation, the world? you won't be linked to by ... like minded people? I suppose that's the beauty of blogging - there is no top down control. There is no way to impose solutions from the top -- they have to come from the bottom up. You can't make bloggers link a certain way, but you can persuade them.


Jeff Jarvis has a lengthy entry on this subject which I substantially agree with.

Shelley Powers has a lengthy post too with a lot of good points and insight. I have to say even though I don't agree politically with her and understand half of what she says when she goes all technical, I love her blog. It's a treat to read her and an honor to link to her.

Posted by Kevin Murphy at March 14, 2005 12:00 PM | Inside Bloging
We welcome comments. However, use no profanity and be civil.

Levy writes "Appropriately enough, the best ideas rely on individual choices" but most of his article seems to be a rebuttal of that position. For all but a handful of folks, blogging is an avocation not a vocation. And the current link structure, as you point out, is emergent and continues to evolve. I guess I would encourage bloggers who are concerned about diversity to spend less time lamenting too little diversity and more time pointing out interesting voices. Also a focus on top 100 tends to exacerbate competition vs. valuing diversity and may give rise to "reserving spots" for left handers, those with Blood Type AB-, or other under-represented categories.

Posted by: Sean Murphy at March 15, 2005 12:19 PM