Monday, April 21, 2008

Message and Medium

Well I've been kind of quiet here since the female bloggers thing. It sparked some interesting discussions and thought processes for me. As my PhD research is very much focussed around gender and entrepreneurship in the creative industries sector I am always sensitive to what are the drivers and barriers to women (and men) within these sectors (Incidentally I am using the DCMS definition of the creative industries which is broad and includes software design, computer games design and publishing - blogging must have a fit there). So the discussion that arose from the Birmingham Bloggers meeting has been a useful one for me, as it highlights some of the opportunities and challenges for the sector in terms of inclusion.

Perhaps some early indications are that women are, potentially, more pre-occupied with the message (content) than the medium (technology)- Of course both are serious drivers of innovation and change, but perhaps here and among the Birmingham Blogging community (ok not all of you I know) the emphasis is sometimes on the latter. Now this is all anecdotal and not even remotely scientific, but as I am currently developing, and deploying, my various surveys (online and face to face narrative interviews). It will be interesting to see if this is an area which emerges.

Incidentally I am keen to develop more research projects in this area if anyone would be interested in collaborating then do drop me an email. charlotte dot carey at gmail dot com

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Women, the creative industries, digital technologies, blogging and inclusion

I want to keep this brief because it's supper time, but a little explanation around this blog, my research topic and how a little event on Monday suddenly put all that stuff into sharp relief.

A story: About 10 years ago I was immersed in all online stuff in the local area (was even regaling the whole 'Charlotte Carey Online' debacle (a rather low budget BBC Radio WM weekly tech radio show) the other day) this all carried on for a few more years and then in 2000 I had my daughter. I took 6 months maternity leave. What happened in that time was a bit weird. I kind of lost my tech mojo or perhaps my confidence to keep on top of the fast changes in technology.

Another thing I noticed was a whole bunch of women that I'd previously met at private views and the like, who had mysteriously disappeared, were now in this other world. The mummy world. It is a day time world where there aren't many private views or networking events, def no impromptu after work schmoozing and networking happens but accompanied by nappy changing and other baby related stuff.

Now this is all quite a while a go for me, mojo was recovered, although slightly altered, private views became once more an option - occassionally. But the whole impromptu thing now has to be planned for.

(and I should add a little disclaimer here: In my experience having a baby and looking after ones small child is one of the most awesome and wonderful experiences - I am not trying to diminish that in anyway. I also know that this is not unique to women and that increasingly men stay at home and take care of childcare)

Now why do I mention this all? well it was this experience and some early research I was involved in that lead me to the work I am immersed in at the moment around gender and entrepreneurship in the creative industries. I got to thinking: if so much about the sector is characterised by sort of night-time living, networking, friendships and 'who you know' then how do folks with caring responsibilities and baby sitting issues get involved? how are their careers affected by this potential exclusion?

This was highlighted recently at the Bham Bloggers (see below) meeting where a bunch of women couldn't make it due to childcare. Now this is not to say that this is the only reason women weren't there (but that is for another posting). But a point that was raised, was that potentially women’s voices are missing and this is pretty serious to the development of these areas. Discussion (see comments related to this blog posting by Stef) led to how women could potentially organise themselves into some daytime blogger meetups, child friendly ones at that. That perhaps these could be a stepping stone to the wider group.

What interests me is that by having a voice, women interested in technology and how it could shape their businesses and the sectors they work within might really add value and a different perspective to the overall mix.

Later: Re-reading my final paragraph and having thought about it some more I realise this sounds a little patronising. What I sort of mean is that they should be shaping/influencing this stuff as much as any one else and in some quarters probably are, but here in the WM it still feels very male dominated - am Imaking sense?

Anyway I'll get in touch with those women and see if we can fix something up?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Social media cafe and blogging and men and stuff

Last night I went to the 3rd Birmingham bloggers meet. Organised by Nick Booth, Podnosh. Overall I have to say it was kind of fun, and interesting too. First of all I thought I would share the rather mischievous notes/observations I made (verbatim) at the event and if I have time I'll expand on them sensibly.

  • SXSW(M) bit- tech savvy scale?

  • Birmingham Bloggers appox 30

  • Women 2

  • Dubber - very smooth camera holding/beer reaching action

  • Digital media passé - apparently

  • Applying what was learnt at SXSW to other areas beyond creative inds - (Re: Michael Wolf)

  • Strikes me - I must invite my single girlfriends next time (1/15) "Girls I found where all the men are!"

  • Co-working movement - Re: San fran

  • Man from London – ‘wanted folks to know how 'cool' this stuff was.... ‘

  • Refreshing to know, that at least in this area London doesn't appear any cooler

  • Social Media cafe and co-working space (sounds kind of familiar~)

  • Bert and Ernie

I'm humming YMCA while I type - wierd....

  • CUBIT....back in da day, 90's and custard factory - also thing in Wolverhampton

  • def recalling research around co-working spaces etc empty spaces

  • Increasing chance of serendipity

  • Appreciating canteen at work in a whole new way

  • Thinking how great in some ways working in a University can be - constant opportunities to network cross faculty/collaboration/serendipity ago go

  • 'Evangelist' totally soo 90's - no?

I couldn't help pointing out that the group was seriously lacking in diversity. All but, I think, three were white, male and around the late 20's early 30's mark. In the pub afterwards it occurred to me however, that as a community it was as much my responsibility to help diversify the group as it is anyone else’s. But I do have some confusion about the purpose of the group.

Is it a group for folks that happen to blog and live in Birmingham?

Is it a group for folks that blog about technology and live in Birmingham?

Is it a group for folks who blog, have an interest in new media/social networking/digitally stuff and live in Birmingham?

Is it a group for freelancers working within new media sector to come together?

It was interesting for me to see how this is developing. From the Creative Enterprise perspective there was a definite focus on how small businesses, sole traders and freelancers can make use of social media both on and off line and I could sense a business plan or proposal to an RDA percolating from some of the group. One thing I would say is a lot of this stuff had been tried before. It is not new that there are a lot of freelancers (particularly in the creative inds) about, who seek out space to network, work, share space and collaborate, even the internet as a conduit to this collaboration isn't all that new, the tools may have changed a bit (was email, newsgroup, discussion lists etc - now blogging, facebook, twitter etc) but not necessarily the application.

I'll expand on some of my bullets at some point.

Homework done 517 words ok Pete?

Oh and just noticed Stef Lewandowski has some pics up