The view from a fat white boy

Chris Messina wrote an interesting post “the future of white boy clubs.”

One way I’m changing the world is to make the groups and things I do totally open. Anyone is welcome to participate in it. Not just white boys. And, that’s been true from the earliest of days (back in 2001 when we did blogger dinners we made them open to the public, not behind closed doors like other camps and events, and anyone could come).

Same is true on my show. If you’re smart and building something interesting I want you on my show. Especially if you’re not a fat white boy like me. I’m going to work on a segment where anyone who can get to San Francisco can get on my show. As long as they have a new/cool technology to show off.

Yesterday I met with three talented women at eBay. Caroline Malijaud. Sara Carter. Ali Croft. Damn smart. And interesting, fun, talented, engaging. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them on camera. They are doing something that PR doesn’t want discussed in public yet. But they are out there, conference planners just have to work harder.

I’ll be the first to admit that my show isn’t very interesting yet cause it’s mostly white guys. Talking with these three at eBay, and hanging around at BlogHer were good ways to get a conversation going that’ll change that.

I think the key here is to do some real gumshoe work and try to find smart technologists, no matter what the color or gender or whatever and invite them into what we’re doing.

If you don’t think there’s smart women out there building cool tech, why don’t you go visit Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics lab. Go watch my video. Now fast forward to 39:15. The two women there building soccer-building robots are inspiring.

They are a lot smarter than I am. And that’s no hooey from a fat white boy.

Comments

  1. Diversity should come as a natural thing…never forced…

    That also means you shouldn’t be discriminating against passionate tech-oriented business people who understand strategy, customer focus and other things that in the end, truly matter just as much. Technology just for the sake of technology isn’t very useful.

  2. Diversity should come as a natural thing…never forced…

    That also means you shouldn’t be discriminating against passionate tech-oriented business people who understand strategy, customer focus and other things that in the end, truly matter just as much. Technology just for the sake of technology isn’t very useful.

  3. After reading the post about “the future of white-boy-clubs” I think that the author should look for a help of psychiatrist.

  4. After reading the post about “the future of white-boy-clubs” I think that the author should look for a help of psychiatrist.

  5. I thinnk deversity is a great thing. One thing you might consider is looking for people doing cool things in the disability/accessibility area. Good luck with your new show!

  6. I thinnk deversity is a great thing. One thing you might consider is looking for people doing cool things in the disability/accessibility area. Good luck with your new show!

  7. I had similar thoughts at the Future of Web Apps conference in San Francisco last week. Some 400 people or so, 97% white male. The Google cocktail party was especially odd (for me), with a live DJ and flashing lights and thumping beats and a bunch of white-boy developers with glowing drinks standing around shouting at each other.

  8. I had similar thoughts at the Future of Web Apps conference in San Francisco last week. Some 400 people or so, 97% white male. The Google cocktail party was especially odd (for me), with a live DJ and flashing lights and thumping beats and a bunch of white-boy developers with glowing drinks standing around shouting at each other.

  9. It’s a double-edged sword. Yes, there are people complaining about the lack of diversity at conferences but is that a reflection of the environment, or the lack of outreach by the conference.

    But, just to get diversity, should we invite people that are “diverse” just to point to them and say “hey, lookie, we are diverse” and the people are just not qualified to speak? I hope not, but the knee-jerk reaction is probably so.

    Yes, there are many, many qualified women to speak in the Bay Area and Valley. It’s just that they are not squeaky enough wheels, while the squeaky wheels are invited – but might not qualified.

  10. It’s a double-edged sword. Yes, there are people complaining about the lack of diversity at conferences but is that a reflection of the environment, or the lack of outreach by the conference.

    But, just to get diversity, should we invite people that are “diverse” just to point to them and say “hey, lookie, we are diverse” and the people are just not qualified to speak? I hope not, but the knee-jerk reaction is probably so.

    Yes, there are many, many qualified women to speak in the Bay Area and Valley. It’s just that they are not squeaky enough wheels, while the squeaky wheels are invited – but might not qualified.

  11. Diversity should come in the form of people’s backgrounds, experiences and ideas. It should not be forced. Just because someone is a different race or sex, does not mean they are inherently different from anyone else. Thinking that they are, is the basis for racism and sexism whether you consider it to be positive or not.

  12. Diversity should come in the form of people’s backgrounds, experiences and ideas. It should not be forced. Just because someone is a different race or sex, does not mean they are inherently different from anyone else. Thinking that they are, is the basis for racism and sexism whether you consider it to be positive or not.

  13. As you know, there are a gazillion female bloggers. If they don’t outnumber males now, I think they will do soon. Ethnicity is more of an issue within the UK and US, as I understand it. That’s partly to do with access, but also to do with a lot of other things like elitism and the cultural identity of blogging.

    Have any polls or other research been done on ethnicity and blogging?

  14. As you know, there are a gazillion female bloggers. If they don’t outnumber males now, I think they will do soon. Ethnicity is more of an issue within the UK and US, as I understand it. That’s partly to do with access, but also to do with a lot of other things like elitism and the cultural identity of blogging.

    Have any polls or other research been done on ethnicity and blogging?

  15. Seems like a self serving post to me. This is something you should show by your actions and not by congratulating yourself about it. Just my take.

  16. Seems like a self serving post to me. This is something you should show by your actions and not by congratulating yourself about it. Just my take.

  17. Perhaps transparency, diversity and openness (it’s free) are the reasons that you (and Maryam) were asked to come to ConvergeSouth next month – and why you accepted. The tagline, “Creativity on the Web for all people” isn’t just a catch phrase. Housing the conference for the second year at NC A&T State University, an HBCU, was a conscious choice on our part and we have 6 colleges to choose from.

    By coming to North Carolina on October 13-14, you’re putting your money where your mouth is (well, our travel money but you were gracious enough to waive any speaking fee and make yourselves available to the diverse crowd we’re sure to get there).

    Loosely paraphrased, “Acts and deeds – not words – endure.” (William James, American philospher and not the cowboy story writer)

  18. Perhaps transparency, diversity and openness (it’s free) are the reasons that you (and Maryam) were asked to come to ConvergeSouth next month – and why you accepted. The tagline, “Creativity on the Web for all people” isn’t just a catch phrase. Housing the conference for the second year at NC A&T State University, an HBCU, was a conscious choice on our part and we have 6 colleges to choose from.

    By coming to North Carolina on October 13-14, you’re putting your money where your mouth is (well, our travel money but you were gracious enough to waive any speaking fee and make yourselves available to the diverse crowd we’re sure to get there).

    Loosely paraphrased, “Acts and deeds – not words – endure.” (William James, American philospher and not the cowboy story writer)

  19. I commented on his blog

    “My friend, you need to travel the world a bit. When some of the best mobile apps are being developed in Korea, some of the best gadgets in China, software in India, how can you say it is only a white dominated world? Or in the Valley go to a TiE conference and see the UN of entrepreneurs. About females in the business, Meg, Safra, Pattie – many others would disagree…

    High tech is one of the most color blind, competence based businesses in the world…could it be better? – of course, but it is not half as exclusive as some other industries”

    If people think tech is bad, I invite them to try working in the diamond trade or in Chinatown,,,

  20. I commented on his blog

    “My friend, you need to travel the world a bit. When some of the best mobile apps are being developed in Korea, some of the best gadgets in China, software in India, how can you say it is only a white dominated world? Or in the Valley go to a TiE conference and see the UN of entrepreneurs. About females in the business, Meg, Safra, Pattie – many others would disagree…

    High tech is one of the most color blind, competence based businesses in the world…could it be better? – of course, but it is not half as exclusive as some other industries”

    If people think tech is bad, I invite them to try working in the diamond trade or in Chinatown,,,

  21. My head just imploded.

    Sue writes on inviting white boy Scoble to ConvergeSouth, paying his way and says this is was a way of adding to the diversity of the conference.

    Is ConvergeSouth all black women?

  22. My head just imploded.

    Sue writes on inviting white boy Scoble to ConvergeSouth, paying his way and says this is was a way of adding to the diversity of the conference.

    Is ConvergeSouth all black women?

  23. Shelley, I am damn proud of the tech industry which laughs at Lou Dobbs as we let Indian, Israeli, Malyasian companies compete for our business. An industry where Chuck Phillips, John Thompson and other blacks can rise to the top. And Meg, and Pattie and Safra and other qualified ladies.

    I hope I never see the day where tech conferences have to use EEO formulas so they are sex, age, race ratio compliant.

    Like I commented earlier if you think tech is bad, go spend some time in the diamond trade…

  24. Shelley, I am damn proud of the tech industry which laughs at Lou Dobbs as we let Indian, Israeli, Malyasian companies compete for our business. An industry where Chuck Phillips, John Thompson and other blacks can rise to the top. And Meg, and Pattie and Safra and other qualified ladies.

    I hope I never see the day where tech conferences have to use EEO formulas so they are sex, age, race ratio compliant.

    Like I commented earlier if you think tech is bad, go spend some time in the diamond trade…

  25. Shelly, ConvergeSouth is hosted at NC A&T State University which is an HBCU, Historically Black College and University. There are white people, black people, people-from-India, white folks, men, women, and white boys at the conference. I guess you’re not real familiar with Greensboro, so why not register for ConvergeSouth?

    I’ll see if I can report last year’s pics and ask Robert to link to them so you can see what kind of diversity of thought and idea through people we aimed for and are pretty sure we achieved.

    The goal is to show folks of all colors and persuasions that creativity online is for them as much as it’s for “white boys.” We were just a year ahead with the thought, just like Greensboro is 30 seconds ahead of the curve and have a little movie to illustrate it.

  26. Shelly, ConvergeSouth is hosted at NC A&T State University which is an HBCU, Historically Black College and University. There are white people, black people, people-from-India, white folks, men, women, and white boys at the conference. I guess you’re not real familiar with Greensboro, so why not register for ConvergeSouth?

    I’ll see if I can report last year’s pics and ask Robert to link to them so you can see what kind of diversity of thought and idea through people we aimed for and are pretty sure we achieved.

    The goal is to show folks of all colors and persuasions that creativity online is for them as much as it’s for “white boys.” We were just a year ahead with the thought, just like Greensboro is 30 seconds ahead of the curve and have a little movie to illustrate it.

  27. Then Sue, if the university is historically/predominantly black, why are there not more blacks among the presenters?

    It’s great to see a conference other than California, good to see decent representation among women, but to have a conference in a ‘historically black university’ and have no blacks among the speakers…what a message sent.

    I do appreciate the humor of your response, and wish you luck on this, but for the future, I can recommend some wonderful, and black, speakers.

  28. Then Sue, if the university is historically/predominantly black, why are there not more blacks among the presenters?

    It’s great to see a conference other than California, good to see decent representation among women, but to have a conference in a ‘historically black university’ and have no blacks among the speakers…what a message sent.

    I do appreciate the humor of your response, and wish you luck on this, but for the future, I can recommend some wonderful, and black, speakers.

  29. Shelley, it’s awful presumptuous of you to say that the presenters are not African American, when in fact, some of them are.

    Geez, facts do matter.

    Maybe you should have said, “The presenters that I know are not African American,” and then you’d have been right. I think you should get to know a few more people. Maybe come to ConvergeSouth and make some new friends?

  30. Shelley, it’s awful presumptuous of you to say that the presenters are not African American, when in fact, some of them are.

    Geez, facts do matter.

    Maybe you should have said, “The presenters that I know are not African American,” and then you’d have been right. I think you should get to know a few more people. Maybe come to ConvergeSouth and make some new friends?

  31. We’d still love for you to come to ConvergeSouth!

    We’re working on pod- and videocasts to get online but I doubt we’ll be able to videocast in real time.

  32. We’d still love for you to come to ConvergeSouth!

    We’re working on pod- and videocasts to get online but I doubt we’ll be able to videocast in real time.

  33. [...] I don’t judge people on their ethnicity, sex or religion, and neither do the majority of people. People like people for who they are, what they are doing, and what they are achieving. For once, even Scoble gets it: I think the key here is to do some real gumshoe work and try to find smart technologists, no matter what the color or gender or whatever and invite them into what we’re doing. [...]

  34. Interesting topic. I really don’t care what color your skin is, as long as you have something positive to add to ANY community. The lack of “color” might be due to the lack of interest among them, I mean… If there was a show on rims, you think a more “diverse” crowd would appear? All this talk about “adding color”… you think the NAACP will add a “cracker” like me to the list?????????? It’s not ANYONES fault some groups don’t have interest in this sort of thing. Correct me if I’m wrong…..please.

  35. Interesting topic. I really don’t care what color your skin is, as long as you have something positive to add to ANY community. The lack of “color” might be due to the lack of interest among them, I mean… If there was a show on rims, you think a more “diverse” crowd would appear? All this talk about “adding color”… you think the NAACP will add a “cracker” like me to the list?????????? It’s not ANYONES fault some groups don’t have interest in this sort of thing. Correct me if I’m wrong…..please.

  36. Robert – I’ve sat on commenting on this for a few days to see what type of responses this would generate. I have to agree with the one comment that your post does come across as a little self serving. This would be fine for most, but your voice does tend to carry weight within many communities around the globe.
    What does you being a ‘fat white boy’ have to do with the constant issue of diversity?

  37. Robert – I’ve sat on commenting on this for a few days to see what type of responses this would generate. I have to agree with the one comment that your post does come across as a little self serving. This would be fine for most, but your voice does tend to carry weight within many communities around the globe.
    What does you being a ‘fat white boy’ have to do with the constant issue of diversity?

  38. RAID O, you are wrong and I will correct you. There is no proof that people who aren’t white aren’t interested in high tech, though you apparently believe otherwise. However, there is a lack of opportunity to learn about tech in poor, often minority communities, because of disadvantages based in history.

    The NAACP was founded by white, black and Asian Americans. Much of its leadership was white historically. Furthermore, you, or anyone, is completely free to join your local chapter of the NAACP.

    Speaking of history, you might want to learn some.

  39. RAID O, you are wrong and I will correct you. There is no proof that people who aren’t white aren’t interested in high tech, though you apparently believe otherwise. However, there is a lack of opportunity to learn about tech in poor, often minority communities, because of disadvantages based in history.

    The NAACP was founded by white, black and Asian Americans. Much of its leadership was white historically. Furthermore, you, or anyone, is completely free to join your local chapter of the NAACP.

    Speaking of history, you might want to learn some.

  40. OH Podesta, you did read the article? ??? It sounds like you didn’t. So you might want to read the whole thing again and let it sink into that think skull of yours before you start making personal attacks.

  41. OH Podesta, you did read the article? ??? It sounds like you didn’t. So you might want to read the whole thing again and let it sink into that think skull of yours before you start making personal attacks.

  42. Dave: OK. But interestingly enough we held yet another “open to the public” dinner tonight and only men showed up. Is it self serving to point out that most of the events I do are open to the public and anyone is welcome?

  43. Dave: OK. But interestingly enough we held yet another “open to the public” dinner tonight and only men showed up. Is it self serving to point out that most of the events I do are open to the public and anyone is welcome?

  44. What I find very interesting and sad is the fact- at this day and age- where people should be building unity out of celebration of our diversity and not look for more stuff to divide us further. I do not care who you are, what you are, or anything else.. but, can we try to find a common ground to agree, to love and to work toward bulilding a better world for tomm. If you are gifted in tech. area, then use your talent to help build a better world with people who see you for who you truly are. If technology can develop this far, why can’t we all as human being?! It is sad and very shamfull. I have been working on AIDS/HIV project in Africa, where the need is extensive, multilayered, and requires creativity to meet all the need. Technology use and an expert can make a great contribution. By the way, I am looking for a real geek to work with me on the project–so far, the ones who have responded to my request are not capable to meet challenges posed by limitation of situations in the countries. Please, let’s take notice to the world and see by focusing on differences or creating further division, I ask you all to look at our heart to love one another, practice tolerance and build a world that is truly united.

  45. What I find very interesting and sad is the fact- at this day and age- where people should be building unity out of celebration of our diversity and not look for more stuff to divide us further. I do not care who you are, what you are, or anything else.. but, can we try to find a common ground to agree, to love and to work toward bulilding a better world for tomm. If you are gifted in tech. area, then use your talent to help build a better world with people who see you for who you truly are. If technology can develop this far, why can’t we all as human being?! It is sad and very shamfull. I have been working on AIDS/HIV project in Africa, where the need is extensive, multilayered, and requires creativity to meet all the need. Technology use and an expert can make a great contribution. By the way, I am looking for a real geek to work with me on the project–so far, the ones who have responded to my request are not capable to meet challenges posed by limitation of situations in the countries. Please, let’s take notice to the world and see by focusing on differences or creating further division, I ask you all to look at our heart to love one another, practice tolerance and build a world that is truly united.