Blogging white male

Blogging white male

: Steven Levy has a column about blogs in Newsweek — fallout from the last Harvard confab — that I think is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, a crock.

The head: “Blogging Beyond the Men’s Club: Since anyone can write a Weblog, why is the blogosphere dominated by white males?” And he asks: “Does the blogosphere have a diversity problem?”

A few responses:

First, what’s wrong with being a white male? I’m white and male. Not much I can do about it. Not much I want to do about it. I’m sure as hell not going to apologize for it. I’m white. I’m male. I blog. You got a problem with that? Tough.

Second, I hate to break the news to you, Steven but… you’re white and male, too! And you sit there in a Big Big-Media Job that is not held by someone unwhite and unmale. Should you ask why that is? Should you feel guilty? Should you quit? Should someone ask these questions of you?

Third, anyone can blog. Anyone. If you’re not white or not male or not American or not powerful or not rich or not anything, you can still blog. This is not like Big Media, where there’s a gate to keep and a ceiling to hit. This is a wide-open medium where anyone can blog. This old quota talk is outmoded and irrelevant. Hell, people in Iran can blog — a heckuva lot of them women, by the way. People in Afghanistan and Iraq and Lebanon and Bahrain can blog even though there are efforts in all those places to stop them. But nobody’s stopping anybody here from blogging. So if you don’t think there are enough unmale or unwhite or unanything people blogging, go convince some of them to go to Blogger and sign up! It’s that easy.

Fourth, in the blogosphere, nobody knows you’re a dog… or unmale… or unwhite. There are plenty of bloggers I read who are demographic mysteries to me. I honestly don’t know the race or gender of many bloggers and commenters I read and — listen carefully now — I don’t care. When I was raised in this country, we were taught that it was a goal of our culture — melting-pot nirvana — to get to the point where race and gender didn’t matter. Well, we’ve finally created a medium where that’s possible. But now we’re trying to make race and gender matter again. How crazy is that? That is, to paraphrase my West Virginia father [you see, I’m hillbilly, actually], bassackwards.

Fifth, don’t judge the blogosphere only by 100 blogs on top of some list. That’s so old media. There are eight million blogs — and 7,999,900 of them that get more traffic and more links and more interest than those mere 100. Judge their diversity.

Sixth, so if there aren’t enough unwhite and unmale bloggers blogging, am I supposed to stop? Is it my fault? No, it’s not. My friends Halley and Rebecca are white, too. Should they do anything differently? I certainly hope not.

Seventh, see the post below about Hillary Clinton and Condi Rice. Welcome to the post-post-feminist era, folks.

When Halley Suitt and Rebecca MacKinnon suggested at the Harvard confab that we should all find new voices and link to them and blogroll them, I agreed because I love to find new voices.

Note that I said new voices. Not unmale voices. Not unwhite voices. New voices. It’s the voice that matters. It’s the person that matters. It’s the message that matters. Not the race or the gender.

I don’t want to reduce these amazing people I’m meeting in this medium to a simplistic, one-dimensional definition.

This week — thanks to fellow bloggers — I was delighted to find a new Afghan blogger (who, by the way, writes about women finally free to get an education… you want to talk feminist issues try that one!). I found lots of new Lebanese blogs here, here, here, here (and even here) celebrating the possibility of self-determination. I learned a lot from an Egyptian blogger. I worried over the fate of Bahraini bloggers in jail (I think they may be male… does it matter?) I watched a blogger get excited after I quoted her on TV and now she’s appearing on TV (by the way, she’s unwhite and unmale and — here’s the real shocker — unleft). I went to an event in D.C. and met a blogger who fits a similar description. I became addicted to a new blogger who covers nothing but freedom all around the world. Thanks to a blogging friend — yes, unmale (but ungay) — I found a new page devoted to making money for unstraight bloggers. I watched a Muslim, lesbian, female, Canadian journalist on TV and linked to her. I linked to the most decidedly unmale blogger alive. I linked to a bunch of bloggers I don’t know criticizing big, bad big media and I have no idea what they look like, only what they’re saying. I defended an unmale journalism student getting in trouble for questioning very male jocks. I attacked two guys who appear to be male and white. I celebrated la difference. Oh, yeah, and I fought for the right of an unmale star to hug an unwhite star on national TV and not get in trouble with the FCC over it. All that since the aforementioned Harvard confab.

You want to talk diversity? That’s diversity!

Diversity is no longer just an issue of gender or race or of hiring. Now it’s often just an issue of reading… and maybe linking. It’s also an issue of finding support (helping Iraqi bloggers blog… helping bring attention to the plight of jailed Iranian or Bahraini bloggers… helping bring ad revenue to bloggers of any description…).

So can’t we get past this simplistic quotaspeak?

Steven Levy called me before he wrote his column and I said much of this. I said it is a mistake to presume that the blogosphere has a “diversity problem” just because the blogs you read aren’t diverse (hell, there are eight million of them — so find some new blogs to read; that’s what Halley and Rebecca are really urging, I think). I said that we can all be better at finding more new voices in a medium that is growing by 40,000 new voices a day. I said 10 new voices was far too few. I said some of this at the Harvard confab — namely that if Iranians and Iraqis can blog, anyone can — when the topic came up there. And I’ll say it again here:

In this medium of all media, we must get past throwing our fellow citizens into big, messy buckets: left, right, male, female, white, not…. The lesson of this medium is that we’re individuals and we don’t fit those broad and shallow definitions: Read us and you will hear more diversity from every voice than you have ever heard in any medium that ever came before.

And can we use more diversity? You bet we can. But that’s not a problem. That’s an opportunity.

“Diversity problem?” Kneejerk crock, that.

At the end of his column — after lumping all this in with the Estrich-Kinsley shrill media shriekfest — Levy challenges the blogosphere to find 50 new voices to link to. I’ll turn it around, Steven: Let’s see you and Newsweek find and quote and listen to and link to 50 new voices never heard before in mainstream media every week.

: LATER: I just finished writing this post when I went to Romenesko (which finally has an RSS feed, which means I’m finally reading him more often) and saw him link to the Levy piece and then add a link to a Chicago Tribune piece about the Harvard confab. Romenesko’s bitchy link, picked up not out of the Tribune story but apparently out of his nose:

“MSM turn to white bloggers Jarvis, Rosen when they need a quote (CT)”

OK, OK. I’m white. Very white. Pale white. Pasty white. Wonder-Bread white. Gray-haired, white-bearded white. Never-in-the-sun white. Just white. That picture up in the corner is color-corrected to give me the appearance of a healthy tone. It’s a Photoshop lie. Actually, I’m vampirish. Bloodless. Practically transparent. Colorless. Odorless. Tasteless (just ask the FCC). White.

And so what’s your point, Romenesko?

Quote that.

: LATER: Of course, Doc says it way, way better than I could or did … on 1/1000th the word count:

My own 2

  • Stephen Levy needs to read up on Power Law Distributions.

  • “First, what’s wrong with being a white male? I’m white and male. Not much I can do about it.”
    I can think of two things, but one is very uncomfortable and the other is irreversible.

  • Stephen Levy also needs to read this post.

  • Someone needs an editor. Your point – a great one – was made in the first few sentences. The rest was just dry masturbation.

  • Amen to that! Great examples to illustrate your point, too.
    Now that was a sermon Romenesko needed to hear! Looks like the preacher bug runs in the family, Jeff. :)

  • Aurora

    Learn how to structure a goddamn argument, and think before you write. Anyone can blog? Really? I’m pleasantly surprised that those citizens lacking computers and internet access can blog. It makes me feel all warm inside.

  • Wait, Jeff… what are you trying to say? That you are… white? This is SICK.

  • richard mcenroe

    Here’s what I wrote to Levy:
    “—–Original Message—–
    From: richard mcenroe [mailto:[email protected]]
    Sent: Sunday, March 13, 2005 7:45 PM
    To: [email protected]; [email protected]
    Subject: Steven Levy and The Men’s Club…
    I think you’re extrapolating from an artificially restricted set of
    data… Perhaps women do not start as many blogs as men. On the other
    hand, based on my own experience in the various online communities I
    frequent, far more women than men are active in LiveJournals. Perhaps
    this is a format they are more comfotable with.
    I also take issue with your claim that the top levels of the blogosphere
    are homogenous. Is Kos Moulitsas indistinguishable from Charles
    Johnson? Olliver Willis interchangable with Tim Blair? And I consider
    one of the signs that the blogosphere represents real progress the fact
    that, unless they tell me, _I have no idea what the racial heritage or
    sexual orientation of any blogger or commenter is_. Oh, sure, I suspect
    Andrew Sullivan might be gay or Roger L. Simon, Jewish, but in my
    experience, it’s rare for someone to start a post with “As a straight
    white male… ” (or, “As a gay unwed-mother womyn of color”) unless
    using it for an ironic device… and the ones who do use it, as it is
    used in the mainstream media and academe, as some sort of incontestable
    badge of authority, usually meet a cold reception. This is as it should
    be. The blogosphere, at its best, is a medium of ideas. I would give
    more credence to the opinion on immigration of a Victor Davis Hanson

  • linden

    It’s called the public library, Aurora.

  • Gary Rosen

    I’ve never heard of Romenesko, have no idea what his “slant” is – but is it possible he was being ironic with the “MSM turns to white bloggers” link? And/or was Jeff with his reply??

  • I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Stephen Levy to link to oh let’s say 20 of the great female bloggers out there . . . .

  • Eileen

    Aurora makes a good point about internet access. Before I had a computer, waiting at the library for computer time could take days as there were only three. And we had no internet cafes; consequently, we Had no computer access. I don’t know how many millions are still without that connection, but it must continue to be sizeable.
    As the first woman to comment on this thread (?), I agree with Jeff for the most part, and your blog, JJ, as well as this particular post is replete with your own brand of fine, broad based (pun intended) inclusion. But how many female bloggers get regular MSM gigs, or references or coverage of any kind? How many of the few ‘known’ females like Wonkette or Malkin are regularly tarred and tossed into the trash bin, or disrobed and worse with sexual innuendo, or torn into shreds by goons…?
    Sure there’s opportunity to ‘speak’, but there’s also the typical, proverbial white man’s cave club. It always takes years for the white man to recognize that his club is, ultimately – for all the PC talk to the contrary – just that.
    Then there’s the abuse that’s hurled around with impunity. Where are male defenders (other than EverCarl…Carsonfire) when Faramin or Franky spew every bile in the book at the ladies? Why do the Kats and Eileens of the world provide moral support to each other in comment sections of the blog world? Because verbal abuse and trash talk for the most part goes unchecked. That is not to say you guys don’t do battle with the abusers, but you don’t typically stick up for the ladies in the process, as I presume you would in your own living room. If I refuse to rip back, does that make me weak? Men of substance would see my strength for choosing not to sink to the level of my attackers. Maybe my spirituality encourages me to take a finer road. Do I then ‘lose the debate’ and male respect because I refuse to go there? Why does this matter? Because it makes women like me think twice about even Visiting a blog like this one or commenting, at the risk of getting hacked to shreds. Argument and debate in the legal world was civilized. Sorry, but it ain’t all that civilized around here.
    The level of discussion is often coarse, vile, black and evil on blogs – as opposed to community chat lists or discussion groups, where a modicum of respect is generally granted. The Masters of Invective are on the loose here, particularly in political blogs. It is so rampant that if one speaks sincerely, they are generally misunderstood since the typical interchange consists almost entirely of insults and sarcasm. Again, it’s not a place most women find desirable or ‘accessible’ to even visit.
    Although I very much appreciate the Many, Many who are most civil and kind out there, the term ‘snark’ was unknown to me before I visited the blog world. The toxicity level is rampant. I often feel a bit ill after reading comments at sites like this one. Maybe if the level of discourse was elevated by BANNING TROLLS and Snarky Hate Speech, MSM would in turn give more time and respect to bloggers. And maybe more women would choose to participate.

  • Steven: Thanks for the links (and I’m honored to see you hanging around).
    Temple: Ewww. And ouch. (Maybe you need an editor, too, guy.)
    Aurora: When this PC discussion came up at a Toronto conference in journalism education, Hoder pointed out that somehow, people in Iran manage to blog. People in Iraq manage to blog around danger, blackouts, war, and expense. My library has lots of free access. It’d be nice if everyone did. But, you know, the homeless don’t have cable and can’t afford (today’s) newspapers. Does that invalidate those media as well?
    Gary: Yes… and ditto mine.
    Eileen: Actually, no, you’re not the first woman to comment in this thread (and I don’t know why it matters). But that illusrates the point.

  • Jeff,
    Wish you had made one other point, which would have been that readers/bloggers are most inclined to visit sites that offer something worth reading, and diversity isn’t the grounds for attraction, usually it’s intelligent presentation.
    Yeh, too often it’s the kind of association that occurs with the Rush Limbaughs of the world, but I tend to give more weight to the reader/blogger worth having.

  • I think that lots of people are avoiding the real issue here.
    The overwhelming majority of the most popular bloggers are either professional or amateur technogeeks — and the overwhelming majority of American technogeeks are white males. These “early adopters” created a “blogging elite” network—-a group of “very good” or “the best” bloggers that they all read (and link to) frequently, because they established a reputation for credibility and/or insight.
    And while the last two years have seen an explosion in the number of bloggers, the “blogging elite” has remained pretty much the same.
    One can look at virtually any blog-roll of the most prominent bloggers, and find a plethora of obviously male-written blogs, and a relative dearth of blogs that are obviously written by women.
    In fact, one could reasonably say that right-wing bloggers seem to be better about linking to women and people of color.
    (although their reasons for doing so appear to be better described as “tokenism” than as “diversity”, that could just be a personal bias—-the “insights” of the Malkins and Barbers are just as lacking as those of Hindrocket and Tacitus, so when these white males link to women who don’t have a clue it may not be tokenism, but just a reflection of the cluelessness of the far-right white male blogging establishment.)
    What we are looking at here is a case study in institutional discrimination — its not that the “blogging elite” is excluding certain viewpoints based on gender or race, its just that the genesis of the institution of blogging originated among white males — and that is attributable to same social and economic forces that have discouraged women and people of color from entering “technical” fields such as math, science, and computer sciences.
    To me, the really important bias reflected in the blogosphere is not a “race/gender” issue, but an “early adopter” issue — “early adopters” of new technologies are, by definition, outside of the mainstream.
    And this has resulted in a perversion of the manner in which the interplay of the press and blogging is playing out. It is these “early adopters” of blogging technology that are defining the purpose and potential of blogging to (and through) the mainstream media.
    There is a very strong “personal empowerment” bias among early adopters — after all, blogging is primarily a means of individual self-expression. And it is this personal empowerment bias that may be at the heart of the conflict between the journalism (which is all about collective empowerment and expression) and blogging.
    Journalists, in their search to maintain their relevance in the brave new world of communications, risk losing their most important role in society — that of creating a common frame of reference, and of providing “agreed upon facts” on which society as a whole can make informed decisions. Instead, the blogging elite is pushing journalism in the direction of post-modern relativism and information nihilism — rejecting “agreed upon facts” because vocal minorities with vested interests want those facts to remain in dispute, and scream “bias” when the facts are presented as facts (perfect examples are “global warming” and “creationism.”)
    Its possible that including more female and minority voices in the larger discussion could change the dynamic, because women have been socialized to value community and nuturing, and minorities understand how “personal empowerment” is a myth in a society where discrimination is institutionalized.

  • 1. Women don’t start fewer blogs than men. The two largest blog censuses (NITLE and Pegasus) show that there are slightly more men than women blogging.
    2. My take is that it’s just real world economics playing itself out on the net. People who are lower on the totem pole are less likely to blog under their own name, or if they do blog under their own name, stay low-profile, because they have more to lose. Those people are more likely to be…[fill in the blank]. We can all look at that and give it the Big Shrug. Or not.

  • 1. should read slightly more women than men blogging.

  • John Oh

    The real point for Levy is not diversity in itself. The real question being posed is why are all the blogs with the largest readership written by white guys. The implication is that it is somehow unfair. There was a time when race and class and other social attributes dictated some forms of opportunity. The net is the ultimate in opportunity, as you point out. Anyone can blog. Anyone can read blogs. And there are a zillion to choose from. What could possibly be better?

  • Great rant (in the best sense of the word)! I agree with everything. Now, regarding Levy…yes, I do feel like he may be motivated out of guilt and felt defensiveness. He is an “overpriveleged” white male with a great Big-Media job. BUT–if he publicly performs the ritual of agonizing about the over-representation of white males, then he has purchased himself an “indulgence”. The same motivationa and behavior can be seen, IMO, in many far-left white male college professors.

  • paul_l.:
    You said;
    Its possible that including more female and minority voices in the larger discussion could change the dynamic, because women have been socialized to value community and ********nuturing*********, and minorities understand how “personal empowerment” is a myth in a society where discrimination is institutionalized.
    We all understand it’s a typo, and you meant nurturing, however, with some women … no, I will stop there.

  • I suppose we could start a quota system of sorts:
    “Lessee, today I will read 500 blogged words by white males, 500 words by black males, 500 words by women, 100 words by Eskimos, 100 words by volcano worshippers…”
    Ridiculous. I know. Blogging is the total equalizer. It’s not who you are, it’s what you say. Eloquence beats bluster. It’s everything the public forum of yore should have been.

  • MD

    Thanks for making that important point Lisa. If you just randomly click through the typepad or livejournal blogs, a heck of a lot of them are female. Most of the ‘evidence’ for the preponderance of male blogging comes from self-selected blog surveys.
    If you want more diversity, read different blogs.
    BTW, Mr. Jarvis, I was at one or other of those Harvard confabs (the open session, where the little people were allowed to attend – I’m just kidding! It’s Harvard’s conference and they can do what they want – and what I saw was a lot of interesting people who seemed to be summing up the data when there’s a whole lot of data collecting still to be conducted……)

  • /pd

    I remember, Halley Suitt Post and comment there “everyone on the net is a dog.. and nobidy know its” !!
    What we are forgetting is that we are measuring the “white male” in blogsphere in this converstation.. I think they are a minorioty compared to all those Chinese and Koroan bloggers in. The American’s peeps always have thier own noses up “where the sun does not shine” — and therefore tend to forget to see the whole picture… or are just preoccupied in their own self gratification that they can’t see the bigger picture !!

  • First, what’s wrong with being a whilte male? I’m white and male. Not much I can do about it. Not much I want to do about it. I’m sure as hell not going to apologize for it
    Levy isn’t attacking you, so don’t take it that way. He’s attacking the privileging of the white male in our culture.
    It’s not so much that you should apologize for being a white male, but recognize the privileged position white males continue to have in Western society. Privileged education & salary, privileged voice & authority, privileged with technical & computer skills, etc.
    It seems accurate to point out that the majority of quotes from bloggers in MSM are from white males (Jarvis, Rosen, Denton, etc) – and the “token” famale is Wonkette – who is quoted only becuase she is counter-type: a woman with a foul mouth who likes to talk about sex.
    The existence of non-white-male blogs does not fully counter Levy’s point. It’s more an issue of which blogs are recognized/quoted in the mass culture.
    BTW, some of the best female blogging can be found among the collective at Crooked Timber, IMO.

  • richard mcenroe

    Michael Zimmer

  • MD

    Michael Zimmer – if millions are blogging, than which is exactly represents the mass culture?
    (Actually, I think you do have a point that it would be nice to have different voices recognized by the mainstream media. Nice. But not necessary…..and darn my female need to agree with everything everyone says all the time like some total weenie….da*n patriarchy! Look what it’s done!)

  • Great post as always, Jeff, even when you didn’t link to Princeton’s only female Puerto Rican blogger!

  • MD – I think its premature to consider the blogopshere “mass culture.” (I’m no fan of that term, and wish I didn’t use it in the first place) My guess is that a vast majority of American adults still get their news/information from MSM, and its their (MSM’s) selection of which blogs to quote that’s at issue (or should be at issue).

  • MD

    “which exactly represents the mass culture?” Which is still probably totally grammatically incorrect. They didn’t teach us much grammar in med school.
    (And I *did* preview. Maybe that Larry Summers had a point, after all?)
    Anyway, the mass culture point holds. Don’t all those x-box game thingies make almost as much money as traditional Hollywood films these days? The mass culture just doesn’t seem to follow the old models, anymore. Well, like it ever did.

  • Well, like it ever did.

  • bea

    This constant reaction against white men needs to be over and done with. Look at tv, commercials, etc. The white men are always the dweeb, the fool, the big “pasty” dork. How obvious and *yawn* this has become.
    The whole priv. white man thingy is also overstated and has created a constant victimized mentality. As a woman, I can tell you the women that I went to college who played the “victim” card, were the ones to NOT go out and do anything of any relevance, unless you count prostitution and stripping. No one is trying to say that discrimination against non-whites and non-males has never existed but it’s certainly not so one dimensional these days, and unhelpful to act as if it is.

  • MD

    Oh, I see you posted while I was posting, Michael Zimmer! Yes, ‘mass culture’ is perhaps not the best term and, yes, it’s still premature to consider blogging the dominant form of media. But look where the growth is!
    Darn, and I’m still being all agreeable and stuff. Must learn to use words like “idiot” and phrases like, “are you completely insane?” if wish to be taken seriously as blogger. Or that and make Ana Marie Cox-like jokes for policy wonks. Man, Washington must be one sad and lonely town….

  • billhedrick

    You know, I’ve tried and failed to start a couple blogs(Didn’t have the stamina)and none of the registration processes asked my sex or race. IF (and I have seen no real evidence to substantiate the claim) there are more males than females, more whites than none whites blogging, isn’t that simply the fault of non-white women not choosing to blog?

  • bea

    I’ve taught non-white women on welfare, and now I teach working-class black women. In both groups, most (90%) of my students have computers. The women on welfare knew how to use the internet very well, and were mostly interested in chatting and shopping. My extremely dilligent students that I have now see the internet as a waste of time. May be they are onto something….
    But in this little control group that I am presenting, lack of access does not explain why they aren’t blogging!

  • Mikey

    It seems Mr. Levy’s world view is locked in the past. There isn’t, so far as I can tell, any color or gender bar to either blogging or commenting on blogs. This is a purely voluntary activity, which means it’s time to grow up on this whole issue and find something more pertinent to talk about than this tired old theme.

  • h0mi

    It’d be nice if everyone did. But, you know, the homeless don’t have cable and can’t afford (today’s) newspapers.

    I’d like to point out that about 60-65% of Americans have cable tv access. Roughtly 65% of Americans also have internet access as well.

  • Gregg

    There isn’t, so far as I can tell, any color or gender bar to either blogging or commenting on blogs. This is a purely voluntary activity, which means it’s time to grow up on this whole issue and find something more pertinent to talk about than this tired old theme.
    Such a view ignores any structural barriers for certain classes of people to engage with blogs, including: access to computers/internet, computer/internet literacy, disposable time (economic costs) to participate, etc.

  • I’d like to point out that about 60-65% of Americans have cable tv access. Roughtly 65% of Americans also have internet access as well.
    The key question, h0mi, is how this is distributed along socio-economic lines. Of the 65% of Americans who have internet access, what % of those are poor, urban minorities compared to middle-class suburbanites?

  • Blue

    It is amazing how white males like Levy in positions of authority love to assuage their guilt by this type of cockamamie notion. What’s next–someone suing Glenn because a statistical analysis “shows” he discriminates against women?
    The whole POINT of the blogosphere is that the best rises to the top REGARDLESS of silly categories like race and sex. Now, admittedly, that doesn’t explain Wonkette…but for Christ’s sake aren’t we already shackled enough in this county by absurd quota and the like?

  • om

    no one has accused me of being white in my entire life. i look and the mirror and there is one color i don’t see – white! black and blue – sure, brown yes. this is a cheap attempt at garnering publicity nothing more … i think we should have ignored this one

  • Talk about lack of diversity; everyone in the mainstream media right now looks at blogging as a political phenomenon, and while that’s what generates the most heat its only part of the story. My fiance is fairly famous within the knitter-blogger community; yes, it exists, and its very active. (Oddly enough, women dominate those sites….) She was also one of the founders of New York City Bloggers; and surprise, surprise! she’s Puerto Rican to boot. I’ve seen tongue-in-cheek references to cat blogging, and I ran a dog-blog for a while updating people who were interested in the story of my rescued Rottweiler.
    Politics is only one neighborhood in the blogosphere. It’s a big old blog world out there, and the people who only see white male bloggers need to get out of their ghettoes.
    (Speaking of which, Go Mountaineers!)

  • “Politics is only one neighborhood in the blogosphere. It’s a big old blog world out there, and the people who only see white male bloggers need to get out of their ghettoes.”
    Very good point.

  • bea

    Michelle, Do you know the answer to your own question? Statistics? Do you have any anecdotal evidence? Or are you assuming that mostly (whites) have the internet while (brown) people don’t?
    My personal experience has shown me that indeed, many poor or working class minorities do indeed have the internet in their home!

  • Bea – its Michael, not Michelle. No, I don’t have the answer to my own question (if I did, I wouldn’t have asked it). I’m asking a question, a more important question, IMO, than stating a generalized, blanket percentage. I’m suggesting that a difference might exist, a meaningful difference.
    And I’m sorry, but the pervasive use of “personal experience” as evidence just doesn’t wash.

  • Lars

    The Harvard bloggercon is dead. Who that truly matters in the blogosphere attends that thing anymore? And for that matter, who gives a crap about Newsweek? The university bloggercon and MSM are perfect together: off the mark, off the pulse, and best ignored.

  • bea

    Perhaps then, everyone neeeds to get out of their “ghettoes”! O.K. Knitters check out politics! Animal rights bloggers go check out the NASCAR blogs! And political bloggers, why don’t you go check out my vegan cooking blog!
    My point, EVERYONE self-segregates according to interests!

  • Ron

    Is Levy doing anything more here than looking for “trackbacks” to the online version of his article??
    His thesis is so transparently inflammatory, and easily countered, that one has to wonder whether he’s purposely inviting a blogswarm (read: advertising hits). Aside from inciting his print readers along lines they don’t care about anyway (or they wouldn’t be READING the print version), what else does his piece really accomplish?

  • Aurora

    If a sizable number of blogs are created and maintained regularly via public libraries, I’ll give everyone a hamburger.
    Re: access, the last numbers I saw pegged only 25% of Americans with access to high-speed internet. To act as if wealth and privelege don’t play a role in who blogs and who does not is to ignore the facts.

  • Bea

    Sorry for misspelling your name, I guess I’m female-centric!
    So your suggestion seems to be based on stereotypes. Personal experience is, like I stated, anecdotal. It never gives the whole pie, but it can present a picture of people’s lives. Those who are presenting an argument always use some sort of anecedotal picture. Seems like you are rejecting both statistics AND personal experience/control groups. So what, then, would answer your question?

  • The key question, h0mi, is how this is distributed along socio-economic lines. Of the 65% of Americans who have internet access, what % of those are poor, urban minorities compared to middle-class suburbanites?

    So the key question, Michael Zimmer, is what we should do about that? Personally, I live in Crown Heights, but since I’m white and not-exactly-poor I guess my example isn’t relevant.
    For a non-smartass response response, though, there are organizations dedicated to leveling the metaphorical playing field: Computers for Youth here in New York gives computers to families with schoolchildren, with the express intent of helping those kids keep up with the opportunities the suburbanites have.
    I can also tell you that the solution to unequal access is not to denigrate or otherwise marginalize those who currently have the means, motivation, and skill to have their voices heard. Instead let’s make sure the culture keeps moving away from dependence on information gatekeepers. That will do more to help the downtrodden than asking the Mr. Levys to please keep picking and choosing which voices are legitimate.

  • Oh, they playing the race/gender card!! That means they know they’re losing. “Oh, the suffocation!”
    Lisa makes a good point about anonymity. That’s why my blog is anonymous–it would interfere rather than enhance my university career.
    Erik, there’s a cool German word for all that self-flaggelation, leidensneid, and I’ve posted about it.

  • I’m offended that men are crusading on women’s behalf. In fact I would like to think that most women would be REALLY offended to be linked to because of their gender. If gender is your major driving force then get a personal ad. The blogosphere is about sharing ideas, not finding a hot date.
    As far as demographic statistics about the blogosphere, I just saw other numbers that showed the m/f ratio at 75/25. Unfortunately statistics can only make estimates and in a network such as this getting any kind of valid estimate would be really difficult. Even the US Census isn’t completely accurate (they have an overcouting problem).
    So you can banty percentages around all you want, but just remember 43% of statistics are made up on the spot.

  • Bea – I am not rejecting statistics, but supporting the responsible use of relevant & meaningful data.
    Mark – I fully agree that the most relevant question is “what should we do about it” More action, less talk (blogging). :)

  • Re: access, the last numbers I saw pegged only 25% of Americans with access to high-speed internet.
    High-speed internet is hardly a requirement to read and write the text that comprises blogs.
    To act as if wealth and privelege don’t play a role in who blogs and who does not is to ignore the facts.
    To act as if the majority of Americans are ground-down and impoverished is to ignore the facts.

  • ahem


  • Jeff quoting Doc: “Nobody dominates the blogosphere. What makes the ‘sphere is indomitability. Of anyone. By anyone else.”
    I strongly disagree. The current structure of the blogosphere rewards bloggers with links. Jeff has talked about the “power” and “responsibility” of the link. It is through linking that power on the blogopshere is expressed. While everyone enters the blogosphere equally, those who are linked by certain blogs (indeed, gatekeepers of information) have a much greater chance to be read.

  • There are deaf and hard of hearing bloggers out there as well who cover political issues not related to deafness. There are bloggers who have a variety of conditions or disabilities. I’m white, male, and have a hearing loss. A problem you say? Only to you.

  • Re: access, the last numbers I saw pegged only 25% of Americans with access to high-speed internet. To act as if wealth and privelege don’t play a role in who blogs and who does not is to ignore the facts.
    this is an excellent point. Many/most of the popular blogs (and news sites) are graphics intensive because of advertizing and/or “catblogging” and/or because they can be. (This site is blessedly relatively non-graphics intensive). (And this is true for just about all of the free bloghosting sites as well.) Navigating the web at this point using a dial-up modem is quite often a nightmare. The cost of high-speed internet service is prohibitive to most lower income people/families (a disproportionate percentage of whom are minority and and/or single-parent female head of household families.)
    Imagine, if you will, trying to do for the black community what Instapundit does for right-wingers using only a dial-up modem.
    As to the idea that “the best rises to the top”, that simply is not true. The “best of the early adopters” rose to the top, and have tended to stay there while equally good if not better writers/observers struggle for an audience. Once in a while, someone new breaks through (Wonkette, LGF)– but not because of the overall quality of blog itself.
    At this point, the only way for a “new” blogger to get a substantial audience is to be someone who is currently published in other media, or is famous for some other reason. Its extremely unlikely that there will be a new “Glenn Reynolds” or “Duncan Black” emerging from the blogosphere anytime soon.

  • Ah… Mark Poling tags the REAL lack of diversity – at least as far as it goes (which I’m sure has nothing to do with the fact that I agree with him completely). There are so many nonpolitical blogs out there that get completely ignored as having an influence on lives. But what they do is offer a much greater sense of community than any political blog alliance/ ecosystem based on anger. Right or left.
    Thanks Mark

  • There ain’t no domination out here, no matter how hard Levy and others in the MSM want to create said domination.
    And as for his “color” arguement, what do I look like, chopped liver?

  • If you remember seeing my name before, it’s because I’ve posted similar comments on this topic a few days back, at Vodkapundit’s.
    I have no idea why people are still hand-wringingly asking themselves, “Woe is we, why are all bloggers white males?”, but it seems there are a lot of guilty consciences out there. Thankfully, mine is not one of them.
    A quick rundown of my non-vital statistics (this isn’t Wonkette’s blog, after all):
    I’m white. I’m a woman. I’m a blogger. One out of three ain’t bad, right?
    As for the reasons for the question posed originally, listen, it’s not hard to come up with three quick responses: (1) Men predominate in most endeavours. (2) White men do more than other men as well, (3) and white English-speaking males even more than that.
    The reasons are manifold, but it strikes me that (1) Men predominate because they have more acceptable leisure time than women (2) White men are more likely to be in academia and law, the two areas which bloggers seem to have the market cornered (3) the internet is an English-speaking medium which favours these men.
    I’m sure I’m not the only one here, male or female, that looks on at these arguments and says, so freaking what?
    Aren’t there Lebanese protest marches we could be talking about, Mr. Levy?

  • Keith

    I dunno- seems to me that after years of revelling in techno-swashbucklers who threatened to upset various business establishments, Mr. Levy has changed his mind now that it’s his establishment that’s about to be upset.

  • Mikey

    This isn’t that expensive an activity – not when you check what the cost of a pair of tickets to a sporting event and a night on the town will set you back. And economics, race, and gender are not completely correlative traits of an individual.
    This is a voluntary activity, period. Whining about the color and gender of the commentator is a completely useless, and pointless activity. You’d get for more mileage if you’d just stare off into space for a few minutes.
    Let’s consider for a second: How do you correct this imbalance? Force people to blog or comment? Force others not to?
    This fascination with color/race/gender is really, really…pointless. (Well, not gender, I am rather fascinated by that – in a spiritual way ;))

  • Old Grouch

    Eileen says:

    Then there’s the abuse that’s hurled around with impunity. Where are male defenders… when Faramin or Franky spew every bile in the book at the ladies…?
    The level of discussion is often coarse, vile, black and evil on blogs…”

    For some blogs, true. I don’t read those, and I don’t believe I’m missing anything by skipping them. If it bothers you, try registered/moderated sites like Roger Simon, or even Tim Blair (where order and decorum are maintained by Andrea Harris :-) ).
    Jeff’s comment box is unmoderated, and sometimes the noise gets pretty high. When it gets too high for me, I close it.

    Michael Zimmer writes:

    …[T]he majority of quotes from bloggers in MSM are from white males (Jarvis, Rosen, Denton, etc) – and the “token” famale is Wonkette – who is quoted only becuase she is counter-type: a woman with a foul mouth who likes to talk about sex.

    And this should be the blogosphere’s problem why…? We face a plethora of examples of the MSM’s cluelessness every day; should one more surprise us? The MSM like Wonkette for the same reason they like Michael Jackson, and bloggers aren’t going to change things.

    Gregg says:

    Such a view ignores any structural barriers for certain classes of people to engage with blogs, including: access to computers/internet, computer/internet literacy, disposable time (economic costs) to participate, etc.

    True, but are you then going to argue that these “structural barriers” are being imposed on these classes because of their race or gender? Who did the imposing?

    quoth Aurora:

    I saw pegged only 25% of Americans with access to high-speed internet…”

    and Paul chimes in:

    Imagine, if you will, trying to do for the black community what Instapundit does for right-wingers using only a dial-up modem.

    It doesn’t take high speed to read blogs. I read and comment just fine at 28.8k, thank you. And as to creating a blog, it doesn’t take high speed unless you’re trying to demonstrate your geek cred by running your own server. Normal people find that a host provider, a dialup and an ftp connection are all it takes.

    Regarding Levy (and Romanesko), if I were in a less charitable mood, I’d say they’re just part of the ongoing MSM effort to discredit weblogs, this time by trying to promote the meme that “Weblogs are unreliable because they’re not representative: They’re all written by white men.”

  • Blue

    Sorry, Michael Zimmer, but “What is to be done is exactly the WRONG question.” It leads, inevitably, to regulation and constraint of the TRUE flow of ideas.
    Leave the blogosphere freaking alone. We have had ENOUGH of this affirmative action bullshit mentality elsewhere in the US.

  • rivlax

    Great comments, Jeff. You could have ranted a couple thousand more words and I’d have read every one. This digital divide argument really gets me. My wife works in an inner-city school and when Gore et al were throwing the digital-divide guilt trip on all of us the black principal in my wife’s school made the observation that there didn’t seem to be any digital divide when it came to the latest video game system. Also, regarding what a white blogger should do to “correct” this imbalance, this reminds of all the caterwalling by the left about the demographic imbalance in prisons, as if what the police should do is just go out and arrest a bunch of white people to even things out. The equality fetishists will kill us and our country if we let them. Keep on with what you’re doing, regardless of your hillbilly pallor.

  • pst314

    “Then there’s the abuse that’s hurled around with impunity.”
    I’ve encountered many people who regard polical disagreement, no matter how polite and thoughtful, as grounds for personal attack.
    Most of those toxic people were women–feminists, liberals, Marxists, etc. The conservatives, male and female, tended to be much more civil.

  • bea

    Great analysis rivlax! You are so right in referencing the black principal who observed the lack of digital divide when it comes to video games! What an excellent point!

  • Peg C.

    Jeff, excellent points, and SDB, I love your links. The blogosphere is a meritocracy. Those with posts and views of interest and value to the majority of us are on top of the heap. Some dear ones go (SDB, we miss you awfully), new ones appear. Levy’s agenda seems pretty clear to me: there’s too much politically conservative bloggin’ goin’ on and gettin’ attention. (“White male” is code for conservative, whether true or not.)
    Well boo frickin’ hoo. I’ll read a green toad if he’s a righty and I won’t read all the women and minorities in the world who dish up PC victimization garbage. In case people haven’t noticed, the best news of late has been mirroring what the righty (OK, liberty-loving) bloggers have been saying and not what the hate-America crowd has.
    This is what the MSM can’t deal with: our choices to read who and what we want, and ignore the rest.

  • first off, the basics…I am Black and a woman. I am also professional when I am not blogging. Some people have read my blog and have not known I was Black because of the content. In fact, due to Bloglines and other RSS readers, people may not even know what the blog looks like (bells & whistles be damned). Last year I became good friends with 7 other female bloggers and we often have brunch and dish dirt on the NYC blogger scene. We are pretty diverse (married, single, lesbian, straight, black, latino, and even two lawyers) It is an organic friendship based on the common interests of blogging, food, politics and sex. We are proof that blogging connects people that otherwise would never meet.

  • bea

    I have to run off to work, so no one will hear anymore of my vitriolic comments for the day! But I have to say, as someone who has dedicated themselves to the education of non-white youth and adults, I am so sorry that white men have to constantly apologize for being white, for being educated if they are, for being po’ white ignerent trash if they aren’t educated, and now, for blogging a bit about politics without first divying out a bit of cash and public pressure to make sure political blogs have diversity in race/gender! America seems to LOVE this victim mentality, which I think is going to do NOTHING but hold back the very people I work for day to day.
    Whatever happened to the good fight and personal accountability?

  • Bruce

    Shouldn’t Oliver Willis be calling someone on this thread a racist by now?

  • Eileen

    Thanks for your kind suggestions, Old Grouch. [BTW, I love your name; it always evokes thoughts of someone with a great sense of humor who comfortably sits in his/her armchair smoking a pipe.] And yes, I also turn it off when the noise gets to me.
    Your’re right, JJ, it didn’t matter; I only was indicating I was about to comment from one female’s perspective.
    Pst314 said: “I’ve encountered many people who regard polical disagreement, no matter how polite and thoughtful, as grounds for personal attack.” Very astute (and sad, really)…I’ll factor that in, thanks.
    I was pleasantly surprised to find so many Interesting, Respectful comments here today. Only one stray Hitler! There’s hope, most particularly if that was a joke. And Bruce :), I’m feeling mighty optimistic..

  • Loved the links to those new blog voices. That is diversity, and welcomed too!

  • It doesn’t take high speed to read blogs. I read and comment just fine at 28.8k, thank you.
    How long does it take you to download the New York Times homepage?
    How long do you think it takes Glenn Reynolds to do so?
    Its not about reading blogs, its about the speed of access to news and information—its about looking something up in google, and not having to wait at all to determine if a link that looks promising actually has a reference to a fact that you know, but want to be able to link to.

  • sbw

    In January I wrote:
    “The critical significance of the internet isn’t interconnectivity, but the emergence of The Sound Idea as the currency that counts.”
    It’s not who said it, or what flavor they are, it is The Sound Idea that is the currency that counts.

  • Paul Lukasiak writes:
    “How long does it take you to download the New York Times homepage?
    How long do you think it takes Glenn Reynolds to do so?”
    Depends. I sometimes blog on dialup, depending on where I am. I often use the Verizon card at dialup speeds (it’s 122kbps at best, but often slower when the signal’s weak). I notice the difference, of course, but it’s an irritant, not an obstacle. I can also cook a tasty meal without a Viking range and an all-clad skillet.

  • James

    Re Aurora’s comment: I recall reading that an amazingly high percentage of the people classified as “poor” in the US have color TVs, VCRs, cable TV, etc. I have a computer sitting around in perfect working order that I used four or five years ago as my main connection to the net. Now it barely meets the minimum speed requirements for a local user group that takes working old machines, does some maintenance and refurbishing, and donates them to non-profit organizations. I literally almost cannot give it away…but someone could put a low-overhead version of Linux on it, get an inexpensive dialup connection, and use a free blog provider to shout his or her opinions to the world.
    Blogs can’t dominate other blogs the way MSM outlets could dominate other MSM outlets. People can still read my blog no matter how many people read Kos/Instapundit/etc.

  • richard mcenroe

    Paul_lukasiak — I surf at 56k(-); the Times is eminently downloadable. Waiting for the sign-in page to go through its crap is another matter, since the Times has it set up, at least as far as my machine is concerned, to load all the text and ads before it uploads my stored ID and password.

  • Old Grouch

    Paul writes:

    “How long does it take you to download the New York Times homepage?

    Well, actually, I pick up my copy of the Times at Walgreen’s every morning, and read it over breakfast ;-) [Gee, you must REALLY be old!-Ed. Shaddup!] … but I understand your point: I don’t do Flash, video downloads, or streaming audio. Remember though that most of the web remains text based, and most web designers are careful about page load times. I find that I usually start to see useful content within seconds, despite the lousy connection. And the thinking usually takes longer than the loading, anyway.

    Eileen sez:

    I love your name…


  • Tommy G

    Thanks Victoria, great point.
    But the “Bias” articles always make me smile.
    When we see Newsweek/Time/USNews at the PX and the cover has crap like this, it always makes us go:
    “Hey, Look! I guess we must be winning the war”

  • Tommy G

    Great, Paul – so now the mark of western civilization decline is how inconvienenced you are?
    Again… I guess the war must be going well, what with the lack of Air Raid Sirens to keep you up all night and all.

  • Vox

    Well said, Jeff, as always.
    I am female and I blog. I am, however, so far beyond white that I practically glow in the dark. My readers probably know this because of the image in my header, though not a picture of me I think people assume it is a reasonable approximation – and it is.
    I have to agree with Chris Nolan in his assessment of the male blogger dominance. We tend to spend most of our time/energy reading blogs that we enjoy and relate to. I think, in many cases but certainly not exclusively, men relate to other male bloggers. I find that I tend to read more blogs written by females, and those are what you find on my blogroll. There are many exceptions (you are the prime example) but the majority are women. My readers also tend to be mostly female, even more so now that the election is over and my posts now run less political and more personal.
    I have a nephew who blogs. Though he is a white male, he has no computer or internet access of his own. He takes it where he can get it, though; libraries, internet caf

  • Vox- apparently you haven’t read enough of Chris Nolan: Don’t let the name fool you. She’s a woman. And she’s one of the best writers online.
    And since I’ve done more research than anyone in the past week on this subject, I thought I’d let one data point speak for itself. The lament about the perception of the lack of women in the popular blogosphere– the A-List, the GateKeepers– has been discussed many times over the last two years. I’ve detailed ten noteworthy threads. And you know what? When they’re discussed on a woman’s blog, they get no more than 20 responses. When discussed on Kevin Drum’s Political Animal, they get over 100. Here on BuzzMachine, this would be post #84.

  • Tink

    Mark Poling hit the nail on the head. You can’t judge the world by only looking in one neighborhood.
    I don’t read a blog because of the gender or ethnicity of the blogger, I read a blog for the information/commentary/entertainment they offer.
    My interests run the gammut from politics to the military to stained glass.
    Just out of curiousity, I opened my bookmarks, I was actually going to count the male/female bloggers in each of the catagories I read on a regular basis. After finding that in my political blogs I read one more male blogger than female blogger, and after finding in my stained glass community I read two more female bloggers than male bloggers..I stopped counting. Why? Because who cares??????? I haven’t cared about the race or gender of the bloggers I’ve read over the past 2 years, why should I care now? For me that’s not an issue.
    As for the connection speed comments. I’ve been on dial up connections since 1991. I’ve been reading blogs for more than 2 years, and worked for an online community for 8 years..all on dial up.
    I had DSL installed less than a year ago. Why? Because that’s when it became available in my rural community. Sure it’s nice, but it’s not a necessity by any means. It never stopped me from doing anything I enjoyed, getting information I needed/wanted, or being employed.
    I live outside of a town of 1600 people, our small library (about the size of a convenience store) has 8 computers..all of which had high speed access before I did, out here in the corn fields. We have no internet cafe’s, but I don’t know a child or a teen without an email address. Many have websites or blogs/journals of their own.
    If someone feels they are reading more of one gender than another, more of one race than another and if that is what is important to them, then THEY can change that. Go look up areas of interest on technorati or whatever. YOU are in charge of YOUR blogging “experience” whatever makes you happy.

  • ss

    This on-going discussion is such utter crap. What is this obsession with “diversifying” anything and everything. Who’s agenda, if not the individuals impacted, should we care about? Why would I care about the dearth of female bloggers if individual females don’t demonstrate an interest in blogging with the big boys? Outright repression of groups was the reason for caring about under-representation of certain groups in the first place. Absent some demonstration of equivalent suppression, there should be no calls to divert “minority” individuals from their chosen bliss to serve their “under-represented” demographic in an undertaking for which they are unsuited and show no interest.
    Is it really interesting to note that white males are the movers and shakers on the internet? Is it imperitive that society’s movers and shakers have genetalia in the same proportions as the society they influence? Are we really NOT in this all together?
    All the presidents have been white males. Should this be a tragedy? When somebody’s elected who isn’t a white male why should it be a victory? Should it matter? The vast majority of people in prison are male. Is this tragedy? If it were to become more representative of the public at large would that be victory?
    Boys will be boys.
    That’s. the. way. shit. is.
    The same energetic, aggressive, get-ahead mentality of men prompts them to lead nations, to seek knowledge and influence, and likewise, to commit crimes.
    The day women match men in the boardroom and in houses of power and in the influential blogosphere is the day that women match men in rates of violent crime, in rates of marital infidelity, and in rates of child abandonment.
    If women ever match men in these arenas society is truely lost.

  • AST

    You can lead a horse to the internet, where nobody knows he’s a horse, but you can’t make him blog.
    Bloggers are all volunteers and there are no entrance requirements, except a computer and internet access and the ability to read and type. What’s Levy’s point?
    He quotes Keith Jenkins, a black journalist, “”It has taken ‘mainstream media’ a very long time to get to [the] point of inclusion. . . . My fear is that the overwhelmingly white and male American blogosphere … will return us to a day where the dialogue about issues was a predominantly white-only one.”
    Is there a policy at Blogger or Moveable Type to exclude women or minorities? This is just the knee-jerk of someone who views himself as a victim. Does he expect Sekimori or Hosting Matters to practice affirmative action? How would that work?
    I don’t know why journos are so afraid of bloggers, but the fact that they are suggests that they recognize that bloggers are making telling points.
    If I were the MSM, I’d think twice before accusing anybody of lacking diversity. Until the broadcasters and the NYTimes and WaPo hire someone other than liberals as editors, they have no credibility on that issue.

  • Vox

    “apparently you haven’t read enough of Chris Nolan: Don’t let the name fool you. She’s a woman. And she’s one of the best writers online.”

    I guess that makes the point right there. I only discovered Chris Nolan through Doc and so haven’t read much of her stuff – but I intend to.
    Someone made the same error (assuming I was a man) a year or so ago – having read me only through RSS, he never saw the pic. I was neither offended nor complimented by the mistake, but I was amused :-)

  • Paul Lukasiak:
    “In fact, one could reasonably say that right-wing bloggers seem to be better about linking to women and people of color.
    (although their reasons for doing so appear to be better described as “tokenism” than as “diversity”…”
    I suppose it is too much for you to consider that maybe they link to women and people of color (what a hackneyed phrase) because they found what they said interesting? No, of course not, because “the “insights” of the Malkins and Barbers are just as lacking as those of Hindrocket and Tacitus…”
    Yeah, and your “AWOL” project is really insightful.

  • Jim C.

    “Levy challenges the blogosphere to find 50 new voices to link to. I’ll turn it around, Steven: Let’s see you and Newsweek find and quote and listen to and link to 50 new voices never heard before in mainstream media every week.”
    Exactly. Levy, you’re a reporter, so report! Do the legwork! (fingerwork?) Stop whining and preaching! Goodness knows it’s much easier and satisfying to do that than to actually dig out the facts.

  • I suppose it is too much for you to consider that maybe they link to women and people of color (what a hackneyed phrase) because they found what they said interesting? No, of course not, because “the “insights” of the Malkins and Barbers are just as lacking as those of Hindrocket and Tacitus…”
    actually, I don’t see a contradiction here. The Hindrockets and Tacituses may find what the Malkins and Barbers have to say “interesting” specifically because of the lack of insight they share.

  • Dan

    Hey, I’m nobody!
    I have so few readers that surely I count as a “new voice.” Discover me!

  • I though it was well summed up here…
    “How about being judged not by the color of your skin, but by the content of you blog”

  • Perhaps these new buttons will help further the cause:
    Use as appropriate on your blogs. *snicker*

  • I agree with you – I used my New Voice space to find NEW voices, regardless of race, color, sex, etc. etc. I also made the point on my post that I definitely don’t know the race of any of the blogs I read and I sometimes don’t even know the sex. I read feeds through Outlook – each entry looks just like an e-mail. When I do make a comment, I click on the entry and it generally takes me to the separate entry page – not the main page with a photo. Also, there are many blogs with no photos. I feel kind of stupid e-mailing and saying, “I think you’re a great new voice, but I hope you’re not a white male or I won’t be able to add you to the list.” (Rant over.)

  • This is the danger of pressing post without looking at the preview…I will now admit that blogs don’t have race or sex attributes (yet). I don’t know the race or sex of those writing the blogs, I meant, of course. I will preview this time. Thank you, and goodnight. ;)

  • Instead of looking for new voices, female voices, black voices, gay voices, or Jewish voices, shouldn’t the discerning blogger be looking for smart voices?
    That’s what we used to do in the old days, when Instapundit had a modem, Jarvis couldn’t blog from his cell phone, and Kos was respectable.

  • Kos was respectable? Who knew.
    Seriously, I must say I love Aurora’s take on all this. She looks around herself and realizes that not every damn person on earth owns a computer or has internet access and suddenly it’s “O NOES! TEH PEEPUL R OPPRSD OMGWTFBBQ!” The concept of someone not being interested just never seems to occur to moonbeams like this. The truth is a much larger section of American society just wants to go home, flop down in the barcalounger, watch American Idol, then go to bed. They don’t want to own a computer much less run to it the minute they get home and turn it on so they can update their blog. Many people who even have daily contact with pcs do so at work, and thus associate them with “work” as opposed to “fun.” Many more people are not at all interested in what happens on the other side of the globe and will not be interested no matter how many times you send social workers to their house to nag them to watch CNN and buy a Dell so they can blog about the news.
    Please, get real. Anyone in America who really, really wants a computer and internet access will find a way to get their hands on one; if they can’t in this day and age they are too retarded to be allowed to operate machinery more intricate than a nail file. I’m not exactly rolling in dough; I just scrape by — but I own a computer, I have cable internet. And when I didn’t, it wasn’t because people were standing around frowning “sorry, girlie, you can’t have that.” As for people in America who really are oppressed, I do think that helping them become un-oppressed will take more than bitching about “privileged white male bloggers.”

  • Oh. My. God.

  • Do I get a prize for being the 100th commenter?
    As a female blogger–who writes strongly slanted female content–I’m tickled to find that a good portion of my readers are male. People go where their boat floats. The larger issue is better promotion of the larger sea. Part of it is laziness of blog readers who rely on top 100 lists to inform them of what to read. But I suspect a teensy bit of it comes from the Alpha Bloggers’ reluctancy to give it up to the little guy–or gal, as the case may be. It’s not a requirement, to be sure, but it would be NICE.

  • To be blind to a person’s race, creed and sex is right and just. To “see” these things just long enough to make sure each is balanced in their participation in every type of work, play, or crime is the highest form of bigotry.

  • It’s nice to see this argument articulated much more eloquently than I did in responding to Halley call on her blog to find 10 other nonwhite, nonmales to link to. Instead, let’s just make folks aware of the issue and move on ….

  • me

    When I saw Strong Bad (of fame) in Newsweek about 6 months after my 13 year old son showed him to me on the internet, I knew there was a new paradigm in town, and he wasn’t printing on paper!

  • Big Gay Al

    Levy’s point was that the top, say, 500 bloggers (look on technorati for confrimation) are dominated by white male bloggers. That’s a fact. You may have a disagreement about the implications of that fact, but a fact it remains.

  • David Bennett

    I think this kind of discussion tends to hit a lot of buttons which then set off the preprogrammed music. Levy uses a rather cliched critique, the response is somewhat defensive, then someone like Juan Cole puts aside his capable mind and responds in the standardized and predicted pattern.
    We’ve had this problem in all human communication and with newsgroups we saw how completely it can distort communication. Though we also saw how a number of individuals could move effectively through the clutter and noise.
    Over all the critique seems to be that blogs are a new source of power and that certain groups, those which tend to dominate other significant social areas, seem to be dominating this one. The concept is not well supported, I suspect that while slower the effect of the “tail” in blogs may be more significant, there are a huge number of ways of communicating and blogs themselves while important have been elevated beyond their relative roles. Oter forms of computer aided communication including groups, lists, all kinds of web pages and messages are revolutionary. For example messages allow families, work groups and social groups to be in near constant communication. The cell phone is Captain Kirk’s communciator but a lot more powerful and it spreads “memes” coast to coast.
    But putting aside the fact that we really have only a slight idea of how ideas are spread and how they effect, the blog does remain important. If nothing else it is highly valued and thus attracts the same competition and attention as any desirible niche. At certain levels such as “major publications” the blog does resemble the social hierarchy of society, and perhaps importantly at that level to frequently mantain major “belief systems” both right and left (one should not forget the daily kos.) So at this level it may be less than revolutionary, though it’s not surprising that the most popular ideas are most popular and one can assume that more subversive approaches are sqeaking around less viewed niches and even in those dominant blogs which allow comments.
    God I’m long winded!
    However the situation is similar to that of entrepeneurship and college education. In theory these open power to anyone and we’ve seen many poor mmigrant groups who’ve taken advantage of them. However I’ve been around a number of “subcultures” (some white) were for various reasons these opportunities have not been developed. This leads to serious social problems especially in the case of “education” were certain interests are doing their best to make sure you lack “normal” (I’m not talking exceptional talent here, but people who perform their jobs with competence and reasonable intelligence) if you don’t go through the system and get their piece of paper, the assumption now being that you are not literate without a college degree.
    Which means that unless certain groups increase their capacity to develop certain opportunities, then stratification and alienation are likely to increase.
    One problem with many of a leftish persuasion is that as soon as they see inequalities they question the mechanism in vague and hostile ways. For example we have created a system where hundreds of millions of people have access to the most powerful printing press in the history of the world. If I write something of importance it would be simple enough (technically) for hundreds of millions to read it within days without cost to me. The most powerful could not have done that a few years ago.
    This is a good thing, it is a form of wealth. And this priniting press is constantly evolving with new formats and means of distribution, huge sums of money are invested to offer me potential power.
    So this is a good sytem or as good as any system can be. Which doesn’t mean that there are no problems, but again some of those of the leftish persuasion simply react and use them to indict the whole thing. For example a number here have pointed out that some people don’t have access to computers and in at least one case associated this with Mr. Jarvis. But the reality is that the gist of Mr. Jarvis’s professional career has been to try and get these tools into the hands of everybody, while making money of course, but still he’s done more than the pure at heart.
    Still and here the right has a major flaw. There is opportunity. Despite the lacks it’s widely availible and becoming increasingly so. However certain groups are better able to use this tool than others. This is like entrepeneurship. Hang out on city streets and one will see the capacity is there. Probaly more so than in many middle class niches. Ignore all the illegal industries, if someone finds some item of trash that is of value they will quickly use networks to find a buyer, individuals also make and produce things and continue to do so despite the police’s constant harassment. It’s much easier to sell drugs on street than it is to sell hand made jewelry.
    But these capacities are rarely developed and chammeled into the truly profitible mainstream enterprises. The people involved lack the spcific skills, state of mind, often even minimal capital, the desirible contacts and a sense of how the system works. So when rightists say they everyone has an opportunity it’s only theoretical.
    I say this in regard to business entrepeneurship, but I suspect it does apply to the specialized entrepeneurship of spreading ideas on the net. Certain types of individual do it better, thet interact with each other, even when ideologically opposed and while I’m not sure that this is as important as some critics are making out it is a potential problem.
    To me one potential solution for social problems in general is that of “citizen.” I think people even disengranchised people do better when they regard themselves as individuals of some (even some) power and responsibility. The concept of “netizen” involves a similar process, one looks at the mechanisms, one’s role in them, one carries out certain responsibilities such as picking up a bit of litter or intervening with the guy harassing the old lady at the bus stop.
    Development of this whole process is complex but I think it involves 2 general developments.
    – One is development of better tools that spread ideas and develop critical communities. Just one example is using blog engines such as scoop which supports nested, titled and addressable comments, this means any statement can be central and can do so even if starts as something buried on a blog.
    – Recognizing that each of us has some responsibility for the social debate and development of ideas. To me this involves visiting a very wide sample, not always regularly and spending some time dropping in ideas, I try for ideas which are not usually part of the mainstream of that group. I suspect that if tens of thousands of women and minorities did this (especially if they were hungry for power and unlike the majority who inhabit the current blogland took time to word and arrange ideas so they were persuasive or at least respectful even when directed towards those they disagreed with) that as a group they would have more power.
    One powerful tool in doing this is simply inserting *relevant* links. Given the weakness of current search engines the “swarm” method of gathering together important referances remains an essential tool. This method can expose readers to new ideas and facts.
    For example I will now add Juan Coles somewhat intemperate commentary on this issue. Perhaps of greatest importance is a set of links to Iraqi and Islamic blogs he lists towards the center of his commentary.
    This kind of stuff can be gathered up, listed somewhere or held until it’s useful. A large part of our role is similar to that of termites, taking these little balls of stuff and combining (in methods shaped by our tools and social habits) them into intricate and useful structures.
    I think this process is not even 1% started. I think there are all kinds of behaviors that sabatoge it and that some of these result from the fact that what we are doing literally hits on taboos. Taking power is scary.
    I also think that certain groups are doing a better job than others of manipulaying this medium, that these groups tend to map out towards existing clusters of power, that this is potentially a problem. I think the solution is small steps integrated into our habits. Supporting tools that can successfully channel diverse expression, consciously looking at areas that are not “natural” to us, showing others what we’ve found if relevant, slipping new ideas here and there. Like the patterns of good citizenship, “netizenship” is frequently something one slips into daily life.
    One thing is behavior. My impulse and I’m afraid the impulse of too many is to react and argue with statements that prick. This is easy to do with the article in question. It is cliched, shallow and seems to imply that because a new power may be more successfully used by a group that allegedly dominates the old power (I say allegedly because white males are a pretty mixed grouping and a number who dominate on the net do so because they haven’t been particularly successful elsewhere) that there is something immoral about this power.
    However this is perhaps not what we should respond to. Perhaps we should admit the obvious (just as they should admit obvious things such as those who know how to successfuly use the old tools have advantages (and potentially disadvantages) with the new) and state that yes, valuable voices do not get the attention they probably deserve, many important voices don’t seem to have entered, many environments or communities imitate talk radio in that they tend to reinforce certain conceptions… the whole long list of imperfections and flaws.
    And then ask the critics: so how do we address these problems. Remember there is no central authority, it’s you.

  • All I ask of bloggers is that they be insightful, informative, and/or entertaining. Gender and melanin density makes no never mind.
    You read my efforts, fine. You link to me or provide trackbacks, good. I’m not going to tell you you have to. I will not prostitute myself for traffic. (Well, not most of the time. :) )
    I read and link to people who engage me. That’s my criterium. You don’t engage me, I don’t read you. Your gender or race has nothing to do with it.
    As to DSL or Cable access: Around here I can get DSL for $19.95 a month. Cable costs more, but that’s because cable per se locally is a monopoly. And with DSL widely available it does face a sort of competition, so the price isn’t that bad.
    No, my problem is getting the money together to replace this old iMac of mine (tipjars at my blog. :) ), but by applying myself I could get the money together in about a year’s time.
    When your resources are limited you have to make choices. That’s life.
    So write about things that interest you, write about them well, and you’ll get an audience. May not be a big one, but you’ll have an audience.
    BTW, most Xanga users wouldn’t know Glenn Reynolds from a 17th century French harpsichordist.

  • Robin

    What an ignobile ass. This guy Levy thinks reverse racisim is OK? You know, I lost a job once specifically b/c I was a white man. If I were Levy’s boss, I would tell him YOU are being replaced – not because you did anything wrong, but just because we ned to make rom for diversity. We’ll see how the putz likes it then.
    Diversity, like so many other liberal notions,sounds wonderful and great until it’s actually implemented. Just like a liberal stays a liberal only until he’s mugged, pro-diversity folks until remain thus until they lose a job to a less qualified woman or minority.

  • Yes, Tommy, we are winning the war, and if by your PX mention it means you’re a serving member of the Armed Forces, God bless you & all like you. You fight so that Mr. Levy and I can lounge around our computers spouting nonsense all day.
    Do you know, it strikes me that I have seen more women rebut this question in this thread, than I have ever in any blog thread before. Nichelle, Patricia, Vox, Eileen, me. So there’s an imbalance. So what. But it’s not a HUGE imbalance either as can be plainly seen.
    BTW, I have to disagree with you Vox, although you were at pains to mention not all women do it — my blogroll has few women’s blogs listed. In fact, just one to the best of my knowledge.
    I don’t think this is bad, or significant, or shows that there are few women blogging. It’s just a coincidence.
    I wish Mr. Levy and company would understand that last point — not everything has a fundamentally skewed reason to it. Sometimes, that’s just the way it is.

  • Ben Krupnik

    “Second, I hate to break the news to you, Steven but… you’re white and male, too!”

  • Ben KK:
    Ooops, finger slipped, Freud is at his little tricks again.
    At risk of gratuitousness, I must note that no one minds if you speak BRAINS as a second language (at best), but these are remarks that belong on another post. I will not be so prejudiced as to suggest anyone, and thereby demean them.

  • Quite White, Jeff

  • I think the unsaid dimension of all this is the (shudder!) thought that male bloggers have more Google Juice. Look for an answer through a search engine and it seems you land in a space authored by a male when your answer appears to be blogged.
    The second unsaid dimension of all this cross-talk is that it appears more men than women use blogging architecture–the content management system likely to achieve prominence in global search. The gender balance is better in the diary sites but they’re not indexed towards the top of key categories.
    It’s my experience as a college lecturer that the guys rip apart code more aggressively and play the geek on their hand-modified blogs. Women students get something that works, improve its aesthetic (code base and design appearance), then write interesting content. I’m trying to skew grading standards to motivate all comers to higher quality code and content.
    In the meantime, along comes people like Levy (we have a clone who writes for the Irish Times) who stirs up things with male-only propositions. The real issue is whether people use the blogging system to communicate and collaborate. I’m not sure there’s a gender barrier in place, so I’m inclined to think this whole issue has more social currency than value as academic discourse.