Panels for women, sure, but a toolbar for women?

Ulla-Maaria Mutanen at the crafts/tech blog Hobby Princess has pointed things to say about ghettoizing women at conferences:

If you want to make sure that you include the “female perspective” to your program, just invite women to speak about the things they’re doing. Putting smart people to discuss under a separate “women & technology” category is not doing the job.

I can see her point, but I was just at SXSW Interactive where the organizers significantly improved the gender imbalances of recent years in part by inviting BlogHer to program a series of panels. The panels were not a “women and technology” ghetto. Many of the BlogHer-organized panels were on topics of interest to the BlogHer community not strictly related to gender, for example an excellent panel on what happens when you mix personal blogging and professional life. At the same time, part of what BlogHer does is point out sexism in the blogosphere (e.g., the dismissal of “mommybloggers” by people who think it’s dandy for boys to blog about their toys), so some of the BlogHer panels did address those issues. One was entitled “Increasing Women’s Visibility on the Web: Whose Butt Should We Be Kicking?” Works for me!

But speaking of ghettoizing, can somebody explain to me what’s gender-specific about this toolbar?

Girlawhirl toolbar

That’s the Girlawhirl toolbar, advertised through AdSense as:

Toolbar for Women: Better Web Search Toolbar. Stop pop-ups and more

Like men don’t use Google or block pop-ups?

I get the joke when somebody ironically skins a gender-neutral tool in pink and says it’s for women, like the pink laptops and hard drives at Shiny Shiny, or for that matter Shiny Shiny itself. But the Girlawhirl toolbar appears to be entirely unironic. The idea seems to be that women are afraid to download a toolbar from a tech site but will do so from a fashion site with a violet logo. That’s what I call a ghetto.

Regarding gender and gadgets, I found Hobby Princess through another great panel at SXSW, the one on DIY media. As represented on this panel, the hacker and crafts movements are at work on a grand fusion of traditionally male and female approaches to gadgets and technology. Craft blogs and Make magazine (which is planning a special crafts issue for the fall) are the cutting edge of this fusion. That’s what I call an anti-ghetto.

11+1 ways to back up

The Backup blog counts 11 ways to back up your bookmarks but forgot to mention Flock.

Flock is a new open-source browser that uses a social bookmarking service like or Shadows to store your favorites instead of keeping them on your desktop. And if you switch services, Flock copies your favorites from one service to the other.

The list does kindly mention that Shadows can import your bookmarks directly as well.

Tagging 2.0 talk at SXSW

Yesterday I was on the “Tagging 2.0″ panel at SXSW Interactive. Since I figured my co-panelists Don Turnbull, Tom Vander Wall, Adina Levin and Rashmi Sinha would do a good job of articulating the advantages of tagging I decided to introduce a little drama and took the contrarian position. I called my talk “The Six Dirty Secrets of Tagging,” to wit:

  1. It’s the content, stupid.
    (Tags are a means to an end, not an end themselves.)
  2. Ordinary users don’t understand tags.
    (Present a normal person with a tag box and they’ll ignore it or enter an English sentence.)
  3. It’s the UX, stupid.
    (When tagging systems do work it’s because a great deal of care went into the end-to-end user experience. Flickr is a good reference point here.)
  4. Tags don’t play well with others.
    (Tagging systems are plagued with interoperability problems, like differing standards for delimiters and different social norms.)
  5. Rich applications require rich metadata.
    (Or, where’s my flying car?)
  6. Nobody likes real tags.
    (What they want is tagginess!)

On the last point I discussed some of the features people have been trying to pile on top of tagging, like intra-tag syntax (del.icious “for:username” tags and geotagging), consensus tagging, hierarchical tagging and faceted tagging. I actually like faceted tagging. See for example, a video site with separate facets or “buckets” for place, topic, language, event and people.

That’s the short version. For more you can see my slides with notes, read Christian Crumlish’s summary of the whole panel or listen to the podcast.

Searchable panel schedule for SXSW Interactive 2006

For some reason the Interactive panel schedule at isn’t searchable and the panelist bios don’t link back to their panels. The pages don’t have meaningful <title> tags so you can’t even conveniently Google for them.

To address that problem I’ve whipped up a searchable schedule in one-page HTML, Excel and tab-separated text formats. Use cmd-F or grep to look up panelists to your heart’s content.

And for the tag-minded among you, I’ve included links to the Shadows tags for each speaker.

Tagging 2.0 at sxsw2006

Library Camp in Ann Arbor, April 14

Ed Vielmetti of Vacuum is organizing a Library Camp for April 14, 2006, in Ann Arbor.

Ed’s been doing great things as a techie patron/volunteer at the Ann Arbor public libraries. As I understand it the latest generation of library systems don’t necessarily do a lot of magical “web 2.0″ things themselves but they’re open enough to lend themselves to various kinds of mashups anyway. Ed’s been finding like-minded library geeks who are organizing themselves under the banner of “superpatrons“. (What’s a movement these days without an ambiguously ironic neologism?)

As with other fill-in-the-blank camps, attendance at Library Camp is free but be prepared to participate. You start by signing up on the wiki.

Sure wish I could be there! I also wish I could attend the mass digitization symposium this weekend at UMich. But I’ll console myself by hearing the panel on “Book Digitization and the Revenge of the Librarians” at SXSW. Daniel Clancy of Google Print will be there to answer the question, are we evil yet?