Tag Archives: tech-conference

Women at Tech Conferences: Mythbusting

So, uh… for the past few years, we haven’t announced any Gnomedex speakers before opening conference registration to the world – largely because we’ve always taken special care to craft our content around the registered audience. Some might argue that we’re putting the cart before the horse with this approach.

With our limited amount of resources, we have to spend our time crafting content that our registrants hope to see – not what our POTENTIAL audience might want to see. I never really saw speaker selection as male vs. female, but I have been giving special consideration to females who I believe have been making a difference in this digital world of ours (directly in the tech industry or otherwise).

I’m not sure whether this was an oversight or a blatant omission, but Gnomedex didn’t make Kottke’s list of Gender diversity at web conferences. Maybe we’re not considered a “web” conference? Granted, our numbers wouldn’t have likely fared any better than the others, although I can tell you a few things about last year’s construct:

  • Susan Mernit’s discussion was something I don’t think our audience was expecting – but (I thought) turned out to be a welcomed change of pace. Even my mom was compelled to comment (and yes, my mom and dad are Gnomedex staples).
  • Halley Suitt’s discussion was compelling, insightful, focused, and extremely interactive.
  • Tara Hunt’s discussion with Chris Messina helped bring a different energy to the room (not just because of their “couple” dynamic). If I had my way, more couples would be up on stage.
  • Identity Woman’s discussion was completely impromptu – as she was informally voted on stage by the Gnomedex audience!!! Jeez, doesn’t that say enough about the open nature of our conference?
  • Beth Goza was pumped and prepared to proselytize the world with her mad Second Life skillz. She’s been a Gnomedex fan since Gnomedex II – and one of my favorite geeks, period.
  • Our conference leadership team is 50% male and 50% female: Ponzi and myself.

What’s more, I had invited at least *FOUR* other notable women to participate (last year) who either declined, never responded, or couldn’t do it because of scheduling conflicts. It’s not like I didn’t try, people – really. And before everybody starts crying foul, let me give you a couple more statistics:

  • Gnomedex 7.0 is already 1/3 sold out.
  • 95% of Gnomedex 7.0 registrants are male.

And considering we have yet to announce a single speaker for this event, you tell *US* how we’re supposed to move forward. Even if I had 50/50 gender representation, the audience is already skewed heavily male – despite the fact that everybody has an equal opportunity to attend. Even with 25/25/25/25 (male, female, white, non-white) on stage, there’s no guarantee of having equal percentages in the audience.

AGAIN, the opinions of registered Gnomedex attendees hold infinitely more weight with us than those who have (a) not signed up for Gnomedex, or (b) won’t sign up for Gnomedex, no matter what.

Oh, hell… I almost forgot:

  • The only person to register and attend all seven Gnomedex conferences is female (Christine Juhnke). She’s not a blogger, she’s not a developer, she doesn’t live in Silicon Valley, she’s not a technophile, she’s not a VC, and she doesn’t live her life on “Web 2.0” anything.

Gnomedex, by the way, continues to attract influencers before they become influencers – male and female.

Gnomedex Registrations are Open, BTW…

Not sure if many of you caught the non-announcement, but I opened the registration process for Gnomedex last week. We’re kinda already 1/3 sold out, I think – so I figured I’d better say something pretty public about it before too long. Here you go: no press release, just a single blog post that will likely get buried by the other important news of the day. You have until August to make up your mind – but we’re probably going to sell out again (although, not as quickly as TED 2017 will). John from Feedia has been beeifng up Gnomedex.com for your perusal – and Ponzi and I have decided to put the sponsorship prospectus online this year. Sorry the site’s URLs aren’t SEO friendly, but I’m not a Joomla expert by any stretch of the imagination. I am, however, an expert in making videos that are more entertaining than watching paint dry:

Okay, so maybe watching paint dry is a tad more exciting, but… this is the best I can do for now. C’mon! Don’t tell me I’m the only guy who as experienced conference bag overload!?

Gnomedex 7.0 Dates

Congrats to Scott Beale for getting his photo of John Edwards at Gnomedex 6 into the latest issue of Time Magazine. Sadly, “Gnomedex” didn’t score any ink in the article – but that’s not keeping us from rolling forward with Gnomedex 7. If you wanna save the date, put August 9th – 12th 2007 on your calendar (Seattle, mixer on Thursday night, possible unconference on Sunday). Oh, and you might also think about penciling in the middle of January 2008 for a special Gnomedex back in Des Moines, Iowa.

We should be opening registrations for 7.0 very soon. I’ve gotta update a few more pieces on the Web site first (as well as identify a volunteer to help me manage the registration process).

Tentative Gnomedex 2007 Dates

What about August 9th through the 11th (2007) for Gnomedex 7.0? I’m sure there are going to be scheduling conflicts, but consider this your “warning shot.” I realize this may concide with some family vacations, but you realize that Seattle is an amazing destination for kids of all ages? Okay, so… we’re thinking about setting the date for the next Gnomedex for that weekend (evening kick-off event on Thursday the 9th, and the conference on both Friday and Saturday). We’ll be doing it at Bell Harbor again, so… start making plans, and prepare to snap your passes quickly. Group discounts will be available this year.

Gnomedex is not Dead

I’m not sure who started the rumor, but Gnomedex isn’t dead. At least, not to my knowledge? If it’s dead, nobody bothered to tell me. We’ve had quite a bit of upheaval lately, but throwing Gnomedex out is not one of the things that’s happened. Quite the opposite in fact! We haven’t done any updates on the Gnomedex Web site largely because there hasn’t been much news to share.

We were planning on taking it to Los Angeles in 2007 – but I can assure you that the next Gnomedex conference will happen in Seattle (likely midyear, probably around the same time we held the 2006 event). It’s been our hope to make Gnomedex a bi-annual event, but Ponzi and I can only scale so much! Absolutely no conference management partnerships have materialized, so that keeps us somewhat limited in growth.

It’s our hope that after we get married (and after we move across town, and after we take our honeymoon, etc.) that we can find and hire an assistant to help us with some of our business matters. People are certainly out there, but we need the “right” person – and may wind up taking an intern from UW. I will likely be posting details about that at a date in the not-so-distant future.

Now, since you’re forcing my hand, I want to tell you about something else I’d like to do in Seattle – largely inspired by recent events with the local music community. I’m going to start seeding interest for sponsors and partners for a networking mixer between technologists and musicians. A party, if you will. Not sure where, not sure when, but it’s something I’d like to make happen before the summer.

I’m already communicating with the Gnomedex site designer to get a few of the graphics updated – and I think this year, once we figure out how to set up a WordPress theme to match the Gnomedex site design, we’ll let any registered Gnomedexer contribute to the blog if they’d like to do so.

Gnomedex Freedbacking

Before you send me an email with constructive feedback for Gnomedex 6.0, I’d encourage you to post your thoughts in this page’s comment thread instead. I’ve listened to a lot of feedback over the past couple of days, doing my best to adjust on-the-fly. I answered a lot of questions one-on-one, too. Still, I wanted a semi-formal way to collect your impressions in a single thread – so that everybody can see what could have gone better, and what went better than expected. I should list twenty things we could improve upon for next year, but I’m really tired and want to sleep for a week first. Feel free to post anonymously if you want, or send trackbacks from your own site to this post. I know we could have done a few better, so it’s not like I’m only looking to hear about the “good stuff.” Ponzi might be putting together a survey soon, too. Until then, don’t hold back – what are your thoughts on this year’s Gnomedex while it’s still fresh in your mind?

Best Conference T-Shirt Ever

Okay, you know how most conference t-shirts suck? They’re splashed with sponsor logos and no fun to wear on Casual Fridays. Who really cares that you were at “Fast Food Fest ’99”?! I have a million and one of those types of t-shirts in my closet, and they all get thrown into the “donate to Goodwill” pile at the end of the year. Sorry, but I’m not interested in being a walking NASCAR chassis. Last year, we got a little geeky with the “Feed Me” shirt. This year, we’re totally stylin’ with a shirt that says it all without saying anything:

Gnomedex 6 T-Shirt (Male)

Cast a casual glance, and you’ll see nothing more than a hot paisley design on a black t-shirt. Look closer, and you’ll actually find a few alphanumeric characters spelling out the word G-N-O-M-E-D-E-X-6. There’s even a couple of unobtrusive Lockergnome logos thrown in there for good measure. That’s it – total black on the back. If you don’t think these are the best conference t-shirts ever, I’d like to see one less annoying (as in, completely devoid of sponsor logos). Our sponsors understand why we do this – and they all love us for it. My guess is that many Gnomedexers will wear the t-shirt well after the event. Oh, and we’ll have some extras for sale (including fitted t-shirts made for the female figure).

Live Streaming Audio at BloggerCon and Gnomedex

Thanks to Limelight Networks, we’ll have a live audio stream for both BloggerCon and Gnomedex at the same URL, so keep it handy and spread the link around. Of course, the stream link will only work during the conference(s). Streaming audio is important for any event – and we were more than happy to help Dave and his crew with making sure that the rest of the Internet could listen in to what was happening. Of course, this is the same live audio stream link we’ve been using for the show from the very beginning (and the one we used for last year’s Gnomedex as well). I don’t know if we’re going to be streaming video from Gnomedex yet or not. The live audio, however, will be streaming at both BloggerCon and Gnomedex. See you in SF and/or Seattle!

The Gnomedex Song

From Derek K. Miller:

Rather than ladling more crap for Chris and Ponzi to do at this late date, if you’d like a sample of your voice mail message about Gnomedex to be included and haven’t sent it already, record something TODAY and email it to me at dkmiller [.at.]pobox.com as an MP3 file or via http://www.yousendit.com/ NO LATER THAN THE END OF TOMORROW (Summer Solstice, June 21) – thanks. I’ll be releasing the final song as Creative Commons-Attribution (i.e. commercial use fine, remixing fine, re-recording fine, synch fine, whatever), and if I can find a way to post the original GarageBand and WAV multitracks without killing my bandwidth (maybe at archive.org), I’ll do that too.


We’ve got a single OPML file containing the links and feeds of every 2006 Gnomedexer, thanks to the code sleuthing of Kosso. This is good for importing “everybody” en masse into your news aggregator. However, it’s not always as efficient as a single feed. So, Shayne whipped out a 400-line script to convert OPML to RSS – and I think we’re going to call it “KissMyOPML” for fun. The PHP script will be open source, available for everybody soon, and is also a sign of things to come in the near future with Gada.be (which will mash feeds faster than the average install). Remember, Gada.be outputs OPML for every search query; think about it. You can subscribe to the Gnomedexer feed immediately – and if your name isn’t listed in the conference attendee OPML, please let us know ASAP so we can get the proper information in there.