Tag Archives: startup

Girl Geeks: Watch out for the profiteers

My morning scan of tech blogs revealed a post on Valleywag about the woman-owned porn company's sponsorship of the upcoming Girl Geek Dinner here in San Francisco.  I'm not surprised that the scampy Gawker property supports the dinner's tacky sponsor.  [side note:  co-sponsor Facebook, where are you?]

I am surprised, however, that Valleywag is letting the porn company founder get away with this gem: "I'm a tech vet, and I used
to be very similar — you want to strip your sexuality and just live in
your brain, and be a talented, smart individual so you can compete in a
male-dominated space. You become sexless — but why can't I be both? Why
can't I be beautiful and sexy and be smart?"

This is specious logic at best, and I think the women of Silicon Valley know it.  Heck, women around the world know it.  At least those who have been in the workforce for a while.

Since when did it become necessary for any woman to demonstrate her femininity by stripping off her clothes in public for pay?  This company may be trying to position itself as an agent for artists [their word for the women on their site], but we all know what they're selling.  And will the so-called artists achieve the same level of profit as the VCs and the founders for permitting themselves to be exploited?

Girl Geek Dinners, you're being used.  Just like the women who are being told that an element of liberation is using your power over your body to expose it for pay.  Go ahead and accept this company's sponsorship and convince yourselves that whatever any woman does as an entrepreneur is OK.  Go ahead and roll down that slippery slope.  You won't like what you find at the bottom.

By the way.  The above quote also made me laugh.  I've been fighting — and winning — the argument that a woman can be beautiful and sexy and smart for years.  I had hoped it would be over by now, by virtue of my own maturity and what I figured would happen in society as well. 

Never in my wildest nightmares did I expect that I would read what I did this morning from a person of my own gender.  But, I guess we have come a long way.  Women now get to live and smirk on the dark side of a free market, too. 

I don't think this is what Susan B Anthony and Eleanor Roosevelt had in mind.

Understanding clutter

A couple of posts ago, the topic was clutter and I said more was coming in the next post.  Then NEW YORK magazine did its issue on belt tightening, and I had to share that.  Back to clutter.

Until a little more than ten years ago, my work was in and around professional and financial services.  Helping to execute to brand messages, often helping to create them.

Then I decided to come out west to Silicon Valley.  Which meant a whole new layer of important clutter.  Namely, periodicals and books and newspapers.  I’ve always felt most comfortable walking into a project having done some secondary research and when possible, having had some conversations with people in the field.

Now that I’m in essentially two different fields, the amount of research I must do has exploded.  Since I’ve always been a structure nut, my world has imploded with the expanded reach afforded by the Internet.  While I’ve become expert at printing only when necessary and stuff is not piling up on my desk anymore — there is work material on different websites and in my laptop, scattered in every program.  I now read the newspapers online and live for my RSS feeds, delivered through my growing Netvibes account.  [They’re in beta — I hope I’m not taxing the servers.]

So when I came across the Unclutterer website and found this post on how to retain more of what I read, I jumped on it.  The post has some useful tips.

But I think the biggest change has come through my work with foldier, a startup in which I’m currently the only purely business-tasked person.  Everyone else is a technologist or computer scientist.  Besides liking it that way, foldier has introduced me to what I believe will be THE way for me to de-clutter my work life.

We’re in private beta, but I can tell you this:  foldier is going to be nirvana for three types of people.  [If you’re like me, you have a bit of each type in you.]  And I can say this because I didn’t invent it.

First, foldier makes it possible for me to collect my content from wherever it is on the Web or on my hard drive — simply by tagging it.  This means no more files, no more remembering where I put stuff, no more making multiple copies for multiple files.  I don’t even need a filing system.  If I’m looking for something on data portability, for example, I just search my foldier account under that phrase.  Everything I have on the topic pops up.

Second, foldier makes it possible for me to search my content under any word or phrase — whether or not I tagged it as such.  The technology is intelligent — it does its own tagging in addition to mine.  This means I might be able to find new subject matter in content I already have.

Third, foldier gives me a new way to share information with clients and friends.  Until foldier, the only way I could share important articles or news releases with clients was to send them the link in an email.  When we are in full public beta, I’ll be able to share any kind of file — video, blog post, newspaper, etc — comment on it and hear comments back.  And, foldier automatically adds it to my virtual filing system.  All in a few steps.

There is more — and it’s not just about aggregating, organizing and sharing.  However, that would be enough for me.  Because there is nothing like having command of all the information you think is essential to your work.  Except for maybe cleaning out a closet.

She’s Geeky. And grounded. And performance-ready.

She’s Geeky is an unconference that continues tomorrow.  It’s for women. 

There are many attendees blogging their observations in real time.  Journalists visited today, and answering their questions revealed as much about those in attendance as it did the gathering.  Which is the point.

She’s Geeky is a beautifully spontaneous, productive and business-oriented exercise.  Most critically, the unconference is about the women on the technology playing field — not about making a splash, building a database of targets or being "where the elite meet." 

There are women from every walk of tech life, at every level and at various shades of visibility.  The result?  Down-to-earth dialog, unscripted and unrehearsed, between people who want to work and contribute as true players in one of the most exciting industries on the planet.

Last week, we had several splashy startup announcements coming out of one of the industry’s glittering events, here in San Francisco.  As I read the coverage and the company blogs, it strikes me that we are still plagued with a sort of self-centered, look at me-aren’t I brilliant approach to building visibility for startups.  Some of these startups are already funded to the tune of millions of dollars rounded up via connections as opposed to merit, bloated with employees and laying claim to the highest levels of innovation.  Yet nowhere do their leaders illuminate the underlying functionality.  Very little airtime is given to the customer experience — and what’s there is self-congratulatory hype that treats customers as props in the startups’ march to fame and fortune.

It is so refreshing to participate in an alternate experience, stripped of artifice and dedicated to facts.  She’s Geeky relies on sharing what we know with others just for the pure pleasure of the interaction.  On discussing performance, strengths, weaknesses, wins, losses — all in the context of making sure that we can contribute to the industry and own the contributions.  On showing how reason is the foundation of fairness, not the exclusive province of the connected caste.

Think of it this way:  if two heads are better than one, why not make at least one of them a woman’s?  More than likely you’ll see a fact-based result that considers all parties and possibilities.

She’s geeky — are you?

I’m excited about a brand-new gathering scheduled for late October:  She’s Geeky.  The plan is for women who are geeky, think they might be geeky or want to be geeky to get together outside the traditional conference box.

There are lots of interesting events planned for geeks these day — so many that we lose count.  The ones that are focused on attracting more women into the industry are certainly worthy of notice — but this one is going to be different.

First, it’s an un-conference

If this is the first time you’ve seen this term, it simply means that the detailed agenda will form at the event with the attendees contributing topics, participating actively in discussion and leading sessions.  This makes it possible to be flexible around emerging developments as well as help the cream of thought and experience rise to the top.

Second, for the first year at least, it’s going to be only women in attendance.

Normally, a lot of people, yours truly included, shy away from this protocol.  If the guys did a conference and said men only, we’d be up in arms, right?  But the fact is, without anyone even wanting it that way, it’s pretty much what is happening these days in technology.  And even though it’s not a conspiracy, until this day and age, a lot of girls never even thought to study engineering or computer science — or to consider going into a business that’s technology centric.  It’s been a man’s world because that’s who is mostly there.

This has an impact on how ideas are floated as well.  Which is why I’m looking forward to She’s Geeky

Today, many conferences follow established forms of communication — speaker to audience — and content determined by a few people.  It’s the command-and-control model.  Many of us are used to it and accept it as the best way to go. 

The women-only thing of She’s Geeky will expose and leverage another way of brainstorming and learning — something at which women excel:  conversation.  Insights and strategies will emerge organically, out of conversations that to the naked ear may seem random.  In the ensuing moments, however, attendees capture specific results and practices — and tailor them to their goals and vision.

So:  if you’re in or interested in technology and you’re female, come to She’s Geeky.  Join the conversation that is technology.