In the spirit of Cogdog’s comment blogging carnivale—a tradition that encouraged D’Arcy to follow suit—I offer up the Elite Bava Ten commenters. Ladies and gentleman, these are the people the make this blog run, these are the soldiers in the trenches, the workers in the factories, the glue that keeps the fragile threads of the interwebs together. In fact, they’ll be all around in the dark – they’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, they’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, they’ll be there. They’ll be all around in the dark – they’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – they’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. They’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – they’ll be there, too.
I salute you all.
What was wild to me about this experiment was to find out who the top commentator on the bava. I actually thought it might be Scott Leslie–who is the champion of comment blogging—but, in fact I found out it was one of—if not the—finest UMW has to offer: the great Brad Efford, a.k.a Judges. 62 comments?! Wow, and his are always deep, searching, and–my favorite kind—challenging. As a matter of fact, I really don’t think Brad is all that interested in EdTech, and I can’t say I blame him. What he is interested in, however, is a compelling conversation, disagreement, and some kind of struggle over the issues at stake in our culture currently, and his contributions here have been invaluable for the bava, but more importantly essential to my development as a thinker. Talking with him is always an energizing and exciting opportunity to try out ideas, disagree, and search some of the larger questions of faith, uncertainty, and b-movies. So Judges, thanks, you somehow make this stuff that much more compelling for me while at the same time manage to keeo me honest on so many fronts.
Now don’t get me wrong, I ain’t taking no hippie vacation from blogging after this post like Alan, some might remember what happened the last time I took the hippie vacation route don’t you? No, I’ll still be here. I’ll be all around in the dark–I’ll be everywhere.
P.S. I got the image above and the widget of the Bava 10 in my sidebar using in Webgrrrl’s plugin here.
Not that I’m complaining since I’m kind of a lame commenter myself, but did you notice that all your commenters were guys? 🙂
I did notice this, and it has me wondering what’s up with you women? Is it my header images? I just don’t get it, I tell ya, I just don’t get it. What’s worse, that’s a whole untapped market of comments I’m missing out on right now.
Heck yeah. Like I said, I’m a pretty lame commenter. I don’t think one can generalize about that, but I do think a lot of us women bloggers tend to focus on our own stuff and don’t bother to click through and comment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something and thought–wow,that’s cool, I should say something–and then don’t. Maybe I should make it a goal to get on your top ten list. 🙂
Your original comment here has got me thinking about a post. I’m actually fascinated by this, even though I make light of it, because it is not only interesting, but I wonder why gender remains so strictly defined. Take, as another example, my YouTube account, 85% of the views that can be recorded with personal data are by men…. 85%! That’s crazy, why the hell is that? There is some kind of gender, cultural wiring at work that might be interestingly traced through movie clips. And dare I say this might be relevant to my blog posts as well? What might this mean for the future of media studies intersecting with gender studies? I think there is a whole world of analysis to be uncovered here, and your comment nails it. I don’t think of it as a critique so much, though it does sit uncomfortably with me that the bava is not as unisex as I would like, but an important observation that might tell us so much more about the way our gender roles might be re-inforced, reflected by, and a product of—or more probably a complex combination of these and so many others—the media we consume.
And we haven’t even gotten into the question of race, class, and ethnicity, which brings up yet another layer of questions, issues, and modes of inquiry.
Very good questions! And something we’re exploring in our Gender and Technology class (http://gandt.blogs.brynmawr.edu). To some extent, technology is coded masculine and if women disassociate themselves with a field because it’s coded masculine, then eventually, there are no women. I’m simplifying, of course. Your blog is often quite technical. I personally find it invaluable for that very reason, but I wonder if there are women out there who are just not interested in the technical. I also wonder if women are sometimes more reluctant to put themselves out there online–the fear-mongering of sexual predators, the Kathy Sierra incident might contribute to this. I don’t have any easy answers and I’m not suggesting that you necessarily change what you do.
Maybe one way to approach it is to figure out how your top commenters found you and why they comment. Did you link to them at some point? Were they searching for something and your blog was a top result? Did you meet them in person and so they started following your blog? The answers to those questions might lead you do some changes you can make (that any blogger can make) that might create gender parity. For example, you could link to female bloggers more or comment on those blogs more yourself. Not saying that you don’t do that already, but that’s one strategy that pops immediately to mind.
I see a paper or presentation in all of this. 🙂
LesLIE! I was outcommented by Nessman? Oh, that man’s gonna have some hurt. I can see I have my work cut out for me.
D’Arcy, if I left more comments on The Bava, it’s only because it is the one place on the interwebs where I can truly exercise my demons and let my multiple personalities come out. Jim, you are doing the entire blogosphere a great service, running The Bava, as it spares so many other blogs the discomfort of having to bear my comments. And unlike them, you KNOW not to take me seriously. You’re on my list for a Nessie award next year.
@D’Arcy I wonder if we shouldn’t start including Twitter as well, he may very well bury us all. Especially since you are on and off the wagon 🙂
Kathy Sierra is a perfect example of this, and brings the physicality of gender and the predatory logic of a masculine (or as my special lady friend would say, Masculist) web to the fore. You recommendations are right on, and I definitely do have to start commenting more, I do have a circle of blogs I read and comment on regularly that are predominantly written by men—all people who have linked to me or who I have met at conferences over the last three years. And I freely admit am not as nearly as varied an disciplined in breaking out of that as someone like Downes continues to so impressively prove to be. It is without question what makes him and important force in this field, that said, the women of Fear 2.0 represent to me an important force in balancing some of the questions of gender, and I recognize it ain’t easy in this field. Martha is one of the smartest folks going in edtech bar none, and she managed an all guy group beautifully. That said, I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and I know that I was not always the most enjoyable person to deal with between my constant argumentative style, irrational intensity, and righteous male bullshit she had to put up with a lot of nonsense. Point blank, it ain’t easy to be a woman in this field, and that makes it that much more important that there is a conscious recognition and encouragement around that fact through blogging, commenting, and the like. It reminds me of something Jeff McClurken sent around recently about Ada Lovelace day (http://chocolateandvodka.com/2009/01/06/join-me-on-ada-lovelace-day/), which entails designating a day, in this case March 24th, 2009 to blog about a woman in tech you admire and see as a role model. I’m game for this, but the trick is making a habit of it in a more quotidian sense, and fighting learned habits that undermine the importance of recognizing the patterns we re-create again and again, even online in this Brave New World.
In many ways, it is somewhat logical that this conversation should be born from Cogdog’s notion of recognizing those folks who comment regularly, but drawing larger attention to the importance of commenting more generally.
Let me tell you something in all seriousness, your comments here have pushed me to do what I consider some of my best stuff—which admittedly is not saying much—on this blog. The way you challenge me around topics that are so near and dear to me, such as movies, is without question my favorite part of this whole experiment. And without that exchange and fun-filled conversation, there would really be no use for the whole thing, so when I start my bavawards, aping you shamelessly, Nessy gets the lifetime achievement for pushing me and letting go—two characteristics I truly love about you. In short, thanks bud, it means the world to me.
Very interesting, this whole thing. Thanks for tweeting it, geekymom. When I got to the post, I noticed that all the top posters were guys too. So obvious, right; and then Laura’s comment is what I would have said (I guess I’m restating it.) Laura, do you have an idea of the gender breakdown of comenters on your blog?
I may have been bested on the Bava Top Ten, but remember when the EduRush Nation rises, I will be number 1!
Digging the ideas Laura raised, its something I actually didn’t notice. Maybe I am so used to it being male dominated that it is scenery to me now. I would love to see some research done in this area.
That is a fascinating question, inquiring minds want to know 🙂
The race is on! The bava will not be bested.
Look what you have done here, almost have my comments for this post are by women! If only we could scale this to all my nonsense somehow.
@Jim Heh, maybe I should just comment more! I’m bringing the women with me. 🙂
@Meg re: my commenters. Because my blog is all over the map, it very much depends on the post. Obviously, the mommy posts tend to get more women commenters, but my sense from glancing at the last 100 comments or so is that it’s pretty even.
Loving the discussion (and totally embarrassed by my lack of comments) as it plays right into a bunch of the research I helped support while in the College of IST several years ago. What I wonder about the gender discrepancy we see today is what it will look like over time. If you look at current data many suggest that teenage girls are the fuel of the current social web. What will that do to the demographics in 10 years? Things could be running in a very different direction … and that would be a very interesting thing!
Back to my pathetic comment contribution … I read the Bava every time it is updated, but I just don’t comment as much as I should. The stuff Jim writes here is both epic and surreal. I appreciate his honesty and ability to cut through the bullshit. It is the only place on the eduweb where I feel comfortable using the word fuck in my comments. I pledge more comments this year!
You are not a number, you’re a free man!
The penultimate sentence is the nicest fucking thing anyone has ever said on my blog. And I fucking mean that. So thanks 🙂
I am a one in ten, a number on a list
I am a one in ten, even though I don’t exist
Nobody knows me, but I’m always there,
Statistical reminder of a world that doesn’t care
(Although it’s heartwarming that even while the world doesn’t care, the Reverend does)
We can continue the fucking conversation in May when I come down to talk at your event! Can’t wait! What do you have in store for me? I’ll want to get some things lined up so I know when to come in and when to stay to.
wait. I call everyone fucktards after nuking my blog, and Bava is the only place Cole feels safe to cut loose with an F-bomb? what the fuck?
Aside from how all the cool guyz here have gotten into a little f-bomb dance, and all the cool grrrlz here are dancing over in another corner of the rec room, could someone (Fish? Chomsky? Foucault? Bueller? Anyone?) count the number of tacit assumptions in this comment thread? I mean, wow.
Sorry, it’s Valentine’s Day. Had to heave a sigh.
You had to make me feel bad, and re-think things didn’t you. Damn you know how to death by chaperone a party. More seriously, what are the tacit assumptions you refer to, I have some ideas, but I am intrigued. More, please, more 🙂
No need to get insulting by calling me names like “chaperone.” 🙂
I’ll give you that one.
So Laura looks at your list of top commenters. She observes they’re all guys. Her observation assumes (or seems to assume) that a) everyone’s commenting under their real names, all the time, and b) if they are, we can tell from their names that they’re all guys, and that fact is somehow meaningful or telling (same thing, really) and c) by framing the observation as a question, she implies that you might not have noticed that they’re all guys, an omission which could be meaningful (hard to know why one would raise a question without wondering if there’s meaning there, even tentatively wondering).
But I ask, “so what?” Should bloggers strive for balance among commenters? Why? Why not? But the “so what?” question doesn’t emerge. Why not? Do we know anything else about these commenters besides the fact they’re (probably) all guys? What does the gender discrepancy mean? Is it meaningful? How much does that meaning matter, if indeed it does in this instance? Oh, and what does it mean to be a guy, anyhow?
What about other differences? What about economic class? What about age? What about ethnicity? What about marital status? And then once these questions are answered, how confident can we be of the “diagnostic value” or import of the answers?
I’d say that these questions don’t get asked because circumstances typically dictate the “imbalance” question we ask, and those circumstances almost always (in my experience) elicit obvious questions in which the importance of what is obvious in that case doesn’t come up for rigorous discussion. Worse still, the questions that aren’t obvious get blocked or discarded because the markers that might elicit those questions are invisible or disregarded.
My larger point is this. Within a few comments, the entire discussion about gender assumed that the gender imbalance was real (this assumes no transgendering among all the guys–they have guy names, sure, but there’s still an assumption at work), that it was meaningful, that the meaning mattered, and that the imbalance can and should lead us to re-examine the bava, blogging, technology, gender, etc. etc. It could be that all those assumptions are correct. But the train leaves the station so quickly, and barrels along in one uncomplicated direction so powerfully, that there’s no space to think carefully even as we think critically.
It’s especially interesting that the point Laura develops in her later comments, that perhaps women are letting themselves down by not commenting more vigorously, gets lost. The conversation all too quickly turns again to the ways you can do better in encouraging gender balance in your commenters (assuming again that you should do that, that gender balance in commenters is a high priority), while there’s an uneasy balancing act going on with the idea that maybe you don’t need to change anything, really.
As I write out this way-too-long comment from a Scots-Irish male mutt professor (I’ll stop with identity markers), I think the tacit assumptions may be tacit for good reasons. Perhaps they keep a conversational space open. My sigh was over the way they also keep us from thinking *at great depth* about the core issues. The quick questions born of a scan of obvious identity markers are useful but those uses are limited, and to move forward I think it’s important to spot the uses and the limits in the ongoing conversation.
I’ve gotten the end and I’m fraught with doubt about all the comment I just wrote. I’m tempted not to post it. But that would be cowardly of me, so I’ll just say that I love you all, and I’m trying to add something useful to the conversation, and I think it’s important to think past the first two or three levels if we’re trying to build a better world. Otherwise one nail just drives out another.
But Gardner’s a dude, right?
Any major dude with half a heart surely would tell you my friend.
A comment like that one is the very reason why I value your mind so much, the chaperone remark was just a little baiting to get you to publish it 🙂
But, to your comment, which is important, and brings up a question Antonella had when discussing my follow-up post “Where all the white women at?” Namely, aren’t some of these immediate reactions academic? Haven’t we been trained to look for these distinctions to some degree, and then we make a whole set of assumptions from them as you suggest above beautifully. On so many points I think you are right, and the comment thread here frames a very complex walk between questions that can only say so much on the surface. I did notice the fact that all the to commenters were male, and that did give me pause. Why? Well, I think a part of it is my training, and thinking about inequalities that are real in this regard. While another part of me recognizes that this is a b log, and if it is representative of any kind of ideal order, I’m probably not doing my job as its proprietor. But more to the point—and I want to absolutely salute you in this regard Gardner—is the fact that I just don’t feel entirely comfortable dealing with these issues. And the nuance you bring to this conversation that I frankly couldn’t for several reasons I’m not entirely sure of is impressive to me, and reminds me why I think of you as a model for thought in so many regards. You refuse to take the easy road, and perhaps on this one I was more comfortable with that road because I’m afraid of some of my own demons that may emerge from a more challenging route. But, as you suggest about publishing your own comment, that is cowardly and doesn’t really serve the question Laura raised in any real way.
A part of this goes back to issues of essentialism, how can I speak to these issues of gender intelligently given I often understand myself in some simple way as of the wrong kind to have some intelligent critical perspective. I know this isn’t entirely true, but it does make me feel immediately uncomfortable and timid. I’m not sure why I would necessarily want more women to post on the bava, although I’m not sure why I necessarily wouldn’t either. Why I could look past the question initially when I made this post is that all the folks in the list were friends and acquaintances that go far beyond so random selection of genders or guys–as you suggest. At the same time I think Laura’s question does have some real value as you point out, and I’m wondering why I am don’t feel prepared to dal with it in the complex rigorous manner it needs and deserves.
So, in short, I want to thank you for leaving an awesome comment that asks the difficult questions that I wouldn’t and seemingly couldn’t for some reason. And I love your comment because it is an opening that resists any easy simple resolution, and that is what will change the world, you’re right.
@Cole I’ll be there, too, and would love continue this or any other conversation.
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Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, they’ll be there.
Good Morning just thought i would let you know i also had a problem with your blog coming up blank as well. Must be monkeys in the page.
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