Thursday, May 18, 2006

mesh06 - Reflections

Looking back on mesh
Of course my first observation is that I had fun and learned a lot. Those are my two central requirements, and they were certainly fulfilled. Can't ask for more.
Last year at a college conference in North Bay, I noticed something significant, and I could see it again at mesh. The Web used to have distinct groups, especially at conferences. The technical people gathered and talked about java and ruby-on-rails and other obscure (to me) topics. Teachers, or in the case of mesh, PR, marketing, and business people (Web entrepreneurs), got together to discuss how to use the Web.

Both at This is IT in North Bay last spring, and here at mesh this spring, I see the two formerly distinct (except in rare cases) groups starting to overlap. There is a Web culture that includes engineers and communicators, and I see the business actions as coming from the middle, the overlap, where we are in the same space with similar enough understandings that we can disagree. (If you don't have similar maps and language, you can't communicate enough to argue ;->) A fascinating development.

So I see the emergence of a strong Web culture with segmented areas attached to it.

Other Observations
The conference had an interesting mix of (Web) business, PR/marketing, and engineers. I noticed a few differences from academic conferences - which is what I'm used to.
  • more hands are shaken more often;
  • more business cards are exchanged;
  • people move on from conversations more often; there's a faster pace;
  • the attendees were not as old in general as at academic conferences, but the conference wasn't as skewed towards youth as I expected. I would say most attendees were from 30 to 50, and there were more older than younger. Would love to hear from someone who found it different.

I did encounter a couple of misogynist moments.
  • I overheard, in the lunch lineup first day, two guys talking about a woman who was "too aggressive". They used the phrase repeatedly. It turned out they were talking about someone who didn't share back business contacts and information. (Hey, the lunch lineup was long and I couldn't help overhearing!) The phrase "too aggressive" has more negative connotations when applied to a woman than when applied to a man, and it is rarely applied to a man. "Aggressive" is a complimentary term when applied to a male. I have yet to hear people talking about a man who is "too aggressive" when what they mean is he doesn't share business contacts and information. They usually skip the negative definition and get straight to the information, maybe adding that he's an "a**hole" which is a nicely non-gendered perjorative.
  • I saw in one of the blog comments, a reference to "that Tara chick". I can't even imagine someone referring to "that [insert male name] pup". And she was criticized for preparing an interesting presentation that enacted what she was describing. I am NOT being critical of the interview approach (I liked it) but it takes less work to prepare for.

    On a related topic, my husband, after watching a public school talent show, commented that the boys got more applause for ballsy improvisation than the girls did for skill and preparation. I think some of that mindset is still there in less mature men.

So mesh was fun, amusing, educational, and provided grist for my tendancy to engage in analytical observations.



/pd said...

Not sure where I fit in with the Venn Diagram :)- Maybe, I am totally on the fringe and out of the box (circle's ?) !!

Waht I found more interesting was chatting with the younger crowd as they were really interested with what others thought of their ideas and opinions.

Shifting Semiosis said...

Maybe it should have been multi-coloured speckles interpenetrating ;->