What a difference two years makes!

Only about 1% of the AAUW members ever attend convention, but many more are extremely interested in what happens.¬† As someone who’s been on communications teams at the branch and state level, I’ve been passionate about getting information out “to the folks back home” since my first convention in 1999. At first (1999, 2001), I was concerned about posting information of my personal activities (e.g. IT 2001 campaign), but then I started documenting the North Carolina delegation (2003, 2005, 2007). Those were mostly posts I did from my room after all the events were over.

In 2007, in response to the culture change to have more information immediately available, we also tried using twitter to get information out from the floor of the convention. Louse (@weegspin), Kate (@skeggy), and I (@nes49) were pretty much shouting into the void, though — there was no real way to get the word out to the members that another information stream existed. See the report on that experiment.

This year, however, there was a rich “twitter stream” on all aspects of the convention. Staff and members both contributed, and while there was limited “conversation” with the folks back home, at least the word got out to many who were able to follow along. See the transcript.

What changed? Here’s my list:

  1. Facebook happened. In the spring of 2007 a student from Alabama had started the first (and still the largest) AAUW Facebook group. After the 2007 convention, a second group was started by students from Illinois Iowa to help unite the younger members.¬† Starting in the fall of 2007, Facebook started attracting the “not so younger” members who were able to find each other, and they started conversations on how to use Facebook to advance the mission. The 2009 convention itself had a group.
  2. AAUW started a blog in early 2008. The staff’s use of “web 2.0” technology to raise awareness and support conversations legitimized the use of “putting unfiltered information into the public domain” in addition to the tightly controlled e-mail lists and the properly more formal research reports and www.aauw.org in general.
  3. In late 2008, AAUW committed to sponsor the Feminism 2.0 conference, and that conference in February, 2009, demonstrated the possibilities of both blogging and micro-blogging to forge connections and build support for a wide range of issues on the feminist agenda.
  4. So by June 2009, we had folks with blogs, facebook profiles, twitter, flickr and more who were ready to report back to the members at home about all that was going on. More than that, they could find each other and share photos, comments, and updates. I don’t know all that went into the staff’s decision not to publish a daily “newspaper” about the convention — but I think the coverage was pretty good without that extremely labor intensive project. Of course we’re still using e-mail lists and other tools to gather information for state newsletters and web sites, and more will be coming out in the next few weeks. But I think we did a credible job of getting the flavor of convention to those who couldn’t attend but were engaged enough to follow the information stream.

Again, I’m just seeing part of the elephant, but I have to give credit to Linda Hallman who took over as ED in January 2008 for supporting a culture that allowed this experimentation by the staff. Thanks, of course, to all the staff members and volunteers who participated. After such a big disappointment with twitter in 2007, this 2009 information sharing has been great.

I wonder what things will look like in 2011…

Still digesting last week’s fem2pt0 conference

Last Monday’s Feminism 2.0 conference was a whirlwind of different kinds of experiences.

As a “twitter dropout” the heavy emphasis on twitter was strange to me. In twitter, for instance, there are different kinds of identities:

  • @Kim_Gandy — pretty clear who she is
  • @blogdiva — spoke enough at the conference that I’ve put a face and name to that nickname – and her name is in her twitter profile
  • @fem2pt0 — I still don’t have a face/name for that twitterer

So, as someone used to Facebook where you’ve got all kinds of context about your “correspondents,” twitter seems so context free that it’s hard (for me, at least) to use it to make connections with folks I don’t aleady know in real life.

Given that, I skipped last night’s twittercast on next steps. I did, however, review the transcript and have pulled out a few points that resonate with me:

digitalsista: there are so many interests in a wiki, ning and other forms of #fem2 aggregators. We need to make sure they remain connected
jdp23: @digitalsista agreed. wikis like Wetpaint make it easy to embed feeds and so work well with aggregators
Jillmz: I’m on a three or four nings – I find them a bit unwieldy #fem2
anandaleeke: @jlenoir i am all for writing blogs. i am happy to post reflections on bap living social networking site, facebook group, and myspace
Jillmz: like wikis too
Jillmz: re @anandaleeke @jlenoir facebook is proving to be a really good tool, I have to say
anandaleeke: if we spread our content around the blogsphere we can reach out more to women of color and other women we miss
anandaleeke: @Jillmz facebook is a great tool.
sairy: pbwiki is good for real collaboration; just for keeping in touch, I suggest something we’re all already on – facebook or ning
chicklitgurrl: @Jillmz I think it’s important to have some kind of agenda where people are strategically place to reach MORE people to the cause,
Jillmz: we have to accept that in any tool, many of us may read, listen then write or spread the word, but not necessarily engage via the tool
jdp23: discussions on Facebook are very limited though. also it’s much more white and male than MySpace [from the limited context on twitter, jdp23 appears to be white and male]
chicklitgurrl: @Jillmz What social media forms do we need a stranglehold on, of sorts, to reach more people,
Jillmz: @chicklitgurrl great point re: strategically placed – I’m smiling though thinking, what is that – what would it look like -do we know?
holdie1: @anandaleeke @chicklitgurrl. yup. that’s the whole concept behind fem 2.0–sharing skills that = whole greater than sum of part
holdie1: recognizing we will have some different niche constituencies, but there are opps for us to collaborate and have greater impact
sairy: often a 1.0 & 2.0 hybrid is useful; Google Groups for example allows for e-mail list with document sharing & collaborative editing

Where are we now? Darned if I know. Something more robust than twitter is needed –discussion forum, wiki, ning maybe or even a conference call/webinar. The one line agendas that have been used for these meetings (e.g. “can men be feminists”, “next steps”) are about all that a twittercast can handle — but to make real progress I think we need to tackle a few more parts of the puzzle at a time.

Some good notes from Ananda: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2009/02/for-fem-20-conference-participants-my.html — including a reference to the way the unconference “she’s geeky” pulled together. That is, I think, on target, but I guess I never articulated the question¬† — “Unconferences aren’t so brand new. This feels like one, but it isn’t organized like one. Why not?”

So, yes, I’m the one who is looking first at the technology platform. I honor all you folks who are writing the manifestos, the poems, and visions. But good meetings come from more than that.

I’m still not sure what this de facto community is trying to accomplish — but I’ll hang on for awhile longer with the assumption that we’re all in this together and looking for ways to support each other.

Transcript of #fem2 twittercast from 1/18

I’m not sure anyone’s interested in this, but since there’s a follow on discussion on Sunday night, I’m posting my version of the discussion of Sunday the 18th. To see how the program has actually been written up, see

http://www.fem2pt0.com/?p=673

Threaded discussion from #fem2 twittercast, 1/18/2009

This transcript attempts to reorder the tweets of the twittercast into threads. Apologies for any misunderstandings. For the raw data, go to search.twitter.com.

  • Fem2pt0 good evening, everyone! time to get this twittercast started: what issues should we cover at Fem2.0?
  • GloPan: Fair Pay, obviously. And healthcare, work-family balance, how women are depicted in the media…
    • nes49: Would case studies on how GloPan’s topics get pushed through web 2.0 channels be appropriate?
  • MadamaAmbi: if I were going to be in attendance, I would want to discuss how to make a movement 2.0
    • blogdiva @MadamaAmbi “how to make a movement” is really a good topic. i have no idea how that is “instigated” or if it can be, for that matter
    • Jillmz re: how to make a movement-it’s amazing the different ways that can happen-many routes to expression/activism, might depend on issue
  • ktdagroovecat: @fem2pt0 generational divide! says the resident fem2.0 millennial :)
  • Luci_Kali: perhaps what to anticipate in the 1st 100 days of Obama’s administration in regards to women’s rights, health
  • cameronreilly @blogdiva I launched a podcast about feminism last year but it didn’t catch up
  • Jillmz I’m interested in rules of engagement: how do we not talk past each other, as well as people w/whom we’re disagreeing on an issue
  • veronicaeye But do want to know what media topics peeps want coverd
    • nes49 @veronicaeye – media topics? would the (relatively) new “mom’s spaces” appearing on newspaper sites count? a venue for feminism?
  • MadamaAmbi @Fem2pt0 this is so important…I have much to say on this…
  • GloPan I am constantly amazed by how many women’s blogs and ventures there are on the Internet, all seemingly doing it on their own.
    • MadamaAmbi @GloPan yep…we need to unify in order to leverage our power
      • dianamarie @MadamaAmbi Excellent! Alliances must be formed across divdes to make a real difference for all women!
    • blogdiva @GloPan what do you mean by that? i mean, blogs were supposed to be about doing it on your own w/o corporate leashes
    • Jillmz I agree w/ @GloPan re: how many individual blogs/ventures; its independence that entices us to speak out, but how can we find others
    • GloPan Blogs should be independent, but single voices speaking on different things not as powerful as many speaking about 1 thing at once.
  • Jillmz I think Fem2pt0 is a great example of gravitating for better, more impact (we hope, right!?) but what else can we be doing?
  • FaithFeminism @Fem2pt0 What new (tech-y?) methods can we utilize to connect feminist leaders with “grassroots” activists?
  • Jillmz making alliances goes back to last week in that it can feel risky to step up when it might involve giving up some independence
  • MadamaAmbi I’m getting a little ahead of this convo, but we need a 5 yr plan & a 10 yr plan
  • blogdiva we also need to talk about money. raising money for this event has been like pulling teeth because people don’t want to fund feminists
  • GloPan Campaign idea: For one week, we all agree to reach out to 3 blogs a day and invite them to Fem2.0 site.
    • GloPan Of course, there needs to be more substance on issues on the Fem2.0 site.
    • HopeChat @GloPan good evening, I think that is a good idea
  • MadamaAmbi @blogdiva that’s why we need to workaround this reality and stream/video/webcam
    • GloPan @MadamaAmbi We are working on it – I think it’s going to happen, just can’t promise at this point.
    • blogdiva @MadamaAmbi i have to double check but am sure webcasting is being taken care of
  • MadamaAmbi can we talk about why ppl are afraid of feminists/feminism?
    • Tifanei @MadamaAmbi please do
    • Tifanei @MadamaAmbi I took a Gender & New Media class where we addressed this question. The answers were infuriating, but good lesson learned.
    • MadamaAmbi we’re in a double-bind as feminists. We are trying to take power without upsetting anyone…!!!…
      • GloPan @MadamaAmbi But there are also those who believe that upsetting people is the way to get people to pay attention.
      • GloPan I think the fearlessness about upsetting people is a part of the feminism brand that a lot of people don’t like.
        • MadamaAmbi @GloPan women being put in foreground is upsetting enuf! Don’t have to work at it,imo!
        • MadamaAmbi @GloPan agree! But I am fearless, that’s a fact. I have nothing to lose.
        • dianamarie @GloPan While fearlessness of upsetting people is ok for other activist causes it’s so “anti-woman” that with feminism it burns more.
          • GloPan @dianamarie So true. I worked on the breast implant issue for a while, and the derision over the feminist aspects of it totally GloPan ovrshadowed/buried the real threat to women’s health and their families’ economic security
          • MadamaAmbi @dianamarie you make a really important point…could be a topic all by itself…breaking the archetype open
      • Tifanei personally I am not trying to GET power I think I’m trying to stop people who think they can allocate my already established .
  • Jillmz so…there’s communication & engagement; participation & funding; issues – maybe those are general categories for topics?
  • ktdagroovecat re: topics: need to offer lessons on “online activism,” not just giving money, but using fb page as soapbox & being thought leader
  • GloPan How do we get the millions of women online to become activists? They have the opinions, but just are not connected to the issues.
    • Jillmz @GloPan that kind of thing has come up when issues involve mothers but the group has many women who are not mothers
      • blogdiva @Jillmz oh lord have mercy … that focusing on mothers is taking the attention away from them (or something like that) :P
      • Jillmz @blogdiva LOL I know I know!! lol
      • Jillmz @Jillmz but to be fair…. now… :) I don’t blog my momness a ton, but when solid feminist issues come up…and I throw in my perspective, which is as a mom (cuz I am one), I get some really hateful stuff back; we need to be helpful
      • Jillmz that’s the whole point of engaging: so we BUILD on our different perspectives, make the activism stronger, more universal
      • GloPan @Jillmz Ha! We need to be saints!
        • Jillmz @GloPan LOL You mean…we aren’t? :)
        • MadamaAmbi @GloPan maybe we need to teach/learn how to argue productively…
          • Tifanei @MadamaAmbi and isn’t strong rhetoric the key to everything
            • ktdagroovecat @Tifanei absolutely! can’t be afraid to talk about it, not with anyone. first step is always communication, i think
            • MadamaAmbi @Tifanei dunno. I didn’t study rhetoric, studied psychotherapy, drama, lit, voice
            • Jillmz some conversations w/potential allies regarding race have had to deal w/some of these issues of communication, yes?
            • Tifanei @MadamaAmbi well I am… and it is. In my opinion of course. It’s how any face of a movement did it.
            • MadamaAmbi @Tifanei I’m listening!
            • Tifanei @MadamaAmbi well it depends on which theory you want to consider. All the good ones use relativity to connect with anyone.
            • Tifanei the strongest, most influential argument. It’s the art of influential speech. How can you fail if you’ve mastered an art???
            • MadamaAmbi @Tifanei sounds reasonable. Can u recommend a book/text/resource to study?
    • MadamaAmbi @GloPan one at a time, relationship by relationship, creating connections across issues, cross-pollinating, what we R doing right here
    • Jillmz some of this goes back to how do we engage w/each other, communication, so we don’t talk past each other
    • myrnatheminx Women have to be courageous enough to jump into things regardless of level of “expertise” We talk ourselves out of things
    • Jillmz I was just looking over the sessions listed right now – it is AMBITIOUS!
    • terrizsoloceo @3keyscoach @blogdiva is doing a feminist conversation thing #fem2 I think!
    • GloPan Join Fem2pt0 Twittercast on Tweetchat, room #fem2
    • Tifanei You consider how the audience is going to interpret your message. You consider why they would have different interps and come up with
    • Jillmz fems, I need to turn in – getting excited for 2/2 thanks for engaging, letting me engage :)
    • GloPan @nerdette Yes, let’s end the Mommy Wars! #fem2
    • GloPan Thanks everyone. Same time next week: Why men should be feminists. And we can have one more nite before confrence. Ideas anyone?
    • dianamarie As much as I’m loving the #fem2 discussion it’s time to either work or hit the sack. Haven’t decided which, but either way… ‘night tweeps!

Why I’m going to Fem2pt0

On Monday, I’ll be at the Fem2pt0 conference in DC. While not quite an “unconference,” the “point” of the conference has been a little vague. But AAUW was a co-sponsor and it sounded interesting, so I signed up.

My background for the conference (which I guess I am thinking of as mix of web 2.0 and feminism) includes

  • Working on web minus 1 strategies for using technology to connect people since 1982.
  • Using web 1.0 strategies to connect feminists, in particular, since 1996
  • Using web 2.0 strategies for feminists and other organizations since 2005.
  • Supporting the NC Women United coalition with web/virtual office strategies since 2002 when the nonprofit that had been managing that organization’s projects lost its funding.

I’m a fan of WordPress and Facebook. I’m a twitter dropout (but for limited use of twitterfeed). I’ve been a noisy advocate for better use of technology at AAUW since 2001, and am currently serving as admin of the largest AAUW Facebook group which is about to pass 1000 members.

I hope to connect with new folks and learn new strategies to

  • promote AAUW’s mission and feminist goals
  • learn how to better use 2.0 strategies for fundraising
  • engage volunteers, particularly feminists (of all generations)
  • keep up with the whirlwind pace of new techniques that help us all share information without succumbing to information overload.

So, as you can see, I’m a “work on the plumbing” kind of person — not much feminist theory in my background, and I’ll let others do the heavy lifting of crafting positions that I’m glad to help publicize.

I’m looking forward to the day!