Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Don't Women Present at Conferences?

Liv posted twice to her blog, asking why women don't present at conferences, and what we can do about it. Everyone knows that this immediately put a bee in my bonnet. I made a lot of suggestions about how to encourage women to participate in communities more. Now I want to get into the why.

Simply but, It's not easy being a lady in America's misogynous society. If you want a career, you're too ambitious. If you speak up, you're being 'too aggressive.' If you kick ass and take no prisoners, you're a nutcracker. If you yell, you're unbalanced. And if you negotiate, you're somehow icky.

Human beings are adaptable - once you continue to fail when you behave in the way that successful men do, you realize that there's something up. For a while, you sit in a corner and shut up, or qualify and second guess everything until the cows come home. Women don't present because they're not encouraged to.

Women are consistently cited as building relationships and making connections. Use your personal capital to push the envelope a little harder, and toss out your fear of the b-word. It's ok to ruffle feathers and make some trouble.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Topless and Twitter

Brad has recently opined the lovely uses of twitter in meetings. I love his utopian ideals. It would be great if we're all paying attention to the same things, but that's not the culture of the meeting. (You know you've started your xmas list in more than one meeting...fess up)

In a glorious time, we would all be paying attention to what's going on, and have an additive comment or two in a big group. We did this pretty successfully at the IA summit this year. However, the Summit is a conference of like minded people celebrating the joy of what they do.

Imagine what would happen if we had this continuous chatter going on in a set meeting with a set agenda.

Real Person: So, in chart A
Twitter: Chart A looks like ass
Twitter: Dave, can I get a chart A? Didn't read the meeting notice yet.
Real Person: Chart A shows the change of behavior over time
Twitter: Behavior? of what?
Twitter: When's lunch?

In all seriousness, I have heard comments from fellow practitioners hosting kickoff meetings, where everyone brought a laptop, and they all instant messaged each other about other projects. Not one single person actually was paying attention to the meeting - nothing got done.

Instead, I propose the 1 top meeting. Let's bring back the old fashioned function of the secretary who takes notes. There should be a designated note taker at every meeting; let them periodically twitter to have an additional record for remote staff to see in conjunction with a conference call or webex. But that's it - everyone else gets notebooks, whiteboards, or, if they're very good, a big sketchpad.

New technologies are supposed to enhance in-person contacts, not smash them flat, or fritter them into a sidebar. Meetings are not democracies, either - they're benevolent dictatorships run by a facilitator. Let everyone do what they are supposed to effectively, and we'll all benefit.

Hello! UX isn't cool anymore - we're keeping score now!

Dear Fellow UXers -

I've been talking with many of you lately, and I see that you are not keeping metrics. Your project goal setting is to make something better. That's it.

I sympathize, I really do. Your insight and your empathy magically push all those pixels together in a more pleasant, satisfying, wonderful experience that will compel all the users in the world to come back again and again. You close your eyes, and Steve Jobs floats in front you, waving an iPhone in benediction.

The Boom is over, children. While I whole-heartedly support more beauty and elegance in the world, it needs to support some goal. More traffic? Less phone calls? More times written on the blog? More people showing up to your cocktail party?

ROI got way overused in the boom, but I say it's time to bring it back. If you're not calculating some ROI for your website with both offline and online activities, you're just wasting your time. If your only metric is web traffic, you are excused from the discussion until you see the utter foolishness of the short one-time visit.

Check this for more detail on what you can measure. Read Marketing Sherpa religiously.

Then meld your great ideas and map them to measurable goals that translate into money and affinity. Just like all those sweaty guys from eCommerce.