Tag Archives: northernvoice

diversity and inclusion

here’s a little more from raul’s blog. the topic raul broached was diversity. by the way, those of you who are not engaged in social media, please don’t run away. because guess what – what’s happening in social media is very similar to what’s happening IRL – i mean, in real life 🙂

raul quotes tamera kramer

“diversity actually means diverse voices too. and I also would throw in that while lack of women’s voices is a HUGE issue, we should also be talking about opening the field beyond white/ straight/ physically capable. let’s define what being truly diverse really means.”

tamera is absolutely right. why isn’t there a conversation around diversity and what it means both in general for the speaker’s circuit and for the social media world overall?

there are some very good comments on raul’s blog, ranging from whether “having a conference for example for gay Latino men that excludes everyone else” is or isn’t the answer (tris and cecily say something about that) to underscoring the need to hear the voices of people with disabilities (ganga and glenda weigh in on this) to wondering how supportive social media in vancouver – and probably elsewhere – really is (kudos to steff) to warning of the pitfalls of social privilege given to people with diverse backgrounds, using the example of livejournal (atomicpoet).

here are a few things i added to the comments

inclusion AND diversity, once we go beyond the obvious, are very difficult, one of the reasons being what tris mentioned – it’s HARD to grasp.

it’s like fish trying to understand why humans fear drowning, or a grasshopper trying to grasp what’s so good about living under a rock 200 m deep in the ocean.

or wait! in most cases that would be the wrong metaphor – because a grasshopper sees no need to imagine the life of an undersea creature.

or wait! THAT’s what social media and blogging are – theoretically – so good for: hearing/seeing/reading what “those other” people live like, love, hate, and laugh about.

social media and blogging have helped open a lot of topics that were previously taboo or accessible only to far-off corners of society. terra gave a fabulous example of that when she talked about how mommybloggers did away with stigma around mental illness during MentalHealthCamp.

are we ready to take the next step?

the next step is going from nodding enthusiastically to acting on what we have found when we looked through the social media windows into other people’s lives. here are a few ideas if we truly want to hear the voices that so far we have not heard, for whatever reason (one of them being that our ears were closed). how do we make it possible for those voices to be heard?

let’s take the voice of poverty. how is someone on low income going to get to an event in a far-off suburb? car? probably not. public transit? IS there public transit going to the event? and if so, how much does it cost? how do you think it feels for someone on low income to always ask for money for such events? and remember, they need to get the money for it beforehand, not after, because if you are on low income, you have days where you have no cash whatsoever.

the voices that haven’t been heard much are often untrained voices. tris says we should look for “the best person to speak on that topic”. it’s easy for the mainstream to say what “best” means, and that measuring stick is often self-referencing. does “best” mean polished, up-to-date, articulate, in-group like? or could it mean someone who adds a new perspective, someone who wakes us up, perhaps by making us feel uncomfortable? we all love to quote people like gandhi, dr. martin luther king or einstein for the courage they instill to go against the grain. easy to do in hindsight and from our comfy chairs. but think about how lonely, scared, inept and other they felt when they first started out. are we ready to tolerate, even embrace that otherness?

inclusiveness means including everyone. here’s an example, which is the second part of my comment on raul’s blog

re blogging dads, tris – one of the reasons why social media here in vancouver is clique-y (and it’s not terribly clique-y but still noticeable) is because the vast majority of people who can get together at a bar on a thursday evening at an hour’s notice are single, mobile people, who live and/or work downtown.

a south vancouver grandma like me, or rob who has two little kids – well, it’s hard for us to do that. so the cliquishness comes from different lifestyles, among other things. added to that are the unique social skills and habits that social media types display.

my point is that inclusion is not only about the obvious. tris also made a good point – that being in loud crowds does not appeal to everyone. now of course we can’t always try to make everyone happy or comfortable. but it’s important to remember that if a group always behaves the same way, it automatically appears unwelcoming to those who don’t or can’t behave in that way.

a big topic, i know.

which is why i like to propose something: let’s have a topic for our next northern voice blogging and social media (un)conference:

diversity and inclusion!

then maybe we can think about it and take it into the flesh-and-blood world …

more northern voice: ADD among techies

one of the presenters at northern voice was vancouver ADD coach pete quily. he spoke on attention deficit disorder – ADD – for techies. let me share some of the information.

“the internet,” he said, “is the crack cocaine of people with ADD.”

one of the things that happens for people with ADD is that they don’t filter information as much or as effectively as others.

everything is interesting! everything is worthy of attention! and the more attention is given to something, the more there is a desire to squander it. dinner? an important phone call? later, later, let’s just look at one more page, load one more video, check the email one more time … and all of a sudden it’s 2 hours later and the brain, instead of getting much needed food or fresh air, is filled with even more factlets.

pete pointed out that ADD consists of three aspects: hyperactivity, impulsivity, and attention problems. not all three need to be present, and not in the same intensity. that is, a person may have only mild problems with intentional mental focus but may have great difficulties with hyperactivity and impulsivity. that’s important to note because different challenges tend to have different results.

for example, the person just described may have really good grades at school. when that person, years later, goes to see a doctor wondering whether her long-standing difficulties and general unease may be traced back to ADD, if the doctor is ill-informed, he or she may conclude that because the person had good grades in school they can’t possible have ADD.

paradoxically, one of the gifts of ADD can be the ability to be hyperfocused under certain circumstances. this is why ADD – attention deficit disorder – is a great misnomer. first, it’s not necessarily only about attention. second, often it’s not a deficit – in many ways, it’s actually a surplus of energy and creativity (pete quily likes to call it “attention surplus condition”). and third, if recognized and channeled the right way, it can be a treasure, not a disorder or disability.

for more on this valuable presentation, go to pete’s wiki, here, and also visit his blog, adult ADD strengths.

dave olson: blogging and creativity

dave olson and kris krug at northern voice 2008, a blogging conference in vancouver northern voice was a wonderful experience. as nancy white said

northern voice is a living community indicator and lives in the culture of love. where else can you find the intersection of geekdom and love?

i’ll be blogging about nancy’s and other people’s sessions in the days to come.

today i want to tell you about the session that touched me the deepest. it was dave olson’s “f**k stats, make art”. miss 604 has a great synopsis of it, and you can find my notes at the end of this post.

one of the things that became very obvious for me after dave’s presentation was sadness/frustration/disappointment that i had abandoned my practice of doing at least one piece of “artful writing” a day, no matter how short, kitschy or silly. dave may just have just stirred me enough to go back to that.

so i ended up writing two poems and would like to dedicate them both to dave.

thanks to dave olson, no. 1

a concussion of the most
mindful sort
comes over me as i indulge in these
northern voices.
poems must be written,
suns must be risen,
earths must be quaked
in this pyramid of
gentle thoughts
— not just yours,
not just mine —
that shake up this world.


thanks to dave olson, no. 2

we all know it
and we reach for it
deep in our hearts,
deep in our mothers’ wombs.

where is the mirror, we ask,
where is the mirror of that,
this knowing “with”, not just “about”,
this connection “between”, not just “with”,
where is it, where is it, where is it?! we scream



this feels …
this must be …

“yes, for sure, this must be it”: as we come down from it,
the scratchiness, the hard, uneven road, the
clawy longing,
and settle down a
bit and feel the
or finally take off
and race past
ninety thousand clouds.

and then the fall.
out of the sky,
or off that comfortable, sturdy stool that gave
us so much hold
just half an hour ago.

slowly, then, it grows again,
the question, craving, begging:
where is the mirror?
and the knowing?
the connection?

a circle, circle, circle.

may that circle, lord and lady, please, be broken.
by and by, yes, by and by.


here are my notes from dave’s presentation:

  • art makes the future
  • the only reason why we have history is because we have artists who write, draw, paint – they are our historians
  • technology and art have never been better friends than today
  • we can go directly from idea to execution to sending it out to the world
  • code is poetry
  • redefine your sensibilities
  • the original creation of art is what is important, not the replication of it
  • art’s a weird word, it’s nebulous, like social media
  • (image of oily smiley shriner guy in front of pyramid of gizeh)
  • art is like pyramid, the lower, thick part is the schlock area
  • the next layer is the craft layer
  • when craft and intent are married, that’s the top of the pyramid

examples of blogs before blogs were invented:

  • japanese petroglyphs
  • stonehenge
  • hammurabi’s code
  • scribes and monks
  • van gogh as a blogger – he took his easel out into nature, that wasn’t done
  • picasso came in and confused things
  • typewriters as blogging tools

what is art now?

dave’s suggestions:

  • upgrade your heroes: thoreau, gandhi, MLK – “suffering” heroes; how about d.h. lawrence, ed abbey, vaclav havel, gary snyder, bev davies, a street artist by the name of jerry kroll (sp?)
  • embark on personal archeology: major matthews; look at your old work / art work
  • embrace (transparency) translucency; how much of yourself are you willing to put out there: rousseau’s confessions – too much transparency?
  • express yourself with vigor – step it up; read the classics; go to an art gallery; find your craft and do it seriously; do what you do better (there’s a big difference between typing and writing)
  • cross training skills (painting, pottery, mash mash mash)
  • declare your story to the world: do something and the stories will come, help journalists (they need stories); put the LOG back in the blog; don’t work for the rubber stamp
  • redefine success
  • don’t get precious; share your stuff; don’t steal; be willing to ask for and participate in collaboration – it cross-pollinates – spread the art around
  • ignore the gatekeepers – the hunter s. thompson rule of creation – if you have strong skills, you can mock them at their peril; stick to your artistic integrity
  • don’t take it all too seriously
  • “know much fu” (don’t know exactly what that means? know your skills?) – for validation, don’t look to stats; what are you getting out of these stats?

(image by sonson)