SXSW is a wide ranging conference that always throws up interesting happenings. Last year it was the audience taking over a boring session and people stripping off articles of clothing on pre-selected keywords, puzzling the speakers. This year I loved the ‘tech moms forum’. While it was guys like Berners Lee, Bezos, Wales, Gutenburg, Torvalds, Page, Brin, Hurley and Chen who created this wonderful technical habitat, it’s women who are starting to inhabit and humanise the environment.
In the US women buy around $90 billion in technology and influence 61% of all purchases. But the real action is on the social side, where mothers are creating their own websites, blogging, Facebooking and generally getting agitating to get things done. Self publishing has enfranchised this group, freeing mothers from the sometimes limiting confines of the home.
Advertisers, knowing that women are the power brokers on buying, have flocked to these sites. Heather Armstrong’s blog Dooce has a staggering 850,000 readers, and makes a living from her banner ads. Comscore states that sites targeted at women grew by 35% last year, second only to politics. Sex sells, and Tancer’s data in his book Click suggests that we spend 6.5 minutes on average on a porn site, with Friday night being the peak viewing time and a surprising 27.4% of visitors are women, especially pornographic fiction sites. BlogHer, a collection of 2,200 blogs by and for women has attracted significant venture capital.
Women are half the population but may end up contributing a great deal more than men in social networking, as they tend to communicate, enliven and engage in honest dialogue in a more open fashion. It’s less ‘what the hell’ and more ‘what-if’. But let’s not simplify this, as there’s a wide range of women groups online. Techmamas is a nice example of a hardcore tech mom who really does love the ‘tech’. Women 2.0 tends to be women in business and so on. What I’ve noticed, however, as I drifted through these sites, is the lightness of touch and lack of rancour. I’ll stop there as I feel a BUT coming on......