From the Flame Dept.

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I’ve been getting complaints that the invite list to Newly Digital doesn’t include [insert group here]. Most complaints center around the fact that there were no women invitees, but there have been complaints from other interest groups as well.

Yes, the original list was all men. And as far as I know, all of them reside in the US, Canada, or Europe. And here’s something else. They might all be white, might all be straight, might all be middle-class. Or they might not. I really don’t know, because I didn’t care.

My goal wasn’t to fulfill some notion of diversity, fairness, or quotas. It was to spark conversation. To inspire people to write about their experiences. That meant getting various people, some well-known and some not well-known, to participate. I had dozens of people on the list of prospects, but I cut it down to 12. I didn’t look at the list to determine if some were women or minority or gay or Asian or Mac users or dog owners or anything else. All I was looking for was a set of people to write.

I wonder if people realize how petty and narrow-minded their flames sound. Here we’ve been trying to get people to view men and women as equals for years, but when I do that, I’m vilified because I didn’t go out of my way to include women. You can’t have it both ways. I can’t be both blind to gender, race or whatever and also ensure that all groups are included. And I shouldn’t have to. This was my project. Something fun done in my spare time.

Most of the people on the invite list had done something recently that I found interesting. Cameron is the developer behind Blogdex. Andy launched the Star Wars kid to fame. I use some of Torrez’s tools. Bill is my co-conspirator in Zempt. I enjoy Dan and Steve’s blogs. A conversation with Brad gave me the idea. That’s why these people were included. Because they have been contributing to the community in a way that I enjoyed.

I wanted the project to be open to the world. I wanted others to contribute. But I didn’t have the time or energy to manage an invite list of hundreds of people. And even if I did, I don’t know all of the interesting people in the world, so I couldn’t have invited them all. So I created a TrackBack repository, linked it to the page, put it in RSS, and threw it open to anyone who wanted to contribute.

If you like the project and want to contribute, please do. If you don’t like it then don’t contribute. It’s as simple as that.

sleeper
June 3, 2003 11:40 AM

for what it's worth, this is a great project. it's sad that people get so caught up in questions on discrimination that they lose sight of what a fascinating idea this is, and the really great and interesting content it has provided. keep it up. i have just recently started watching you and enjoy your perspective and contribution.

Andy Baio
June 3, 2003 11:55 AM

When Adam asked me about the Newly Digital project, I suggested four other of my friends that I knew were computer geeks and good writers and two agreed to participate. The four I recommended all happened to be American males, since most of my friends are guys living in the United States; not because I'm less interested in reading about female or non-US geeks. I think some people are reading too much into the initial contributor choices. If you have something to say, add it to the project. If it's interesting and fun to read, you'll get noticed.

Arve
June 3, 2003 12:21 PM

For what it's worth: As long as you know yourself that you made the right choices in who to initially invite and not, and you did so without ethnical, religious or sexual bias of any kind, you should just shrug it off and let the complaining dimwits go on embarrassing themselves. You can always send their flames to /dev/null. "Newly Digital" is a great project, with great initial contributions, and with great contributions from other than the 11 initial ones

jon
June 3, 2003 12:28 PM

one thing i've found so far on my time on this earth--people are whiners. i wouldn't take it so hard--when you have a decent audience, there have to be some folk in there that will whine. don't sweat the haters. j(a black man, who will hopefully write his experience here at some point soon :).

Richard Giles
June 3, 2003 5:26 PM

Adam, it's a fantastic project, keep up all of the good work (including those awesome MT plugins). I think your last statement sums it up perfectly, "If you like the project and want to contribute, please do. If you don?t like it then don?t contribute" and go and get a life. O.K., maybe I added the last bit myself. :)

Raena
June 4, 2003 1:21 AM

Aw, I'm sorry if you interpreted my earlier comment about that as flaming. I was just wondering what drew you to pick the group you did (and keeping in mind I don't know you from a bar of soap, it's not for me to make a judgment on why). All that said, I kind of figured that a more diverse group of people would have made for a more interesting start to the project. This doesn't necessarily mean that diversity == different races, women, or religions, but would certainly have lent a little more variance to the initial offering. Incidentally: -- Here we've been trying to get people to view men and women -- as equals for years, but when I do that, I'm vilified because I -- didn't go out of my way to include women. For people who (like me, I guess) are just walk-ins who don't really know you any better, they're left to either give you the benefit of the doubt, or to assume that a single action speaks loudest. People should really do the former, but too often do the latter.

Chester
June 4, 2003 7:08 AM

I agree with you 100%. The truth is that people who point out they are part of some minority are just further propagating the mind-set that they are a minority. People are just people. It is far easier to complain than to do something positive and reinforce someone else's effort. That's the problem with the world today. Too much negativity and people feeling that everyone else owes them something. It's time they start doing something for themselves.

Bill Zeller
June 5, 2003 7:04 PM

"co-conspirator"? I believe you mean "code-monkey".

Phillip Harrington
June 6, 2003 2:41 AM

Maybe the sad part is that you don't know anyone who is female or another race close enough for them to immediately spring to mind when you made the list. I'm not suggesting you stack the list again. I agree with the premise that if we're not going to consider gender and race, then let's not consider them. Except that if we find ourselves only mingling with those of the same gender and race, what are we missing out on that might be important? I'm trying to say I agree with your defense of the list, but also I would challenge you to find out why you only know other white males. And I challenge myself too. Not *all* my friends are white males, but the majority are. So anyway - this is not a flame, I hope you take it in the spirit it's intended.

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