jemimakiss Will tech bring us back to the days when few women worked in newsrooms? Or at least significantly lower their number?

Check out some thoughts from Times Online editor Anne Spackman, via Guardian blogger Jemima Kiss.

"Perhaps," replies Kiss (photo), "it’s more of a question of a disconnect between tech and journalism, rather than a lack of women developers." Also see reader comments.

The e-book angle

Now let’s extrapolate. If e-books become more and more driven by tech, not just content, will female writers suffer? Or what about media that could replace books? Will E mean less of a female perspective in mass media?

I’ll just ask the questions here and remind you to consider the nuances. Women, as I recall, are actually better customers of certain kinds of games. Does this mean they could be better creators of them?

The related creation tools issue

Whether it’s newspapers, books or games, the real issue could be creation tools. I’ve ranted on this topic before. Programmers need to stop fantasizing that the entire world wants to worry about XML tagging. The more we can standardize e-book technology, the less tech will matter compared to content. And that’s A Good Thing benefiting both sexes.

Speaking of tech and lit: What’s the best way to handle poetry in WordPress? Are any tools or other special shortcuts particularly helpful to reduce the need for poets to do HTML? Some interesting CSS-related solutions? Same for Drupal and poetry. Yes, you just say, "Insert HTML to do nonproportional fonts," but is there a way to avoid this-here HTML business, period? I’m a prose guy, and for all I know, maybe the existing WordPress is fine, but I’ll ask this question on behalf of a friend who may be switching to WordPress.

Related: The WordPress Cabaret plugin, which creates "random poetry."


  1. I’m in two female-predominated literary communities, the fan fiction community and the romance community; in both communities, electronic fiction plays a prominent role. Judging from the history of the fan fiction community – which is, by definition, an amateur community – I think you’re right that the key to growth lies in making tech matters simple. The fan fiction community was mainly at e-mail lists until LiveJournal made blogging easy. Probably other companies did too, but LiveJournal was where the fan fiction community ended up (until recently, when LJ’s owners began offending some of the fans).

    During the same period, there was a shift from fan fiction archives that were manually run to fan fiction archives that provided for automatic posting – again, the impetus was the development of software that was easy enough for the average person to use.

    By contrast, the online gay fiction community – which is predominantly male – hasn’t made as much use of software tools that ease the task for authors. I think partly as a result, it hasn’t experienced the same explosion of Websites; life pretty much centers still around two or three archives.

    What this will mean for e-book publication I’m not as certain about, as I haven’t watched the process by which small presses grow – but I do know that new romance e-presses turn up every week, which suggests that e-book publication has become easy enough for the average small-business entrepeneur. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  2. Poetry doesn’t have a good solution. What you need is a customized blog editor that allows you to put start and end tags for verse. In plone, you could do that by creating custom classes which you could later use for reuse and other kinds of output.

    Another good solution is to use a lightweight markup language like restructured text which could then be rendered in a meaningful way. To my knowledge, though, none of these markup languages are well-suited to poetry, though I’d have to check.

    Jon Noring’s bookx dtd totally solves the problem of versification, but that doesn’t really help with a weblog cms. However, it’s a useful backend.

    Feedbooks has an “add poem” feature which I assume parses the input in a way friendly to poetry formatting.

    Finally, I wish to mention the 9.0 release of the Oxygen XML editor. Version 9 includes a more wysiwig feel and has a low-priced edition (under $50) for noncommercial/academic licenses. I was thinking of writing a review about it for teleread in the next week. Oxygen at that price is a good option if you are creating an xml document and uploading it into the CMS. You could rely on one template (maybe from bookx), upload it to the cms, and there you go.

    That said, poets haven’t really grasped the production or formatting issues. They are more fixated on the creativity issue, assuming that cut and paste will work for now.

  3. Robert, I’d love to see you review OxygenXML. I was looking at XML editors lately and the freely available ones seem to be rather limited.

  4. A very different perspective is offered in an article written in February 2008 by New York Times reporter Stephanie Rosenbloom. The article is entitled Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain, Below is an excerpt:

    Research shows that among the youngest Internet users, the primary creators of Web content (blogs, graphics, photographs, Web sites) are not misfits resembling the Lone Gunmen of “The X Files.” On the contrary, the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls.

    “Most guys don’t have patience for this kind of thing,” said Nicole Dominguez, 13, of Miramar, Fla., whose hobbies include designing free icons, layouts and “glitters” (shimmering animations) for the Web and MySpace pages of other teenagers. “It’s really hard.”

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