August 01, 2005

The Speaker's Wiki: I need your help!

I just blogged the Speaker's Wiki in my previous post. But I wanted to explain a little more about it and what it is.

First, it is an open wiki for anyone to post themselves or another speaker. There is an alphabetical list of speakers, but that presumes you know who to look for or have the time to read through peoples information by name. However, with Categories, conference organizers can find people with expertise in art or law or who are researchers or CEOs (yes.. many executive conferences want CEOs or high level executives to talk). I encourage you all to add new categories (which are really tags) to allow people to be found this way.

I've seeded it with about 50 women, but I want men and women to be put themselves up. The goal is to show conference organizers that when they are looking to have a panel or talk on an area that there are many folks to choose from. I will be adding more men, but this effort comes from a need we discussed at Blogher, where organizers often say they can't think of any women who are expert enough to talk, or they just chose those they could find in their usual circles.

I want to broaden the circles, get more voices out there and make more opportunities for all of us. The wiki is also an effort to make information explicit and easily edit-able by anyone, that in the past has often been locked up in Speaker Service Bureaus. Those are often about money, but there is a kind of power in speaking. People chosen to speak do interesting things or are in high level positins, which they are asked to discuss. This is followed by those at the talk who blog it or come up to ask about future projects and ideas, further causing those speakers to become known as thought leaders in their fields. And then, they get asked again to speak, lead projects, join advisory boards, etc. Also, often men ask to speak but women don't know to ask, or don't feel invited, or don't know about the events to begin with, so organizers need to reach out a bit if they want to cover more than the white male perspective. It's a fine perspective, but we also have the whole rest of the world out there with interesting things to say.

The speaker's wiki is one way to get us moved beyond the rut we are in, with too few speakers asked to talk over and over, and not enough new voices. And it is a way to find people based on their expertise, verses having to know them by name. Once a potential speaker is found, there is an opportunity to find out more by going through the usual word-of-mouth channels.

So go add yourselves or others you think want to speak!

Also, a HUGE thanks to Socialtext for hosting this wiki, contributing once again to the community by sharing their wares for the public good!

Update: if you are having trouble getting in to the wiki, email me at mary at

Posted by Mary Hodder at August 1, 2005 11:44 AM | TrackBack

One of the best ideas to come out of the conference.

Say - does there happen to be a section on "how I became a conference speaker"?

Posted by: AF at August 1, 2005 01:19 PM

As a conference organizer myself (MeshForum - I welcome this new resource. I'll try to add some of the great speakers we had at MeshForum (nearly evenly split between men and woman I'm very proud to say) as only Esther Dyson is currently on the wiki.

(I'm male by the way, but also available as a speaker)


Posted by: Shannon Clark at August 1, 2005 01:37 PM

The correct URL for the wiki is:

Posted by: Ross Mayfield at August 1, 2005 02:21 PM

That's fantastic. Exactly the effect we want.. that this wiki is a resource to help us get more interesting speaker lists with more variety. Also, please do put yourself in there.. the point is to talk about interesting people, not just women.


Posted by: mary hodder at August 1, 2005 02:27 PM

We've had the same "problem" with conferences in Quebec. This is a great idea!

Posted by: Martine at August 1, 2005 06:15 PM