June 26, 2008
Quick update on Zivity
SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM.
Cyan Banister has written Calley Nye to tell her to tell me that Zivity was never a sponsor of Girl Geek Dinners. Okay.. all I can go on is this: Zivity was listed as a sponsor, or implied as a sponsor on the GGD SF site. I believe they removed it later, and I got email from the London GGD folks (who founded GGD) that they asked the SF folks to remove Zivity as a sponsor.
Wha? Cyan didn't realize this blog has comments? You can reach me here, and leave a comment. Or you can blog about it on your own site. Or you can read this blog, find the email, and tell me directly if you don't want to use social media tools to tell me.
Since Zivity, a social media porn company, is unwilling to use social media tools to set the record straight, well, I'm mystified but updating you to say, I *think* Zivity is denying they were a sponsor of the Girl Geek Dinners, but they won't say it publicly or to me directly.
In any event, we are still holding our Girl Geek Revolution (without the porn site speaker/photographers in attendance) at a networking event tonight at Sugar Cafe. Why revolution? Cause you gotta have one to get the porn outta your work, apparently.
Come have fun, network with girl geeks, eat a cupcake and have a cocktail. More info here at Calley Nye's blog.
A few days after the event, I learned from a documentary filmmaker, Cianna Stewart, working on a piece on Zivity, that Cyan had told her that Zivity had in fact paid for the photographers directly. So to my mind, they *were* a sponsor of the Girl Geek Dinners. This is akin to when an event is held, and a sponsor pays a vendor, say the lunch provider or a cocktail party provider, at an event directly. But they are listed as a sponsor in the event web page, and they are posted as a sponsor at the event through some signage. But that sponsor does not write the event makers a check.
So the idea that Zivity would send me a message through a third party, to tell me they had never sponsored Girl Geek Dinners, "never written a check directly to BAGGD" as evidence of this, and therefore I had the story wrong was, to my way of thinking about events, meant to mislead me and Calley Nye into thinking they had never been a sponsor. In fact, Cianna Stewart did confirm for me that she had seen the Girl Geek Dinners web page, and noted that Ziviity was originally listed as a sponsor below Facebook, but also later saw that Zivity was quietly removed from the sponsor list after our blog posts criticizing the combining of a porn company's sponsorship with GGD. Cianna also told me that Cyan/Zivity told her the sponsored photos would "belong to" Girl Geek Dinners. Which means Zivity paid for something at the GGD event that was akin to sponsorship.
Additionally, I went back to look at an early email from almost three weeks ago, when we were trying to meet with the Girl Geek Dinners organizer, Angie Chang, who describes "the Zivity and Girl Geek Dinner partnership" in an email to us. To my mind, a partnership, when you just invite someone to speak, is not necessary and people don't usually describe speaking arrangements that way. Lots of us speak at events and have no partnership with the event organizers. A partnership for an event is pretty much always around some kind of sponsorship, regardless of whether the money is paid directly to the event organizer or involves payment to a vendor who performs a service at the event, or a media sponsorship where a sponsor and event organizer essentially exchange advertisements about each other. In all instances, these are sponsorships.
So to me, Zivity *was* a sponsor of Girl Geek Dinners, and it was disingenuous at best, and lying at worst, for Cyan and Angie to claim that Zivity "never sponsored" GGD.
Come Tonight: Girl Geek Party Without The Porn Company
Tonight in SF at Sugar Cafe, 6-9pm.
We're calling it Girl Geek Revolution (okay that's a bit tongue in cheek, but apparently here you have to have a revolution to get a Girl Geek networking event without a porn company as
sponsor, speaker or sending their photographers to use their photos for who knows what -- but I'm sure when they stick them on flickr or their own site.. they'll be playing up your girl geek reputation and name to help legitimize their porn company).
Re: Zivity, the porn site. I checked out their site with a friend's login. He told me "...yeah.. it's a porn site by my standards." He went on to say that it's more analogous to Playboy, as in, you can see naked girls, posed in retro pinup style, with just a little twat showing, and while he thinks most men who watch hardcore porn (he characterizes that as video of one or more people actually having sex) will think it's cute porn.. and hopefully catch women they know there so they can tease them into going out with them, especially if they work with them, but they won't really use it because it doesn't have the porn they really want day-to-day, if they use porn, which is more hardcore.
That said, when I looked, I did note that it was basically full of Playboy style porn. Or like my friend's company in Berkeley, who for the past 10 years has done retro porn. That company gets real homemade "porn" from the 50s, 60s and 70s, mostly like Zivity's stuff. And he does well.. it's a beautifully done site, making him around $200k a month for the past several years. Anyone can submit and he approves and styles the pages. He's a designer by trade, so everything looks like the Zivity site.. which is.. very well styled.
However, there is a big difference between my friend's porn site and Zivity's porn site: Zivity lies to me in their tagline, by saying "It's not porn."
Red flags. Sorry.. I just don't like to be lied to.
And, they want it both ways: they want to say, "We're women founded (1 of the 3 founders is a woman), and support women by sharing the money, via our social network for porn but we're not porn!" That's nice.. better than many porn sites do with their "models."
But it's still porn, which is defined as, "Sexually explicit material meant to arouse people" according to the dictionary both online and at my house. It doesn't matter if you style it nicely.. it's still porn.
The other way Zivity wants it is to be not thought of porn, but rather to trade on Girl Geek cred, by
sponsoring, speaking at and providing a photographer to the Girl Geek Dinners. They want to be "in the community" of geeks and use our reputations to gain legitimacy at a work event, for their VC funded company. They want to seem like a woman founded company (33% wouldn't even cut the Women 2.0 pitch contest requirements) but Zivity's management is publicly stated as being all male, which is very similar to most porn companies where the men sell the women's images (straight men in porn don't get paid a lot and aren't what sells.. it's the pretty women that get you the cash.. hence Zivity's decision to just post women "models"... men may come later but I'll bet you it's gay men.. whose porn also brings in lots of cash).
But oopps, their founder (and former
CEO CMO) Cyan Banister (someone asked me if that was a real name, or a made up porn star name... don't know if it's made up or not.. sorry) took her shirt off at the top of a Techcrunch post. Exposing the lie that it's really a porn site. And using her body to get to the top.
And we are supposed to respect that on a business level, and lend our geek cred to this company that lies to us in their tagline? Don't think so.
Once Zivity decides to be honest, and just state that they are a porn company, and not use the porn to get legitimately geek press or work events to stand next to people and insinuate credibility as a VC funded startup just like everyone else (the porn just makes them different, and not at all appropriate for work), I might like them again. But until that changes.. I don't trust Zivity at all.
June 23, 2008
More on Girl Geeks - Yes, Zivity - No
Just a quick update to my last post.
Apparently the founder of Girl Geek Dinners, Sarah Blow, made GGD SF remove Zivity as a sponsor. I was told this from someone I met at PDF2008 who emailed her, which she forwarded. I didn't hear this directly. But it does explain why I had seen Zivity sponsorship there as a sponsor at the GGD SF website when I wrote about this originally.. and then it was gone without explanation. Couldn't figure out what happened.. but just got word of why it's gone. Blow didn't like Zivity sponsoring.. apparently she picked up on Zivity using the GGD sponsorship to buy cred with GGD.
A thought about the many women who work in jobs where they would prefer to not be sexualized at work because they are working with their brains don't have the power or control over their situations some of us do.
For example, I worked with a woman who was a single-mom legal secretary, w/ 7yr old son, severely mentally and physically retarded, who desperately needed the office provided insurance. The person I watched harass her, chose sex as the tool, knowing she was in a week position. It's the same as a child molester choosing the weakest kid around to go after because that kid doesn't have a good support network. Catholic priests come to mind, where there are many cases where they would pick a weaker kid over another stronger one to abuse.
The problem is, the weakest are vulnerable, without protections and standards for behavior. I wish it weren't the case, but I also recognize that when people can abuse someone, sometimes they will. Which brings us back to my point around GGD, which is that people feel bad about speaking out (I'm witnessing all the people telling me in person how upset they are about this GGD dinner/Zivity and yet, I'm one of a few writing or talking about it publicly. I'm trying to get them to blog about, but they are scared of being pinpointed as the woman who whines about this. I don't want to be that either, but someone has to say something).
And people who feel bad about it are often also the ones coerced into doing something they don't want to do... like allowing themselves to be sexualized at work, to be forced to be "hot" first and maybe then be good at their jobs, worth funding, worth hiring for a leadership role. It's unfortunate that we live with that in our culture. But why put women even more in that position, with a Girl Geek Dinner originally to be sponsored by Zivity (sponsorship has now been removed by the founder, as I mentioned above) with Zivity speaking and taking photos.
By going to the dinner, it feels as if you are asked to support and agree with Zivity in this implicit way... to put up with the photos thing (where do the photos go, and you have to ask: who owns them and when do they show up on Zivity's blog to show how cool they are associating with Girl Geeks?). It's just bad for professional women to be put in this position.
What's interesting about Zivity is that they want it both ways: tech company with woman founder, girl geek cred, sort of a "we're just like everyone else so don't segregate us for being in porn" thing, and at the same time, they really work the porn to get as much publicity as possible. Cyan wants geek cred, and wants to take her shirt off for Techcrunch and did their thing at Techcrunh40 where they walked around with company promotion on their breasts and ass. In the end, they are a porn company, and if it's okay for them to sponsor/speak/photograph Girl Geeks, then why isn't it okay for Girls Gone Wild to do the same? And how bout Penthouse and Playboy?
In the 70's Playboy tried to sponsor a lot of women's groups and events, but most wouldn't take the money because those women felt it was "blood money" derived from the objectification of women sexually, and here were those groups trying to make a place for women where they didn't have to be "hot first," where they wouldn't have to be sexualized at work, where they could be successful the way men can be, and it didn't have to be about their bodies first.
So one founder of Zivity is a woman. Have you looked at their team page? Of the three founders, one is a Cyan, but she's not CEO, and there is only one other woman at the company (user experience analyst). It's not like they went out and aggressively hired women engineers. They are like any other porn company.. mostly all men, exploiting women, to make money. They share 80% of their income with the women? How generous.. just a bit more than Suicide Girls. But isn't it really just the same thing?
June 20, 2008
Latest on Rogers Cadenhead, MBA and AP
AP seems to have given a statement to Paid Content about the bruhaha the past few days:
In response to questions about the use of Associated Press content on the Drudge Retort web site, the AP was able to provide additional information to the operator of the site, Rogers Cadenhead, on Thursday. That information was aimed at enabling Mr. Cadenhead to bring the contributed content on his site into conformance with the policy he earlier set for his contributors. Both parties consider the matter closed.
In addition, the AP has had a constructive exchange of views this week with a number of interested parties in the blogging community about the relationship between news providers and bloggers and that dialogue will continue. The resolution of this matter illustrates that the interests of bloggers can be served while still respecting the intellectual property rights of news providers.
I find it a total non-statement and completely bizarre.
Also, Robret Cox of Media Bloggers Association is supposed to be on Blog Talk Radio at 3 pm EST today. I probably won't be able to listen until halfway through.. at 12:30 PST/3:30 EST this afternoon as I have a meeting.
Hope they have a podcast later.
And hope that some real information about yesterday's meeting between Cadenhead / Cox and Jim Kennedy at the AP comes out.
My questions include:
1. what is the status of the 7 C&D notices from AP to Cadenhead?
2. what is AP going to do in future?
3. what was the tone of the meeting and who was there?
4. what agreements came out of the meeting and can we see them?
5. what precedent does this set for future blogger quotes and interactions with AP?
Hoping these and other questions will be addressed in the radio interview later today.
June 19, 2008
Hot Head Bloggers vs. Cool Headed Journalists
More on the AP/Rogers Cadenhead story (covered already here and http://napsterization.org/stories/archives/000700.html).
So.. Saul Hansell sez in his condescending and rude blogpost: The A.P., Hot News and Hotheaded Blogs,
There was a lot of anger in the blogosphere last week over The Associated Press's assertion that some blogs were infringing its copyright by publishing excerpts of its articles. When I finally reached Jim Kennedy, an Associated Press vice president, he told me that the news agency now feels its demand was heavy-handed and was rethinking its policies.
What it really sez: bloggers are out of control little children having temper tantrums.
Since when is passion for your craft and the right to free speech, and belief in Fair Use as a constitutional right, something bloggers should be casual about?
A number of bloggers I respect a great deal didn't find the A.P.'s openness to their ideas to be enough and have declared war on it. As someone who is both a blogger and an employee of a mainstream news organization, I worry that this hotheaded response is part of what gives blogs a bad name. And it doesn't reflect the complexity of the underlying questions, which can be traced back to when the telegraph was the revolutionary technology of the day.
What it really sez: I respect you, even if you are out of control at times. But since I'm the parent and your the children, let me school you on how to think about this. Because otherwise you'll hurt yourselves even more.
The current dust-up involves seven blog posts on the Drudge Retort (not the bigger Drudge Report) that contained short excerpts of A.P. articles. Last week, the A.P. demanded that the Drudge Retort remove the posts because they violated its copyright. Mr. Kennedy now says the news agency plans to create new guidelines for how blogs can use its material, after discussions with representatives of blogging groups and others.
What it really sez: you bloggers get into these tiffs all the time, and now one of yours has been spanked with C&Ds to remove the quotes he overused. But the nice man at AP will create guidelines for you, after meeting with your institutional representative (hopefully a grown up).
In reaction to what Mr. Kennedy said in that article, Michael Arrington declared on TechCrunch: "So here's our new policy on A.P. stories: they don't exist." Jeff Jarvis, on BuzzMachine, wrote: "Back off, A.P. Because we won't."
What it really sez: evidence that you bloggers are out of control.
This is followed by examples of the hot news doctrine, what AP could do to handle the situation and a little history. Consider yourselves schooled.
At the end of the article, it's particularly rude and condescending:
I don't know what the A.P. will do. But neither do the bloggers calling for a boycott of the A.P. (By the way, that's a silly concept as none of these blogs actually pays the A.P. any money. If CBS News or The Huffington Post -- an A.P. client -- began a boycott, that might hurt.)
What it really sez: You bloggers are so silly, how can you boycott something you don't pay for? You can't hurt the AP. (Um, what about all those links and traffic driven to AP articles.. I believe attention is the most valuable thing on the internet, and if that's true, and bloggers stop linking and sending readers, well, that's a huge loss!)
Mr. Jarvis, in particular, often talks about blogging as a conversation. It seems like the A.P. wants to talk, and many bloggers would prefer a temper tantrum to a discussion.
What it really sez: You bloggers want to converse but like little children, throwing temper tantrums, you are being spiteful about conversing here.
So, if I were to follow what Saul sez, I would believe that I was a little child, out of control, refusing to talk, and he was the calm, cool, collected dad, who will set things straight, make me see reason, and stop quoting those darned AP stories or thinking I have any power with my linking habits, before I go have a talk with the nice folks at AP.
Saul, please. The narrative and tone in your post isn't a good one to get anyone to "see reason." It's parental and I'm an adult. Let's start over, and try this again.
How about a headline like: Bloggers, Passionate about Their Fair Use Rights, Defend Them Vigorously
More on the Media Bloggers Association and AP - Need Retraction/Correction From AP/NYT
This is a follow up to my post a couple of days ago, detailing the AP situation and protesting their request that bloggers just use AP summaries of stories, not quote from (per fair use) their stories, and their C&D notices to Rogers Cadenhead of Drudge Retort.
Since then, AP and the NYTimes have written stories that are partially (NYTimes) or totally (in the case of AP) untrue. While I can understand how people from large institutions might only be able to understand that another "institution" (such as it is, Media Bloggers Association) might have the same buy in, power or whatever to exist (they don't represent all bloggers) and negotiate some kind of blogger policy, AP and NYT need to "correct" and restate their stories.
Note that the NYTimes article says this which is the misleading paragraph:
Mr. Kennedy said the company was going to meet with representatives of the Media Bloggers Association, a trade group, and others. He said he hopes that these discussions can all occur this week so that guidelines can be released soon.
Media Bloggers Association, per the reporting by Culture Kitchen, did not say they were "representing all bloggers" to get some sort of policy worked out with AP, but rather, at Rogers' request, are representing *his case only,* in order to deal with the 7 C&D notices AP sent him.
The NYT (is implying) and AP in its headline and throughout the article outright, completely misunderstand this, and lead readers to misunderstand that there is even an institution that can "negotiate for the blogosphere." The blogophere is made up of millions of little spheres of conversation and influence, and those are made up of tens of millions of bloggers. It's utterly ridiculous and shows a complete lack of understanding of the blogosphere to believe there is some sort of institution on the other side of traditional media. The whole point of blogging is that people do what they want, that online publishing is completely atomized, and that if some sort of policy were to be negotiated with one small group, no one else would likely follow it *because Fair Use exists* and I would personally rather follow the constitution on this one.
I think it's time for a correction/restatement/clarification at NYT and a complete retraction at AP.
June 17, 2008
Girl Geek Dinner Yes; Porn Sponsor No
Glad to see you are doing another girl geek dinner.
I wanted to pass along my thought when i saw that Zivity was sponsoring the dinner and speaking.
I'm guessing that they got a lot of flack for the CEO taking of her shirt at the top of Techcrunch from women in SV. Seeing that hardly any women get a Techcrunch feature, many women, myself included, concluded that the message was the way to get on TC was to take your shirt off. I thought the video itself was funny, but it just didn't belong on TC and sexualizes the business of creating a startup by women. It just feels uncomfortable.
Then seeing that Zivity was hosting and speaking here.. I'm guessing that they were trying to get back into the good graces of tech women by doing this.
About 10 women have commented to me today (at Supernova) that they are appalled by Zivity and Girl Geek Dinner collaborating.
It's not that we object to porn, just to the using (or appearance of using) girl geeks to get back their cred. Even if that’s not what's happening from their perspective, the rest of us who would like to *not* be sexualized and objectified in our work lives really find the Zivity association disconcerting.
I hope you aren't being used, but I also won't attend on Thursday night because I don't want to support Zivity.
One other thing not in my comment: I would not want to have a Zivity photography taking photos of women at this event for Girl Geeks. It's a professional event.. and further promotes in this context the sexualization of women at work. It would be fine at a fun event.. but not this dinner.
June 16, 2008
Associated Press C&Ds Rogers Cadenhead, Gets Boycotted by Bloggers
What's going on is this: Rogers Cadenhead received 7 C&Ds from the Associated Press, because he quoted from their articles in Drudge Retorted. My view in looking his quotes is that they fall absolutely under fair use (they are all within the range of a paragraph quotes from 39 to 75 words) per Saul Hansell of NYTimes.
AP has said: "when we feel the use is more reproduction than reference, or when others are encouraged to cut and paste" they will go after people, but Saturday, Jim Kennedy of AP backed off some and said the C&Ds had been heavy handed and they would review their blogger policy. And now, their executives have decided to suspend the earlier decision to go after people like Rogers Cadenhead due to links to their articles (um.. those bloggers were doing AP a favor linking..) and quotes. But at least according to other's reports, AP hasn't withdrawn the C&Ds from Rogers.
Jim Kennedy also said they want bloggers to use "summaries" of their articles, not direct quotes (huh? Fisking is impossible and quotes are key to getting at issues!) and therefore will keep the C&Ds in place because they "... feel the use is more reproduction than reference..."
I've been watching this with a lot of consternation the past few days.. I think AP is wrong here, and until they remove the C&Ds and agree that quotes are fair use, I think the blogosphere, and the IP crowd are right to push back and call for things like boycott.
Richard Kastelein of Atlantic Free Press created Unassociated press and has even come up with a badge for the boycott:
Culture Kitchen is reporting on the boycott here with a great summary of events.
Updated: Jeff Jarvis reports on the giant hole.