… to borrow a phrase from the more experienced editor in my house. I’ve seen a few posts that seem to be looking at the composition of the attendance at BlogNashville and assuming it can be extrapolated to show the composition of the blogosphere. Yes, it was a lot more white and male than I might prefer. It also, with the exception of the session leaders, was a completely self-selecting group with the time, money and inclination for whatever reason to spend an intense weekend (or just a day) in Nashville with blogging as the common interest. The location tipped the balance in some directions but anyone who wanted to come had an equal shot at attending. I had the same reaction when there were complaints about the small number of conservatives at BloggerCon III. Last time I checked California was full of Republicans and Palo Alto doesn’t require a visa.
That doesn’t mean we have to be satisfied with the results when broadly based conferences wind up with a narrow attendance pool. (No matter what you do, odds are at least a third,
if not more, will come from within a few hours of the location.) What can be done? Publicize conferences as widely as possible in as many different venues as possible. Encourage people who might not otherwise choose to attend or might not know about the opportunity. Look for ways to offer scholarships. Make sure the marketing language is inclusive, not exclusive. Ditto for the conference site. Other ideas? Please add them in the comments area.