Sunday, March 14, 1999

SXSW Women on the Web

Panels at the conference were broken down into four different tracks: Web Business, Publishing, Entertainment and The Technological Frontier. Panels started on Sunday, March 14th and ranged from a case study on, to Jaime Levy of Electronic Hollywood speaking on a panel about "Adding Animation to your Site," to Heather Gold of Zing Network and Tangent (a live alternative comedy show) speaking on "Where Web Entertainment is Going."

I stopped by Aliza Sherman's (Cybergrrl) panel to hear Heather Irwin of EstroNet, Ellen Pack (, Janelle Brown (Salon, Maxi), Heidi Swanson (Chickclick) and Maura Johnston ( speak on how they started their sites and other issues revolving around design, community and making money.

All women spoke of the advantages of viral marketing and befriending journalists. If you become a resource for them, they might be inclined to help you out. In that vein, helping each other out in general was advised because "when one of us succeeds, all of succeed."

Here are some other thoughts:
On Interactivity: Ellen Pack touted "me-centric" programming as something she'd like to see more of, this interactivity based on the user will help the web be more useful.

On sharing: Maura Johnston told us about a section on that was devoted to body hair. Next to each woman's post on the BBS was a little icon of what kind of body hair she was discussing in her post, with another icon showing what method of removal she was referring to. Maura cited this as a beautiful example of women sharing information, stories and ideas, which is one of the strengths about women and their use of the net.

One of my personal thoughts on women and the Internet, which has been covered in magazines from Forbes to Wired to Self, is on how and why women will take over the Net. The very nature of the Net is collaborative, interactive and intuitive, which are all precepts that women understand inherently and excel in.

On Audiences: Janelle Brown encouraged long-winded writers with a lot to say with the thought that maybe short pithy web sites aren't always appropriate. Maybe your readers want long, thoughtful diatribes. Maybe short and pithy isn't good enough for them.

A woman from the audience inquired about if there are any sites geared for women over 35. After mentioning and the discussion addressed demographics and how there aren't many sites necessarily geared for the "Sandwich" generation--it's still very youth driven and oriented with a gap till the very large senior demographic.

Molly Steenson of Maximag encourage everyone, "if you don't see it--create it!" On this note, Fazia, a woman from Pakistan recounted how she started her own site in 1994 as a way to tell her new friends about herself, the Internet and Pakistani women. (

Local webmistress heroine Nikol Lohr of "The Disgruntled" chirped up and plugged her new site "" and told us she's looking for writers and other people interested in contributing.

The panel ended on a great note of "get out there and just do it" and "collaborate!"