13 February 2008

To Represent His Entire Gender

From Calvin Reid’s report for Publishers Weekly on this year's O'Reilly Tools of Change for Publishing Conference:

The conference closed with a panel of New York–area teens in a session that examined the ways in which they consume media. They were all terrific: funny, thoughtful and charming, and they answered patiently when Stephen Abram and members of the audience poked and prodded them with questions about their lifestyles, school life, how they use their cellphones, what they read and more.

But even here, a little diversity--and not just ethnic diversity--would have helped. The panel featured seven upper-middle-class girls (Abram said two boys didn't show up) and one 22-year-old college guy who was clearly drafted at the last minute to represent his entire gender--not a single minority teen or outer borough public-school kid. But no matter--the kids they chose were open and delightful, and at the end the session the audience gave them a rousing round of applause.
Why do I think that not being able to secure even one teenaged boy willing to talk about what and how he reads does matter? (Perhaps if the conference had asked for comments via YouTube.)

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