17 January 2013
Tech Culture

The Same Old Faces

I occasionally hear people grumbling on Twitter about the "same old faces" appearing in web design magazines and at conferences. As somebody who takes an active interest in nurturing new talent, I'd hate to think that a deliberate "glass ceiling" had been erected to prevented new people from progressing in our industry.

With the ubiquity of self-publishing tools and grass roots events, it certainly doesn't feel like there are any major impediments to getting your message out. In fact I'd say it was easier to share your knowledge today, than at any time in history.

Maybe this is the problem? There are just so many people sharing that it's becoming impossible to get heard? Pundits in the music industry argue that today's networked society makes another Elvis or Michael Jackson an impossibility. Instead we're entering into a world of musical diversity.

I think this argument holds some water. After all the networked society favours people with the biggest networks, and one way to do this is to have been there from the start. Starting conditions mater and various scientific experiments have shown that the artists at top of a randomised list end up becoming dominant, irrespective of the quality of their work.

The funny thing is that I'm constantly reading articles or sitting in conferences listening to people I'd not heard of 2-3 years ago, andwhat they have to say is super interesting.

I think a lot of this has to do with the perception of time on the Internet. It can take years for people to graduate from writing a few blogs posts to taking their first steps on stage. By the time this happens—if you've been paying attention—they already feel like one of the "usual suspects".

Interestingly I've had conversations with at least 3 speakers who on their second or third talk ever, were already being lumped in with the "same old faces". So I think more and more people are breaking through. People just seem to become part of the "establishmen"t much quicker than they used to.