Launching the New DoubleXEconomy
The new DoubleXEconomy site is intended to continue my personal blog, but feature the work of others more prominently. We will be hoping to create a community space for those who are committed to women’s economic empowerment and would like to become a central repository for important articles and reports. But we also want to be fun and beautiful. We think we are well on our way there!
Welcome to our new concept for the DoubleXEconomy!
I started this site in 2009 as a personal blog. To be honest, I envisioned it as a way to communicate mostly with a small circle of people in Oxford and a place to post research documents. The idea had been pressed upon me by two graduate students, who felt that the stuff I was saying in class needed to be accessible in a more permanent and public form.
Alun Ward, of Eye Division in Oxford, set the site up and my daughter’s college roommate, Perrin Braun, connected it up to Twitter and Facebook and taught me to use it. I can remember that the first day all this was “live,” I was followed by 200 people. I felt like I was being stalked. It was terrifying. I never dreamed anyone would read what I wrote. Perrin explained that she had asked her friends on Facebook to check it out, just to see if things were working. After that, I felt reassured and, really, worked for a long time as if I were standing alone on a mountain top, shouting into the wind.
Soon, though, I found that, in fact, the people in my circle at Oxford were actually reading the blog—in part because they kept sending me links and saying “You should blog about this!” Then, we started noting some pretty important people following on Twitter and after that, the enterprise became more intentional.
Writing this blog became very much a personal meditative ritual. Sometimes, the content grew as personal as the process. I was surprised and gratified to find that the personal reflections were often the ones people enjoyed most. Finding a voice between public commentary and private reflection has been an important area of growth for me. (I confess that my favorite two comments were that my voice was “between wonky and snarky” and that the blog was sometimes “snot-through-the-nose funny.”)
It has been an interesting journey. I have made many friends through this blog—people who reach out to respond to something I have written, often strangers from another part of the world. And, especially when we started to use the blog to promote Power Shift, a community began to form.
In the past few years, I have felt like the original vision of a single person’s blog had become much too constrained. I wanted the community to be reflected in the content, as well as to be able to report on all the cool things people were doing. I wanted to see commentary on a much broader array of topics than I could possibly write on myself. I wanted to be the repository for important reports on women’s empowerment—done by others, not just me. And I wanted to have ways of engaging the readership in research on important topics, such as the marketing survey we did for Power Shift this year. But I did not want to lose the outlet of the personal blog. I found that I had really come to love writing in this form and, particularly, to hear the things people thought about in response to what I had written.
Then, in a middle-of-the-night flash, I decided that I wanted to turn DoubleXEconomy into an online news and commentary venue much like The Economist—only for women. This concept would allow a running news and commentary service, but also individual voices to write editorials and cultural commentary of all sorts. Most importantly, though, it would create a space where economic trends and events could be reinterpreted with the impact on women in view.
Especially as Power Shift grew, it became more and more important to make DoubleXEconomy into a community space. The activist turn that “Power Shifters” have taken is one of the most gratifying outcomes of this whole process.
I asked a few people what they thought of this idea and was encouraged that many thought it was not only an interesting concept, but a needed service. So, for that past six months, Asia Elsner, Cindy Drakeman, and Alun Ward have been working on a visual template that would fit the new future for DoubleXEconomy. And that is what you see here today.
The first step was to get a “look.” I remember Cindy Drakeman (who has worked with me on women’s empowerment at Oxford since 2012) chatting with me many times (over wine, of course) about what we wanted in terms of appearance. We wanted DoubleXEconomy to have content like The Economist, especially the writing style, but we did not want to look so “establishment.” I kept saying, “I want it to be beautiful and fun.” And I always said I wanted it to look like Oprah’s magazine, at which point Cindy would roll her eyes. She worked hard to analyze mastheads and magazine covers and came up with a strategy that borrowed from the high-end fashion magazines. Then Asia and Alun worked on making it all come true. I think it looks really great (as good as Oprah!).
As you will see, my blog is still here. As I will explain soon, I have been on a personal hiatus from blogging since January, but I am back and ready to write again! However, you can see also that we are now putting other people’s work “front and center.” Especially with the growth of Power Shift, we have had many more people wanting to write for DoubleXEconomy and we are grateful for their contributions. This is the part of the site we will be focusing on most for growth in the direction we want to go.
You will see a few experiments, too. For instance, during all these years of fieldwork, Jim, my husband, has been taking extraordinary photographs of women, but also men, children, housewares, landscapes, flowers, animals, and many other objects. Our idea is to post a different image each week as the “background” for the site and tell the story behind it in the “Behind the Image” panel. This way, Jim’s work, too, will have a more public and permanent stage.
You will see that we also have a little calendar feature that tells what has been going on in the past week in the arena of women’s economic empowerment. We are experimenting with this feature, as it is based on some new work we are doing, so you will likely see it morph into different treatments over time. Our hope, though, is to eventually become the place where people come to see what events and reports are breaking news in this important domain, as well as to plan their calendar of events
Perhaps the most important goal for the new DoubleXEconomy team is to present economic news with a view to the impact on women. Watch the emergence of the What Does It Mean for Women buttons for this stream. (OK, Asia wanted to call it “WDiM4W.” It seems younger and more digital, doesn’t it?).
Finally, there is a concept that really lies at the core of this new launch: What It Means for Women. This feature addresses a phenomenon Cindy and I both have observed quite a few times: we see a major news story told repeatedly, raked over endlessly, and yet never examined for the impact on the female half of the species. The recent Brexit vote is a particularly good example of a political decision that had major import for women, but those issues were never discussed either by the proponents or the press. So, we hope to fix that problem via this addition. There will be buttons that feature news items like “Brexit” that you will click for a pithy statement on the take for women–with the option to click through to more detail. It will take us a little time to populate the texts behind these little buttons, but we hope you will keep looking as they grow into a regular stream of analysis you will not get anywhere else. So “watch this space,” “coming soon,” and all that!
I do want to thank all the people who worked on this new look and vision. Cindy Drakeman and Asia Elsner, especially. Alun Ward, for sure. Always Julia Flynn. And for last minute aid, Astrid Van Den Bossche. Thanks, too, to all those readers and Power Shift folks who have made the past seven years such a remarkable journey.