Wednesday 30 March 2011

What do bis want?

A bold and overly ambitious title, so I'll reduce my scope in two big steps right away by asking making it "what do people who visit the Bi Community News website want" and then basing my answer on what sections of the website they browse, which is an answer limited to the things that are there for them to look for. If most visitors actually want slash fiction, they won't be showing up here, cos it ain't there.

In the past month - since BCN went over to the new website - the most popular bits of the website according to the analytics data are:

1) The home page.
2) The local groups listings
3) Resources info
4) Subscribe (if only they all did!)
5) Bi Sex & The City, our relationships advice column
6) Both Directions (the guide to the bi scene)
7) Diary of a Crap Lesbian, more relationships and dating stuff
8) Back issues
9) BiCrushing, again relationships stuff, from a different angle
10) Latest stories

What does this tell us?

First, that whatever's linked prominently off the front page attracts people. No shocks there. Second, that people are looking for advice about love and dating, in total in similar numbers to those looking for real-life meetings and advice. And third, that the "subscribe now" page needs to be more hard-hitting to convert all those visitors into subscribers!

I think one of my next tasks with that website might be varying the front page material to see how that affects where people navigate to.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Say what?

And now with subtitles... A while ago I looked at the very shiny videos that came out of BiReCon 2010 and thought, these could do with a bit more work. I've already variously posted transcripts of them (with, on more recent listening, the odd word awry - sorry!); I suggested that subtitled versions of the videos would be good thinking someone else might have the skills and a little time and take the idea up.

Well, no-one else did that, so now I've started work on putting subtitles on each film so that people who are deaf, h-o-h or whose main languages are not English have a better experience of the videos. It takes a bit of voom and my life's quite busy in places so they are happening on a one-or-two-a-week basis, but getting there.

Here are the first few:
* Robyn Ochs: Why we need to 'get bi'
* Anna Einarsdottir: Civil partnerships
* Miguel Obradors: biphobia

It's been very interesting starting to play with video software and quietly inspiring some thoughts on other work I want to do with youtubey material.

Monday 7 March 2011

It's not that easy being purple

I thought I'd share a (very debateable!) bit of thinky theory I was having a while ago with the wider world.

One of the reliable old debates to set gay and bi teeth on edge is the "who has it easier?" one about the LG and the BBB ends of LGB. I shall try to render it here: try to imagine the voice of The Book in Hitch Hiker's guide for this bit, and some line art graphics of people arguing, example images and all that.

"Lesbians and gay men have it easier" say bis. "They have gay bars, special dress codes and haircuts so they can recognise one another, a sense of community fostered by a more similar experience of sexuality. They are better represented in the media and their sexuality is - after a lot of hard fighting that we helped with - taken seriously and respected in a way that ours is still not".

"Ah no," say the gays, "bisexuals are the ones who have it easier, they have the chance of being in a relationship that gives them heterosexual privelige, they blend into mainstream society. They don't have such a strong political profile because they never had it so tough".

"Urk." The bis pause then retort with, "but look at these stats on things like mental health, they show that we have a rougher deal than you do. And there is so much more work done that is targeting lesbians and especially gay men on things like sexual health, whereas it's assumed we will pick up the straight leaflet and the gay leaflet and work out how to interpose everything neatly together for ourselves."

Both sides of the argument are quite sure they're right.

So, I wonder if what is going on is like this: first, that the conversation above is a kind of class-based analysis, in other words, it leads to sweeping statements that are a pile of steaming piffle when it comes to actual lives. All gay men do not have the same experience of oppression, ditto all bi women, etc. Everyone's experience of oppression is complex and varies through their life and indeed the course of each day.

So it might go a bit more like this diagram here. Pink line for gay/lesbian, purple line for bis. If bi folk tend toward one end of the range of experience or the other, and gay to the centre, then both observations would hold. Because of the options of mixed-sex relationships, more bis would have a low-stress experience of how their sexual orientation affected their lives than would be the case for lesbians and gay men. At the other end of the range of experience, because there is more of an infrastructure of support for gay people, those bis who needed more support would find it lacking and so be pushed further to the right hand end of the graph - even moreso than for lesbians and gay men who might be more likely to be able to find the help and support they needed.

This might also explain why there is more support for lesbians and gay men than for bis: if you are up at the right hand end of the graph, it's probably harder to give support to others since your own needs are quite pressing. Whereas the bulge in the middle of the gay curve causes more people to think that there needs to be something and that they can find the time and energy to make it happen.

I stress, this is just a thinky exercise. I've got no research data, just a bit of a thought that came to me a while ago!