The following was written by Dr Beth Snow as my official BlogHer 2008 Conference correspondent. You can read more from Beth on her blog: Not To Be Trusted with Knives and she’ll be reporting back here throughout the weekend.
Michelin is providing over 200 tonnes of carbon offsets to make up for the environmental impact of all the people staying in the hotel and all flights of everyone flying to be here. So that makes me feel a bit better about taking 3 flights in the last month. But now there’s a really lame slide show with like photos of the Michelin Man on the SF cable car. And ZOMG a friggin’ person dressed up as the Michelin Man is parading around the room. Is this for real?
Morning Keynote – HybridMedia: How We Will All Work Together to Build a Converged-Media Future
People from Redbook, Essence and BravoTV talking about how they use blogging and such
Apparently Redbook is evenly distributed across the US, except in Oregon and Washington State. I wonder what’s up in the Pacific Northwest?
The women on the panel from Redbook is having lots of sex with her boyfriend. Just thought you all wod want to know.
When asked a question about businesses using blogs to sell stuff (as opposed to the appreciation many people have for the genuineness of personal blogs), one panelist responded: “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” We live in a capitalist society and companies do what they need to do to build their brand/preserve their piece of the pie.
If everyone’s exit strategy is “I want to get bought out by Google or Microsoft,” then we will never get another Google or Microsoft.
Pursuing Your Passion Never Gets Old
I went to this session with high expectations, as I really do blog out of passion and was eager to hear about others’ experiences with this. I don’t have a consistent theme or topic – I talk about pretty much whatever catches my interest (or my “passion” even) – and if something really pisses me off, or makes me laugh, or challenges me to think, that’s the type of thing I like to blog about.
On how many people don’t realize that Twitter is Googlable: “Your grandmother will totally be on Twitter in 6 months.”
“Linking to your old postings (which I totally do all the time) was just described by Evany as “I like making my blog like a “Choose Your Own Adventure”.” I used to love CYOA books!
“People who start focussing more on increasing their traffic seem to lose their passion.” Personally, I don’t focus on traffic1, and I think that’s a good thing, because I’m notoriously bad at knowing what people actually want to read (When I spend time on crafting what I think is an intelligent, thought-provoking piece, I get no response. When I blog about something I think is inane, like shampoo or flip-flop induced toe injuries, I get tonnes of comments).
From the audience about not focussing on pandering to your audience: “If you don’t want to read it, don’t read it!”
There is a fetish for everything – so someone will be interested in whatever thing you want to write about.
Someone just said that like 97% of blogs get 12 readers or less. I wonder where that stat came from. If true, it actually makes me feel better about my numbers. Which I just said I don’t care about.
Someone just pointed out that Dooce is in the back row and the crowd started screaming like schoolgirls at a NKOTB concert2.
“I love when I go to an event and then I can run home and read on someone’s blog about what JUST HAPPENED!” (I think it was Evany that said that).
This is definitely the best session I’ve been to so far. It’s great to hear people talking about blogging just for the love of it. Writing about what interests you and whoever likes it, likes it and whoever doesn’t, well, who cares.
Feminism & Gender
I was really excited to see there was going to be a feminism & gender session. The size of the group was disappointingly small (maybe 15 people showed up, and this is a conference with 1000 delegates in attendance), but fortunately the awesomeness of the women who did show up made this a great session. The session was unstructured, with each of the participants talking a bit about who they are and what topics in feminism interest them most now. And by the time we got around to everyone, we only had 5 minutes left. So that kind of sucked – we just finally got to the point where we were ready for discussion, but there was no time. I got a big pile of cards, and a number of things to think about them, so I’ll for sure be checking out those blogs and blogging about them in the upcoming days. For now, check out Heroine Content, a blog about action movies from a feminist and anti-racist perspective. Because I, just as the author of this blog said in this session, enjoy movies with things that blow up.
Can You Take Back Naked Blogging?
I’ve learned recently that titles matter. And this session has the kind of title that catches an audience’s attention. Reading the description of the session, I discovered that “naked blogging” refers to personal blogging, with the idea being that our openness on personal blogs can leave us bare. And vnerable. And sometimes this openness can lead to things “unpleasant,” “ugly,” and “even dangerous”.
The panelists (and some audience members) shared their experiences in this realm. Like people posting Photoshopped pictures of their kids. Or having their Social Security Numbers posted online and delivered to numerous listservs. Unbelievable stuff.
Some people have talked about some really, really awf things that commenters have said on their blog (which they asked that people don’t blog about it, so I won’t talk about specifics here, but trust me – awf). And what do you do about horrible commenters, who say nasty, hurtf things in your comment section and their presecence starts to ruin the blog you love? Panelists talked about how they used to have a sense of security until some horrible people came along and said horrible things to them, but that they then come to realize their sense of security was false. And really all you can do is realize that these people don’t matter, and that, really, their lives must be a little sad.
Another person suggested that it’s important to find a safe community to be with, and if you want to post things that might be controversial/that you think the trolls might glom onto, post it on a protected/confidential secondary blog.
Another person said that you can ask someone else to moderate your comments for you – the person can just delete them so that you don’t have to read that horrible stuff. And you shouldn’t have to read that horrible stuff.
Someone else suggested that unless the trolls are putting dangerous things in the comments, just leave their nasty comments on your site. Others will see that they are just jerks.
Lots of fans of Live Journal, where you can password protect your entries so only the people you want to read something.
One panelist said that she was able to have things taken down off of Archive.org by asking them.
Someone else mentioned that U.S. political donations are public information – so how much you donated to Hiliary Clinton – and your address – are posted on the Internet. (via @ccarfi: on Twitter, my attention was drawn to this site).
Closing Keynote: Living the Truman Show
A conversation with Heather Armstrong from Dooce and Stephanie Klein from Greek Tragedy3.
Klein calls her ex-husband the “was-band.” I might steal that.
In response to “Did blogging change how you go about your life?”4 Klein: “Did it mean I went on horrible dates just so I’d have something to blog about? Yes.” Armstrong: “I will tell my husband “We have to have hot sex tonight because I need the content.””
Klein: After getting married and having kids, people were like “Oh, you are a Mommy blogger.” Or if she blogs about her weight, “Oh, you are about body image.” Her advice: “Don’t let people pigeon-hole you.”
Armstrong says that strangers will say, “Wow, it’s so weird that I know everything about you!” And she’s like “No, you don’t”. Says she doesn’t blog about 98% of her life.
If Armstrong misses a day of blogging, people email her to give her hell about it.
The Bloggess is *hilarious.*
Bloggers are creating a ctural/historical record.
Both Armstrong & Klein say they read all their comments, but just don’t have enough time to actually respond to all the comments and emails.
Klein: “You never know how one thing you wrote about will affect one other person.” Sometimes people don’t comment, but they’ll meet her at a book signing and say “Your posting about such-and-such really moved me and I’ve printed it out and put it on my fridge.” So don’t stop writing about a topic just because you didn’t think the posting was popar.
Someone asked the panelists how they respond to questions like “Why do you have to blog about your sex life?” and Armstrong’s reply was “Go ask Coldplay why they need to write that song.” Bloggers are artists (or at least creative types) that want/need to express themselves.
Apparently it’s Heather Armstrong’s birthday today. And now they just called up everyone who had a birthday this weekend and sang Happy Birthday to the bloggers. Which I believe means we are now going to be in trouble for copyright infringement.
And now it’s off to the closing party, being held at Macy’s.
1Mostly because I don’t have that much traffic. I’m more pleasantly surprised when I find out someone is reading me than I am worried about my low numbers.
2ZOMG, that makes me sound old. But seriously, screaming.
3I had to look that up, as I’ve actually never heard of her before. She seems pretty cool, though, so I’ll have to check her out.
4Note that these quotations may be paraphrased, as I’m typing and listening simultaneously and the shortness of my memory is rivaled only by the battery life of my stupid, stupid PC.