Sunday, July 30, 2006

more of the Blogher debrief

BlogHer Debrief

July 30, 2006

Pam: All good conventions are meant to. . . [missed this maybe b/c it was Pam taking notes]

Laurie: The identity panel and the naked panel were both really great. Extremely intelligent. Not used to the BH style where you intro the panel and immediately go to questions. Impressed with how that worked and the moderation. Audience articulate. Impressed!

The tech panels – sat there for 40 minutes saying ‘ I know that, I know that – OH, REALLY!!!’ It’s like all of a sudden I learned a whole bunch after hearing stuff I already knew.

: Audience building was also good. The monetizing one, the woman who ran it did a really nice job – Jennifer Slegger.

Kim: Interesting – release your inner geek session. Wanted to see what heavy-duty techies would talk about. Women in tech – how do they feel in a heavily male-dominated field? Some of the younger women felt that tech was unusually male-dominated. Kim thinks they are pretty young. Another woman stood up and said she felt at home with the tech BlogHer women, but when she walked out into the greater BlogHer community she was uncomfortable.

Others: Yes, felt that too. Felt a distance from other types of bloggers. Enormous amount of respect for different types of identities but there was a dynamic of misunderstanding around the conference.

Heteronormative vibe at BlogHer – the background assumption that everyone is heterosexual. Different from discrimination.

Liz: The anxiety about dress. Coding femininity by patriarchical standards.

- - :Lots of women dressed corporate. Business bloggers in abundance.

- - : The femminess is not as significant a part of heteronormative vibe as other things.

- - : The corporate feel – was the entrance fee of $250 too much? Some say no – these people are used to conferences with much higher fees. But for what you get, was it worth it? Discussion. The student rate was appreciated. But people who arrived later were turned away, such as Sue from Toronto.

Conference organizers felt that those who arrived without a registration ought to self-organize. No space created for that. Someone could do this next time.

Tech sessions sold out first. Was that a surprise for BlogHer?

It’s a big community of women who are not tech savvy but want to be. A wave of people who are bloggers but are not tech-savvy at all.

- - :Older women do blog, not just Thoroughly Modern Millie. There is a whole community of aged bloggers. (Links?)

Jackie – Didn’t get much until the sex panel. Storytelling and humor breakout session had no moderator and seemed superficial. The art panel was good.

Alan – As I Please – didn’t go to BlogHer at all. Chortled vicariously at the Weight Watchers and girlie skinny water being offered. Interesting message.

Liz – who’s gonna advertise at a conference for women? Some tech sponsorship but also needed the $ of sponsors who like to market to women - kind of the same people who would put an ad in a "women's magazine"

Nina – the Be Jane girls and their stand-up routine were horrifying!!

Tree – started her blog this morning! – had a fucking fantastic time. Fantastic women, vibrant and alive. Could be herself – large and outrageous! Sessions were secondary. Tech session wasn’t as important to her.

Debbie – in business with Laurie – Had a good time. Felt had to fight to be as outrageous as she wants to be. Loved women she met, loved sessions. Noticed the heteronormativity. The intrusion of the corporate world dress put her on edge a little bit.

Laurie – Body Impolitic – had a good time. Corporate stuff doesn’t make her nervous. Cultural dissonance occasionally made her uncomfortable, as with the heteronormativity. A lot of stuff we’re talking about are based on unconscious assumptions. What message did the “woman sponsors” send at BlogHer?

Liz – There was consideration. Likely they expected there would be a lot of discussion about it afterwards. We can express our opinions and reactions and the blogher organizers will listen... Also anyone can step up.

Laurie – BlogHer should include sponsors should send a body-positive message. Unfortunately, nobody pays you to tell people they look good!

All in all, the conference organizers did a phenomenal job. The fact that we all ate at two meals a day together is outstanding.

Sfgeek / blogher – article!

Podcast session was taught by Susan Kitchens. She says she would like to have been given another half an hour for her session.

Beth – Beth’s Blog – Cambodia for Kids – Liked BlogHer for meeting incredible people, great conversations. Afternoon workshops could have gone into more depth if were longer. Enjoyed edublogging sessions. Got a lot of inspiration. Was here last year. This year, felt less of a strong emotional connection. Final keynote address, she felt a connection then. No good final message of where we are going from here, what we ought to take from the room.

Sue – The Breast of Canada calendar – a polyblogger - flew in from Toronto! This is her first tech conference. Lots of shrieking. Wasn’t able to get into one day, but made the best of it. Got a lot out of the conference that she was able to attend.

Sarah – was happy to go a conference of women techies! Only attended the second day. Liked the identity session. Liked to see celeb bloggers like Heather Armstrong and danah boyd. Impressed with how easy it was to strike up a conversation with anybody. Strength and confidence.

Liz – Great time at BlogHer! Didn’t have the same emotional impact becaue it was so big; hard to turn big into small groups. Mentally took notes as if she could help org it next time. Would like to see Moderator training, more un-conference style track – more things at once that would let the groups be smaller and more like conversations – probably more productive that way.

[Tree – breakout rooms cost more money. More smaller rooms means more expensive conference.
– sitting by the pool would not cost more.]

Mixed feelings about advertising.

Huge spectrum of issues about dress. Mommybloggers saying OMG what do I wear? Discussion beforehand. A lot of people were freaking and worrying about being judged in a roomful of women. What if it’s competitive? Tech women – not used to being in a room of women! Maybe dressing too “femmy” would be bad but if not that, then what? Heard from many sides of it. Liz tried to listen, take it seriously and diffuse hostility and fear around this.

Tried not to hate on the hate she felt about the flouncing-around thing that she was doing.

Lynn – Unnatural History blog – LJ of personal stuff – Did not go to BlogHer. Did go to a romance writer’s conference in St. Louis in 1993. She bought an entire new wardrobe for that, and she’s still wearing them! The clothes thing is very big.

Kimberly – Musicandcats.com – Found herself having to explain her blog to people, though she didn’t feel she had to. Felt people were taking a step back from her due to the name alone. Interesting piece of the weekend.

BlogHer felt like high shool in a way because of groups of women very tightly identified with their own group. Not trying to mingle. Tried to hang with their friends alone. Also saw women trying to mingle, learn, meet new people. There were a terrifically wide range of minds and ideas. Some were open to the experience, some were not. Enjoyed being there. Struggled with her inner introvert.

Liz - Lots of "like high school" comments all thru the conference, what's that about? what does it mean? Maybe many women have not hung out with other women since then, without boyfriends as mediators. So, tension, not knowing how to do it.

Pam – Beancounters – Had no trouble with the clothes issue. She already knew some of the people she hoped to meet at BlogHer, and knew what to wear to fit in with them. All different kinds of women would be there – anything worn would somehow fit in.

Liked the fact of a conference – conferences are not just about learning nuts-and-bolts stuff, it’s about meeting each other, looking at each other, talking about where we are now, and (hopefully) where we are heading.

Liked the community action session. Hoping to leverage some of their ideas for a non-emergency community blog.

Elke – Went to BlogHer to see some of her Woolfcamp friends again. Enjoyed how many types of women there were! Pointy shoes, skinny women, fat women, old women, etc. Enjoyed the diversity of it all. Didn’t give much thought to the sponsors, but she expected not to “like” everything, so wasn’t disappointed. Her brain got full!! [laughter]

Janine – Destinations Journeys of a Restless Mind – Club Mom – Also felt the emotional impact was not as great this year. Women who write are her rock stars! This year she got brave and introduced herself to woman writers she wanted to meet last year. Tried to network. Was very focused on what to wear.

The first day was not that interesting. The sex panel was fun. The closing panel was great. The good part was being around all these women and wanting to be a part of the community – pushing herself out into the world. Also happy to be at Woolfcamp!

Susan Kitchens – 20/20 Hindsight – Family Oral History – worked last year for BlogHer by doing audio podcasts. Also has a sense of change from last year’s sense of intimacy that came about from how small the conference was. There was not sense of closure from this conference. Wishes she could have stood up and said ‘Give it up for Lisa and Elisa and Jory!’

Loved the community assistance session. The unintentional relief workers’ stories were inspiring. Being a citizen journalist, and having blogged a disaster near her town, she felt that being prepared to blog a disaster is part of her own disaster-preparedness plan. Went to her city council to let them know she was there to blog during disaster "when CNN won't care about Monrovia - and no one will be covering us." Empowering. A satisfying session.

Fun meeting people. Discovered how fun it is to pimp the blog – pass out postcards and get a conversation started about her own blog. Also wonderful to be at Woolfcamp with its more intimate setting.

4 Comments:

Blogger ElisaC said...

Just a brief comment: The tech day didn't necessarily sell out "faster." It had a smaller *capacity*. We planned that from the beginning, and we were a little taken aback by how every single attendee wanted to come to both days. We originally thought some folks would skip a weekday technical day (especially since it upped the cost) and just come on the Saturday conversational day. By the time we realized we had misjudged the level of interest, we couldn't really expand it gracefully. We were wrong, and that's a great learning for next year.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

re the $250 -- "...these people are used to conferences with much higher fees." Who are "these people"? I haven't attended either BlogHer conference, but there sure are a lot of mixed messages going on as to what it's all about when one is wondering if it's a good personal fit. Is it primarily for the clique of mommybloggers who act like they're the popular girls in high school (and who seem, from what I read, to care mostly about how they look there)? Is it a tech conference? Is it for professional networking? Is it all of the above? That "these people" line really throws me. If I attend BlogHer next year, it won't be for any sort of corporate networking...it would only be to meet in person the community of friends I've formed through this medium. Frankly, WoolfCamp sounds like a MUCH better setting.

12:58 PM  
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