Much of the "opening session" was spent debating the question, "Does the A-list really matter?" The A-list of course, refers to the top percentage of bloggers with the most traffic, links, press, yadda yadda, who cares. I understand all the talk about how certain systems are strategic in consistently promoting and working in the favor of men. I am certain there is an online version of the "Boys' Club." I don't question this in the least, but for the love of Moses and Aaron, do not let that define you and can we stop camping out at the mountain of blog-ranking despair. This is America folks. Buck up.
The room seemed equally divided in their answers to if high-rank matters, but what stood out the most to me in the debate was the whining about how the top bloggers never link to lesser-known female blogs and the noticeable absence of a strong female presence in the Technorati Top 100. Which leads me to believe that my 6th tip in the "How to Blog Like a Rockstar" series is spot-on indeed.
Ambra's personal caveat: Get over the need for cyber appreciation, people. Write well, do your thing, provoke thought and eventually, the right people will take note. I would also like to announce that everyone who has a blog will not be popular. It is a fact. The word "top" indicates that there has to be a bottom. That is the way the world works. We can't all be celebrities. Caveat ended.
The day prior to my session, I had massive facial swelling and my appearance could best be likened to the lovechild of big Carnie Wilson and "The Godfather." I nearly called to cancel, but thankfully most of the swelling went down.
The session in which I participated, "Political Blogging Grows Up," was a cordial dialogue between myself, liberal blogger Roxanne Cooper, moderator Courtney Lowrey, and an audience of about 30, which if my memory serves me right, included both Kevin Drum and Dooce.
We didn't go deep. That's nearly impossible in 60 minutes (although rumor has it that Dan Rather tried a few times). We talked about the monolithic nature of political blogs and the tendency for bloggers to "parrot" whatever issue or lead is being blogged about by the top bloggers of the moment. We also touched on the potential power of weblogs to press beyond appearing exactly like mainstream media (though I fear it may be too late). Nothing provocative or earth-shattering there, but it was good to hear peoples' thoughts. I'll upload the podcast whenever it's released. At least then you can officially hear me proclaim my distaste for Ann Coulter's wardrobe.
I am certain the panel wasn't the flaming match many had hoped for (with different panelists of course). Oh well, the only thing I know how to do is me. I will however say this: for all of Roxanne's toughness on her blog, and although we disagree on nearly everything, she still strikes me as the type of person who would bake you a casserole (or at least buy you one) if you were sick. I could easily sit down and have a meal with her and I don't just say that about anybody. Roxanne, thanks for being a panelist with me.
I give the conference organizers their props. They made up their minds to do something and they did it. Despite my distaste for the one-sided perspective, the conference was executed very well. I learned a few lessons along the way and I feel accountable to share them lest you make the same mistakes:
- When the professional-looking lady from CNN wants to give you her card and tape you because they're looking for regulars to be on their new program segment about blogs, don't have maxillofacial swelling, mkay?
- Blog business cards are for nerds. I refuse to get any. You should too.
- When lots of cameras are present, avoid quick gesturing because you will end up looking horrible in all your pictures. Roxanne, on the other hand, was a pro poser.
- If you have an Apple iBook, and the person sitting next to you has a brand new 17" Powerbook, it's best to just keep your computer in its measly little case because it will look pathetic next to 17-inches of aluminumy goodness.
- When someone says, "We" in an affinty group setting, always make them define it.
To my question of why there was a liberal slant on everything at Blogher, a reader's comment
on Kevin Drum's post-conference re-cap pretty much sums it up for me:
Registration for the thing was open to all, you know, and the vast majority of attendees were self-selected...The real problem, of course, is that it was a women's conference that specifically grew out of a feminist purpose...Feminism, in case you're not aware, does tend to skew left, and yet it is an actual widespread and popular political force in this country--hardly the marginal feel-good self-indulgence you seem to think it is.
True oh true indeed.
(photo courtesy of Dr. Paradox)