My First BlogHer Conference
This was my first BlogHer conference. I was able to attend only because I won a ticket through Snickollet and my time is, temporarily, my own. I don’t fit in as a Mommyblogger and I’m sure mine was one of the smallest and least-connected blogs represented there. My goal was to have fun, make some new connections, and smell the campfire of this movement and its people to figure out if blogging is deep and engaged enough to suck up more time in the future.
Ten highlights of my BlogHer 09 experience
1. The Weinermobile: Oh joy! It was even pointing straight at my head. “Beep! Beep! Beep!”
2. My mourning shawl/“supa”hero cape and new perfume rocked the house.
3. I was recognized: My quote about “what blogging has done for me” was used in the opening keynote.
4. People laughed at my special edition Widow Cards (see the next post).
5. Super humans: My widow blogger twin, Gretch, wasn’t able to attend but we had dinner on Friday night. It was the first time we’ve met IRL and she’s even better in person (I hope that's not a mean thing to say of a blogger?). At the humor lunch I had the privilege of sitting next to hilarious, whipsmart Sara. And I met a lot of people I’d like to work with in the future, especially Anissa, Jenni, Allie, Melissa and Amy. I found a ton of gals who live near me, including one who shops with my eyeglasses guru. The 20 bloggers who spoke at the Community Keynote displayed the breadth and talent of the group. And at the last moment before running to the airport, I met an acquaintance from college who’s more of a sister than I ever knew, and (ta da!) another widowed blogger, Judi.
6. Celebrities who are real: I exchanged cards or more with Black Hockey Jesus, Jenny the Bloggess, Neilochka, Jessica Gottlieb, Jessica Bern, Wendi Aarons, and Jessica Smith, among many others. All were lovely, energetic, gentle, supportive, and smart, and helped me feel welcome.
7. Serious topics: It’s easy for me to feel isolated and generalize that Mommybloggers spend their words comparing paper towels for money. But there was no shortage of people who’ve been transformed or made a difference in the world. In particular, I was moved by hearing and meeting Susan of Mothers with Cancer, a gaggle of patient bloggers including several with diabetes, and by Kelly, Kate, and Daniela, by Annie, Cristina, Pilirani, and Toyin. I was grateful to engage several experienced folks about whether “grieving blogs” deserve their own category or better indexing (I plan to blog about that soon, it’s a topic I’ve been ruminating on for a while).
8. BlogHer founders: Lisa Stone and Elisa Camahort Page, the two who I met, were genuine and responsive.
9. New knowledge: First on my list to do: use more numbered lists. And there are more other lessons and details and sharings than I can download from notes at this stage.
10. Points for good behavior: I was able to listen more than I talked. For some people, this might be easy in a group of 1300, but I will still take credit for not making a total fool of myself. And despite a back injury, I was able to stay up and around the whole time.
Five lowlights of my BlogHer 09 experience
1. I missed hearing my quote in the keynote, and the entire “newbie breakfast,” because I was in the line for registration for well over an hour.
2. Some of the sessions, particularly the one on publishing, were so unstructured as to be useless (although they all had very cute names). Many sessions took place in inappropriately small rooms, perhaps based on some hierarchy that insiders could grok. We were packed like sardines into “humor” and “men bloggers.”
3. I felt grossly unprepared and at least part of that is due to muddy communication materials, which affect the BlogHer website as a whole. I’ve written a detailed letter to the leadership explaining my observations, because I also think this lack of boundaries was one of the things that inflamed other bloggers about the visibility of event sponsors. A better designer and a harder line on some sponsor demands (such as publicizing a scholarship before the application site is live) would help. Perhaps part of this is that to some degree BlogHer is a community, not just an organization, but it’s mature enough now to better define the outlines of its brand.
4. Hearing “Mommyblogger” used over and over as if it defined the entire community.
5. Skipping the parties. This was my choice -- I had other people to see and a back injury -- but I still wish I’d had more kickback time with the warm, smart, energetic, and real bloggers who shared their experiences.
I am flush with ideas and looking forward to BlogHer ’10 (no way will I miss parties this time!).
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