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BlogHer 2006: Saturday, July 29, Part 3
Monday, 2006 August 7 - 11:10 pm
The closing keynote, and the day 2 cocktail party.

Closing Keynote

The closing session has all of us back in the big ballroom, and Chris Nolan is holding a panel session with Grace Davis, Mena Trott, Caroline Little, and arguably the biggest "real-world" celebrity at the conference, Arianna Huffington. The session is supposed to inspire us to use our blogs to change the world and "create our agenda".

(Grace, sorry you're kinda blocked out of this photo. I didn't have a good angle.)

I have no problem with the choice of speakers. These are big-time bloggers and fascinating women. And I have no problem with the theme of the keynote. The problem I have is with the format of the session. When you've got a room of 50 people, an informal Q&A panel session works okay. In a room with 700 people? We need to be entertained. We need lasers and rock music and sparkly things. We need Oprah giving us all cars. More flash. Less substance.

To some degree, I think BlogHer needs to change to deal with its own success. The original format doesn't scale. This is in no way a criticism of the fantastic efforts of Elisa, Lisa, and Jory, because I don't think anyone could anticipate how these sessions would go. But we're all learning as we go, and I think the lesson here is that when you've got a giant room of people, you should probably make sure to have some gimmicks to keep everyone interested. I saw more than a few people squirming and checking their watches to see when it would be okay to go drink alcohol.

Maybe we need a controversial topic to discuss. Or maybe we just need a more specific topic to stick to. Like a lot of the conference sessions, the closing keynote seems to meander, especially when we get to the open-mike Q&A. At times I don't even know what people are talking about.

I do make note of one thing that Arianna says: "Women take criticism harder." My ears perk up a bit when she said that, because I am noticing a theme to some of the discussions throughout the conference. The theme is victimhood. "This is how I'm being hurt. This is how I'm being oppressed. This is how the conference is dismissing my needs." That kind of stuff overshadows the ideas of empowerment that I think the conference is trying to emphasize.

Examples: The whole mommy-bloggers versus non-mommy-bloggers thing. Are mommy-bloggers being marginalized? Are non-mommy-bloggers being left out of the cool-kids clique? Are LGBT bloggers being marginalized? Are conservative bloggers being drowned out? Are bloggers anti-Jew? Anti-Muslim? During the conference, I heard all of these questions in one form or another. But I wish we could talk more about how we can support each other, and how we are empowered. The one male who speaks up during the closing keynote asks, "What can men do to help women bloggers?" And while, coming from a man, that seems a little patronizing, he's probably picking up on this atmosphere of victimhood that has become infused into our discussions.

I dunno, maybe it's just me. I'm just a man.

Day 2 Cocktail Party

Thank God for alcohol. After a long day of conferencin', I'm ready for some drinkin'.

I crash Mindy's table, because Mindy and Mr. X are just so freaking funny and they're always willing to talk to people.

Here's the trick about BlogHer socializing, folks: you just gotta be bold. Sit down with people you don't know. They're really very warm. Everyone wants to socialize. That's why they're there. And by the way, if you talk to Melissa and you think she's stand-offish, you just don't know Melissa*.

See, this warmth is why I like BlogHer, and why I wouldn't go to a conference with a bunch of dudes. With guys, it'd be all business. And sports. And no one would put tattoos on anyone's boobs, unless somebody hired some strippers. BlogHer? No strippers necessary; people volunteer their boobs for free. And who doesn't like free boobs?

But I digress.

I finally find Amalah and talk to her, mostly about her company cookbook thing that was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. I feel like a doofus fanboy going up to her, but she's totally approachable and really, really nice.

I hang out and talk to a bunch more people, and then the party starts to wrap up.

Thinking back on the conference, I do think that I got more out of the socializing than the conference itself. Next year? I'd like to contribute something somehow, instead of just being a sideline critic. I would like to see the conference stay woman-oriented, but I dunno, maybe I could do something.

But I think my main motivation in going next year would still be for the social aspect. Especially if I could finally give Cerdo that beer I owe her.

Next up: Amy and I get to be tourists in San Francisco.

*Don't go to Someone else bought the domain and Melissa no longer writes there.
Permalink  2 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: bloggerslife


Comment #1 from Mrs. CPA (Guest)
2006 Aug 8 - 11:51 am : #
I have to say that I TOTALLY agree about the victimhood rap that women tend to internalize. If someone feels victimized, it is only because they have allowed themselves to feel that way. Take it back. Take back the label or the hurt or the whatever, and make it something empowering.
I think this is what Blogher is trying to accomplish, but so many of the people have gotten stuck in the "poor me" phase and can't get over the hump.
Comment #2 from Bake Town (Guest)
2006 Aug 18 - 12:36 pm : #
I am soo bummed I couldn't make it this year. You better belive I'll be there next year come hell or high water.

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