Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

A view from the outside of Blogher 07

Although I have no intention of ever attending a BlogHer conference, mostly because it would be such complete sensory overload for my sensitive constitution that I would probably end up in the psych ward trying to detox from all the noise, I am interested in what I could glean from other bloggers about the experience.

I'm very pleased to see that it seemed to be a much nicer, more pleasant experience than Blogher06, which left not only a bad taste in my mouth, but in the collective blogosphere as well (at least from what I read of the conference). This year there was so much less posturing, so much less cliquishness (although there was some and from the expected sources, which had me laughing my ass off), and all in all a much better overall feeling from the outside.

In my emailing with various blogher attendees, I came away with a few comments and questions, however. My main observation is, why would anyone spend that kind of money and NOT go to a single session? Never mind those claiming that they knew more than any conference could teach them (but obviously not manners or basic politeness), but there were quite a few people that showed, up, stayed in hotels that cost an arm and a leg and didn't have decent bathroom facilities (oh my lord!), and didn't attend the sessions. I just do not get that. Even if I had a fortune to flush down the toilet in that shuttered bathroom, I wouldn't. I do not roll that way, ever. It seemed rather insulting to the blogher organization to just come for the alcohol and swag. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding. Although from the posts I've read from the people who proudly said that they didn't attend because there was nothing for them to learn, I highly doubt it.

I also do not understand the bawling over a freaking potholder. If I'm not mistaken, there were food bloggers there, as well as mommies. Um, am I wrong? I don't think I am. And wouldn't it be just fine and dandy for food bloggers to get a bit of swag that was directed at them? Like a Butterball Pot holder? I mean, is that SUCH a bad thing that one has to get all hot and bothered over it? Does every women have to pretend that they never stick their hand in the oven to pull out a pan of brownies? I believe that most women, and many men, do indeed use potholders. So shut up about them, already.

On the positive side, I loved the photos this year. Last year it was the free for all licking and boob grabbing crowd. Yuck. The thought of someone I am not intimately involved with's tongue touching me (terrible grammar, sorry, I'm tired) grosses the hell out of me. Plus the boob and butt grabbing? So infantile. So over and done with. This year people LOOKED happier and like they were having more fun. This year there was all sorts of hilarity like parties being broken up by security guards and gatecrashing Real Simple parties. It just seemed to be more real.

Additionally, this year the notes were better, the online bloggers did a much better job than last year, and the information was up on the various sites faster. Great job to the live-blogging staff.

What seemed to turn the tide, at least in MY opinion (and it's my blog and I'm entitled to one, even if you don't like it), is that most of the upper echelon (or those that think they are) bloggers were absent this year. Without the need to impress the big names, it was much easier to be friendly with the rest of the people. It was as if Johnny Depp decided to stay home and so the guy that played the British soldier was able to hang out with the rest of the soldiers and not try and get a photo with Johnny Dooce, oh I mean Depp. You know what I mean? I loved that the upper echelon was missing. I felt that it made the conference so much more friendly and so much more about blogging and friendliness than about how you got to meet Someone Who Gets 10.000 Hits A Day! SQEEEEEE! That whole deal is so not me. I got out of high school in in 1970 well before most of you bloggers were born. I don't squee anymore. Nor do I drool over getting my picture taken with a freaking midwestern housewife as one of the highlights of my life.

A couple of things did disturb me about the conference. Belinda has touched on one of them, that the conference was not very handicap accessible. That particularly bothered me, because when the venue was announced last winter, I looked at the maps of Navy Pier and the hotel placements and knew immediately that there was NO way I could possible tackle that kind of distance. I wrote to the BlogHer founders about this and got back a dismissive note about how they checked for wheelchair accessibility and they had a shuttle bus. Um, yeah. I could have pursued it, but I didn't because I knew I wasn't going. But to keep people from a conference because they are not physically able to walk up and down a freaking pier, or up flights of stairs, is discrimination. It wasn't well thought out and I certainly hope that next year things change. It's unacceptable as is.

The other thing was the Elizabeth Edwards keynote. Now, anyone who has EVER read anything I have to say politically knows my motto is "Go Left". I'm about as liberal as they come. I'm downright socialist in some matters. But.... I do believe that other voices have a right to be heard and not ridiculed. I think it's wrong to insult someone because they're from Texas. I mean, I wouldn't live there, but geesh, people LOVE it there and not every one is a rabid biblethumping conservative in Texas. Plenty of nice liberal folks come from Texas. Plenty of nice conservative folks, too.

I don't think it was right to have Edwards as the keynote. Or, if she was to be the keynote, then she should have stuck to the topic, which was blogging and web presence. She has plenty to say about both topics, right? So why was she setting teeth on edge with her stumping for husband John? A guy I'm probably going to vote for, btw. I love him. He's MY kinda politician. But that doesn't mean that in a conference of diverse women, it was right to only have one voice, one side. What if the speaker had been Laura (gag me) Bush? Wouldn't all the liberal folks have been just as up in arms?

I think it was a bad decision. There are so many HUGE bloggers out there, people that are doing really amazing things with blogs, that could and should keynote next year. But politically, I'm not sure it's appropriate to only present one side, even if it is MY side.

Those are my thoughts on the Blogher 07 experience. I'm glad the posts are wrapping up and people are moving on. I just wish, once again, that the Bloghers had donated to blogathon. Their lack of donations was noted throughout blogathon with some sadness.

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Anonymous bethany actually said...

Thanks for an interesting wrap-up/opinion piece on Blogher! I was only vaguely aware of it last year, from various photos I saw linked from some of the big blogs, and it looked like nothing I would ever be interested in. This year, I am reading a bigger variety of blogs and the photos I saw on some of those make the whole thing look so much more fun. I still don't know if I would want to go, but in my state of being almost completely disinterested in Blogher, caught the same vibe of hilarity and fun that you did.

3/8/07 12:25 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

I have mixed feelings about Blogher. It really, really is not my thing, and yet I can't help feeling a little envious. I do think it seemed a little less sophomoric this year, so maybe at some point, I would consider it. Just not yet.

3/8/07 2:20 PM  

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