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Now serving: Blogher Bouillabaisse

August 13th, 2005 · 19 Comments

Note: Blogher was intense and so is this post. The more I read and thought, the more I knew it would be difficult to be concise. Many of the ideas are related to each other. I wish I could mind map it! So I’ve included many concepts and links in one post. Even this is not as thorough as it could be but I figured at this point I would put my Blogher thoughts together. I apologize for the length but hope what I’ve written helps explain what I’ve been considering and seeing…what’s been simmering inside me…to use the image of soup…

This is the best I can do to try to communicate what it was like to be at Blogher and what I’ve been thinking about it in the past two weeks. Sit down and have a bowl…enjoy!

Recipe for Blogher Bouillabaisse:

1. Gather 300 bloggers, 80% women, 50% fresh first-time blogging-conference attendees, in Santa Clara California for two days.

2. Begin the base and marinate ideas in the mind during travel and for days afterward.

3. Stir in dozens and dozens of post-conference posts

4. Simmer ten days

5. Serve!

I didn’t intend to wait ten days two weeks to post my reflections on the Blogher conference in Santa Clara, CA July 29 and 30 but the pace of life at our house has been hectic. Recent events with my own health have reminded me that I need to take care of myself, sleep and rest. Then again, waiting has also been helpful because I have been able to learn what others have been thinking. I have felt that my mind was full with thoughts, like a soup post simmering.


Before I begin, I want to link to the resources I’ve enjoyed while reading about the conference:

Each day I would discover what Technorati and Feedster had found.

Elisa Camahort’s blogher tagged delicious links: an excellent resource, thanks, Elisa!

Nancy White – start here or so and click around forwards and backwards for a while!

Beth Kanter – I’d been reading her blog and it was excellent to meet her at last – here’s her blogher category.

Lisa Williams – has been compiling awesome daily blogher posts, such as this one! Also on her OPML blog, such as July 30 and 31

Sour Duck – wrote thoughtful and provocative posts, including this one on anger

JD Lasica’s video interviews

Ponzi Covers Blogher podcasts: Part 1 and Part 2

Blogher blog

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opening session and video

The power of do-o-cracy in creating community

As Elisa Camahort said in the San Francisco Chronicle article, this is a conference that the community built. I was impressed by the ways everyone came together. Hierarchy may be part of human nature, but as Blogher demonstrates, so are community, cooperation and collaboration. Although there were three organizers at the center (thanks to Elisa, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone), many gave. There are a number of ways, both big and small, where this attitude of do-o-cracy and community manifested itself in distinctive ways notable to me at my fifth blogging/technology conference. This was my fourth time speaking, but, I think perhaps one of the first times my badge did not say “Speaker” on it – all badges were the same. I loved the video that opened the conference, with quotes and screenshots from many different blogs! The “Room of Your Own” sessions were an excellent idea – anyone could come and start a discussion. I think too this is the first time I’ve come to a conference where the organizers sent out a survey asking everyone for ideas for next year. The discussion guidelines started by Ashley Richards are excellent and classic – I’ll use them again when I have opportunity! I appreciate the spirit of Blogher and hope it grows and spreads in strength and generosity.

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Evangelism 101: if you want to build community, you need to start with a foundation that fits and add brick by brick

The amazing statistics for Blogher show that if you want women to come to a conference, you need to start with women. Those asking “Where are the women?” might begin instead by finding women to begin building the community. Of course, the community needs to be one where women – or other minority – feel welcome.

I imagine this is Evangelism 101. You can only expect those people to come to a community if they feel included. If they are part of the process from the ground level. Each of us felt we had a voice. We knew we could influence what happened. We belonged. We belonged to Blogher and Blogher belonged to us.

How do we build bridges into new territories, so to speak? How can we reach out into new communities that weren’t included in the inaugural conference?

As I read through blogs I see many already making plans to attend in 2006. How can we continually encourage new voices to come into the conversation? By continuing to involve everyone in the process. And by continuing to invite new women and men to participate.

For example, I hope we do have a session or even a conference on infertility blogging. Please come, Cecily and everyone! Those who know my story know infertility and the infertility blogging community matter to me. [By the way, also see Cecily’s post on Blog Etiquette.]

Liz Ditz listed a few of Who Were Missing at Blogher 2005

I don’t know how next year will have room for everyone! 🙂


Many have noted that Jory Des Jardins and others used the term Identity Blogging in the session on “How to Get Naked” (liveblogging notes can be found in this post). This was the first time I had heard the term, and I like it too. The word “personal” has many connotations and meanings. For example, Jay Rosen in this video interview says his blog is public and personal. But he does not mention his private life. The phrase identity blogger to me means that I am blogging my identity, creating one and revealing it at the same time. What we have most of all, all of us, as bloggers, beyond anything else, is our identity. It’s our flavor. Our scent. Our hue. What makes me me, what makes us each distinctive. It is who we are.

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Koan Bremner (left) speaking during the How to Get Naked session

The freedom and confidence blogging can bring to life

The confidence, hope, power and freedom blogging bring to life were evident in Jory’s How to Get Naked session featuring Heather Armstrong, Ronni Bennett, and Koan Bremner. In particular, I felt Koan’s sharing of the ways blogging has helped her feel more confident and proud to be a transperson (at one point during the session she revealed this phrase on a T-shirt worn beneath her jacket) illustrated significantly how blogging can help make a life worth living, to use her words. (It was great to meet Koan after our previous connecting in email and blogs.)

Although Dina Mehta wasn’t able to make it to Blogher due to flooding in Bombay, she sent a statement describing the power of blogging in her society which was read in the Globalization session lead by Nancy White:

…the blog world is toppling and threatening many of our traditional structures, giving open voice and power to many who hitherto had none. It is a world that is not hierarchical, one that encourages an even-playing field for free speech and debate no matter what gender or age or race or religion you belong to, it does not have many pre-ordained rules and prescriptions, it is one where we need to learn to respect personal space, and to embrace team play that can be so rewarding.

How many have partners that understand their blogging. Mine still does not truly grasp what’s happening. As a woman in India, there is a greater challenge, as the roles are more defined.The effect is that we are wresting away control from our spouses, from the traditional family structures. While for the blogger, it is empowering, where the connections have power or perceived status and influence, it can change dynamics in the household.

Bearing the burden of being a minority

I’ve never thought of myself as a minority – until I began blogging and reading “where are the women?”. I’ve been in situations where I was the only woman, in math and science classes, for example, but I didn’t think of myself as a minority. For much of my education, I felt surrounded by women. My two employment situations before motherhood were both in offices where I worked for women, surrounded by women (one was an immunology research laboratory, the other was a social-services nonprofit). It wasn’t until I married my husband that I began to understand a little from a racial perspective what it is like to be alone. Ponzi’s podcasts (Part 1 and Part 2), especially Halley Suitt’s comments about her son, resonated with me.

Mena Trott in one session described the abuse she received because she was a woman and CEO: I am really sad that I can’t write any more.

Those who are the only ones bear the burden of being a minority. Everything they do is seen as representative of their group as a whole. They lose the freedom to be themselves and can end up crushed, or feeling forced to be someone different.

What does marginalization mean? I’m not talking dictionary definition. Or maybe I am. What I want is to know how it happens so that we can prevent it. Or at least help it when it happens.

In her video interview with JD Lasica, organizer Lisa Stone mentioned marginalization, describing how mommy bloggers had felt accepted and empowered at Blogher. I was happy to see the vibrant group of mommy bloggers and participate in their session. Yet won’t we always have marginalization? Won’t someone always feel on the edge, ignored, separated? For example, Ponzi Indharasophang pointed out in her podcasts from Blogher (part 1, part 2) that bloggers of multi-racial heritage and Asian heritage felt frustrated by the description and implication of the brown bloggers session (Live blogging notes here by posthipchick). Bloggers who can’t or don’t have kids may have felt marginalized by the attention given to mommybloggers at the conference. The problem may not be with marginalization as much as with our need to learn how to continually reach out into new comers, new corners and new communities.

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standing-room-only crowd in the mommy blogger session

Why do metrics matter? Which metrics matter?

The early debate on Play by today’s rules or Change the game? with Halley Suitt and Charlene Li was one of the major reasons I wanted to attend the conference. Many shared in the discussion, including danah boyd who described how men and women network differently, women tend to work hard to maintain strong ties. Since the debate, danah has also posted some interesting observations on the biases of links. Mary Hodder at the conference mentioned creating new algorithms to better measure linking and has continued that conversation in more detail on her blog. Like Mary, I hate rankism. I think I prefer the clouds concept Adina Levin mentioned in her comment, a concept of assocation rather than rank. Here’s more from Mary’s post to explain…

I think scoring, even a more sophisticated version of it, akin to page-rank, is problematic and takes what is delightful about the blogosphere away, namely the fun of discovering a new writer or media creator on their terms, not others. What I love is that people who read blogs are assessing them over time to see how to take a blogger and their work. But more recently, as I said, I’m seeing these poorly done reports floating around by PR people, communications companies, journalists, advertising entities and others trying to score or weight blogs. And after hearing the degree to which people are upset by the obtuseness of the top counts, and because they do want to monetize their blogs or be included into influencer ranks, I’m at the point where I’d like to consider making something that we agree to, not some secretly held metric that is foisted upon us.

Why do metrics matter? From dialogue I’ve read, it seems metrics matter because they matter to the media. The Top Whatever blogs are the ones that will be referenced and used to represent blogging to the majority of people in the world who don’t blog. They in a sense become who we are. Yet as Staci Kramer pointed out in the discussion, not all journalists care about the Top lists either.

Why should metrics matter to a blogger like me? I’ve been taking a bit of my own Blogging 101 advice these past couple weeks and considering what it is I am trying to do here. Why am I blogging? Sure, I use Technorati. In fact on the Blogher survey before the conference, I checked that I do care about traffic. I’ve even cried over my Technorati ranking. But that was mostly because I wanted to be involved in conversations. I wanted to know that others were reading and responding. And I also had mistaken ideas about what my Technorati rating should be, after seeing my husband’s statistics. I’ve now realized I’ll never have the links and traffic he does. We are blogging for different – but overlapping – communities and in separate niches.

All I want to do is write well and have good conversations. As far as finding good blogs, rankings only reveal what lots of people who link like to link. They are not necessarily indicators of good writing or good blogging or even blogs I want to read. I use Technorati, Feedster and PubSub to know who is linking and talking to me. But as for my ranking, I don’t need to know it in order to blog or to sense I am blogging successfully.

It is only when I’ve re-read danah’s essay on link bias that I find this reason (paragraph below) compelling. Blogging is only perpetuating current power structures. It’s true. Perhaps we can change it. Perhaps we do need to reveal the lack of neutrality. New metrics might only influence bloggers to blog in yet another way – then again, perhaps a diversity of metrics will encourage a diversity of voices:

Breaking this cycle is virtually impossible, but it how power maintains power. And in our current system, we are doing a damn fine job of replicating the power structures that pervade everyday life under the auspices of creating a new system that usurps power. Ah, what fun.

Still, i think it’s critical to work on new metrics so that we can at least start showing alternate ways of organizing information if for no other reason than to push back against the conception of neutrality. And thus, i’m stoked to help Mary out and i would encourage everyone else interested in altering the power structure to do so as well.

Why is traffic important?

Listening to what Mena Trott of SixApart and Heather B. Armstrong of dooce.com shared in discussion sessions at the conference, I began to wonder more why traffic is valued. Both of these bloggers started blogging before I did and had/have more readers than I do. And both of them have been beaten up, to the point that Mena stopped blogging and Heather turned off comments. More readers = more abuse.

Those who are blogging I believe may often be blogging because they want to express themselves and finally are empowered to do so. They have lacked other opportunities for their voice. When trolls and others criticize, I fear it may only confirm fears and previous experiences of being silenced.

Although I would welcome more readers, I wonder whether many bloggers would truly benefit from more traffic and visibility. Who has time and energy for trolls? Or the hate mails Heather describes? Many of us are trying to blog in our spare moments, in minutes grabbed here and there. If everyone who reads my blog left me a comment or linked to me in one day, it would be more than I could do to try to respond to everyone. Visibility not only affects commenters but also affects the writer. I’ve revealed less of myself since I’ve been exposed more. I am not sure that Technorati ranking or traffic should be as coveted as they seem to be.

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danah boyd speaking at the closing session

Beware of Great Expectations – part 1: putting people on pedestals

danah in her observations on linking, pointed out that even mommy bloggers have a hierarchy.

I was also fascinated that most of the mommy bloggers that i met at Blogher link to Dooce (in Top 100) but Dooce links to no one. This seems to be true of a lot of topical sites – there’s a consensus on who is in the “top” and everyone links to them but they link to no one.

I believe that people want leaders. People want someone to admire. I’ve been in situations, both in social groups and organizations, where it seemed evident that people wanted someone else to be the leader. When I was the leader, people made comments to me that revealed they didn’t have a good sense of who I was. i was put on a pedestal. Hierarchy may be a part of human nature.

I think we humans want to worship someone. We want someone to be at the top. We want someone to idolize. We want to put people on pedestals. And then knock them down.

Great Expectations part 2: blog rules were meant to be broken

Then again, perhaps danah’s observation only reveals that the rules of blogging, so to speak, may be broken. In our Blogging 101 session, Susan Mernit and I encouraged linking to others, both in posts and blogrolls. That is how I started getting involved in conversations which was what I wanted from my blog.

Yet for certain styles of blogging, certain styles of writing, linking is not necessary. Some of my favorite blogs are intense windows into another world, rich on their own, with images from photographs and words. Others discover them and link with generous gratitude and joy. Community is built around them rather than explicitly by them.

Great Expectations part 3: no obligations please

As I was finishing this post, I noticed Halley’s response to danah. I don’t agree with the concept of noblesse oblige – I agree only if the noblisse themselves sense this and want to be generous. I disagree with any sense of obligation.

Also I find that asking for links – what Halley was encouraging in the opening Blogher debate – is different from giving links. In theory, I agree with giving links to those who ask. I’m happy to promote others. In practice however it has been strange for me. I’ve been asked for links – and I’ve given links – to bloggers with whom I had no relationship before or after the request. (At least one incident I remember happened right after I was published in the newspaper) I was trying to be generous but it ended up feeling fake to me. I believe links represent relationships. I link to someone I like – or don’t like – but someone I want to share a conversation or give a gift. A link lacking dialogue, passion or relationship is an empty one to me. A link to a blog that I wouldn’t choose to read except for obligation is fake.

But then again, how I see a link is different from the ways other define a link.

Generosity is not something that can be requested. If a link is a gift, then I think it should be given not out of obligation but out of desire. Do we have convention for asking for links? If so it’s not universal. I think we should beware of defining what a link means and reading into it.

Blogging is about freedom and relationship. Also bloggers who have larger audiences cannot link to everyone who reads them. It’s not a reasonable expectation. Many bloggers have enough burdens on them as it is.

Be generous! Let’s let bloggers be who they are!

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Koan Bremner, Ronni Bennett and Heather B. Armstrong

The power of blog celebrity

Okay, just had to mention my own participation in this. At each conference, or at least at many conferences, I have had at least one situation where I run up to a blogger I admire and gush. I like to say “I like your blog” to someone who has no idea who I am! I don’t even introduce myself, as if I don’t count. Well, at least I don’t expect this celebrity blogger to have any idea who I am.

At the pre-conference dinner Friday night, I saw Heather of dooce sitting alone with Maggie of Mighty Girl and so I (rudely?) ran over to say hi while I could, before you are surrounded by people, I explained to her. I admire Heather for all she’s endured as a blogger and especially as a mom I admire the beauty of her posts, and the honesty of her sharing about her own experiences. She’s gone through a lot, in many ways. And continually goes through it, as more photographers and reporters come to her house and interview her about barfing or what not…

While reading through blogs, I’ve noticed many who said they wanted to be at this conference and put Blogher bloggers on pedestals, as if those of us who attended were special, extraordinary or something different from anyone else. Anyone could come! No one had to be invited or be at a certain level of blogging to be there.

And I think it’s good to remember that we’re all human beings. As Heather and Maggie said to me on Friday night while I was fawning –“we’re just bloggers”. No celebrity or sunglasses required. [More on Heather’s fans at Nina Turns 40]

What you don’t say

What intrigued me at the “How to Get Naked” session was learning what others don’t reveal on their blogs. In particular, I was curious what Heather B. Armstrong would say. Or rather what she wouldn’t say.

… there are certain responsibilities you have to people in your life

If you want to have good relationships with people in your life…what you need to do is assess your priorities in your life about who is important to you, would you say something to someone to their face or not

She doesn’t write about aspects of relationship with her husband, certain aspects of her depression or the address where she lives. Yet at the same time she said she revealed her struggle with depression on her blog because she felt she was lying to the people who had supported me most. I admire her for all she’s experienced and endured as a blogger – yet she continues to be transparent and share who she is with the world.

What you do say… can change someone else’s life

Ronni Bennett, whom I admire for her courage, experience and mission mentioned a rich reason to “Get Naked”:

When we admit to something difficult, we give other people permission and it puts it out there in the light of day.

If you reveal yourself, others will open their lives. The best proof of an intimate session is when others begin to share their stories. At the end of “How to Get Naked”, Amy Gahran started a cascade of revelations which only emphasized the power of the time we shared together.

[Since then, Amy has started an interesting investigative series examining the effect personal revelations could have on the professional – go take a look starting here or so…(update: Amy in the comments corrected my url for her site and that helped me find the permalinks for her posts)

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Beverly Trayner, Noriko Takiguchi and Anna John

How English has impacted blogging: getting a better view and bigger picture of the world

The session Nancy White moderated When Globalization is Good for Women [Nancy’s notes] featuring Anna John Noriko Takiguchi, and Beverly Trayner was one that should have been shared with the entire conference, I believed. After all, if one of the missions of Blogher, one of the questions we were encouraged to answer at the end of the day, was what we would share with other women around the world, how could we answer that question if we didn’t know what other women around the world were thinking and blogging? My eyes were opened. I confess I started to think about issues I had not considered.

Bloggers who can speak more than one language have to choose which language to use for blogging. Yet other cultures lack blogging community and or terminology. Beverly shared how there are not even characters in Portuguese to use in the titles of Blogger posts. I confess I had no idea how “English is so embedded in the technology” to quote one panelist, until I listened. How can we create more dialogue and more listening across cultures and continents?

As the spouse of someone whose parents immigrated from Asia, I was intrigued by Anna’s description of Sepia Mutiny, a group blog and one of her many blogs, and the niche it has found, the importance of identity and second-generation voice.

Also of note are Noriko’s series of posts describing How to Eat Sushi Properly!

I felt this session was particularly valuable because of the power women can receive through connecting to each other around the world in blogs.

Lisa Williams excellent podcasting session

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Is this on-line anywhere?

Lisa might listen to me read the phone book but I’m happy to hear her talk about technology…or anything…anyday…(how about Hyperlocal Journalism – a great Open Source Radio show featuring Lisa that aired this week!)

She knows what she needs to say to get the point across, using humor and culture to help make you remember it in great quick quotes.

I was sorry to leave during this session but wanted to go and experience part of the mommy bloggers too (also a good one!). I apologize that I was too tired to take extensive notes for either of these last sessions.

Would we have BlogHer in the ideal world? Is it an intermediate temporary step to a goal of equality and collaboration between genders or is it a permanent need?

I can see both sides of this question. Ted and I had an interesting dialogue when he came home from OSCON after attending a Women In Open Source session. It was interesting to compare how the two – overlapping – communities are confronting and working through issues at the same time. More below.

Can we cooperate?

Although I had looked forward to the opening debate, I left the session feeling disappointed. The take-home sentiment seemed to be that we women should go and make our own blogging metric tools. Between Marc Cantor’s encouragement to be entrepreneurs, Please go empower yourselves [see his posts here and here] followed by Halley Suitt’s statement You’re not going to get helped from companies where mostly men are succeeding I wondered whether cooperation was an option. I don’t want my gender to play a part in which blogging tools I use. Separate isn’t always equal. Sure we women could compete with the men by making our own stuff. But is that what we want? Do we want to empower ourselves by ourselves? Or don’t men need to be a part of the equation for us to find equality in a whole society? Isn’t competing against men playing by their rules instead of collaboration and cooperation?

The Hims at Blogher

Thanks to the 20% of attendees who were men! I told Ted that I could sense a different atmosphere in the room. Instead of other blogging or technology conferences I’ve attended where people would sometimes interrupt or talk on top of each other, Blogher seemed to have more of an atmosphere of respect and listening. I didn’t sense any domination or intimidation.

danah described it: The ones who usually have the most colorful feathers are sitting back, shoulders hunched, listening, trying.

I want to give special thanks to Scott Rafer, CEO of Feedster, who helped me with a technical detail of my presentation. Thanks! Mary Hodder also thanked him in her blog.

Marc Cantor helped me find Scott- thanks Marc! And thanks to Marc and Lisa for bringing the family along too – I missed mine but at least got to see some other cute little girls!

Honorary Blogher status goes to Robert Scoble who couldn’t be there but helped me find another conference attendee when I asked him for a phone number.

Also Enoch Choi who was busy working and studying for boards but available later to join some of us for wine and appetizers after hours.

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Enoch Choi and Susan Kitchens at a Palo Alto wine bar

Ted and I were sorry he missed it, but he had a conflict with OSCON.

Emotional Life of Blogher

Of the 10 men who attended the Emotional Life of Weblogs session I led last November at BloggerCon III (mp3), 2 of them were at Blogher (Jay Dedman and Hong Qu) and 1 (Enoch) came later. Jerry Michalski wasn’t there at Blogher, but organized a post-Blogher chat and call earlier this week. Of the 8 women in the Emotional Life session, 4 of us were at Blogher (Susan Kitchens, Susan Mernit, Lisa Williams and me). Total, 7 of 18 of us made it to Blogher. Not a bad stat!

Another stereotype shattered at Blogher: I’m not too smart to be fashionable ;-).

I’ve been planning to write a post about fashion and my experience of it. For years, I felt I didn’t have resources to care about my clothes. And I didn’t care. I also felt I shouldn’t care. After all, don’t intelligent women have better things to do?

But suddenly, now that I am finished creating my family and getting out more often, I am discovering I like clothes. I’m having fun with fashion and playing by putting pieces together. Does this make me dumb?

No, certainly not, as evidenced by fashion model Anina who came to Blogher and said at the closing session: …really nice to be able to talk to some girls besides only geek guys and to see so many hot chicks who know how to code. I noticed her shoes at first – I confess – while walking past her in the hall (and her height!) and after she commented to the group in the final discussion, I wanted to find out more about her. Her blog and this podcast with her impressed me!

Amazing Blogher-blogger Beth Kanter captured many fashions from Blogher, a series on shoes including Anina’s and one on jewelry including one of my earrings. And Renee Blodgett included me in a vibrant pictorial post on Blogher style (go look!). So perhaps I am getting a sense of fashion at last…;-)


Here are a few things I would change if I could about Blogher. On Saturday morning I found the music videos distracting, preventing conversations that could have happened. Music I wouldn’t mind, but visuals, such as movies or videos, detract from dialogue.

I would have added more Birds Of a Feather session or more mixing times. I longed for more time to connect. Perhaps I should have skipped sessions – but I didn’t want to miss any of those either! An icebreaker or two would have been excellent. I would have liked the ability to meet others whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

Of course, I would have liked better wi-fi, but Ted tells me even OSCON had problems sustaining wifi.

Yes, longer sessions would be good too…perhaps another day or half-day of conference?

Miriam Verberg’s post A digestive biscuit of Blogher contains wonderful suggestions, including on-site childcare (yeah!), more time for sessions and an explanation from Elisa Camahort in the comments concerning the lack of wifi.

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Taking a moment to connect with Ronni Bennett in the lobby

Blogher 2006 Speakers I’d like to see

Next year I’d like to see some who were first time-blogging-conference-attendees and perhaps first-time speakers lead sessions at Blogher. I hope the new voices and new faces will continue. I’d like to see more diversity and variety. Yet at the same time I’d also like to see some well-known women who were not at ’05 be involved in sessions and presentations at ’06, for example Linda Stone, Liz Lawley, Lili Cheng.

I hope Blogher can be a place where we believe in each other enough to let each other try new things. If part of the mission of Blogher is to help women receive more exposure, then I believe that it is crucial to reserve speaker slots for women only. How else will more women discover their skills as discussion leaders and speakers?

Where do speakers come from?

Elisa Camahort posted a helpful and fascinating explanation describing Where do speakers come from?. I would not have become a speaker at all if someone (or some group of someones) hadn’t believed in me for the first time and let me have the opportunity to try it. Dave Winer invited me to be a discussion leader at BloggerCon III and helped me get started on this path. How did Dave know who I was? I had linked to him, and he to me. But more than that, I traveled to BloggerCon II, and hung out with Lisa Williams, who knew Dave. I think we ended up having dinner with him and a group of others on Saturday night. Somehow Dave decided to ask me to be involved with BloggerCon III.

After BloggerCon, I spoke at Northern Voice. I did apply to be a speaker, but I also had met committee member Roland Tanglao at BCIII. On the way down the hall at Northern Voice, after my session, Chris and Ponzi invited me to speak at Gnomedex. Later this spring, Susan Mernit, whom I’d met at BCIII, asked me to help her with the Blogher Blogging 101 session.

I believe that there is no substitute for face to face interaction. There’s no substitute for the opportunity to meet people in person, even if it is a quick exchange of greetings or business cards shared over coffee or cocktails. Relationships are crucial. It’s an advantage that can’t be discounted. So while I am grateful for The Speaker’s Wiki and Mary’s work on it – and I added an entry for myself – I believe that networks and connections will still be powerful. After all, would you trust a random name or someone recommended by a friend? And would you choose someone who has never been a speaker or someone whom you’ve heard and know to be excellent? The way we will see more women speakers at conferences is if we continue to build relationships among each other. If we continue to get together. And if we continue to promote each other as we can and help each other find opportunities to speak and connect…and if we take advantage of the opportunities that come to us…

Are we all on the same page? How much do we need to agree with each other? Where do we go from here?

I sense conflict between the value of tolerance and also the belief in a core set of values. Listening to Ponzi’s podcasts Part 1 and Part 2, and reading blog posts, I discovered conversations where attendees disagreed. Even at the conference itself, women criticized each other. Staci Kramer’s post Blog different? BlogHer participants illustrate diversity of the Web provides an excellent summary of some of these situations. Also see Jennifer Warwick’s Dirty Girl: Gutsy Woman? and its comments. I also want to credit Nancy White for facilitating dialogue, creating community and building bridges across some of these conflicts. As Blogher continues however the culture may become more defined, whether explicitly stated or by the simple state of what happens and who comes. I hope we at Blogher are able to have a clear sense of mission while at the same time always inviting and encouraging diversity.

This is a conference that the community built Elisa Camahort said in the San Francisco Chronicle article. May it always be.

Bloggers I enjoyed meeting at Blogher and conversations I hope will continue…

(in no particular order)

danah boyd and Adina Levin – I’m grateful I was able to have a short chat with these two, both of whom I quote in my Making Masks presentation.

Liz Ditz – fun to finally meet Liz who posted thorough notes starting here

Liza Sabater – we had a great discussion about homeschooling – I asked her how she balances it all…

Halley Suitt – I got to hang with Halley and met her son too!

Susan Kitchens – writing an intense and awesome series live blogging the atomic bomb! She knows how to have fun!

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Lisa Canter – has since become a vlogger! happy birthday!

Lisa Williams what a way to spend a birthday – eh?! Thanks for the fun! And thanks for all the great daily bloghers! P.S. I meant to take a picture of the two of us too…

Susan Mernit – my energetic host and responsible for my decision to make the trip – many many thanks!

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Update: Susan also introduced me to Amy Gahran and we had fun (although I happened to be too tired that night) hanging out with her, Susannah Gardner and JD Lasica at Susan’s place Friday night.

Ponzi – I found her on my flight from Seattle and then the adventures began…!

Hadashi World – grateful to have met her! – I especially love her recent post he’s not a shoe

Nichelle Stephens I met her through Susan Mernit on Friday night

badgerbag – funny, friendly, bold – good contributor to the storytelling BOF

Lilia Efimova – great to finally meet Lilia after missing Nancy’s welcome party

Jennifer Warwick – connection through the Blogging 101 session – good blog and also I appreciated her piece Sorry My Mom and Dad Won’t Let Me Program which Scoble noted was in Fast Company.

Jenny Lauck, Jenn Satterwhite (blog down right now?! – update; it’s back now!) and Meghan Townsend – thank you for creating the powerful mommyblogging session!

Koan and Ronni – thanks to each of you for being who you are!

Elisa, Jory and Lisa …what else is there to say?! THANK YOU!

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19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amy Gahran // Aug 13, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    Hi, Julie

    Thanks for mentioning Contentious. Re: links to specific postings on my blog — If you link to my blog’s correct URL (contentious.com), you’ll find it easier.

    Great meeting you at BlogHer!

    – Amy Gahran

  • 2 Jory Des Jardins // Aug 13, 2005 at 5:49 pm


    I just read your whole post–absorbed every single word! First of all, let me say how in awe I am at your ability to take it all in and report back in such a balanced, thoughtful way. Boullabaisse could never be so nuanced!

    The Blogosphere is so young that we need “processors” people who can break it down and determine what ingredients are working. Some of us just know what tastes good, but YOU–you’re developing the secret recipe.

  • 3 Elisa Camahort // Aug 13, 2005 at 7:05 pm

    Wow. I will have to mark this and come back to it and read it again, and (dinosaur that I am) I might even print it and make notes on it. Jory: this ain’t boullabaisse, this is a full meal 🙂 I think you really caught the spirit of BlogHer, and I, like you, hope it evolves and contributes, even as the environment around us necessarily changes.

  • 4 paul // Aug 13, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    WOW, that just may be the longest blog post ever!

    It’s great to here about a successful people-powered conference, too often there is more money then passion.

    Vloggercon had that energy and excitement, thanks for sharing your experience.

  • 5 Koan Bremner // Aug 14, 2005 at 12:05 am

    When I fire up my aggregator at the beginning of each day, Julie, there’s a reason why yours is one of the very first in which I hope to see some new posts listed – because whatever you’ve written is worth reading. And not just skimming – really considering, savouring, dissecting and reflecting upon.

    Sure, I want to thank you for being kind, complimentary and appreciative towards me, in this post, in our previous communications, and in person – but most of all, I want to thank you for being *you*, and for sharing so much of that essence with your readers.

    Did you put a clock on the time it took you to write this post? I imagine the tally runs to hours, if not days… yet, for me, the result justifies the effort. Thank you!

  • 6 Ronni Bennett // Aug 14, 2005 at 3:23 am


    What a fine, thorough and fascinating take on the Blogher conference. Tons to think about from this. Like Elisa, I’m going to need to print it out and mark it up and go over it several times. Thanks for all the pertinent links too.

    So many issues you’ve raised. I’m particularly interested in community and marginalization; traffic and metrics; and linking philosophies.

    An additional issue that I do need to blog about at my place is age. Blogging has a reputation for being a young person’s medium. Surveys tell us that 90 percent of blogs are maintained by people under age 30 and I wondered, as I prepared to attend, if I would be the only older person there. And if I were, would it matter? Sometimes it does, often in a negative way, in the rest of the world.

    The excellent surprise was there were plenty of older faces at Blogher and best of all, age appeared to me to play no part. We were all a bunch of bloggers of various genres eager to meet, talk, learn and share. The rest of our culture could learn a lot from Blogher in this regard.

    Thank you for the mentions, Julie. But most of all for this fantatic summation.

  • 7 Jenn // Aug 14, 2005 at 11:31 am

    What an amazing BlogHer wrap-up! You did an amazing job summing up BlogHer! Great, great post! I, too, am going to have read, re-read and absorb all that you said.

    Thanks for the mention. And, yes, my blog was down for 2 days, but it should be back now. We are upgrading the software to see if that helps and we are trying to keep a constant eye on the server. Apparently, it is having some “issues”.

    Thanks again for such a comprehensive and amazingly in-depth and perceptive discussion of BlogHer!

  • 8 Jay // Aug 15, 2005 at 11:08 am

    This is now a blog about blogging. It used to be about life. The life of a mother, a wife, an islander. Thank you for your past blogs.

  • 9 Jay // Aug 15, 2005 at 11:08 am

    This is now a blog about blogging. It used to be about life. The life of a mother, a wife, an islander. Thank you for your past blogs.

  • 10 Jennifer Warwick // Aug 15, 2005 at 12:53 pm


    What an incredible job you’ve done synthesizing everything. This is so very helpful, as I continue to untangle my notes and all I learned.

    Thanks, too, for the generous links. I am so new at this that Susan Kitchens had to tell me I was on Scoble (!) I missed it completely. It always gives me goosebumps to think someone read what I wrote. I hope it never stops…

    Again, thank you for the hours of labor that clearly went into this post. What a gift to the rest of us!

  • 11 Nancy White // Aug 15, 2005 at 3:06 pm

    Ditto to almost ALL of the above (I’d say to Jay, blogging is part of life of a mother, islander, etc., no?) and WOW!

  • 12 Beth // Aug 15, 2005 at 6:57 pm

    Fantastic job of describing the conference – in both in action and reflection. I enjoyed every word!

  • 13 Jay Rosen // Aug 16, 2005 at 6:54 am

    Thanks for your post, Julie. You did a great job. It’s like the formula for succeeding with a small-town newspaper: mention a lot of names!

    I would like to point out that this..

    “Blogging is only perpetuating current power structures. It’s true. Perhaps we can change it. Perhaps we do need to reveal the lack of neutrality.”

    … contains two different ideas. Lack of neutrality, as you put it, or “it’s not a meritocracy!” (as others have said) is one. Perpetuating current power structures (or meet the new boss, some as the old) is another. They actually require separate proofs.

  • 14 Beth Freeman // Aug 16, 2005 at 6:09 pm

    Julie – great job synthesizing the BlogHer conference – I almost feel like I was there (no, not really). I hope I can attend next year, it sounds like it was quite an experience.

  • 15 Sour Duck // Aug 16, 2005 at 7:39 pm

    Hi Julie – Nice post, and thanks for the nod in the beginning, it’s nice to receive that kind of validation from people about my Blogher round-up posts. 😉 Cheers.

    Re: The link attached to the text “Scoble noted in Fast Company” appears to repeat the previous link to jennifer.com; I’d be interested to see the Scoble article you refer to – can you correct it or give the url here in the comments? Thanks. 🙂

  • 16 Julie // Aug 17, 2005 at 7:12 am

    WOW – Thanks to everyone for reading through my lengthy summary! I hope the community and conversation continue!

    Amy – I just went through and corrected the url I had been using for your blog to contentious.com. Sorry about that error.

    Jay – thanks for pointing out the two different proofs. I’ve been thinking about that…

    Sour Duck- I just corrected the link to Scoble to
    Sorry for the mistake!

    Jenn – I’m glad your blog is back!

    Thanks again to Jory and Elisa (and Lisa)!

    Thanks too to paul, Koan, Ronni, Nancy, Beth and Beth.

    As Lisa Williams has said, Blogher doesn’t have to end, it just has to move! Let’s keep the party and discussions going…!

  • 17 Ponzi // Aug 18, 2005 at 10:09 pm

    You are eloquent as always, wonderful post – your are an inspiration. I had a wonderful time with you and your whole crew at dinner – and beyond! 🙂

  • 18 Donna // Aug 19, 2005 at 8:50 pm

    WOW. What a wonderful recap of the BlogHer experience. Well worth waiting for!

  • 19 jenny // Aug 24, 2005 at 2:21 am

    Wow Julie.. that took some time. What a robust resource… You are so good at painting big pictures:)

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