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July 27, 2005

PressThink, Live from the BlogHer Conference

I will be attending the BlogHer Conference this weekend in Santa Clara, CA. I'm sure it will be quite different from the three BloggerCon events I was at in October 2003, April 2004, and November 2004.

Next stop Silicon Valley. I will be attending the BlogHer Conference this weekend in Santa Clara, CA. I‘m sure it will be quite different from the three BloggerCon events I was at in October 2003, April 2004, and November 2004. The goals are to lift the visibility of women bloggers and strengthen their network. (Including an ad network.) I am going as “press,” but then everyone there will be press. So I’m going to see what happens and learn what I can.

Not sure how, yet, but I plan to write about it for PressThink and the Huffington Post.

More than 80 percent of the 300 or so participants are women, including all the speakers, the formidable advisory board (go here, scroll down), and the people who pulled it all together: PressThink contributor, Surfette blogger and legal journalist Lisa Stone, and her co-conspirators Elisa Camahort, and Jory Des Jardins, with Purvi Shah, and Katrin Verclas. (Here’s the feed for all the blogs of participants.)

Among the sessions I am most looking forward to:

Some people I am looking forward to meeting or seeing again: Lauren Gelman and Wendy Seltzer, who were the heroes of our bloggers brief in the Apple v. Does case in California; Nancy White, whom I met when I was first starting to write online in 1997-99; Mena Trott, co-founder of Six Apart (whom I want to thank personally for the invention of Movable Type), PressThink reader and citizen journalist Lisa Williams (who does daily BlogHer round-ups, but also see ); NYU grad Emily Gordon, author of the elegant emdashes, a blog about the New Yorker; new media wiz Amy Gahran of Contentious (see her post, “Let’s Put Press Releases Out of their Misery.”) Here’s Gahran on her ethic of blogging.

I firmly believe that the point of weblogging is not merely to have your own blog, but to participate more fully in the public conversation. This means reading and commenting on other peopleís blogís Ė ideally at least as much as you post in your own.

And she’s added a new feature on her home page: “What Amy’s been saying around the web…” I like that image: around.

Plus the cookie and coffee breaks, the cocktail party after, the big dinner the night before— usually the best parts of any conference: people who have a common passion. If you’re a PressThink reader or lurker and will be at the conference, please say hello in the comments or in Santa Clara.

The voices I be missing most from the mix: Rebecca Blood, diviner of the form (she’s on the BlogHer board, though); Jeneane Sessum, who at Allied “writes about Loss, Love, and Life, not necessarily in that order;” Jenny D, education blogger with the ex-newsroom mind and a threader of comments at PressThink. Probably the biggest disappointment for me is not to be hearing from Jude Nagurney Camwell, the Rational Liberal , and blogger with the big voice and great material.

Chris Nolan gave some words of welcome to Kevin Drum, Mister Political Animal: “I think you’ll be very surprised to see that this is NOT a convention about ‘why it’s unfair that men run the world.’ Nor is it a ‘sisterhood-only’ event. It’s for EVERYONE.” (Drum is scheduled to be there. The backstory to the invitation is interesting.) I trust Chris, who is also a guest writer for PressThink.

If is for everyone (and I’ll buy that…) then it’s fair to count as missing from the conversation (I assume by choice, although I don’t really know) the bigger right side bloggers like Michelle Malkin, and LaShawn Barber, or Michelle Catalano of A Small Victory, or someone like Betsy Newmark, along with (my recommendation) Robin Burk, of the popular and her own blog. I think it would have been interesting, too, had Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette) come. All would have stirred the pot.

(I asked Renee Blodget, who is on the advisory board, whether any special efforts were made to invite the authors of some of the more popular blogs by conservative women. She reminded me that politics is only one topic in a conference with many themes, that BlogHer is officially non-partisan, and “an opportunity for all women bloggers as individuals, not an agenda.” She also said: “LaShawn Barber actually was one of our key choices and she agreed to speak. Later, she had a family conflict and had to cancel.”)

The way I see it, is a conference of and about women writers, all of them authors of online selves, who share certain problems in common, many of which have ended up on the program.

Probably the best pre-conference post I have seen is from Shelley Powers at Burningbird, When we are Needed. (Got a great one? E-mail PressThink.) It begins by asking why women are leaving the tech industry lately. It ends by questioning our trust in competition as the great filter for quality work. (And see her follow-up post.)

Thus: “Some would say that we need to make women more competitive, but I donít think thatís the answer because I donít think weíre asking the right question. The real question is: do we women want to compete more, or do we want to get men to compete less?”

See my report (July 31): Notes and Comment on BlogHer ‘05.

Posted by Jay Rosen at July 27, 2005 12:47 AM