July 31, 2005
Notes and Comment on BlogHer '05
"A blog, you see, is a little First Amendment machine." The people at the BlogHer conference saw that. Many of them saw it better than I did. For in addition to its glories they spoke of the terrors of free speech, which seems to me a more balanced picture.
Santa Clara, CA. I am not a photographer, and did not bring a camera. But I cannot recall wanting to be a photographer more than I did when I first walked into the Andiamo Cafe Friday night and “saw” BlogHer ‘05. It was just so interesting to look at. Maybe twenty rows of long picnic-style tables, all filled with women writers who, sharing various Net connections, were seeking that human connection, and starting to find it— and naturally to confer. (Pic.)
According to Lisa Stone, whose idea got things rolling, the point of the BlogHer Conference ‘05 was to get beyond asking: “where are the women bloggers?” One looked around the Andiamo. Here were the women bloggers. Everyone was taking pictures because that is part of what people do at blogging conferences. I had no camera. So I took these notes instead.
1. Amy Gahran wrote before BlogHer : “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.” Right, I believe that too. Or I thought I did.
Some of the women bloggers had a different point: blogging was fuller participation in a private conversation already being shared across social space. Thus: “Moms in the neighborhood were talking about these things, so I put them in my blog.” Or: “I started this as news for my extended family and it grew from there.”
The desire to make public a conversation already going on among people you know is not the same thing as people’s desire to join the public conversation they know is out there. Both types crowded the rooms at BlogHer, sometimes within the same woman. (Also see Gahran’s follow-up post.)
2. Lots of free-floating hostility toward the Technorati Top 100 in the opening session on Saturday (“Play by today’s rules, or change the game?”) but this was indistinguishable from the free-floating hostility toward those—including one’s self—who would take the Technorati 100 seriously enough to discuss it in plenary session at a conference like this!
And so the debate about “playing the game” (with men) sustained itself in part by repeatedly disdaining itself, rather like people do when they speak about the bloggers vs. journalists debate by first apologizing for it: I don’t want to get into the whole “are bloggers journalists?” thing, they’ll say, but… And of course they quickly get into it. Why this happens I am not sure, but it has something to do with a conversation being both stuck and unavoidable.
3. Several participants made a sensible-sounding suggestion. There’s nothing wrong with a list of top blogs, they said, but they would be more useful if drawn from networks of affiliated or “same style” bloggers. Rather than the Top 100 blogs in the whole world, which is silly and abstract, the top bloggers in an online world meaningfully divided.
For example: The top mommy bloggers, as they call themselves and are called by others. Marc Canter told the crowd: Make a BlogHer Top 100, and tell the men to kiss off. Still, it wasn’t clear to me why the same free-floating hostility wouldn’t just float over to the moms who topped that list, or the women on the BlogHer 100.
But there’s an insight in the suggestion to diversify the lists. It’s the same insight that gave rise to the blog roll as a feature of the weblog form. A weblog typically makes sense within a conversational “field” made up of other weblogs, to which it is related. We tend to look at the blog and ask how it works as free-standing page, but we should really look at the blog and the world it habitually links to because most of the time that package is what actually “works.” The individual weblog is to some degree an illusion. There is no free-standing page.
4. “Citizen journalism is more fun to do than to discuss,” writes Adina Levin after one of the sessions I attended. I have to agree. It was surprising how “in the way” the term citizen journalism was in almost every discussion of it. People seemed more engaged in their various problems with the language (“the tired old wordgames,” Levin called them) than in the activity the words were supposed to designate.
Of course if there is anyone to blame for this, it’s people like myself who circulate such terms or on occasion even think them up.
5. At the session on flaming and anger online, at the Blogging 101 workshop, at the discussion about identity blogging, and here and there in almost every other session I heard women talking about the personal attacks they had either expected or received. They discussed stalking and whether blogging led to it. They talked about losing their jobs if they said the wrong thing on their blog. They spoke about their children and whether kids were put in danger when mom blogs. (See this.) They asked about publishing your address and what could happen if you did. They spoke about their dread when an anonymous blog was traced to them. They said they were filled with anxiety that someone they knew was going to read their blog.
It seemed to me (and I told the conference this part) that these were reflections on a kind of terror that is by now deeply associated with the Internet, especially the strangers who are on it. At a conference of bloggers that was 80 percent men and 20 percent women (the usual ratio) this would barely be heard. I don’t recall many expressions of dread from bloggers at the three BloggersCons I attended.
Here it was routine, which is not to say bloghercon was dominated by expressions of terror (because it wasn’t, at all…) but rather in a conference that is 80 percent women—and where 100 percent of the tone was set by women—there were no disincentives to speaking about raw fears connected intimately to the act of blogging. (See Halley Suitt on the differences.)
6. But of course these same people, possessed of Net fears, were also possessed of blogging, despite whatever alarms they might have sounded in questions and comments. They weren’t being stopped but they were being open about being scared. What was most impressive to me was the way the speakers and presenters dealt with fears from the floor, which they were often asked to do.
Simple example from the “How to Get Naked” session: If you tell the people you’re afraid might read your blog what you really think, then you don’t care if they read it. This is extremely practical advice. If you don’t want it on the front page of the New York Times, don’t publish it in your weblog.
Koan Bremner: If you out yourself, no one can out you. (Practical, also powerful.) Heather Armstrong: “I have a husband who is 6-3, and he is very protective of me.” (And so even though it’s possible some deranged troll will come after me, I am not really worried about it, and will keep writing in this personal way of mine.)
7. We live more and more in a world where terror is used against us, and we’re supposed to be fighting a war against it. We’re told that war has many fronts; and one of the fronts is what we permit to terrorize us, which is to some degree within our control.
I think the happiest conference goers at BlogHer were probably the newbies, people who want to start blogging or just did. They got a lot of good information and advice. Some of the best information was actually dispensed in response to the fears provoked by blogging, which shouldn’t be avoided, the sages said, but examined, turned around, defused, and creatively shrunk.
In Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over (Jan. 15) I wrote: “A blog, you see, is a little First Amendment machine.” The people at the BlogHer conference did see that. Many of them saw it better than I did. For in addition to its glories they spoke of the terrors of truly free speech that actually reaches people. This seems to me a more balanced picture.
By the way, it’s one of the facts about journalists the public is least likely to know. What every reporter who has come up through the ranks remembers about starting out is the dread: the fear of being wrong, of screwing up a story big time, of being responsible for a falsehood that gets printed in the newspaper or aired.
That fear is actually an awareness of the power of the press to damage the truth. In that sense it is a healthy thing and to completely unlearn it is not at all wise.
After Matter: Notes, reactions and links…
Rebecca Blood comments:
Jay can’t possibly understand the ‘safety’ messages women are inundated with from the time they are born. Don’t go out after dark by yourself. Don’t walk in dangerous parts of town. Don’t accept rides from strangers. I don’t hear these women expressing a fear of the Internet — in these issues I hear a very familiar fear of the world.
In my pre-conference post, I said that hers would be one of the voices I most missed at BlogHer.
Shelley Powers at Burningbird responds to this post, and links to many other reflections on BlogHer, arguing with some: “I don’t think the conference focused unduly on ‘terror’ or fears of this or that exposure.”
I think that Jay’s journalism background played a major part in how he framed the discussion and he naturally did as a journalist would: he opted for the catchy phrase. Let’s face it, “terror” is a grabber. This isn’t, necessarily, to imply a criticism of what Jay wrote, or the terminology he used.
Burningbird also has an illuminating reply (same post) to Halley Suitt’s: He-conferences and She-conferences. Knowing Halley, I think she’ll answer.
I agree: the conference did not focus unduly on terror. I said it frequently went there, and not just in one session, either. In fact it did. But as I wrote, this is “not to say bloghercon was dominated by expressions of terror (because it wasn’t, at all.)”
Jory Des Jardins took a trans-Atlantic flight home after BlogHer, and on the plane she wrote this jam-packed post about how it all went down. A must if you were there. If you weren’t, I recommend it, and her. She was one of the triumphant co-organizers of the event. And thanks for the kind words, JDS.
Christopher Carfi was one of the cooler participants in BlogHer. I should have cornered him for a discussion. He does an excellent job in BlogHer: Stretching Outside The Comfort Zone.
Equally fine—a work of writing, linking and thinking—is Jarah Euston’s post at Fresno Famous, Hot chicks who code: BlogHer 2005. She interprets a national event for local users with great skill.
I admire the job Evelyn Rodriguez did in her reflections: All the Maps Change When…
“Hot chicks who code” was a phrase introduced to BlogHer by Anina, “a fashion model based in Paris and known by her first name only…” (according to cell phones etc., which says: “Blog your way to the top - mobile behaviour from a geeky supermodel.”) (A pitch, in other words.) She also said fashion models rarely speak out on anything, which I’m sure is true. “It’s great to be among so many hot chicks who know code,” she told the crowd. Here she is with conference heroine Lisa Stone, photo by JD Lasica. Anina is on the left.
Lisa Williams, a PressThink regular and BlogHer presenter, has some similar reflections: Fear and Blogging in San Jose:
The “fear talk” I hear from people when I tell them that I blog— well, I realized, I do have an idea about where I think that comes from. It comes from other people’s well meaning and unconscious enforcing of social norms.
Also see, on the same theme, Arieanna at Blogaholics, who says my description of Net fears at BlogHer is “fairly accurate.” The ones she noticed: “fear of security, personal violation, flames, stalkers, of letting go of inhibitions, of voice.”
Roxanne Cooper at Rox Populi: “To me, it seemed there was an inordinate amount of whining about flamers, trolls, etc. at Blogher. And I think this is why the fellers believe the girls aren’t up for the ‘food fight inherent in blogging.’”
Ronni Bennett of As Time Goes By (which has the best logo and header of any blog I have seen): “In no way did I have any sense that fear, let alone terror, was as big a concern as Jay indicates, aside from practicalities… I didn’t feel the women at Blogher were overly concerned about it.”
Well, I didn’t say overly concerned, Ronni. Notably concerned: that was my observation. In my pre-conference post, PressThink, Live from the BlogHer Conference, I told my readers I would be especially interested in comparing BlogHer to the three Bloggercons (80 percent men) that I attended. At the three Bloggercons these expressions of Net terror were extremely rare. Thus: “notably concerned.” I also think it’s rational to express such fears, and irrational to completely avoid them— “not at all wise.”
For observations that give a sense of being at the conference, see Beth’s Blog.
Adina Levin in comments:
Upon reflection, it’s the “definition wars” that are tired and stuck. “Are bloggers journalists?” “Should we call it ‘citizen journalism’ or something else?” “Should bloggers who report be “credentialed.” These conversations are about trying to constrain a new genre to fit the constraints of an older genre, and trying to preserve a cartel against new entrants.
Dave Winer links to this post and comments: “Interesting that I find it easier to read and point to a man’s account of the conference…”
Here’s a page of links for who blogged each session, if you’re interested. (by Antonella Pavese.) Also see this post at the BlogHer site for where conference posts are being indexed.
Renee Blodgett took down part of what I said at the closing session:
“My second discovery was — and I didn’t expect this part — terror. Lots of people brought up the terror of the Internet and what to do about it. People attack me, what if I have a stalker, how do I protect my kids, my family, how do I not get fired. This is an important consideration. We live in a world of terror. Instead of accepting it, the people at this conference are bringing the terror on. There are ways to defeat that. There are ways to blog where you can’t be attacked anymore. There’s something important about going out and meeting this terror….”
According to this report from conference co-honcho Elisa Camahort, there were some who felt my comments patronizing or clueless or both. (She thinks I was being genuine.) See: My personal view on Jay Rosen’s “terror” comment: “I could tell the room was taken aback… Most of us were feeling so uplifted, empowered and energized by the day that we couldn’t imagine what he meant.”
But then see the comments, where there is a change in tone. Nancy White: “I realized I didn’t ‘get’ Jay’s comment on the first go round. When I read his Sunday blog post, I did. And BIG time. What I got was that we made it DISCUSSABLE…”
For a different view, see Tish G on my improper use of the T word.
Nancy took down my other observation at the closing plenary. She has me saying:
I wrote on my blog, a weblog is a First Amendment Machine. After hanging out with you I understand that a lot more. It is an extension of free speech and press to the people. Not a press on their behalf… If blogging is a practice of freedom, it is completely inadequate unless it is a whole practice and to be that it must have women.
Kevin Drum, the Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, has published some of his observations from the conference. I excerpt two from a substantial post:
If your goal is to influence public discourse, then links and traffic matter whether you like it or not — and I think it’s important not to kid ourselves about this, especially among people who are having trouble making their voices heard…
For a group of people whose contempt for mainstream journalism is so furious you’d think they’d all been abused as children by Dan Rather, bloggers sure do spend a lot of time kvetching about not being considered journalists. Here’s a hint, though: if you’ve never picked up the telephone to call some newsworthy figure and ask a question, you’re probably not a journalist. Just a thought.
Read Drum. He gets a lot of comments, so if you are interested check back with his post. I added one at Drum’s place. Excerpt: “To be crude for a moment, I felt they should have gone ahead with a heavyweight showdown between very accomplished women bloggers, with traffic, who are in the political blogging game— two from the left, two from the right.”
Roxanne Cooper in comments: “I think it would have been great if some very accomplished, heavy-weight media critics with a sizeable readership covered Blogher. My match-ups: David Carr and Jack Schaefer.”
Courtney Lowery of New West Network, who moderated the politics panel (missed it while at something else.) Consider the Discussion Opened.
See Lauren Gelman’s reflections on the confounding language of citizen journalism at BlogHer: “I think what many bloggers who call themselves citizen journalists are doing is more akin to the role of ‘sources’…” She says: “I’d rather be a source.” Gelman directs Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.
Mary-Lynn Bragg at SFist has a comprehensive overview of her day at BlogHer, with photos.
Robert Scoble of the well-read Scobleizer:
You know I was a skeptic about this conference when I first heard about it. But Lisa Stone, one of the organizers, won me over. I’m really bummed I wasn’t able to be there. But, actually, it’s almost better than I’m not. As I read the blogs here I realize I’m part of the problem and need to just sit back, read, and hear what’s being discussed there.
It’s time to learn, not time to participate…
Liza Sabater in comments: “It is not fear of being harmed but the fear of doing something that you were never trained to do before.”
Hey, PressThink made the list of “10 blogs I’d choose if forced to read only 10,” put together by the Houston Chronicle’s tech columnist and blogger Dwight Silverman. Thanks, Dwight. I admire his work, especially this coverage.
It’s an honor to have been included in a similar Top Ten from John Robinson, the blogger and editor of the News & Record in Greensboro, NC.
Given the attention it got at this conference (see Halley’s Comment) and what it has come to stand for, the Technorati Top 100 is a sloppy product. The list seems like an after-thought. I doubt it has an owner within the company tending to it. For example, while the list says it is organized by number of inbound links, it actually counts the number of sites, not links. It includes in the Top 100 meaningless pages (this Corante page is not a blog, but a summary of what’s on other blogs) and sites that are not blogs and have nothing to do with blogging.
Tag: Blogher. Not that Technorati tags actually work. For me they neither work (my tagged posts do not show up) nor make much sense when explained to non-techies. (Yes, I’ve pinged Technorati.) But this is par for the course in the tech industry, which—in general—has never cared about non-techie users (bad enough) and doesn’t know that it doesn’t care (worse.)
Posted by Jay Rosen at July 31, 2005 1:42 AM
I think one of my observations from BlogHer is that these two dicourses, hey, it's citizen journalism and when are blogger journalists? are very much in the way at this point: boring to some, scary to others, perfect for all in striking poses. I recall at one point thinking to myself: "it's the revenge of the abstractions..."
I have seen vocabularies get in the way hundreds of times, so it wasn't a novel experience when I encountered it at BlogHer. But I was forced to contemplate a strange fact: given the choice of things to talk about, people will often revert to the "problems I am having with the language." Where do they learn this? Certainly I have my own ideas, but what do others say?
Adina had it right: "The definitions and social structures will emerge out of the work people are doing. Someday, someone will define it in terms that will stick." You can see "definiton wars" as turf battles, attempts to limit and monopolize discussion, proxy fights for ego or status points.
But they are also signs of an early stage of development in "We Media" (grrr, there's another one of those abstractions) where debate-about and capacity-for overwhelms the activity-of part. I agree that's immature, but let's remember it's an immature social practice we speak of.
I tried to warn about some of this in Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over. I thought my point then was: this is not a useful set of terms, people, we better move on. The world has. "Over" meant: vehicle out of gas, not that people would stop talking about it. Today most who link to that essay do so to say, "despite what Jay Rosen says about it being over..." And then they give it new gas.
They play off what I said, and link to it, but that's different from actually thinking about it. By the way, there's something wrong with the link-based system for measuring blog weight. Some links don't think.
I try to put some insight into my post, KT. If you find none there, fair enough. For you, that's one failed post. But I'm not sure what you mean by "personal insight." What counts as personal to you?
Here's what I posted at Kevin Drum's Political Animal:
I was at the conference, as well; it was nice to say hello to you, Kevin.
Cal: I specifically asked the organizers if they had made any efforts to get some of the top women right side bloggers, like Michelle Malkin, and LaShawn Barber, or Michelle Catalano of A Small Victory, or perhaps Betsy Newmark.
Renee Blodgett, who is on the advisory board, confirmed that Barber was invited to speak, and had accepted, but had to withdraw for personal reasons. She recommended Ambra Nykol. (Her conference post.)
See my pre-conference post for more.
Blodgett also said something that gets to Nancy's quarrel with Kevin about the definition of politics hiding inside the standard issue political blogs. She said that only a fraction of the event was about that kind of politics, and so if you could have gone but didn't because of the imbalance in that one fraction, well, the "bias" is yours.
Nonetheless, it would be correct to say that this was a conference of women who were way more liberal than conservative, in so far as we allow them to be defined by that.
Missed Opportunity: To be crude for a moment, I felt they should have gone ahead with a heavyweight showdown between very accomplished women bloggers with traffic, who are in the political blogging game-- two from the left, two from the right. (Then get a Bay Area blog-savvy woman journalist or radio host as moderator.)
My match-ups: Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left with Suburban Guerilla's Susie Madrak, and, opposite them, Michelle Catalano of A Small Victory, and Betsy Newmark. It would have been theatre, and I suppose you could say "standard-issue" conference programming to boot. Still, they shoulda.
I shared a good many of Kevin's frustrations with the citizen journalism and A-List discussions. I also think there's a lot to what Nancy says, but introducing "the personal is the political" is a tactical error. Online, the reactions to the phrase will trump reactions to its referent in this case.
A question not represented at the conference (but it could have been) was: what are the big poly blogs missing that we're swimming in? And what do they have that we (well, some of us) might want?
Okay, Trout. I understand your question now.
You're right, having been at a lot of blogging conferences (more than four, actually) there was not much that was new in the how-to and "bloggers meet the issues..." departments for me.
I went to learn why people blog, and what carries them toward the news, toward politics and public debate when they are drawn that way. For many people there, however, this "claim a public voice" thing, and everything derived from it, was not very relevant to the weblogs they had, and the why of doing theirs. At the level of 50 readers, some of whom you know, it's another kind of writing. But it has everything to do with freedom of expression.
The more you reflect on the vast differences and incomparables that separate one kind of blogging and blogger from another, the more you realize that what many have been predicting--that the term "blogging" will fade from use as non-descriptive or nonsensical--needs to start happening now.
We won't be having these "blogger" conferences for long for the same reason that we do not have e-mailing conferences today. We use e-mail. But we don't call ourselves e-mailers very often, or get together on that basis. I think there is still enough basis in "blogger" and "women blogger" to hold a great conference next year, and the next. Beyond that...?
At the level of analysys, there is less and less sense in the term "blogger" itself. Women blogger: Better, but still iffy. Mommy blogger: different story entirely. People will raise their hands and call themselves such, with equal indignation at being restricted to it and pride in representing self as that. These were by all accounts the most foul mouthed and rowdy subgroup in Santa Clara.
In the Start Making Sense portions part of my weekend, I was often adjusting my categories to what, who was actually at BlogHer. Trying to find terms that fit and made sense, instead of the ones I brought with me. That's normal conference mode, but very necessary in this one.
Jory Des Jardins had a view: "He attended sessions and chatted people up throughout with a purely inquisitive attitiude, sort of like, 'Tell me more about this estrogen thing.'"...
Now I thought that was one of the oldest tricks in the female reporter's book. "Could you help me? I don't know anything about..." when in fact you know something about... but need to know more, way more.
The conference reinforced something I have felt for a long time, especially after BloggerCon Three. PressThink needs a second author, a regular contributor, another voice alternating now and then with mine, and it has to be a woman. I admire very much the way Terry Teachout does it. (See Our Girl in Chicago.) My definition of a heavyweight culture blogger is him.
Jay, I don't have a reporter's sensibilities for what grabs attention, but I do know a charged word when I see one. Your use of the word "terror," hung in the air like a haze obfuscating the rest of your speech. It was an unfortunate choice, as there were several at my table rolling their eyes with listening shut down by a cheap sensationalist trick at worst and a clueless pontification at best.
Perhaps, the only way that you can relate to the concerns of women and the struggle that many face to perserve the integrity of their life and person is to equate it to your own fear. And that's what caused the inappropriate framework to be associated and expressed by you. Liza did a better job of explaining this with her gentler "...terror is too strong a word unless you are using it as a socio-political statement about culture that goes beyond blogging...," but then, she's a more eloquent writer than I am. Isn't it great that blogging gives voice even to those of us who have a point of view, but not the craftiness of language manipulation of, say, a journalism professor?
From reading your account, I'm almost convinced that we attended different conferences. Perhaps it's because we attended different sessions, chatted with different people, or came to the conference with a different perspective.
A verbal mud wrestle between female versions of the nightly fare on the WWF of cable tv news, Fox, where the fight is what's important and not the issues would have been a disappointing result for BlogHer and its attendees. This line of thinking is precisely why traditional media is losing its relevance and audience.
While your lense on the conference is a journalistic one, and the conference had a core that supports that lense, much more went on at BlogHer than your analysis represents or recognizes. My take away from BlogHer was business opportunity and networking. Since the conference, I've had little time to reflect on the philosophical undertones and overtones of the event as I've been busy closing leads and extending business relationships initiated at BlogHer and by my participation in it.
BlogHer provided a unique opportunity for me to meet and network with women that I would never have met in my normal professional circles. It allowed me to create possibilities of working with more women in business relationships which is something that excites me.
Are you sure you were at the same BlogHer conference that I attended? I wonder.
Frankly, mobile jones, I didn't have a fully formed point when I rose to make my one remark to the conference as a whole. Was I supposed to? I would not call it one of my shining moments in public speaking, but so what? I had a great time at the conference, the conference had a great time with itself; people got what they came for, and in most cases more. Surely that is what counts.
My comments were a small and non-signifying part of BlogHer. They came at the end, after the conference had accomplished most of its aims. That they did not go over particularly well at your table or among the crowd generally neither surprises nor dismays me.
I think anyone who has ever been baffled by the world knows there are plenty of times when one must indeed appear clueless.
You must criticize my terms and descriptions if you think them wrong, and false to the event. That you and Tish choose the word "inappropriate" for an intellectual disagreement involving how to talk about terror is, I think, a fact significant in whatever dispute there is. (Tish: "Jay Rosen Inappropriately Uses the 'T' Word.")
I knew I could write about what I was trying to say to the conference; and I figured that fair minded people would read it and figure from there. Some will, some won't.
You are so right, jones, that much more went on at BlogHer than my analysis represents or recognizes. I would think a post that links to 25 + other views of the same event would be in rather obvious harmony with that most welcome reminder.
Roxanne: What is the first rule of fight club? If I take on a second author, I would certainly consider, and look for, someone who is an "amateur" or citizen critic, not a member of the press club or media world.
Good notes, Jay. I think the T word is too strong because of the WOT, and you chose it more because a) it IS sensationalist, and b) "fear" and "jitters" are close enough to justify "terror", if you want.
On the other hand, jitters doesn't stop one from posting about your job, your boss, or pictures of your kids. Fear does, so much fear you censor your actions (NOT post, not describe your BDSM). When does fear become terror?
You don't mention the Iraq war; I haven't gone thru many of the 25+ links to see if any of the women are writing about it. You didn't mention economics, gov't deficits, tax cuts, spending, etc. either; and you didn't mention Moral Values (abortion, gay marriage) -- the three main axes of the last Presidential election.
I think a lot more men are more interested in WINNING, and why. In politics, in sports; even in business.
"A verbal mud wrestle between female versions of the nightly fare on the WWF of cable tv news, Fox, where the fight is what's important and not the issues would have been a disappointing result for BlogHer and its attendees. This line of thinking is precisely why traditional media is losing its relevance and audience."
This quote sees the contest and importance of winning, and notes that such would be a disappointment for BlogHer. Because men and women have different interest levels in winning.
(The quote is wrong about why media is losing audience, the Leftist bias is why. Where is the outrage over Leftist Air America "borrowing" hundreds of thousands of dollars from a charity, and not paying it back? Too much BBC seems like PR for the terrorists, who can't even be called that "t" word.)
But these issues don't seem to have been the focus of the Con.
Arguing about the definitions is always reasonable in communication -- the alternative is using words which speakers and listeners understand in different meanings, therefore miscommunication.
Harry Potter #6 has an early chapter about Diagon Alley, with shops boarded up, few in the street, people afraid. A clear view of a nearly terrorized society. (Islamofascists are Death Eaters!)
Lack of status in any social situation is an inhibitor of free speech. But that much seems obvious.
A recent AP article on young people and blogging took an interesting tone whereby it cautioned about blogging about one's private life because of possible stalkers.
But what isn't being said is that in a media saturated by celebreties who bear all--literally and figuratively--and who are touted as role models for young people. Many folks, not just the young, lose perspective and think that they, like those they admire, should engage in a similar kind of media confessional.
It is not wise, nor informed, but it happens. Usually because no one ever says that it's kind of foolish to have an individual whose "life" is mostly p.r. personna as a role model. More often than not, personnas are paraded as reality. Nick and Jessica--need I say more?
I should add that one of the painful lessons of the Internet also represented by blogging, and lurking underneath the discussion of Top 100s, is that having some voice (but not a lot) in the blogosphere can actually heighten feelings of invisibility. It's like you are being ignored in a new way. This generates resentment, which is based on something real.
Again, I think this has to do with the cult of celebrity, as well as with the intention of the blogger. Is the blogger looking for a higher profile? Does the blogger understand that, perhaps, to gain the higher profile one needs not just education, facility with words, and a certain kind of profession, but also connections. I am always skeptical of the "unknown" blogger who all of a sudden swoops out of nowhere to become big-time. Usually, when you poke the soft underbelly, you find a fancy degree and a media connection. Jolie in NYC...who I imagine had a press agent lined up well before she was outed.
Your comment also speaks to the intention of the blogger--something rarely discussed. From what I have read, it is often assumed that the intention of every blogger is, say, citizen journalism or "dear diary," when in fact, the uses of blog software, and the intention of bloggers is far more vast. Blogs that are used for business purposes, or for p.r. for non-profits, might not necessarily be "citizen journalism." Likewise many of the "dear diary" people have no clue that the BlogPowers That Be consider their blogs journalism. Many of them would be rather surprised to hear of themselves considered in the same breath with someone who is cracking corruption on the school board. And, frankly, if the diarists thought they were part of that, many might stop blogging altogether.
The blogger's intention and self-perception counts towards the perception of invisibility on the Internet. I got some interesting comments when I talked about exactly that here">http://http://lovehopesexdreams.blogspot.com/2005/07/eye-of-beholder.html>here. We are all part of the Technorati tail, and we all seem to view it differently because the intentions of our blogs are different.
Blog intention, too, may evolve over time. The personna one starts with might change as one matures in the Blogosphere (if one chooses that path.)