BlogHer Recap Part 2: Everything and the Kitchen Sink
There was a lot more to BlogHer than a bit of a fuss about public relations, including seeing so many old, and meeting so many new, friends. Since I am bound to leave someone out if I do a list, know that I was so happy to see or meet you, and was sorry I missed so many people that I know or read. Next year....
This post is going to cover a variety of things, from the unconference on Sunday to politics and why the major media didn't come to BlogHer.
In fact. let's start there. Joanne Bamberger of Pundit Mom and Jennifer Pozner at the Women's Media Center have done an excellent job of summarizing the issue: the national media didn't bother with BlogHer, with 800+ women bloggers in attendance, even though a major policy effort, BlogHers Act, was a key element of the program and Elizabeth Edwards was featured in the closing keynote. Yet a week later. everyone finds time to go to Chicago for YearlyKos.
As I posted in a comment yesterday to my previous BlogHer post, I wonder if it was in part because of the absence of assholes?
Bear with me a moment.
It's a well known fact. Disagreement and invective make better stories than agreement and community. At least as far as the mainstream media is concerned. Don't believe me? Just pick up your local morning paper and look at the front page. Besides, there really is no other explanation for Ann Coulter.
Why doesn't the mainstream media understand that 800+ women bloggers are a powerful political presence? Especially in the context of BlogHers Act, a collective effort to make a difference on a significant issue, global health?
I'm wondering if it is because the BlogHer community generally embraces its diversity instead of encouraging controversy? The media loves arguments and assholes and division, and you know, there is plenty of all three over on most political sites. But 800 women coming together out of a mutual interest in using blogs to share their experiences, whether professional, personal or political, and agreeing to respect the diversity of the community, not proselytize?
Nah. That's no fun.
It's also not right. Think about how you can change it.
Moving on, let's be crystal clear. Just because the BlogHer community isn't a bunch of jerks doesn't mean that there aren't political differences among the members. Julie Marsh, mothergoosemouse, touched upon them on both her personal blog and on Imperfect Parent. As she notes, the women in the BlogHer community are good at coming together on the areas upon which we agree. But there seems to be a liberal bent, which may be off-putting to more conservative women. How do we embrace both groups? It's not a trivial question.
Especially in context of the thing that worries me the most about US politics, which is that we seem to have become so polarized (call it red/blue if you must) that we cannot come together on anything. I posted the following on BlogHer a few weeks ago and Lisa Stone referenced my question during the Edwards keynote:
I continue to be inspired by how EE called Ann Coulter on her lies and innuendo. I would be very interested in her take on how we can return the level of US political discourse to conversation about issues. Versus the hyperbole, innuendo, cult of personality and battle of the soundbites it has become.
Can we? Or have we become so polarized, so divided (call it red state blue state if you want) that we can't talk about issues, we can only talk from positions?
If we do not agree on gay marriage, does that mean we cannot discuss healthcare? If we do not agree on abortion rights, does that mean we cannot discuss childcare? If we do not agree on the war, does that mean we cannot discuss the economy?
Certainly, it is in the best interests of the major political parties that we stay so divided. But is it in ours? I do not think so.
Okay, that's the political discussion. On to social media. As I mentioned, I attended the unconference, sponsored in part by my client HP, and I have nothing but good things to say about it. The format and facilitation were great, and I got as much out of my four hours there as I did from the previous two days. That wouldn't necessarily be the case for every BlogHer, but for us quasi or totally techie social media types, it was heaven! I wish I could have stayed until the end.
I participated in three topics: advertising on blogs, the death of communities and how do we define social media. The discussion was terrific, and I can in no way do it justice here. My notes are pretty awful :-)
But I would like to share with you some things I shared with my fellow "open spacers" last Sunday. And not just that John Mackey from Whole Foods was a jackass for his anonymous Wild Oats bashing, which he was but I'll let others wax eloquent on that. I have no time for a public company CEO with so little responsibility to his shareholders.
Back to the unconference. The three sessions I participated in gave me an opportunity to share two themes that I have been noodling for quite some time. The response in Chicago was pretty positive- thanks, BlogHers, and Hims. Would love your thoughts as well.
First, a common issue that seemed to underly all the discussions was the delta between what customers/bloggers are interested in, and what companies seem to put out, whether in advertising, blogger relations or communities. I've long thought of it in terms of product -- task -- emotion. Companies love their products, sometimes understand that tasks, not features, motivate, but rarely understand that the true motivation is the underlying emotion: WHY the person wants to do the task. Jack Vinson from Knowledge Jolt, created a good example from my starting point: We understand that the drill (product) is purchased to drill holes (task) but what we miss is that the real purpose is to build a birdhouse and watch birds.
There is almost always a higher order, emotional purpose. Look for it.
Then over lunch, we tried to come to a definition of social media, and were only slightly sidetracked by Whole Foods and furries, but not thank heaven, in the same sentence. Mackey is a vegan after all.
I shared a construct that drives my thinking of social media. For me, social media are the tools that let us return to a simplicity of communication not dissimilar from the village. Here's how it goes.
Way back when, we had villages. And in the villages, everyone knew everyone. Call it the beat of a drum or gossip or simply society. People spoke with each other, and directly learned what they needed to know. And then everything exploded. The Industrial Revolution begat the Modern Age, and mass media intermediated. You didn't get your information from someone you knew. You got it from Huntley & Brinkley, Chancellor, Tom, Dan and Peter. Mass media became the filter to our experience.
And then the Modern Age begat the Internet. And social media tools like blogs and social networks and Twitter and whatever comes next.... they allowed us to talk to each other again. Directly. Without editors.
Which means we filter a lot of crap. But it also means that a landlord can't bamboozle a young couple. And companies can't dismiss warranties. And a whole lot of other things.
Because we know each other again. In our little village called the Internet.
At least that's how I see it. What do you think?
Tags: blogher07, blogher, politics, gender, unconference, social media, social networks
Posted @ 7:08PM in BlogHer, Politics/Policy, Social media, Social networks
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It's amazing the amount of angst that gets generated over these blogodramas. Yet they do occur within our own little bubble. The facts are we have returned to an age where relationships are a must for companies, not a luxury or an ethos. And that's the great benefit of having companies participate in social media.
I like your analogy. My problem is, I feel like I'm on information overload when I surf the Internet. So many voices, so much noise - how can we find each other and find community without getting lost in the shuffle? In other words, the village is becoming too big, and because everyone has a voice, I'm having a hard time hearing you.
We have to filter. Our information is still intermediated. The difference is, we get to chose by whom. We are the mediators for each other.
Which is another way it is like the village again.
We aren't limited to the vision of some media conglomerate or mogul to tell us what's news. We have the power to make our own newscast. Hopefully a balanced one.
But, doncha know there are no women bloggers! ;-)
(P.S. I wish Elizabeth Edwards were running for president! I loved hearing her take on that pathetic excuse for a "writer" Ann Coulter. Sorry, Ann - hair flipping isn't a valid intelligent response.)
I'm definitely going to have to come to the next BlogHer conference.