Equal to the Love You Make
Telling people in the offline world that I am going to a women bloggers' conference always elicits an interesting response. I think they picture me and a half a dozen other geeky types sitting in someone's basement rec room with our laptops. I find it helps to drop a few names.
"Well, you know, Elizabeth Edwards was there last year. And I met Amy Sedaris."
It's inadequate shorthand. The names exorcise the spectre of the mildewy rec room, and communicate something about the scale of the event, but they don't really reflect what Blogher is all about. The fact is, it's hard to say what it's about: community, technology, networking, politics, art, feminism, family, business, girly-girl cocktails and dress-up clothes, on- and offline celebrities, corporate sponsors and swag up the wazoo, and yes, plenty of geekiness.
It's like trying to tell people what Canada is about (or aboot).
"Um. It's big..."
As with my country of origin, there are parts of Blogher to which I'm a complete stranger. We don't even speak the same language. And then there are sessions and groups in which I feel right at home.
Last year, I chose to attend several sessions where the base assumption was that readership numbers and/or advertising dollars are how the success of a blog is measured. People spoke very passionately and astutely about strategies for building traffic and positioning themselves to maximize ad revenue. I think the majority of attendees got a great deal of valuable information out of these sessions. But I felt a little like I imagine I might standing on a corner in Vancouver's Chinatown, or an Albertan might feel on the wharf down the bay in my hometown: I caught about every tenth word. Numbers really aren't my native tongue.
Where I did feel most at home was in two sleeper sessions that turned out to be electric: Art of Crafts and It's Your Passion, Not Size, That Matters. In both these panels, the focus was on process first, outcome later. Blogger after blogger stood up to share how this medium was rewarding to them in ways that had nothing to do with site meter statistics or market share. They were blogging for community, for creativity, for self-discovery and expression. Blogging for blog's sake.
I don't believe any of those values are incompatible with popularity or making money. When I wrote to the conference organizers this year, urging them to make space again for people who are reaping other, less quantifiable benefits from blogging, I suggested breaking away from the size question completely. Small can be beautiful, big can be beautiful. Making money can certainly be beautiful. Let's leave all that aside, and have a conversation about creativity, authenticity, process.
Elisa wrote back and said she wanted to also open up a discussion about blogs that are instruments of positive social change, people who are inspiring and activating their readers to make a difference in their offline communities. Perfect, I thought. Blogging as a vehicle for inner and outer transformation. And then a (compact flourescent) lightbulb switched on over my head. We've all become accustomed by now to thinking about our carbon footprint, and its impact on our physical environment. Let's talk about our blogging footprint, and its impact on our communities, on- and offline.
And lo, a panel was born:
I am so thrilled to be moderating Beautiful Blogging/Positive Posting this Saturday in San Francisco. I had a conference call with the panelists a few weeks ago, and if the duration and intensity of my goosebumps are a reliable indicator, it is going to be an amazing session.
It will be fabulous to see some of you there in person. Others, I hope, will visit the panelist's blogs and see for yourselves the seeds they are sowing:
- Krystyn Heide from the Hope Revolution
- Alyssa Royse from Just Cause It!
- Jen, of one plus two, and the leader of the JustPost project;
- and Lucrecer Braxton, and her Art Slam initiative.
Labels: streaking the quad