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BlogHer 2006: Saturday, July 29, Part 1
Saturday, 2006 August 5 - 10:47 am
The conference itself.

Before I get into the conference details, a note about our hotel, the Hyatt San Josť. It wasn't as nice as the Westin where we stayed last year. The staff was friendly and they clearly were trying to make it a nice place, but the rooms were tiny, there was a weird smell from their cleaning solutions, and our room was right across from the dang VTA station.

Opening Session

So on to the conference. We go to the meeting room and there's a bunch of women chatting and typing away on their laptops.

It was at this point that I discovered that I'd forgotten my laptop AC adapter back in North Carolina. D'OH! So I only have a couple hours of battery life to work with. More on this in a second.

So we get to an opening keynote session... of sorts. After a short introduction from Elisa, Jory, and Lisa, we're subjected to some marketing stuff about Windows Live Spaces and The BeJane spokeswomen start talking about their women-centric home improvement site, and some people seem to find it a little condescending. "Who's ever changed a light bulb in their house? ME TOO!" I would later hear them called "The math-is-hard Barbies".

To me, their shtick sounds like one of those horrible booth-babe marketing presentations like you'd hear at any technical conference in the country: over-rehearsed, overly perky, and completely disconnected with the audience. Apparently I'm not the only one who finds this uninteresting, based on the level of chatter in the room.

(In general, I found this year's conference to be a little more commercial... which is, I suppose, a success for the conference in one view, but I liked last year's grass-roots community spirit a little more.)

While I'm sitting at the table, a guy next to me asks to borrow my laptop, ostensibly to look at info for conference sessions. It turns out he wants to shill his product on BlogHer forums. And he's forgotten his password and has to spend fifteen minutes getting it sent to him. And he ate Amy's cake, and put his bag down on top of his own food. And he wants to trade seats so he's sitting between me and Amy, because he's deaf in one ear. All in all, he's a little... odd.

We get to an open-mike session where people talk about "how have blogs changed your world?" It's kind of a broad question, and some people seem to take it as "time to tell everyone about my blog", to the point of just rambling sometimes. There are a couple of good quotes, though: Mary Hodder from Dabble says blogs "give her a voice without yelling". Amen to that. And Elisa says blogging is "the gateway drug of technology".

At 10:00, there are "birds-of-a-feather" meet-up sessions, and there are also GM cars available for test driving in the parking lot. Amy really wanted to test drive one of the Saturn Sky convertibles they had out there, but she instead insisted on supporting me while I went to the Apple Store to pick up a new AC adapter. I feel a little guilty because of the chain of events that led here: I was dumb enough to forget my AC adapter, I had to go to the Apple store, Amy doesn't get to drive the Saturn. Sorry, hunny boo.

Session 1: Mommy Blogging

We get back to the conference a little late for the 11:00 sessions. I go to the mommy-blogging session because that's where all my friends are. But since we're late, we're in the back of a room with 300 people in it, and it's about 250 degrees inside. I think I actually hear eggs frying somewhere. What's with the lack of air conditioning, Hyatt? (I do have a bottle of mineral water with me that some sponsor is giving out. It's called Contrex, but a lot of people just call it "ass water". Several note that "it tastes like it has aspirin dissolved in it." But hey, I'm thirsty, and it's wet.)

The session is a little unfocused. The first half of the discussion mostly concerns whether the mommy-blogging label is denigrating, and whether mommy-bloggers are still dismissed as unimportant. While I agree that this was a valid concern last year, it seems like the mommy-bloggers have taken ownership of the term (and the phenomenon itself) and turned it into something empowering. And indeed, some people talk about the strength they draw from the mommy-blogging community. Mindy notes the volume of search traffic she receives, from mothers looking to find others with similar experiences as their own.

I see a bit of a paradox in the discussion: on the one hand, people don't like to be labeled as a "mommy-blogger"; but on the other hand, people want to be part of a community. Hey look, if you're in a community, you kinda can't avoid the label.

I find that the discussion is going around in circles a bit, and it's almost as if people are looking for a way to prove that they've been victimized by The System. Some of the women seem to try to counter that, and Alice very rightly points out that mommy blogs are not being singled out for criticism. (This is also right about the time she tried to make Melissa* cry by talking about her. Awesome.)

Did I mention how freakin' hot it is in that room?

I don't think mommy bloggers need any more coddling or protection. It's a powerful group of women out there; if anything, they were the strongest voice at the whole conference. (To the point of generating a backlash: I found a BlogHer attendee's blog that said, "next year, can we have some sessions that are not about mommy-blogging?")

If there is a mommy-blogging session next year, I think next time there needs to be a more focused question to talk about. Like, "Does bottle-feeding make you a bad mommy?" (Just kidding.)

This session turns out to be somewhat of a microcosm of the whole conference, as I'll discuss a bit later.


Lunch is potato skins and flautas and a few side items. Decent. I finally run into Elisa and say hello.

I also took a picture of a creepy Hyatt sculpture as it ate one of the conference attendees.

Next up: two more conference sessions.

*Don't go to Someone else bought the domain and Melissa no longer writes there.
Permalink  1 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: bloggerslife


Comment #1 from Amy (Guest)
2006 Aug 6 - 11:12 pm : #
Did I mention, if any one from BlogHer is missing a uterus and several pairs of ovaries I MAY HAVE THEM, YOU CAN HAVE THEM BACK!

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