Saturday, July 28, 2007

I Went to BlogHer and It Was OK

I want to BlogHer at Navy Pier this year. This was neat for me because 2 years ago I wrote an article about BlogHer in Silicon Valley and I didn't have time to go to the actual show. This year I got to be a participant. Whenever I went to a conference as a journalist, I was often jealous of the shows' participants. I had to take something from whatever I experienced there and shape it into 12 inches of type, no matter how scattered or boring the things I learned. The participants just have to wander around, take it all in, catch up with friends, get drunk and maybe have a little extramarital sex back at the hotel.

Another thing that was different about this show is that I brought a baby. The situation was great: On-site day care as well as a policy welcoming infants in the sessions. Nutmeg is in Wisconsin at Grammy and Grampy's, but Filbertine went to the childcare and did wonderfully. I stopped in twice during the day, once taking her out with me to attend a session. At the end of the day, Epu arrived, checked her out, and crashed the end-of-the-day cocktail party with her.

The contents of the sessions were mixed -- one was very useful, one was a pretty interesting discussion, and the others lacked direction. The panelists in most of the sessions were a bit disappointing. One lowlight is that the year I wrote about it, some big bloggers that I read went to this show, and then blogged about bunking together at the hotel and boozing it up. Although it made me feel like the Little Match Girl with my nose pressed against the glass, I snapped up every word. This year none of those blogebrities were there -- no Dooce, no Fussy, no MightyGirl.

Most of the bloggers I met and listened to, I had never heard of. However I did collect a good number of URLs I want to check out: Sarcastic Reporter, Maybe Baby* and House in Progress, for example. One panelist who actually was an expert was Ann Crady, CEO of Maya's Mom, and I want to check that site out too.

Without a lot of authority coming from the panels, several of the session I attended were quite unfocused discussions with a lot of emotional content -- women standing up to say they used to feel inadequate about what they were doing and now they're proud of it. I found that aspect boring. There was also a mommy blogging section where there was a lot of talk about mommy bloggers not getting respect. I just wonder, respect from whom, and who cares? Who writes a blog to win respect? I guess all I care about is if this blog connects me to a few readers and if they enjoy it. If someone doesn't enjoy reading mommy blogs, then they won't read mine, end of discussion.

The things I valued most were hearing concrete stories of bloggers' experience in the blogging life. And schmoozing.

Because I spent a lot of time between sessions up in the childcare room, breastfeeding, I missed out on some of the schmoozing, so I was very happy to get to the evening cocktail party on the roof of Navy Pier. Not only did I meet a few more cool women up there -- many of them Canadians -- but I also experienced a major coincidence. I chatted with a woman who said she was from San Francisco just as we were leaving. I almost just said bye and left, but I took the time to ask what neighborhood she lived in. She lived in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. Then she gave me her card. It as from Yahoo.

"Hey Epu," I said. "What are the names of those people our friend the nanny works for? You know, the wife works for Yahoo, and they live in Potrero."

I turned to the woman. "Maybe you know them. Um, their kid's name is Farley."

The woman's eyes were big as saucers. You guessed it, dear readers: "You're talking about my nanny."

She knew some of the Nutmeg stories, and we knew lots of cute stories about her kids, but I never expected to see her in the flesh. So there you have it! BlogHer, bringing one degree of separation down to zero.

* Who stood up in a room full of women to talk about, among other things, icing his testicles. Later in the day, a woman told me she thought I was brave to take the mike and ask a question while breastfeeding. Ha! I am a coward compared to frozen testes over there!


Unknown said...

if i'd gotten into blogher, i would've wanted to meet kristen chase from motherhood uncensored, stefania butler from citymama and jen lemen. but, i really didn't know the majority of the women speaking so, i think it's ok... i did get to meet up with some other bloggers who played hooky from some sessions though. :)

stefania just wrote a post about feeling disrespected by PR people at kimchi mamas - i'm wondering if this is the same session you were in -

Anonymous said...

'morning. (Clutches 1st cup of coffee to chest) Great meeting you at blogher. I was just snooping around the URL's I had collected from folks who I met there and here you are. Not being an official mommyblogger, I feel a bit out of the loop re: this group. I'll have to catch up. After more coffee. Off to put on a new pot.

Anonymous said...

Okay, it's later in the day, I'm more awake, I read through more of your blog and...small world! I live on the North Side (and used to live in Evanston). I agree, Lincolnwood School is amazing. I used to know a some teachers from there. Even they raved about it.

Have you checked out Peterson School in North Park? It's the one closest to us and I've heard really great things.

Also, I know Kori (from non-blogging life) who has also commented on your blog. Crazy small world.

Bert said...

So, I'm not sure if the Yahoo Friend told you this part of the story, but the reason she approached you at the cocktail party was because she thought you asked a very intelligent question. When she looked over to see who had asked it, you were, apparently breastfeeding, unabashedly. She later told The Nanny, "I thought, 'I have got to meet that woman!'" Go you. :)

Anonymous said...

i'm so glad to hear you say all you write all that..ack. whatever.

i met you at blogher (when your hubby crashed the cocktails with your very spitty peanut). and i very much agree with everything you wrote.

i found that the moderators were unable to moderate well or even at all in most cases. the point of a moderator is to keep the discussion going and on track, not sit back and relax. or, in many cases, answer all the questions for the panelists.

and, in the sessions that had panelists who weren't "experts" it went even more poorly. they frequently tried to talk as if they were experts, when really we all knew they were just like us and happened to be doing something cool.

the sessions i went to that were great were the ones either with actual expert panelists, or non-experts who admitted to such, and had good moderators.

anyway, it was lovely to meet you. hope your bathroom looks lovely, and i hope you got a little something out of the conference, even if you were upstairs nursing most of the time (much better than squatting in a bathroom stall with a pump attached to your front!)


Anonymous said...

Your site is great, and it was nice to see you at Blogher. I was disappointed with the conference - I was craving more advice and a bit more authoritative leadership.

Thanks for finding me brave - I have to admit, I was a bit nervous!