(I’m sure y’all HOPE so, anyway! Next week should be a return to as close to “normal” as it ever gets around here. Thanks for putting up with my public processing of the BlogHer experience!)
BlogHer’s organizers have asked for feedback on the conference. Rather than subject you to the ridiculously long comment I left there, I’ll just give you the link, and you can read the whole discussion over there if you like (it’s pages long), and add your two cents – or six paragraphs – if you were in Chicago and haven’t already weighed in. If you were at BlogHer’09, and/or you’re considering BlogHer’10, it’s worth checking out the post and the comments. One good idea – and one thing that would really make me think about going back next year – is a programming track focused on writing and technique:
One thing that definitely would bring me back is a writing/technique track. The Geek Labs were my favorite sessions, and it would be great to see a corresponding emphasis on content and craft. I heard the statement that “writing well isn’t enough any more”* for bloggers, but I think that a lot of us still care about what we put out there and want to make it better.
(*Thanks to Megan of Velveteen Mind for commenting on Wednesday’s post to clarify that statement, which quoted her.)
If you read yesterday’s post, you already know where I stand on this:
My biggest disappointment about BlogHer was the lack of a presence by my own community – book bloggers. There was little at the conference geared to us (although the bookstore and signing sessions were great), but I don’t think you had any reason to offer it, since we weren’t showing up. I’m starting a personal campaign to make book bloggers more aware of BlogHer.com and BlogHer’s conferences, because I think we have a lot to offer one another and I want to see this change. (Note: So does Sassymonkey.)
I do want to shout out to the bookish bloggers I did get to meet, though. I already mentioned meeting TexasRed, Sassymonkey, and Beatrice; there was also Janelle of Brimful Curiosities, who focuses on kid-lit. In addition, I met a couple of reading enthusiasts (and sometime reviewers) whose blogs I’ve been reading for awhile, Vanessa of Chefdruck Musings (who was also a BlogHer’09 liveblogger) and Liz Rizzo from Everyday Goddess.
I’m a mom with a blog, but not a “mommyblogger” per se (one adult child, one teen, one ten-year-old, and two of the three are my stepchildren), and the mom-centricity of a lot of the marketing was uncomfortable for me too, because it seemed aimed at one particular subset of mothers. We don’t all fit there.
I met Carol Lynn from Pop and Ice at lunch on Friday, when we shared a “Birds of a Feather” table for “Moms of Teens and Older” – the less-than-typical mom bloggers. We ran into each other again in the hotel lobby on Friday night, when neither of us was heading to a party, and chatted over drinks in the bar instead.
I mentioned my take on the party scene in Wednesday’s post:
Conferences are tough on introverts – or for this particular introvert, at any rate. Conferences with a high degree of extra-curricular socializing surrounding them are particularly tough, especially when you’re attending them for the first time, on your own, and haven’t really pre-arranged to meet up with anyone. Extra-curricular socializing in venues that don’t encourage genuine conversation – like noisy, poorly-lit cocktail parties – is especially challenging. I opted out of a lot of it, and bailed early on some of it. I have learned to respect my limits, and sometimes I just needed to back off and head somewhere to read.
One of the parties I ducked out of early was my own Silicon Valley Moms Group “Moms Night Out” on Thursday, for its contributing bloggers who came to Chicago for BlogHer’09 – as more people arrived, it just got too noisy and crowded for me. Someone – I couldn’t read her nametag – told me I looked lost and asked me a couple of times if I was looking for someone. I was, I guess – anyone who looked friendly and wasn’t engaged in a conversation, but there was too much going on to hear what anyone was saying anyway. I was glad to catch up with fellow LA Moms Elise, Yvonne, and Liz at the party, though. I ran into Jessica Gottlieb at O’Hare Airport earlier that afternoon – we had been on the same flight from LA, and she was kind enough to offer me a ride to the conference hotel with her car and driver. (The drive was an experience, to be honest; I have no idea how we got from the airport to the hotel, but I’m glad nothing was maimed in the process.)
Magpie called me a “perfect roommate” in her own BlogHer recap, and I would say the same thing about her.
Despite being a first-timer, I did work up the nerve to go up and introduce myself to a few bloggers whom I’ve been reading for a long time, because I feel like I’ve gotten to know them. Getting enthusiastic greetings and hugs from PunditMom, Susan Wagner, and Veronica – who knew me, thanks to commenting and linking to them – was one of the things that makes BlogHer BlogHer. (What would really make BlogHer BlogHer would be posting the pictures here – but I don’t have any. I only took pictures when I slipped away from the conference hotel to walk around the neighborhood.)
I didn’t make it to Anna Lefler and company’s Saturday afternoon humor-bloggers panel, but I popped in after it was over to say hi (Anna was one of the original LA Moms Blog contributors, and we met about a year ago at a potluck get-together). I hadn’t managed to see her around the conference, but as it turned out, we were booked on the same flight back to LA. We also share some anal-retentive tendencies; like me, Anna had already checked in online for her flight and printed her boarding pass, and she likes to get to the airport early. We arranged to share a cab to the airport, and had plenty of time for coffee and chat once we got there – plus a stop at Barbara’s Bookstore in Concourse H, which Anna suspects was once a Waterstone’s, and which has a pretty wide selection for a bookstore in an airport. If you think I left there empty-handed, you clearly don’t know me too well; I bought The House on Fortune Street by Margot Livesey and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson.
The theme of BlogHer’09 was “In Real Life.” I don’t know whether I told Mike that or not, but that’s what he titled his post about our meeting for lunch on Saturday (where he also talks about his parking-garage adventure). We’ve become good online friends in the past year and a half, and it would have been weird to be in Chicagoland and not meet in person, so I’m really glad we were able to work it out! We had wanted to plan it as dinner with him and his wife Jenn, but since he has the world’s most insane work schedule, it was lunch – and then he went to work. We had a good time talking, though – and since I want to visit Chicago again (next time with Tall Paul, and without a conference), I hope it will be repeated then.
There’s no way to mention everyone I met and saw at BlogHer’09, even though I’m sure I didn’t meet nearly as many people as some other attendees did. I’ve still got a stack of blogger business cards to sort through, which will probably lead to new people to follow on Twitter and blogs to list and link in the “New in Google Reader” section of the Weekend Review (which will probably not be back till next weekend, by the way…all of this BlogHer post-mortem has meant I haven’t read too many blog posts about anything else this week!).
And by the way, I’m officially off the fence about BlogHer’10; I registered yesterday. If I’m on a mission to get more book bloggers there, it seemed like I should go ahead and make the commitment myself!