For a while, a year and more ago I thought I’d make my fortune with the Blog World Expo (yes, there’s a wiki somewhere too). The moment passed, but I still feel the need for a blogging confab — a web communications summit — that combines the best of everything. I caught glimpses of what I’m after at BlogHer: a gathering of the tribes, a marketplace, an academy, a rich community of spirit.
I had lunch with Nicole Simon. We spoke of many things, but not about blogging… we talked politics, culture, global conditions and the pathos of the decline of the American empire… heck, we weren’t even drinking. I met Maria Benet in person, and while I wondered silently how Tom Shugart is doing these days and I thought she might know, Maria and I were just connecting face-to-face for the first time and not diving too deep into that rich history we’ve begun to develop auf blog. Rather I was fascinated by her tale of a family blog and the bear stories she used as a touchstone for her son his first year away at school.
(I’ve just popped a note off to Tom… sort of a six month check-in).
Grace Davis… holy smokes. I love her. Of course I also love Jory. And I love Mary Hodder. And Danah Boyd. And Melanie Swan. And Liz Ditz. I’m ashamed to say it but I think I might be a little easy. Melinda Casino, Aesa, Candace Gardener… no doubt in my mind, I’m a slut of Jimmy Carter dimensions. Liza (overheard muttering “I’ll never fly Northwest again”), Elisa, Silona, Adina, Glennia, Aura, Nina, Rebecca… all among the people I remember fondly. And of course there’s the Boston Babes: Betsy and Lisa and Halley. I said hello to Ponzi and asked her to remember me to Chris… she’s so good, she never batted an eye, just said certainly she would, and while I knew she was a public person with a zillion Gnomies cavorting around her public life and she didn’t really know me from Adam, well… I had to respect how she didn’t betray that. And at the same table at the same moment, I was able to stumble over my tongue and confuse Choconancy (Nancy White, who was sitting there) with HorsePigCow (Tara Hunt, who wasn’t)… all these famous writers and their famous blogs, even Homer nods.
Thinking about Grace I’m reminded of nakedjen… I met Jen at the first BloggerCon, but she had her clothes on. Jen’s a Santa Cruz bloggeuse too, but she couldn’t make it to BlogHer due to prior naked commitments. But let’s back away from the body-conscious purity of a Badger or a Nakedjen taking her clothes off because we should, and get back to the slut-motif…
Thin ice here, Buddy. Watch your step. Building a business is a lot like peddling your ass. But it doesn’t have to be, and the graceful way Mary Hodder makes her way through the minefield of obnoxious self promotion to emerge unscathed and still on message is something we can emulate. Her younger colleague, Mena Trott, hasn’t yet developed that gracefulness. Arianna of course has nothing to be graceful about. How many of us can say we stiffed Nancy Getty on the cost of our wedding? And Halley, my god… Halley… well, there was more flogging going on at this gathering than you’d expect at Miss Behavior’s B&D Salon. Some of it was graceful. Some of it was not graceful. The least graceful is the personal sell, the one that sells the CEO and leaves the product behind on the t-shirt table and the logo saturated lanyards. All of it of course flies in the face of the behavioral norms of the Winer style unconference, and to his credit I haven’t heard Dave ragging on about it much (although he does seem to agree with me that there was confusion about when and how to make a pitch). I think the first rule of the unconference was pretty well modeled… don’t be boring. Allow participation from everyone. The second rule, NO PITCHES, wasn’t acknowledged.
There has to be a middle ground, a place where the Noogles, and Ploogles, and Fuggles, and Muggles, can share information about their products’ capabilities in a technical context without pimping them. That was one of the thoughts behind Blog World Expo. There’s nothing wrong with putting the Microsoft Fembots in front of a blue screen and letting them perform, but consider the three ring circus. There your attention can drift to something more edifying like the elephant act.
[p.s. this just slammed me like the heel of my hand right in the forehead… not the “I coulda had a V8″ thing, but rather just as Rome took longer than a day or two to construct, so also does a world class event. Two days isn’t enough to do it justice, to do it right.]