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.]

monetize that

Thanks to our friend Leslie in San Francisco for sending this reportage on BlogHer.

At the convention, brand-name companies lined up to greet their potential
business partners. The lunch break was sponsored by Weight Watchers.
Funding for the keynote seminar was provided by Johnson & Johnson, which
also used the event to launch momver, an upcoming “virtual
park bench” for motherly blogs. And the sex talk forum was sponsored by
Elexa, Trojan’s line of “sexual well-being products created from a woman’s
In the past, companies that dared place their brand on a writer’s site
typically picked an A-list blogger such as Daily Kos, and risked the
wisecracks in return for the high volume of page views.
But now, through niche ad networks like BlogHer, a company can purchase a
“parenting bundle” and get placement on three dozen blogs written by
Dmitriy Kruglyak, a 28-year-old “health care blogger” and entrepreneur,
visited the convention to learn how to duplicate the model of bridging
advertising to blogging.
“If their niche is women bloggers, then mine is health care bloggers,”
Kruglyak said. “What they’re building for women, and selling to
advertisers, is what I want to build for doctors and nurses, and so on,
who blog.”

Here’s a cool niche, daddy coyote blogging!

Tricks of the trade

for those with regrets…

Many, many people have emailed and posted regarding their regrets at not having been able to memorialize MEG on Friday. It was a small gathering, five people, two of whom didn’t really know her but who were paying their respects none-the-less. Here’s what I think… Michelle believed in love and so many of us loved, respected and admired her. When you lose someone you love, you accept it and move on. Time heals.

We’re moving on through our sadness, but I wanted to simply steal this post from Mike Golby as a last tribute to my departed friend. Golby always finds the core of the matter:

:: Saturday, July 29, 2024 ::

Seasons in the Sun…

Adieu l’Émile je t’aimais bien | Adieu l’Émile je t’aimais bien tu sais | On a chanté les mêmes vins | On a chanté les mêmes filles | On a chanté les mêmes chagrins | Adieu l’Émile je vais mourir | C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais | Mais je pars aux fleurs la paix dans l’âme | Car vu que tu es bon comme du pain blanc | Je sais que tu prendras soin de ma femme | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Je veux qu’on s’amuse comme des fous | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Quand c’est qu’on me mettra dans le trou

Lately, Meg‘s been on my mind; more especially, yesterday and today. Unable to attend a memorial gathering for her at BlogHer, I carried my thoughts of her through the day.

Wendy and I found ourselves scrambling up rocky paths, into forgotten caves, and along narrow ledges under soaring slabs of prehistoric stone. We were geocaching; hunting — I guess, much like John Laroche in The Orchid Thief — an elusive treasure. Laroche sought the Ghost Orchid, and his story — enjoyed by Meg, was elevated to art by Marion Orlean, Charlie Kauffman, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep.

I was also seeking solace. Unable to attend the memorial — time zones and my having screwed my chances of ever finding my MSN Passport address or password precluded me joining the online link up early this morning — I spent the day reflecting on the life of a friend now gone. I’m not good at endings, so even Frank’s posts on the memorial cut me up a bit, despite his being a saint for doing so much to realize the event.

I’ve nothing but good memories of meg. Her courage, love, and loyalty transcended in-the-world mundanities and, although she did not blog per se, she was unable to restrain herself in mails and, occasionally, her comments feature, where she’d let rip with a love of the great wide open. So I’ve been missing her.

I’m no great believer in synchronicity (or anything for that matter), but finding my first halfway decent calla lily of winter outside a virtually inaccessible cave on the side of the mountain set it all to rest for me. If I needed a signal, a ghost orchid, an answer to any prayer, that lily you see above is it. (Originally a South African flower, the calla or arum lily does well in California and — to me — became virtually synonymous with meg’s graphic coding exercises.)

Our walk, enhanced by my finding my lily at the mouth of the cave (the unknown, it seemed to lead into the heart of the mountain), enabled me to come to terms with a pretty hard and blunt truth; i.e. for better or worse (and I’m thinking of her here), meg is gone.

And although she found it so difficult to accept or call on, meg left behind an abundance of love, perhaps the greatest gift any of us can give to other people. Claude‘s farewell mail reminded me of Brel. Translated by Rod Mckuen to Seasons in the Sun and made a hit by Terry Jacks, the English version — while acknowledging it — did not carry Jacques Brel’s depth and down-home earthiness.

So it’s Brel I hear when I say “Goodbye Michelle, it’s hard…”

Adieu ma femme je t’aimais bien | Adieu ma femme je t’aimais bien tu sais | Mais je prends le train pour le Bon Dieu | Je prends le train qui est avant le tien | Mais on prend tous le train qu’on peut | Adieu ma femme je vais mourir | C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais | Mais je pars aux fleurs les yeux fermés ma femme | Car vu que je les ai fermés souvent | Je sais que tu prendras soin de mon âme | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Je veux qu’on s’amuse comme des fous | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Quand c’est qu’on me mettra dans le trou

Jacques Brel | Le Moribond

:: Mike Golby 11:56 PM [+]

Homeward Bound

end of the trail: monetize this

I turned in the POS General Motors rental at 5:30 this morning, a 2024 Pontiac GT with about 25,000 miles, a few more miles on it than my Toyota Matrix, and though a little beefier in the acceleration department, a rattletrap vehicle nonetheless. We put 1115 miles on it since last Sunday. I drove 1093, Beth drove 22. Beth’s share was a stretch between Eugene and Grants Pass that is pretty much the most difficult section of Interstate Highway 5, so it’s more equal than it sounds at first blush. What I liked worst about the General Motors “Pontoon crap turismo:” the fact that I had to beat on the dashboard to get it to stop vibrating. What I liked second worst: the way it drank gasoline like Bukowski on a bender. What I liked best. Nothing really… the trunk light is a joke, you can’t see the interior of the trunk but you can see the lid. How stupid is that? The automatic door locking mechanism was iffy. It didn’t always work. The car has a big plastic beak sticking out in front that gets abraded by the curb whenever you park, and scuffed by every driveway you enter. The power seat adjustment was okay, and the dashboard instrumentation appeals to the inner geek. Did I mention that I used about one gallon to the mile with this pig? My experience: Pontiac GT = sux. Toyota Matrix = okay. Pontiac makes a car called the Vibe. It’s essentially a Matrix. Based on my experience in that pig GT, I’d expect the Vibe to have special Detroit rattletrap reverse engineering built-in as part of an evil GM feature set.

The women of BlogHer were treated to some GM sponsored sporty car demos at the Hyatt San Jose Mediterranean Center this weekend, while my rental was wheezing and gasping in the parking lot behind the hotel. At the height of the crisis of Peak Oil, General Motors was selling the women of BlogHer on the Escalade, a 13 mpg porker that even the plutocrats in the Bush family can’t afford to drive anymore unless they can dominate Iraqi and Persian oil production.

I hope that the revenue from the GM BlogHer platinum sponsorship was used to get a lot of women to the gathering who otherwise couldn’t have afforded to come, was used to offset expenses so the event was affordable for most of us. I hate the idea that the sponsorship may have been used to offset honoraria and expenses to stars like Arianna Huffington, much as I appreciated her appearance with Grace Davis, Mena Trott, and Caroline Little on the day two keynote panel that Chris Nolan moderated. I hate the idea that all the “community, sharing, mutualness and interdependence” that Liz Henry talks about requires a big corporate financial subsidy.

BlogHer 2024

I think this was a wonderful event and I hope the people who worked on it received a generous dose of US dollars for the energy they put into it. Call it a success, perhaps not unqualified. Bandwidth pretty much sucked. I left the laptop in the room today. The munchies could have had a greener balance. I mean, I’m a protein greedhound but I had to swipe an ornamental strawberry for any vegetable content at last night’s party and snackfest. Tonight there was a better balance. And in fairness, last night there were some lovely vegetarian spring rolls… deep fried.

So now that the snarking is out of the way, I met George Kelly and didn’t even take his picture, I was so swept away by the charisma. He had a good time messing with me a little, and he struck me as another one of those stone creative geniuses that Jeneane collects in her circle.

The connectivity is so suck in this room that i’m giving up and will blog my little heart out when we get home to a decent little DSL line. I can’t afford the time it takes me to google stuff on this up-again, down-again connection. I want to send a shout out to lots of people I connected with here, and frankly, this is fvckt.

San Jose


Girl Geeks

Plenty of girl geeks here too, of course. Mary Hodder just spoke from the floor. Liz Henry is sitting a little ways away. Yesterday Liz was wearing little cat ears… or maybe badger ears? Today she looks more normal. Kind of.

There’s a chef talking, eggbeater… “I’m just a a food blogger.” She’s emotional about the May first demonstrations… “my industry is supported by undocumented labor…” She laughs about how people in her industry “don’t get” computers. She “gets” computers.

There’s a woman talking now… Erica, missed her last name.. thinks of blogging as a radical act.. speaking about differences between communities… open source in 98% men… kaliya hamlin takes the mike and suggests that women can and should show up at the tech conferences…

Halley takes the mike, to comment. Not all of the commenters here today are actually geeks. But most of them are!

Lisa Sabater… culture kitchen went from static html in 2024 to whatever it is today. She thinks of herself 9among other things, I’m sure) as a self-taught geek. Lisa invokes Meg Hourihan, geek-wise…

Millie Garfield finds her blog has changed her routine. Moved on from the Boston Globe and coffee to checking her favorite blogs and reading the comments on her blog.