Back from BloggerCon II


BloggerCon II was a wonderful event. Good sessions, much participation, prepared session leaders, good graphic screens as well as an IRC stream available for reference throughout.

The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law, since granting a Fellowship to Dave Winer, has emerged as the spiritual and intellectual capitol of the blog world. The two BloggerCon meetings have provided a forum for investigating the practice, usage(s) and background of blogging, as well as the technical, emotional, geeky, political, and potential of what some might refer to as the "blog movement."
Saturday's meeting seemed like a day among the Blogigentsia! (that's hard G, then soft G).

Dave was the driving force behind both BloggerCons. Somehow he managed to outdo the first one, offering fresh topics, extremely capable session leaders (as opposed to presenters or oraters), and a smooth, flowing dialogue throughout the event.

So three cheers for The Berkman Center at Harvard Law, and megakudos to Dave Winer. Blogging is in full force at Harvard, much of which is due to Dave's evangelizing, prodding, and relentless pursuit of expansion of blogging as a part of just about everything.

Having given credit where it is due and making it the opening part of this post, I can now move on. Here's my report on the proceedings, including opinions and observations.


In Thursday night's late post (which managed to appear hereabouts with a Friday dateline - don't you hate when that happens?!) regarding my travel plan and the Hobson's Choices I faced when conflicting sessions of interest would occur, I mentioned seeing about cloning myself.

No could do.

And, carrying around that shoulder bag with my heavier than heavy laptop, digital camera, and other such stuff -- while trying to maneuver around on crutches, made for an inability to meander back and forth among the sessions. Also, with sessions being further apart than just rooms across the hall, the shlepping would have added only wasted time, not additional or increased participation.

So I made the hard choices, and hope to find some IRC, wiki, perhaps some archived video streams on the ones I reluctantly had to forego.


Session moderator Jay Rosen posted a discussion guide on the blackboard, putting in an order the topics to be opened for discussion to the room.

Jay did a good job - the group was certainly responsive and interactive. I was surprised, and somewhat disappointed that my thesis (posted as a comment on Jay's blog on Thursday afternoon, better late than never), that blogging is writing, not necessarily journalism did not see the light of day during the discussion. Although I participated (and even got a nice little shout out on the IRC channel!), there was no moment when I felt it appropriate to make that point.

I liked and appreciated that Jay was open to the concept of debunking the myth of blogging as journalism. After all, he is a professor with a focus on journalism, he heads the department at NYU! Again, this should also include a nod of appreciation to Dave Winer, who fanned the flames and furthered the conversation regardig blogging and journalism. As a topic, it took off. So Dave and Jay both get a high-five for a job well done on this track.

WHAT I MISSED: It broke my heart (and might have broken my leg had I succumbed to the desire to be in two places at once) that I missed Lisa Williams' session. The awesome and overwhleming response to the "and how and what would you like to see in blog software and infrastructure" that she collected, sifted through, and displayed in a well organized manner in advance of BCII -- as a discussion group, would have be wonderful to attend. Anyone know where I can get a video of that one? Do tell!


Blogging In Business, moderated by David Weinberger. Wow, the lawyers in the room sure had a lot to say about this topic. This was a spirited discussion, covering internal blogs, external blogs, the goals of blogging in business, and David (who is really a good soul with high values and altruistic sensitivities) even posted for discussion the concept of "Blogging ROI." He did add that it was an embarassment to use that very term.

Much of this session was intriguing. The benefits of input either internal, external, or a combination of the two (like in the cited case of the pizza chain that changed their recipe in certain geographic areas based on managerial blog entries)was bandied about.

If I had one disappointment in this session, it was in the seeming inability of many of the participants to see beyond their noses. That may be a bit harsh, but here's what I mean: this was a room full of professionals, and a pretty brainy bunch, to boot. There was what seemed to me a complete lack of insight (or concern, though that is much too damning a characterization) into how other business areas (manufacturers, other sorts of service businesses, widget fabricators) could make use of blogs. I was also surprised to see a lack of discussion regarding Customer Service being enhanced via company (or supplier) sponsored blogging. The room just wasn't giving these other areas a great deal of focus. The few times such topics were raised, there was but scant, minimal participant discussion.

There was discussion of the Pepsi-initiated blog, and how this instigated much hue and cry on the part of some bloggers -- "don't taint our pure community with commercialism" -- but also some discussion of how this tactic actually hit the target consumer group right smack dab on the spot.

David gets an A+ for leading this session, and keeping it in focus and being quite the diplomat in his manner.


This would be the moment when I once again go as public as possible with thanks to Wendy Koslow for getting me in touch with the right people at Harvard, to get my special needs parking pass. I got a space right in front of Pound Hall, not only when I arrived in the morning, but also when returning from the lunch break.

Frank Paynter, James Roberts and I had the Billable Ours Lunch, as planned. I managed to drive right past the nice little sandwish place in close proximity to Harvard, so we went to a pizza/sanwich joint in nearby Arlington. They made a calzone the big enough to feed a herd.

We spoke about tech projects, needs, areas of opportunity, and how our various complementary strengths might coalesce to create some income-producing projects. We will probably come up with a collaborative blog or other such web presence, to openly discuss and flesh out the concept.

Having a lunch on this order, an open discussion and exchange of ideas, with a long range view toward coming up with fungible processes -- and yet with no hard or fast agenda -- was a wonderful side benefit to the BloggerCon II meeting.

In some ways this feels to me like a maturation of the blogging community. The three of us attended various sessions, some in common, not all. And we took advantage of the event to arrange a meeting outside of the scheduled sessions. After a long career in a prior life that included three to six major huge professional meetings per year, I came to understand that the side meetings, the client or pitches or brainstorming sessions that took place on a side or anciallry basis, could sometimes be more valuable than the meeting itself.

BloggerCon provided us with such a forum. An added extra, and not something I might have envisioned would occur so soon into these such meetings.

Although it took place later in the afternoon, let me also offer Frank a big public thank you for walking me through IRC, which has befuddled me in numerous past attempts.

----more to follow, must get some shuteye---

Later on . . .


On the drive from a friend's home in Arlington, where I stayed over Friday night, to Harvard and Pound Hall, the strangest thing happened. Cruising down Mass Ave, with almost no traffic of note on an early Saturday morning, I stop at a red light about a mile before Harvard.

A big dark brown Labrador crosses the street, with the light. No leash, no human, no accompaniment. Just a dog, out for its morning constitutional, crossing Mass Ave --after all, it did have a green light-- looking like it owned the neighborhood.

This was such a refreshing and entertaining sight, that it seemed it would set the tone for the day. And indeed it did. As soon as I got to Pound Hall (with my special parking visor tag) I found a space at the absolutely most perfect spot . . . right at the front door!

Later, after lunch, I got the very same spot, yet again!

Ask Harvard regulars about the availability of spaces, much less nearby spaces, and hear their tales of woe and horror. I was also advised that anywhere in Cambridge, one must be alert of car theft, and break-ins. That, of course, if one can even find a public space, something apparently always at a premium. Not so this past Saturday.

That dog set the tone for the day: all would be right and go well.

This is almost true: using my Nextel phone web connectivity, I clicked over to the ESPN pitch-by-pitch Baseball Report. During the afternoon sessions I kept clicking update, and with half-an-eye I watched the Red Sox beat the Yanks. Yes, I "watched it" on my phone.

It was a Dog Day at Fenway for the Yanks. So it was not a 100% perfect day, but otherwise it was excellent.