How does a blog become the blob that ate your life? And what the heck do you do at those blogger conferences anyway?

A former co-worker contacted me today and asked me how I blogged so much while recruiting, doing analysis, etc., etc (hey, HK). Interesting question and I've been wondering the same thing about a lot of other bloggers. For me, my job has changed (more details on that later as they get ironed out) to include more broad strategies, programs and analysis. That doesn't mean I'll never talk to programs are still about reaching out to people who are interested in working here and people who soon will be ; ) So, the time consuming internet search, cold-calling and phone screens aren't really on my plate right now (and they kind of haven't been for a while). So more time for blogging and, I mean blogging.

The blogging I do doesn't take much time. My friend Ann asked me last night how I come up with the snark for my Apprentice recaps. I felt a little weird telling her that it takes no time at all because I pretty much just type out the snarky dialog that happens in my head (oh yeah, and I edit out some of it too, for public consumption...per my mother's wishes, I'm sure). I'm jotting down blog ideas here and there as they come up. It gives me something to do while I pretend to listen to people (OK, I am totally kidding...there's that snark, see?). Actually, listening to people helps me come up with topics. And fielding questions (mad props to those of you who have sent questions...did you see that? I said "mad props"...whee!) helps a lot too.

So one aspect of blogging that I have seen become the blob that ate New York (and/or your productivity) is this crazy increase (invention, really) of blog conferences...corporate blogging conferences and the like. I always felt like blogging was so grassroots. Don't blogging conferences defeat the purpose? Are they a bunch of bloggers explaining to corporate marketing departments why they should blog? And then the corporate marketing people get all concerned and call legal because they are worried that people at their company might blog <goodness gracious...they might even have conversations in public!>? And then nobody ends up blogging because legal says no? Then the company decides to come up with a fake blog so it looks like a blog but they can control the message> Like that french fry blog or the pepsigirl blog (I refuse to link...just...can' it). Makes me glad I am here where I can blog at will, with the powers that be giving us the ability to do this and be real.

Anyway, my real question about the blogger conferences is this: if blogs are conversations, why do we need people to tell us how? Is there something I am missing? I've really enjoyed our I the only one? Is it about learning to increase your web traffic (how inorganic)? Or is it just about helping people understand the medium? Is it a bunch of hype? Where's the beef? Has anyone out there attended one of these conferences and want to share? I just have no idea what goes on at these events! I'd be really interested in knowing if there are any big take-aways for bloggers at these conferences. Or if conference organizers are trying to capitalize on the trend-du-jour (because honestly, I keep hearing that Ugg boots are out, but I still I still love mine and an ugly-but-comfortable-footwear conference might clear some things up for me). You know I would hate for anyone to call me "trendy" (blogs and Uggs...ugh)...but I think the hype will die down a bit when people get over a new medium exposing itself. And people realize that blogging is a tactic and not a strategy. It's cool, but does blogging have to consume your life? It doesn't mine. I must be doing it wrong.

Comments (9)

  1. John Dowdell says:

    <em>"my real question about the blogger conferences is this: if blogs are conversations, why do we need people to tell us how?"</em>

    That angle has seemed sort of strange to me, too. Microsoft has a long history of public conversation with staff, just the medium is different now. Maybe conference organizers understand that they will likely sell tickets with this topic these days…?


  2. Steve Shu says:

    FWIW – I think blogs are conversations, but these conversations happen very, very quickly, and there is potential for tremendous pooling of information and swarming going on. Hugh Hewitt, in his book "Blog" (while it does not really trace business blogging in detail) recounts in excellent detail some stuff about how people in Washington got ousted because bloggers were so fast to respond, swarm, etc. Bloggers were the tipping point in an age where traditional media may have let things die out because they did not meet the new reporting criteria of stories having to make or break in 24 hours. Blogs kept the conversations going for longer than 24 hours in cases where the news would not have been worthy of breaking. Because blogs kept the conversations going, the stories finally broke in the traditional media.

    In any case, what I’m getting that is that while it is true that blogs are just conversations, there’s more to it … just like being trained to talk to the media or to being able to stand up to the things politicians go through. Everyone has an instant megaphone with blogs. Companies aren’t used to that. Companies are used to huge review cycles of PR stuff, etc. Microsoft is probably not representative of the current norm in terms of reconciling blogging of the individual with that of the corporation.

    To your question about what is covered at these conferences, I believe that there is still a lot of education going on at some conferences that cover blogging. At one of the recent communications forums, more than half of people attending have never heard of blogs and less than 10% of people have ever visited a blog.

  3. hey Heather, great post. I’m a long-time listener, first-time caller…

    I’ve had some of the same thoughts on these events, and the kinds of people who attend them. The only person I’ve come across who has attended one of these was a guy who ran a Blogging/RSS SIG (special interest group, folks) for a non-profit I co-founded. He paints a picture very close to Steve’s comments above: primarily people who are there to find out what its all about, and how to get started.

    I really question the utility of these conferences. My guess is that most people who attend them figure out very quickly that an internet connect and a couple hours of time to explore equals or surpasses the time/expense of attending one of these sessions — i.e. the concepts are simple, and getting started is easy. I’d also guess there are not a lot of repeat visitors. C’mon, what info can they possibly share to entice a person to attend multiple events on blogging? Once you’re "in the know," why would you bothering attending again?

  4. paul says:

    Yes, you missed something. If you’re blogging chances are that you’re reading blogs and when you read someone’s blog you “get to know” them. So meeting face 2 face is an inevitable outcome of blogging, unless you’re concerned about getting a pie in the face?

  5. Ck147 says:

    Good question…. personally… I think it’s like anything…if you get enough people interested in something its a natural progression to have a get-together (i.e. conference) around it. Motives are probably all over the place from just generally increasing interest in the medium to someone trying to capitalize commercially. It’s like Trekkie convention…. people come from everywhere for those things… some to make money, some to just hang with people with similiar interest….

    The medium is so new and growing so fast…. people want to learn.. Just my take….

  6. Ian says:

    There are still many people who don’t know what blogs are, so as you mentioned, I assume there’s a focus on helping people understand the medium. In which case, this would probably be a waste of your time. If you attend the conference, let us know if our assumptions were right! 🙂

    "I must be doing it wrong."

    I really doubt blogging would consume your life. I think you’re definitely doing it right thus far! 😉

    After some research I now know what UGG boots are. I’ve only seen 2 girls walking around here with the big furry boots! "Mad props" to you if you tell me you wear the big fur during interviews!

  7. Heather says:

    John-great minds, etc. ; )

    Steve-good insight. Kind of what I suspected. When Dan Gillmor spoke here, his topic was the relationship of blogs to journalism. It was interesting but didn’t really affect me as a corporate blogger. It’s funny that people need conferences to get educated on what blogging is since it’s literally all over the internet.

    Christian-good point about repeat visitors.

    Paul-people are going to blogging conferences only to meet other bloggers face-to-face? I don’t think so. Then what is the point of the content of the conferences? Why aren’t they called "networking sessions"?

    CK147-interesting perspective. Based on your description, probably not something I’d pay money for (hanging out with other people like myself…hmmm). But I am obviously not their target market. Someone is definitely capitalizing, no doubt.

    Ian-what do you think about this…if someone is going to pay money to go to a blogging conference, they would at least do a little research on the internet on blogs…otherwise how would they know they need to go to the conference. What content would they get at a conference that they couldn’t get online?

    I don’t have the furry uggs. Mine are a little less "ugg-ly" than the more popular ones. But I have worn them to work. It’s like wearing slippers…I highly recommend it…how’s Sri Lanka?

  8. Jen says:

    I just attended the <a href="">Northern Voice</a> conference in Vancouver – and I’d only have to call it a conference because of the format (keynotes, panels, breakout sessions – as opposed to just a "get together").

    Topics included refining why you blog, understanding more about RSS, increasing traffic (aimed as much at activist bloggers as corporate bloggers), learning about tools for including rich-media content on your blog, and reconciling your own guidelines when it comes to revealing your personal identity and aspects of your life in your blog.

    It definitely maintained a grassroots feel, as the organizers ran it as a not-for-profit event (so it was dirt cheap to get into), and it didn’t have any of the smarmy sponsored event feeling to it. Instead it was a group of people who have blogging in common, sharing ideas and putting faces to names in meatspace.

  9. Heather says:

    Good feedback, thanks Jen. First time I have heard of "meatspace"…not sure what it means but it sounds funny ; ) So it sounds like maybe the events that are motivated by a desire to network (versus a desire to make money off of) could be worth checking out. Thanks for sharing your feedback with us.

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