Lessons from political bloggers

Today on MS Campus, two successful political bloggers, conservative Stefan Sharkansky and liberal David Goldstein, spoke about blogging.

They had a lot of similarities: Both software entrepreneurs, 43, sporting beards, transplants to Seattle, parents of young children, neither had voted for a Republican president prior to 2004, very funny and personable. But they certainly had some very different political views.

I thought the focus would be more on blogging as a tool; but it was primarily politically focused.  Since this is a technical blog, I'll avoid the political commentary here and focus on their more general blogging commentary. (Although I admit I have some very strong personal opinions on politics; so I'm exercising great restraint here)

1) Somebody mentioned early on that Stefan uses Windows XP; David uses a Mac.   Considering this in front of a Microsoft audience, that's good for a few laughs.

2) Both apparently had a big issue of momentum that propelled their blog to a spotlight.
Stefan covered the illegal votes and suspect activity in the 2004 WA State governor's race.
Goldstein started a humorous initiative (to protest abuses of initiatives) that got a lot of media attention and interviews.
It makes me wonder how many blogs hit high readership because of nailing a certain issue or filling a nitch vs. slowing building up readership over years.

3) David's advice: "Write for yourself". Given the general uselessness of my blog topics, you can see that I take this advice seriously 🙂

4) Rep. Ross Hunter was in the audience and asked if they thought they actually made a difference. Both of them believed they did.  (disclaimer: I  responded to this question with commentary on the difference the blogs have made for me, particularly in inspiring me to be a poll judge in my county).

5) They also talked about bloggers wearing their labels more openly (in this case, admitting their conservative / liberal biases) than their mainstream media counterparts. Most major newspapers publicly claim to be neutral and impartial in their reporting; whereas many bloggers make no such pretenses.
I think the same is true for the technical blogs. For example, my blog is hosted on msdn.blogs.com and has a title that indicates I have a Microsoft  / .NET bias.

The session was recorded but I don't know what the link is. I'll update when I find it.
[update: I guess Stefan was the one doing the recording. It's available at his blog here: http://soundpolitics.com/MSPAC20060731.WMA ]

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