Christine Herron: Making Room for Men at BlogHer.
The sparks start to fly over at Frank Paynter’s. Hard to find a quote to pull, but he’s saying publicly what a lot of people were saying privately, or in a veiled way (see below). Mena Trott is a former competitor of mine, so I avoided saying things specifically about her pitches, but I imagine Matt Mullenweg, who was in the audience at the time, might have felt it was unfair for her to sell TypePad, when his product is equally commendable. This is very common in tech conferences, and one of the best reasons to keep product pitches off the stage.
Early August travel plans. Mid-day tomorrow I leave for NYC, spend Wed and most of Thu in Gotham, and then on to Cambridge for Wikimania, and then Mon back to Berkeley.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the heat wave we were suffering in California will make it to NYC about the same time I do. With the added bonus of east coast humidity! So, where it’s a nice cool 65 degrees in Berkeley, with no humidity, I’m going to be travelling cross country just so I can sweat like a pig. Oink oink.
Three years ago: Chris Lydon’s weblog for the ears.
Rocketboom has a new sponsor.
These are some random notes on the day after BlogHer. They’re in no special order, and conclusions are scattered all through the narrative, organized thoughts will come later, maybe much later.
BlogHer this weekend created a lifetime of memories. Women are different from men, here I am at age 51, and I’ve still got more to learn. They come in all ages, shapes and sizes and they came from all over the world.
Women are generally more supportive of each other than men are, and they’re surprised to hear this, although I’ve known that for a long time (and wrote about it). They still think there’s a secret club of men, some sort of handshake that we use help each other rise to the top and run the world. Oh man. If only.
More and more I learn that point of view means everything, and you can never understand what someone else sees without asking. I saw this in myself, and in the women.
Now I want a gender-neutral version of BlogHer. I want men like myself to have a place to do what they do at BlogHer. BloggerCon is not quite that, esp for the last two which have been on the west coast. Both are user conferences, but they don’t have to fight so hard for that at BlogHer. A lot of people who come to BloggerCon still think it’s an industry event. That creates disharmony. There’s a difference between an insider’s conference, and an inclusive one. There’s no way to have a blogger’s conference that isn’t a user’s conference too, imho.
The commercialism that bothered some wasn’t in my way. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t tone it down next time, they should. Sponsors should not be on stage giving pitches. It sets the wrong tone, and excuses speakers for doing the same. I was embarassed for some of the speakers who did the usual thing, told stories to set up product pitches. That leaves you with a slimy feeling, mostly about them at a conference like this, where the idealism was the current driving the people. At tech events it’s different, where cynicism is the undercurrent.
I think it was Scoble who said he wished college had been like this. Amen. The ratio was great, probably 20-to-1 women to men. And these weren’t ordinary women. They were (as Ze likes to say) hard chargers. I was really impressed with Dina, the tsunami blogger from India, what character, what a force of nature, what an intellect. I was saying that out loud and one of the Hers turned around and with one look said “Hey that’s what this place is about.”
Some adjectives: They were good-natured, friendly, flirty, exceptionally beautiful, smiling, and glad to see guys like me there.
They are beautiful babes, but not like like booth bimbos, more like Thelma and Louise. So you got a great ratio, and they’re smart and driven, but that’s not all — they’re also bloggers! Which means I don’t have to explain what blogging is. One of the speakers said that since she started blogging her friends don’t ask how she is, they already know. Of course I’ve had that experience many times myself, but in this context, many of the people I talked to were readers, who understood what I have been writing in ways that my male readers generally don’t. So they not only know how I am, but they have an idea of who I am too.
Okay, so the hotel sucked, and there was too much commercialism, and my feet hurt, but who could notice all that, when the enviroment is all that incredible female energy. It was totally inspiring, and I don’t think they’ll mind my saying, totally sexy. If there is a heaven, I hope this is what it’s like.
And then there’s Grace Davis. At a convention of hard-charging alpha females, she stands out, in so many ways, and we have much in common, as much as we are opposites. First, we’re both 51, and basically happy with it. We talked about that. We’re both from the Bay Area, but from opposite ends, she from Santa Cruz and me from Berkeley. But then the politics of both places are more or less the same, wacked out left coast political hippie. She worked to save New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, and I went down to have a look post-Katrina. Neither of our work is done, but I have a strong feeling that the connection betw Grace and myself is going to create a path that lots of men and lots of women go down, working together, to make the world a happier, more fair and better-running place.
I could keep going. I’d like to write a paragraph about Ponzi, and Betsy, Zadi, Amanda, Maryam, Jory, Lisa, Elisa, Marra — and the men of BlogHer, who may be the happiest men on the planet. (And a callout to Guy Kawasaki, an old friend I had not seen in many years. Now that we’re neighbors again, let’s not be strangers.)