All day today Wife and I were (happily, willingly) entrenched in day 1 of the Mediabistro Circus conference, which was self-touted as the place to “change the way you think about media.” The events technically ran from 8am into the wee hours of the evening—including morning check-in with continental breakfast-type pastries and the all-important coffee and an evening networking event at a bar. However, as artistes content with our “nontraditional” workplace (home in pjs) and hours (start at noon), Laura and I could hardly be expected to physically be anywhere—nevermind actually functional— by 8am, so we skipped the 8am mingling and the first conference on “Publishing: From Print to Digital,” because (a) the topic didn’t interest La, (b) let’s just say I’ve got that topic already heartily covered at my job (check out AnthroSource via Wiley-Blackwell for proof), and (c) as aforementioned the session started at 9am, people, and that’s rough.
What we did go to:
* COFFEE AND CHECK IN. Schmooze with one person, who seemed horrified when Laura admitted we had skipped the first session that she walked away, effectively ending the conversation. Making new friends? Uhhh… Check. Recognizing of any faces? Uhhh, check: Meghan Asha, Julia Allison, and Mary Rambin. With their dogs in their arms, nokiddingyou. (And Khaliah, we really wanted to go get a picture with the ladies for you, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to do so, seeing as how in the past we’ve each semibashed on JA and Mary. Not sweet Meghan, though. We sort of play favorites at May in the Bay and The Famous Chronicles. Oops. We here at May in the Bay will be rectifying this immediately in the interests of “playing nice” on the Internet, as we were exhorted to do by Chris Anderson.)
1:00am-12:30pm: Blogging, with Elisa Camahort, Co-founder and COO of Blogher; Anil Dash, Vice President and “Chief Evangelist” of Six Apart; Eric Hellweg, Editorial Managing Director of Harvardbusiness.org; and Noah Shachtman, Contributing Editor to Danger Room Blog @ Wired Magazine.
FREE LUNCHY GOODNESS: a lunch buffet in which I took every.single.thing.offered because, like, it was free.
1:15pm-2:15pm: Keynote with Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail.
2:15pm-3:30pm: Video, with Dina Kaplan, Co-founder and COO of Blip.tv; Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision 3; and Robert Scoble, Managing Director of Fast Company TV.
MORE COFFEE AND MORE COFFEE. More networking, here and there.
4:15pm-6:00pm: Social Media, with Kate Everett Thorp, CEO of Real Girls Media; Shawn Gold, CEO of Social Approach; Steven Johnson, author of Ghost Map and Everything Bad Is Good For You; and Steve Rubel, Senior Vice President of Edelman PR.
All in all, I learned a lot today but also surprised myself with how much I already knew. I definitely know that some of these discussions today will affect the way I view the focus and “raison d’être” (to borrow Chris Anderson’s key phrase of the day) for my online presence, in general, and my blogging, in particular. Perhaps at some point I will explore more specifics about what I learned today in another blog post, but rather than putting off the whole entry until I get around to doing that (which, let’s be honest here, might never happen), I decided to just provide this sketch of my initial reactions to the event. Hopefully as I begin to revise/remodel my online presence, you will see the difference here on my blog.
Perhaps the biggest issue I am left wrestling—and it is a biggie—is what is the point? And, more specifically, what is my point?
To generalize quite widely, I find that there are two kinds of bloggers in the world: knowledge bloggers, who propagate a specific, narrow body of “knowing” that they post consistently about (cooking/recipes, fashion, DIY origami, jogging strategies), and life bloggers, who write about aspects of their own lives, from dating to fashion to books read to sex had to … well, you get the point and see quickly the category into which I fall. And the more I listened today, the more I heard that there is room for growth for the former and less so for the latter.
It all comes down to what I see as “the point” of my blog. Initially, when I started it on Friendster in 2006, it was because I had moved across the country to California and was far removed from a great many people I loved and missed dearly. I started the blog first to stay in touch, to make sure I didn’t fall off their radar, and to prove to myself and them that I hadn’t gone “boring” on the west coast. I started the blog second because I hoped to make new connections, perhaps even in California, and in any case to start building an audience of fans of my writing style and voice, an audience that perhaps someday, if I ever wrote and published a book, would want to buy it because they already knew my writing and liked it.
Now I’m back in New York near all those people I had hoped would read the blog, so busy having wonderful adventures with them I can’t find the time to blog about them (Hi, Shaun and Rachel: I had a superswell time with you at the Brooklyn Flea Market *AND* in Long Island City and I sincerely hope I actually blog about this soon, but for now I hope this shout-out will make you smile!). And a ton of them have blogs now as well (check out my "daily cuppa" for links). And I have new beloveds that are too far away, like SurfRunner and Sidewalk Monkey and Jules at A Candid Life. I’ve “met” (ok, whatever, I use that term loosely) incredible new people, like Cynematic, le Cassandra, and Jen at Quarter-Life Crisis. I’ve refound other friends via the blogosphere, including The Milkman’s Daughter who is all the way over in Thailand, not to mention the handfuls of others part of my daily (& increasingly long; I must be distance training!!) jog around Blogland, as I like to call it. I’ve used my fascination with writing blogs to feed into a fascination with reading blogs, and then vice versa. I’ve been able to participate in conversations with people who are wildly different from me, others who wildly share many of the same interests, some who agree with me, and some who violently do not. And for the most part it’s been refreshing and continues to shape me as a writer and as a person interacting with the world.
That all said, if I really mean to use my blog and online presence as a tool to “launch” myself as a writer, I can see pretty plainly that my blog should be more of a content-driven/ knowledge-providing model of blogging. This is what gets you increased traffic. This is what occasionally generates a few hundred dollars of revenue. This is what more importantly increases your traffic to the people who could help launch you in different ways: For example, Eric Hellweg talked about the concept of “Blog 2.0,” which was the idea that a successful blog with narrow content could potentially lead to a column in more traditional media, which could potentially lead to a book of columns, which could potentially lead to a book tour, which could potentially lead to you having actually made somewhat of a living as a writer, despite all those naysayers along the way.
Aye, then. There’s the rub. What do you all think? Questions? Answers? Comments from the peanut gallery? Please?