I’m back at home base in University City, Mo., after a trip that got so long and complicated friends have sworn to make an intervention if I try something like it again. For the record, between July 25 and Aug. 5 I went from St. Louis to Philadelphia (CTAM), Santa Monica (ContentNext mixer), Los Angeles (MES), Santa Clara (BlogHer), Palo Alto (rest day/Mobile Monday), San Francisco, Las Vegas (family time/father‘s birthday/shoe show) and finally home Thursday in time for a late dinner with my favorite editor.
I owe many of you apologies for dropping out of touch for several days. I hit a not-too-rational point where I felt compelled to finish my OJR piece on BlogHer before I could do anything other than my work on paidContent.org. The article went live earlier today, I’ve taken a very deep breath and now it’s time to make my re-entry. If you haven’t heard from me yet, you will soon.
As I thought, writing about BlogHer turned out to be daunting for many reasons. Left to my own devices, I’d still be writing, editing, rewriting. Robert Niles, thanks for the patience and the encouragement; Diana Day, as always, I owe you.
One of the issues I ran into is the difference between writing about something as it happens or writing about it in a changeable/updatable space compared to writing something essentially published once. I also knew that by the time we published those who wanted to follow the conference already would be doing so through the often-amazing live blogs, post-BlogHer posts and the like but that many of my readers would be coming to the story cold. Plus, I’ve already written about a lot of the issues that cropped up during the weekend so didn’t want to cover a lot of that ground again. If you’re looking for blogging v. journalism redux, skip it.
Voice was another issue. In the end, to be true to the experience it had to be in the first person.
About the live bloggers, as frustrated as I was about the WiFi un-access, knowing that cadre was doing the job gave me the freedom to sit back a little. I still took a lot of notes but I wasn’t worried about getting it all down and transmitting it. Thank you for the breathing space.
For more than my take, I urge you to spend some time with the other BlogHer participants. You can check my link blog, too. Via Nick Bradbury’s Feed Demon newsreader, I spent hours of plane time wending through the posts of those who offer full-text RSS feeds. It felt like taking two journeys at once.
(That’s also how I found out about Nick’s pending surgery. Nick, good thoughts and prayers for your recovery.)
I’m sure I’ll hear about anything I got wrong. Just to show I learned something at BlogHer, you’re welcome to let me know what I got right, too, here or at OJR — and please link. Yes, it’s still hard to ask.
It’s nothing like the magnificent dance scene from "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" — although I’d probably pay to see Dave Winer log roll — but I’m taking part in a modern barn raising. The barn in this case is Dave’s OPML Editor and I gather from talking to him that I’m one of the few non-developers taking part in the process during this phase. That won’t last long.
There’s a weird kind of excitement to watching a program being built before your eyes — and having some input no matter how minor. Read a message or post one about a glitch, blink and someone’s got a solution or the code has been updated. Sharing is a core value and goal of the program so as I’m working my outline Dave or anyone else who wants can read my take, act on it, comment on it via their outliner or brush it off. My first glimpse of the power in this came Thursday when I decided to use the instant outliner to track my progress with the OPML Editor; a conversation Dave and I had later that day about some of my issues leapfrogged several steps because we were on the same page already.
Of course, Dave did tons of work on it before any of us even got a look but there’s still so far to go — and plenty of room for other developers to have an impact. I’ve already started a wish list.
Coda: Once some of the usability issues are resolved and it’s ready for wider distribution, the OPML Editor could make a good tool for journalists (in and out of newsrooms); notes, project planning, group work, resource sharing are just a few of the possible applications. The ground-floor cost is nothing but a little time investment/learning curve. The return on that investment could be manifold. The other editor in my house is already interested.
The press release from NBC News announcing its podcasting plans includes the following from Neal Shapiro, president, NBC News: "With technology racing at lightning speed, it’s incumbent upon us to keep up with it — and podcasting is a great example of how we are doing just that."
That’s also the danger: move too slow and you run the risk of missing the moment; move too fast and you run the risk of messing up the moment.
Iit’s great to see so many media outlets rushing to take part — no matter how appealing/unappealing the offerings may be to me personally. But let’s not screw it up, either.
Some of the allure of pod-listening is time shifting and a certain amount of repackaged content makes sense. Another facet is the creativity, the showmanship, the meshing of a personality with information, news or entertainment in a way that reaches individuals, not mass audiences. Provide some "TiVo" opportunities — audio feeds from newscasts and the like — but take this new medium, genre, whatever you want to call it, and move beyond what you’re already doing to what can be done.
Don’t worry about bragging rights — just getting it right.