Friday, July 27, 2007
Today and tomorrow I am attending the BlogHer '07 Conference at Navy Pier here in Chicago. My final report will come later, but here are my early impressions:
First, I was amazed at the number of attendees. We nearly filled Navy Pier's huge Grand Ballroom for breakfast, the opening session, and lunch. The average age appears to be somewhere in the 30's, and I have not identified anyone else over 70 there. Of course this does not disturb me at all; I am a great people watcher, and to see the variety of (mostly) women there and hear how varied their histories and their blogs are is fascinating.
So far, I have encountered young women who blog about art, music, education, travel, diet and health, children and family ("Mommy Blogs" seem popular), even NASCAR racing. Some are selling things and promoting various ventures of theirs, but many are simply expressing themselves, and I consider that very positive. Some are techies who can tell anyone how to start a web site or blog from scratch, while others, like me, just write, and love doing it with no thought of monetary reward.
Another thing that surprised me, although it shouldn't have, was that virtually everyone carried a laptop computer and took advantage of the wireless connection facilities to get on line at the tables, in the breakout rooms, and in the Internet Cafe provided. It's not that I don't have a laptop; I do, but it needs repair. Besides, it is too heavy for me to carry around much. Live, on-site blogging requires more physical strength than I had realized.
I attended a very interesting session this morning: Art of Life: "Finding and Following your Passion." I have long advised my fellow seniors to do exactly that, but not necessarily in connection with blogging. However, my passion turned out to be writing, and blogging became an important part of my reinvention. Speakers Christine Kane, Sheila Scarborough, and Carmen Staicer shared their blogging experiences and asked, "If you define blogging as writing with passion, how do you define passion?" Many attendees shared their stories.
I spoke out myself to tell about finding my passion for writing and turning it into a book and two blogs. I hope my much younger colleagues learned that there is no top age limit for writing with passion. Everyone was accepting and friendly, and many of us exchanged cards. I felt a bit less like an outside observer and more like a true participant.
Stay tuned! Tomorrow I plan to attend a session on turning a blog into a book. The session will also discuss how a blog can augment and enhance a book and help its sales. I haven't attended many conferences since the end of my teaching career, and this is my first bloggers' conference. It's fascinating, so I'll complete my report tomorrow or Sunday.