This is your brain on meta-blogging
October 4, 2003 12:33 PM   Subscribe

bloggerCON webcast Can't get enough of bloggers incessantly and never-endingly meta-blogging about weblogs? Well, now all the usual suspects are droning on in person and you can watch them do it live. Warning: Not recommended for anyone other than people like me who are fighting a nasty cold and looking for something to put them to sleep.
posted by theonetruebix (38 comments total)
 
On Saturday, one of the questions we'll consider is if the NY Times should have a weblog.

Wait, this isn't the New York Times weblog?
posted by oissubke at 12:41 PM on October 4, 2003


The dude with the white beard that's on right now has a woman's voice. It's totally freaking me out.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:46 PM on October 4, 2003


On Saturday, one of the questions we'll consider is if the NY Times should have a weblog.

http://nytimes.com/pages/opinion/
posted by 4easypayments at 1:12 PM on October 4, 2003


Meanwhile questions linger. Are today's bloggers the modern-day Emersons and Thoreaus or Charlie Chaplin, PT Barnum or Erma Bombeck? Is blogspace a Second Superpower, a ride on the Cluetrain, the venue for the next election or is it even worse than it appears, just good enough to make a difference, or the revolution so many say it is?

i'm celebrating the art and science of snickering.
posted by quonsar at 2:21 PM on October 4, 2003


Neat-o.

I can install Real (then uninstall it tomorrow and spend a week repairing the damage the damage it did) to listen to a bunch of people convince themselves that weblogs (and by association, themselves) are important to anyone but themselves.

This morning they discussed whether or not the NY Times should have a weblog... myself, I think they should avoid it like the plague. I also think that they can do whatever they damn well please and that the decision will be made by the people who run the Times rather than a room full of geeks whining about, God forbid, having to use Ethernet and wires rather WiFi.

Anyway, doesn't the Times have a weblog. You know, a chronologically ordered page of information? We used to call them newspapers.

But they do have a celebrity, ex-VJ Adam Curry is there. Damn, I could have heard him in person for only $500 -- for a one day conference with only the cost of food, lodging and transportation additional. It's not like they have that goofy kid from ST:NG or anything.
posted by cedar at 2:50 PM on October 4, 2003


Presenters include: James Taranto, Jenny Levine, Joe Jones, Phil Wolff, Eric Folley, Mathew Gross, Scott Rosenberg, Jim Moore, Andrew Grumet, Brian Weatherson, Joshua Marshall, Glenn Reynolds, Dan Gillmor, Elizabeth Spiers, Eugene Volokh, Kaye Trammell, A.K.M. Adam, Adam Curry, Susan Mernit, Doc Searls, Jon Udell, Scott Heiferman, Cameron Barrett, Halley Suitt, Patrick Delaney, Jeff Jarvis, Chris Locke, Len Apcar.
Moderators: Lance Knobel, Ed Cone, Christopher Lydon.
Host: Dave Winer.


Am I missing something? Or are there only four or five women represented here?
posted by jokeefe at 4:10 PM on October 4, 2003


And, from just a quick read through, their blogroll is even worse in terms of female representation. Feh.
posted by jokeefe at 4:13 PM on October 4, 2003


women, by and large, are too well adjusted for all this self-serving shit, jokeefe!
posted by quonsar at 4:16 PM on October 4, 2003


I'm as put-off by self-aggrandizing webloggers as much as anyone, but am I the only one to see the irony in this conference being mocked (with oh so snippy quips) on a community weblog.

As for the gender issue, I've received some mild criticism (more of an obvservation than a criticism, really) for a small conference I am involved in myself. But I see this as a knee-jerk reaction to something that man not really be meaningful. If you look at a sample of popular weblogs (taking the Daypop Top Weblogs list as an example), there are more men than women. This is worth discussing, but I don't think you can blame the organizers of a conference.
posted by stevengarrity at 4:23 PM on October 4, 2003


You know what might make it worth it? When two of them suddenly announce that they "invented weblogging" at the same time. Then we watch the body count rise.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:54 PM on October 4, 2003


"This is worth discussing, but I don't think you can blame the organizers of a conference."

Of course we can, it's Dave Winer fer cryin' out loud. If we can't blame and mock Dave, who can we blame and mock?
posted by cedar at 5:33 PM on October 4, 2003


As the originator of this thread, I should say that no, the above-mentioned irony was not lost on me.
posted by theonetruebix at 5:55 PM on October 4, 2003


So onetruebix, how come you didn't attend the conference?

Didn't you get the 'invitation' along with instructions on how to fork over $500 bucks for a one day conference?

I find it interesting that after more than a year here; that this, a link you yourself describe as boring, is the only one you have seen fit to post to the front page.

Hey, whatever happened to Winerlog anyway?
posted by cedar at 6:17 PM on October 4, 2003


As for the gender issue, I've received some mild criticism (more of an observation than a criticism, really) for a small conference I am involved in myself. But I see this as a knee-jerk reaction to something that man not really be meaningful. If you look at a sample of popular weblogs (taking the Daypop Top Weblogs list as an example), there are more men than women. This is worth discussing, but I don't think you can blame the organizers of a conference.

Well let's take a look at this (and in a spirit of amiable discussion; I'm not yelling here). My comment may resemble a knee-jerk reaction, simply because it is predictable, and is a criticism both often heard and easy to make. This is because such criticism about gender parity is usually correct, and I would venture that this is the case here. From the conference's faq:

The focus of BloggerCon is weblogs in journalism, education, science, business and politics. We're interested in people's experiences with weblogs, now that they've been in use for five or six years, depending on who you ask.

How can you hold a conference which purports to explore the history of weblogs over the last "five or six years", and people's "experiences with weblogs" and ignore how women helped to create the form itself? How can you ignore Pyra? (Correct me if I'm wrong.) The first bloggers I ever read were women: Meg, Rebecca Blood, Jessamyn, Heather Haley, Judith from Calamondin, Caterina Fake. (All of whom, incidentally, are members here, I believe.) My understanding, from watching all this unfold online for the last 10 years, is that various forms of female discourse--from the reputable (techy sites by women, such as Mightygirl) to the disreputable (Live Journal, a million fansites, slash fiction sites) have generated incredible amounts of activity on the web which could, and should be, included under the heading of weblogging. The difference with this conference, perhaps, is its (unexamined) concern and overt agenda to do with the professionalization of weblogging, which does skew the bias away from the personal. Let's look at the next point:

If you look at a sample of popular weblogs (taking the Daypop Top Weblogs list as an example), there are more men than women.

Well, why is that? Because certain technical sites collect a lot of traffic? Is this the most efficient way to chart what is important? Anyway, taking a look at the top 40, ranked by citation, it breaks down like this: 13 community/collaborative sites without single authors; 9 sites primarily technical, of which one is written by a woman; three sites that qualify as both personal and tech focussed, of which one is written by a woman; 9 primarily political blogs, of which one is written by a woman; and 7 blogs which could fall into "other", one of which is written by a woman. So out of 27 individually written weblogs in the top 40 (by citations), three are written by women. Of these 27 weblogs, 9 are technically focused, 9 are politically focused, and 5 cover more ground than just tech or politics. So women are underrepresented in general, but they are not absent, by any means, and two out of the three female authored weblogs listed here have a primarily technical focus. Going by "daypop score", we find that 22 of the top 40 blogs are collaborative/software company sites, while 18 appear to have single (and probably male) authors. My point here is to say, yes, there is a gender disparity when it comes to web traffic, but the sites which are most often visited tend to be ones that are written by multiple authors, and it is certainly concievable recent events have probably given a boost to the ranks of (mostly male) warbloggers (and which may or may not last).

This is worth discussing, but I don't think you can blame the organizers of a conference

The organizers are responsible for who they invite, and for how they structure the conference. Check out the list of "agenda-setting essays in anticipation of BloggerCon 2003" if you want an idea of what this conference already has decided is important.

Now, I love AKMA, so all due respect, but if he is invited to speak, then why not Dorothea Salo, who writes just as well and with just as much erudition, and who, to top it all off, wrote AKMA's code for him? I suppose all this concern on my part comes out of that particular unease to do with the question: What is the web for? To post pictures of my cat? To share my lascivious fantasies about Elijah Wood? (These are theoretical examples, I hasten to add.) Is it art? Business? Can it be both? All open to debate, but I'd rather not see patterns of gender bias replicated within discussions about the future of the web, and a conference such as this, with a very, very small representation by women, does make me worry on this count.

(Huh, spellcheck doesn't recognize "weblog")
posted by jokeefe at 6:27 PM on October 4, 2003


Damn. Above, for "so out of 27 individually written weblogs in the top 40 (by citations), three are written by women" read "four were written by women", and for "two out of the three female authored weblogs listed here have a primarily technical focus" read "two out of the four".

Sorry, I do know how to count, honest.
posted by jokeefe at 6:35 PM on October 4, 2003


As far as the NYT, the editor-in-chief of the website is one of the conferees so, other questions such as gender aside, discussing whether that org ought to have a blog seems reasonable. Dave, as cedar points out, is easily criticised and I have done so myself, but I don't think he is sexist. He invited, seems to me, many people based on their position and those people just happen to be male.
posted by billsaysthis at 7:55 PM on October 4, 2003


I got an invite to this. I laughed, as they say, out loud.

As I've said elsewhere, $500 buys a lot of beer. If they want wonderchicken, they gonna pay.

Which means no miraculous poultry at events like this for the foreseeable future, quite probably.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:57 PM on October 4, 2003


are there only four or five women represented here?

Looking at the photos, it looks to me like the age structure is skewed towards late-twenties or early-thirties and older. I thought bloggers nowadays consisted predominantly of those people in their late-teens or early-to-mid-twenties, all lacking of social lives.
posted by sillygwailo at 10:05 PM on October 4, 2003


jokeefe - I appreciate your thoughtful reply. Still, I help but think that it's like criticizing someone for who they invite to their party. It sounds childish, so bear with me and assume that I mean this in the most discussion-stimulating and non-attacking/insulting way possible, but: why not just throw your own party?

sillygwailo said: "...it looks to me like the age structure is skewed towards late-twenties or early-thirties and older. I thought bloggers nowadays consisted predominantly of those people in their late-teens or early-to-mid-twenties..."

The "has a weblog" demographic and the "will go to a conference at Harvard about weblogs" demographic are clearly distinct.
posted by stevengarrity at 10:18 PM on October 4, 2003


stavrosthewonderchicken: "As I've said elsewhere, $500 buys a lot of beer."

What you said was, "$500 buys a fuckload of beer," I know this because it was on my weblog as an uncredited 'overheard' thing.

jokeefe:"Still, I help but think that it's like criticizing someone for who they invite to their party."

They invited everyone. Lots of people got invitations, some even thought they were invited as speakers. I too would invite quite a few folks to my party if I thought they'd pay $500 at the door. For five hundred bucks I might even let them speak.
posted by cedar at 10:46 PM on October 4, 2003


I'm not sure how much one metric fuckload actually is, but it's enough beer to get me dancing naked, I'm sure.

Don't think Harvard's quite ready for that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:28 PM on October 4, 2003


...skewed towards late-twenties or early-thirties and older...

Maybe me and my friends just look young for our ages, but I'd swear those in attendance at that conference look to be skewed more toward late-forties and early-fifties and beyond.

Not just male and white, but male and white and gray. There's nothing wrong with the elder statesmen of blogging getting together in an ivory tower, of course, but it certainly isn't representative of blogging as a whole.
posted by barkingmoose at 11:56 PM on October 4, 2003


Ironically these people are not correct with what they call a weblog. On on hand AlwaysOn, sites written by a ghostwriter or even sites without links are not considered to be weblogs. On the other hand, when they count weblogs to show their importance they count every site made with weblog tools. BTW, the number of 4 Millions is an utter overestimation as this study shows.
posted by arf at 3:52 AM on October 5, 2003


Looking at the least of participants, this doesn't seem as representitive of what is going on as it could be. which is why I passed on this.
posted by tranquileye at 5:22 AM on October 5, 2003


jokeefe - I appreciate your thoughtful reply. Still, I help but think that it's like criticizing someone for who they invite to their party. It sounds childish, so bear with me and assume that I mean this in the most discussion-stimulating and non-attacking/insulting way possible, but: why not just throw your own party?

Fair enough--I think that my real interest/concern about this (and I hadn't even heard about "BloggerCon" until it showed up here) is the institutionalizing/professionalization of weblogging. A conference at Harvard carries quite a different significance than one held in the excellent vegetarian restaurant at the end of my city block. The 500 dollar attendance fee speaks volumes too... cedar, point taken. They could have invited the entire blogging world; who can pay 500 bucks, plus travel, plus hotel?

Dinner at the Excellent Vegetarian Restaurant runs to about 15 bucks per person, and I can probably sleep about 10 people if they don't mind filling up all the floor space. I'll only charge a couple of hundred bucks, and the conference attendees can take turns using my Imac...

The "has a weblog" demographic and the "will go to a conference at Harvard about weblogs" demographic are clearly distinct.

Indeed.
posted by jokeefe at 6:37 AM on October 5, 2003


I don't understand why BloggerCon has been a magnet for abuse since it was announced, unless it's just a cheap opportunity to take shots at Dave. Now people are watching the feed to make fun of the age, hair color, and gender of the audience ... you gotta love informed criticism.

The $500 cost for day one of the conference is high unless you're accustomed to seeing $1,000 to $2,000 pricetags of many technical conferences. Day two was free, and from what I've heard, some people could wheedle into day one for less if they couldn't afford the full rate.

Anyone who is concerned that there aren't enough X in weblogging should start a community and offer free weblogs to any X who wants one.
posted by rcade at 6:57 AM on October 5, 2003


The '$500 cost for day one is high', full stop, rcade.

In my experience (and I admit yours may be different) the $1000 to $2000 pricetags for technical conferences are almost invariably paid for by one's employers, if one is employed. I'd say this is (arguably) an animal of a very different colour.

Although a particularly unpleasant realtime email exchange with Dave a while back indicated that he thought I had done so, I've never bashed Dave online, and never seen the point in doing so.

Regardless, this BloggerCon thing needs a good fucking poke with a sharp stick to let the hot air out, in my humble.

Now people are watching the feed to make fun of the age, hair color, and gender of the audience ... you gotta love informed criticism.

Scoff if you will, but if the price of entry is $500 and the cast of characters is predominantly old white men, I don't think it's inappropriate to draw a dotted line between the two.

Look, some of my good Virtual Pals are attending and/or presenting at this thing. I still think it's a big step in pulling a velvet rope around the annointed, and that's something I really don't care to see.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:24 AM on October 5, 2003


The $500 cost (plus travel) was too high for me, too. I'm self-employed and can't justify going to any of these kinds of technical conferences. For me, the pricetag of the event made it a different animal than an event like the weblogger gatherings at SXSW.

All this talk of inclusiveness and "the anointed" boggles my mind.

Here's a $1,700 Microsoft conference I'd like to attend in Orlando but can't afford. Are they drawing a velvet rope around the Windows & .NET community (and wrongfully excluding me)? I can be assured that gray-haired white men like me will be there in great number, but should we have concerns that there might not be enough women, minorities, gays, teen-agers, or lactose-intolerant agrarian home-schoolers at the event?

I have trouble seeing why a weblogging conference is such a political football compared to similarly priced events.
posted by rcade at 7:39 AM on October 5, 2003


Well, I'm a grey-haired (ok, just a bit) white man, too, and I've been to a few Microsoft conferences on the company dime in my time.

I think it's a false equivalence you're drawing between a bunch of webloggers (ie glorified public journal writers, basically (and I know people will argue with that characterization, but c'est la vie)) getting together to jaw about emergent democracy and alla that, and the Large Money types of MS (or Oracle or Java or yadda yadda) events, like the one you link to.

Except for (perhaps) the MT/Typepad folks or the GoogleBlogger folks I assume nobody is trying to flog high-priced enterprise software to anyone else at a weblogging conference, or teach anyone to write code or design systems properly using their toolset, or anything of the kind. I think there's a big distinction to be drawn there, that you don't acknowledge.

And I think that this cashed-up Bloggercon is a step toward blurring the distinction, a deliberate one perhaps, and that's worrisome to me. I hated those huckstering MS events I went to, even if I learned a fair bit.

Perhaps the difference in our attitudes towards it is that (forgive me for putting words in your mouth, but) you are approaching the idea of weblogging more from a technical standpoint, and I am doing so (although a techhead sub rosa) from a more social, artsy-fartsy one? Maybe?

(And maybe you're the one that's right, if so. And if so, well, the hell with 'em. Like it's gonna break anyone's heart, but I'm not interested in that game. I was interested to read this, though, so perhaps folks like Chris Locke are fighting the kind of fight I would if I could spare 500 smackers (plus airfare plus plus).)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:02 AM on October 5, 2003


Ah hell, maybe I'm just being crotchety again. It happens.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:25 AM on October 5, 2003


I can be assured that gray-haired white men like me will be there in great number, but should we have concerns that there might not be enough women, minorities, gays, teen-agers, or lactose-intolerant agrarian home-schoolers at the event?

Well, the short answer, is yes. We should.

The long(er) answer would be on the order of How on earth did you come up with this list of categories, and Why do you think that there's nothing wrong with a lack of "women, minorities, gays"--as if these categories were mutually exclusive--in a conference which specifically addresses a phenomenon which began, and in a haphazard way, continues to be, celebrated for its multiple voices?
posted by jokeefe at 8:40 AM on October 5, 2003


The fact that I'm a tech geek weblogger definitely is contributing to my opinion on this. I never really viewed the focus of BloggerCon to be as wide as weblogging -- it seemed more like a gathering of technical wonks, pro bloggers, political wonks, and the like.

A for-pay professional conference is not egalitarian; it's a voluntary association of people who can afford to go.

While of course I'd like weblogging to be diverse and representative, I fail to see why this particular conference is being faulted so strongly for not being a melting pot. It seemed to me, from my limited exposure to the planning effort, that anyone who wanted to jump on the Day 2 schedule could have done so. People with concerns about the scope of the conference had the opportunity to address that with their own contributions.
posted by rcade at 9:51 AM on October 5, 2003


Okay, I think I've probably taken up as much of the thread as I should, but I just wanted to point out that the mandate of this conference itself makes gestures towards being inclusive:

Weblogs. The unedited voice of a person! Will easy and inexpensive publishing technology change the face of politics, business, journalism, the law, medicine, engineering and education? Is a revolution underway, or are weblogs just the latest Internet craze? We'll show how artists create new experiences and inspire with weblogs. New technology will be showcased at BloggerCon 2003. Educators are using blogs to help students express themselves and learn from each other.

Meanwhile questions linger. Are today's bloggers the modern-day Emersons and Thoreaus or Charlie Chaplin, PT Barnum or Erma Bombeck? Is blogspace a Second Superpower, a ride on the Cluetrain, the venue for the next election or is it even worse than it appears, just good enough to make a difference, or the revolution so many say it is?


Sounds like much more is on the table than just the tech aspects of blogging, to me. I'm just raising this point because there have, historically, been the same kind of developments in other fields--women begin as full participants in a newly developing field, and then it becomes institutionalized, a hierarchy forms, and women, more often than not, and left outside the fence. The writing of novels, for example, or even the early Christian church. So I'm not screaming and shouting here, and I know that I've simplified the argument drastically, but that's what I'm reacting to.

(And Erma Bombeck? Huh? Odd.)
posted by jokeefe at 12:29 PM on October 5, 2003


The gender and skin color of the presenters notwithstanding, there is a legitimate question as to whether any sort of good-faith effort was made to have the conference reflect a diversity of perspectives on the weblog phenomenon, or if this is just an attempt to trade on Harvard's reputation to advance a particular agenda.
posted by jjg at 2:46 PM on October 5, 2003


BloggerCon. Serves one. Comes with ego and blustering diatribes frequently mistaken for informed opinion.
posted by ed at 2:47 PM on October 5, 2003


BloggerCon. It's about you, not for you.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 3:27 PM on October 5, 2003


When I become rich and famous, I want to have a convention on starvation, racism, poverty, and animal cruelty. It would cost $10,000 to enter, pale limeys would smother you with bad breath for six hours, you'd get a free five course meal, and a jar of fois gras to take home with you.
posted by wackybrit at 8:58 PM on October 5, 2003


I went. It was worthwhile. First day Josh Marshall, AKMA, Doc Searls, the Dean campaign blogger, many others, great conversations, all kinds of interesting info shared. Second day, free, looser and fun and plenty useful. Blog politics not something I spend a lot of time thinking about, there or back at home.
posted by Buckley at 5:51 PM on October 6, 2003


« Older wiggaz dot com   |   Science, magic and heresy. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments