Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reflections on BlogHer Boston

Yesterday I attended the BlogHer conference in Boston. This was the first non-edtech conference I have attended in a while. The conference opened with an ice breaker which allowed us to meet and talk to many of the attendees for a few minutes. This was a great way to start, it opened up the possibility for many future conversations throughout the day. Everyone had a business card. There was a lot of exchanging of cards (I felt somewhat out of my element, as I don't have a business card). It was interesting to discover that there are so many other kinds of bloggers out there. This was definitely the "periphery" of my network.

If you add keywords they will come:
The focus of many of the sessions was on building a following for your blog, how to do "SEO" - Search Engine Optimization, how to get advertising on your blog, how to syndicate your blog, how to build a blogging community and how to add bling to your blog. I learned how to include key words in my posts, for example: technology and network and education and learning and schools, so that my posts will come up higher in Google searches (now I'll be #1). I learned a little about how to tweak the code in my blog to change its look and feel.

Shameless self promotion:
One thing that stands out the most to me is the focus on self promotion. Teachers don't tend to focus on themselves this way. We are always doing things for the kids, for the learning, for the community, not usually for ourselves. It was really interesting to see how unabashedly these women talked about building traffic and making money off of their endeavors. It was empowering to be in this atmosphere, it helped me see that it is OK to focus on yourself sometimes.

The HER in BlogHer:
It was surprising to me that there was no discussion specifically about gender. We may have been a group of primarily women (there were a few men present), but there was no official discussion of feminism or the role of gender in the blogosphere. I was surprised by this. I'm sure I could have brought up the topic myself, and maybe I should have (next year!).

Some link love:
As always, the best part of the conference was the people I met. I had great conversations with Sherry Pardy (a freelance writer and blogger) and Tracy Rosen (a fellow edtechie), Cora Sedlacek (a food blogger), Vera Smeddling and Doreen Cable (both "mommy bloggers"), Liz Henry (a blogger of many things who also works for BlogHer and did an amazing presentation on how to "bling up your blog"). I also met Lisa Williams who blogs in my hometown and attended a great presentation by Beth Kanter on how to handle information overload and how to build a blogging community. It was wonderful to converse with and learn from so many bloggers outside of my small world.

Coming up:
Next week I venture back in to the edtech world where I will be attending and presenting at ACTEM in Maine. I'm looking forward to seeing many of my friends and feeling at home, but I will also try to bring along all I have learned from stepping outside and seeing a wider world.

What do you think?
Have you stepped out of your conference zone? What was it like for you? I'd love to know.

Image Source: Core/Periphery Network From the Flickr photo stream of Ross Mayfield.
Image Source: Love is all around From the Flickr photo stream of Kliefi (on holiday)
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