Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Maybe it's just not the same A-list anymore

Something's been sticking in my craw since I got back from BlogHer a couple of weeks ago...and,a post from Hugh MacLeod ("Why We're All Blogging Less) combined with a rather cockeyed view of comments posted at the BlogHerald has just pushed me to right into looking at what's changed since I started blogging.

Let's start with Hugh (who obviously cracked me up)...one of his reasons why folks might be blogging less is "We got busy" And that's true for lots of folks I know. Not to mention that lots of folks are also using Twitter, and Facebook, and all sorts of other stuff that make blogging a supplemental form of social media, something you get to when you have the time. me? I've had lots of time recently as I sit around waiting to hear on interviews and such. and I don't Twitter. even though I use Facebook. So, we're busy--and we've got other nifty doo-dads to use to keep in touch.

But Hugh was talking about "veteran bloggers"--I'm not sure I actually qualify for "veteran blogger" status. And I know I don't qualify under A-list blogger status (although some of my friends are A-listers...) This, however, got me thinking about some of the arrogance I encountered at BlogHer--which was so NOT evident at the much smaller, first BlogHer. At the first BlogHer, there were loads of A-listers (I mean, serious A-listers. People like Mary Hodder, danah boyd, Mena Trott, Halley Suitt, and Charlene Li...) and they were perhaps some of the nicest people I'd ever met. There were no pretensions, even though they had been the ones blazing a trail for women bloggers....

This year, I was just bowled over by the arrogance of so many women bloggers. Women who'd been blogging less than a year, worrying about trademarking their blog titles, copywriting all their posts (it's implicit), and incorporating. One woman telling me about ALL the cocktail parties she'd been invited to (hmm..I didn't get any invites. I spent a really fun evening with Amy Gahran, Lisa Williams and Beth Kanter--we've just done some cool stuff, like raise over $100 grand for charity (Beth) or won Knight foundation challenge grants (Lisa and Amy) but what do we know? I later found out that some--don't know which-- of the cocktail parties may have been thrown to woo women bloggers into giving free content to various corporate concerns....so we weren't missing much. My content may be free on my blogs, but it ain't free for some multi-billion dollar publishing corporation.)

But the thing that absolutely pushed me over the edge and, thank god I was leaving early, or I would have just walked out in disgust, was an encounter with a young woman and her friend in the ladies' room. The young woman--some tall blond 20 something thing--who was bemoaning that she needed more "attention" at her blog. So I said, rather jokingly "Flame an A-lister." I don't know...I did it and it worked for me ;-) But I was absolutely stunned when she said, not jokingly, "Oh, I'm considered an A-lister, so that won't work."

Considered an A-lister? wow. I'd been on a panel at BlogHer, with a bunch of great women, and I've had a bunch of speaking engagements over the past year, and worked on a pretty significant project that's been recognized by the Knight Foundation, I wouldn't consider myself an A-lister. I don't think of myself as a "-lister" of any kind. Further, none of the A-listers I know would *ever* say that they're "considered" an A-lister. Some don't even want the label. We do what we do. We blog for lots of reasons, but those reasons aren't for A-lister bragging rights.

Sheesh. (I realize however, that this may have been a joke--which kind of indicates that the person making the comment doesn't know who's considered an A-lister. Then again, she could also have been doing the old female thing of complaining without wanting a solution. I encountered a lot of that at BlogHer this time--and when a soluciton was offered, a filp response "oh, I know" was given. I felt like the token guy in the room--hard to imagine with my shape...)

But this kind of blatant arrogance *must* be being bolstered *somewhere,* and in an article in the BlogHerald on "Legal Issues With Comments" highlighted some of the thinking that just may be fueling some of the community-adverse, ego-centric stuff I'm seeing lately. Jonathan Bailey first says how allowing comments is "easily one of the most important decisions that any new blogger will be face[d]." Hmm...I thought comments were about conversing with the blogger. I thought comments were about community and that we actually *want* comments on our blogs. I thought it was comments that separated a blog from a static website. And that it isn't this gut-wrenching consideration...

Jonathan continues: "Giving strangers free reign to post information to your site, without any editorial oversight, is a scary thing, especially in today’s legal climate on the Web." wow. we're just all inundated with *so* many comments that we can't control what others say! Also, look at the tone: "strangers" and "information"--heaven forbid anyone read our blogs other than people we know! oh my gosh! those horrid strangers! If a blogger's so concerned about strangers reading and perhaps commenting, go to LiveJournal, where you can easily regulate who reads you. Or spend some time in other online social milieu to understand how things work out here. The statement assumes malice aforethought on the part of commenters--which most people aren't going to have to deal with. Or at least not deal with on a regular basis enough to have their kinckers all bunchy...

But it's not that comments could be left in the spirit of good will and a desire to connect--rather, comments are "an excellent opportunity for free content." wow. again. So anything I do to interact with another blogger is really giving him/her "free content." wow....what can be said about that?

So, it seems to me that there's been a number of changes in the blogosphere--great people getting really busy with other projects, a ton of arrogance, and a certain level of detachment from community that makes some bloggers see others as "strangers" giving them "free content" (beware of strangers offering free content???) The tone and language about blogging has changed as much as the attitude about where one sits in relation to other bloggers has also changed. And I'm just not sure if these are attitudes that will sustain blogging as a form of conversation and community building(over a business proposition.)

Maybe in the long run, I should just get more busy.....or use Twitter....where I'm surrounded by strangers telling me all sorts of little things about their lives all the time....

who knows...

Note: this a.m. I received an email from another BlogHer alumn offering me her course in business blogging--complete with setting up a Wordpress blog! Apparently, she hasn't read my blog. Yet once again, I am taken by the sheer arrogance of offering everyone from whom you received a business card your particular services without even finding out something about the business card giver. It's not just arrogant, but not really conducive to making friends.

8 comments:

Webomatica said...

Could it be that there are many more bloggers that are doing it for the money? In that the whole blogging as a business venture thing seems to have become a lot more popular over the past year.

Tish Grier said...

I've got to agree on that one. money used to be secondary--if at all, so many of us had such low traffic. times do change.

Jonathan Bailey said...

Tish, I answered your comment on Blog Herald but I also wanted to respond here a bit as well.

I see your point and understand your criticism, you are right that I omitted an important reason for accepting comments in my rush to discuss the legal issues. It was a stupid mistake indeed.

You have to realize that my work there, and on my own site deals with almost solely with legal issues. Everything tends to get boiled down to its most pragmatic elements.

Cold and unfeeling at times, yes. I admit it. But its not because I'm that person. It's just the nature of the material I write. I believe passionately in my cause and I am not in this for the money (wrong profession for that).

Regardless, you are right, I did omit something very important and I am sorry. It was a mistake but an honest one in a rush to cover complicated legal issues. When I put my legal hat on, I tend to think purely as a pragmatist and often overlook things that don't fit in the paradigm presented to me.

I will try to be more open in the future and take a broader look. Again, I am sorry for the mistake.

Anonymous said...

You come off as sounding very arrogant, expecting every blogger to be doing it for the same reasons as you and putting down those who are not.

What exactly is wrong with a first-year blogger wanting to trademark her blog title? And what's wrong with someone considering herself an A-lister (although it is sort of tacky to say it out loud)? Who cares, when it comes down to it? And what's it to you?

Bloggers blog for all sorts of reasons- some for the community, some for the money, some for the exposure. Who are you to tell others why they should or should not be using free software on the Internet to their advantage? To my mind, there are no limits to what a blogger can do except for her imagination.

I was at BlogHer, too, and found something in it for everyone. It offered opportunities for women who simply wanted to meet other women. It offered networking for women who wanted to get a book deal or increase their traffic. And sadly, it offered new opportunities for people like you to complain.

And since you've "flamed" bloggers before (by the "rather" in "rather jokingly", I have to assume you weren't entirely kidding), I think I'll stick with the old anonymous for this comment. I'd hate to feel the fire of your blogging wrath.

Tish Grier said...

Hi Jonathan,

thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective...

I completely understand about not being into something for the money :-) and to separate the person from the projection of their writing...yet I think there are better ways to say what needs to be said about the issue and to leave the impression that we as bloggers are part of a community (I think your stopping by here kind of shows that--which I think is great and shows courage.)

My concern is just that bloggers, esp. some new bloggers who may think blogs are solely for making money, understand that this is a social milieu as much as they understand that there are legal aspects to think about. I know a couple of folks who've got into some legal tangles, so I know that's a concern. Yet how some of the women I met this year at BlogHer have shown me a new, and disturbing (at least to me) way of thinking about their blogs and others they encounter out here. Perhaps they are an indication that blogging is going in a particular direction at the moment. We can though, make sure people have pragmatic information and still keep a community spirit

Tish Grier said...

Anonymous....I am in the process of writing another post this a.m. because I did indeed meet a number of wonderful women bloggers at BlogHer and want to link out to them.

Thing is, often there's a lot of happy happy joy joy about certain conferences--when, in fact, we are all human and sometimes there are some seriously nasty undercurrents going on that could undermine lots of good stuff. You might not like what I said, but the thing is there was some things going on at BlogHer that I found completely disturbing and totally against the sentiment and feelings I and many others experienced at the first BlogHer.

As for flaming A-listers--that did indeed happen after the first BlogHer. Jay Rosen received a bit of my ire. Thing is, Jay and I managed to keep in touch and managed to create a friendship. At that time I saw it as very difficult to break the "A-list"--I bought a lot of rhetoric about that. I now see that, as Jane Hamsher recently pointed out, and I learned, there isn't an A-list cabal. So, my comment ends up being a joke in many many ways.

As for being arrogant--you may think that, but I also feel it is very arrogant to be spammed by fellow BlogHers, to be put on their particular "unworthy" lists, and that we should keep ourselves right sized, allow ourselves to grow into our experiences as bloggers. I've seen lots of peole crash and burn and then turn around and blame everyone else for their crash and burn--when it was their ego that got them there. I'd also like women bloggers to see that their voices are needed in places other than making money.

I think, though, that your anonymity, and your inability to be transparent says a lot about you--and has very little to do with being flamed by me. I've had many disagreements, even with good friend bloggers, that has resulted in us agreeing to disagree. I could simply have created an anonymous blog and trashed a whole load of people, linking out to them, and nobody would have known it was me. I didn't do that. And I didn't name anyone who upset me with their spam. It appears, to me anyway, that it's you that has a problem dealing with differences of opinion and with confronting others when you disagree. We don't all have the same experience at conferences, and I'm sorry if it disturbs you, but I'm not going to play the game of nice-nice for someone else's benefit.

zephoria said...

Your entry pretty much sums up why I blog less. More people are looking with (?arrogant?) eyes, they have higher expectations and are a hell of a lot more critical, and it's just not nearly as much "fun" as it used to be. It used to feel goofy and fun and now... it just doesn't. It feels too sterile, too "professional." But maybe that's just me...

Tish Grier said...

Most of my criticism comes from feeling things feeling *less* like a community than they did at the first BlogHer. All the focus on making money vs. using one's blog for expression and finding like minds; of exchanging information and even a desire to change minds in the world outside of blogs just wasn't evident. And that some folks who have worked very hard to get somewhere seemed to be lost in favor of new gurus was kind of odd too. but, then again, is that a consequence of pop culture?