So Yeah, BlogHer 08…

This being my third BlogHer conference, I can tell you upfront that I didn’t make it to that many sessions. It’s not that I think the sessions aren’t worthwhile, but rather that I had a lot of catching up to do with people, and so little time to do it.

Thursday night was filled with parties. I was invited to several, but only made it to a few of them. The two that were far and away the best were the People’s Party and the Alltop/Kirtsy party at Guy Kawasaki’s house (even if we did get lost getting there!). I mean, just look at this food!

We wouldn’t see this much food again until cheeseburgers on Saturday night…

The first session I went to was “Is Mommyblogging Still A Radical Act?” I’d like to say yes, and Catherine made the best argument for it still being a radical act (in that people are still marginalizing us, telling us we’re insignificant, etc….well, just read her related post about it), but the session also felt like many of the same old arguments going back and forth. Issues of selling out, privacy, having an authentic voice anymore, and on and on and on.

Amalah and I discussed this at lunch that afternoon and decided that next year’s topic should be, “Mommyblogging: Have We Jumped The Shark?”

That night was the first cocktail party at the swank Ruby Skye club behind the hotel. It was a beautiful location, although I realized I’m clearly getting too old for clubs, since my first thoughts bordered on the senior citizen complaints of it being too loud and too dark. The food that evening was pretty good, too – much better than the cold boxed lunch meals we had for lunch. This was also a great party for me because WhyMommy (who is unbelievably sweet and kind!) introduced me to Stimey, and from there I talked her ear off about Cordy for at least 30 minutes. (Thank you, Stimey, for that incredible conversation!)

WhyMommy and I look good in red
(photo by Erika)

After the cocktail party, I joined a group to go to Maggie Mason‘s Mighty Haus party. The party was a lot of fun, especially once the dancing got going. I’ll confess I had a wee bit too much to drink at this point (a difficult feat, let me tell you), and later regretted that decision. I was a little free-er with my words and actions than I usually am. I doubt anyone noticed, but I still felt like an ass when I reflected on it the next morning.

Not my first drink…or even my fourth.
(Photo by Jennster)

Saturday morning started with the session on the commercial momosphere. Glancing around the room, I wondered what the ratio was between bloggers/PR reps? Would have been interesting to know. It was an interesting panel, and Kristen and Devra had a lot of very useful advice for those looking to monetize their blogs, including setting ground rules for your blog and choosing where to draw the line. The best advice from Kristen was that to get the traffic and PR rep notice, you have to go back to the old standard: read other blogs and comment. Of course, then there were those in the audience who were so kind as to give us a pitch disguised as a comment/question…ugh.

For lunch I skipped the icky boxed meals and skipped up to the Alphamom suite. Isabel and the gang did a fabulous job taking care of so many of us during the entire conference, and for that I’m eternally grateful. She always kept the suite stocked with snacks, drinks – whatever we needed – and it was a great place to visit to relax and have some interesting conversations on a smaller scale.

And feed the baby, in Julie‘s case.

After lunch I attempted to sit in on the Blogging About Our Children with Special Needs session, but I lasted a whopping 15 minutes before I ran out of the room. I’m going to give that topic its own post, but I’ll quickly add that I’m so thankful to my awesome roommates and several other bloggers who were there to provide a shoulder to cry on.

It took a while to pull myself back together, but once I was feeling OK again I visited the Sesame Street suite, where I got to chat with Abby Cadabby. The woman behind the muppet was kind enough to let me record a video with my Flip, since they had filled all of the recording slots for the day. She’s also a very nice woman who has worked with special needs kids and truly loves what she does. How awesome to have a job that you can’t wait to get to each day, eh?

The end of the last day involved a very strange traveling reception through Macy’s. There’s something not quite right about eating hummus right next to handbags that I’d have to take out a second mortgage to afford. It was crowded, there was very little substantial food, and you had to search to find anything to drink that didn’t have an alcohol % listed on it. The party ended on the top floor in the furniture section, lounging on fine leather sofas while we ate miniature burgers and tiny ice cream cones.

I quickly left that party, running back to the comfort of the Alphamom suite for the Cheeseburg-HER party. Now THAT was a fun gathering! Or at least it was until security showed up, ordering us to disperse, even controlling how many could get into each elevator. I doubt they’ve ever seen over a hundred women with McDonald’s bags on their heads. Good times, good times…

The next morning, I visited Isabel and her suite one final time for a quick breakfast and to bid farewell to so many amazing women. I then spent the remainder of the afternoon touring the city with Susan, followed by having dinner with Violet the Verbose and her family at her house, and then spending the night in the San Francisco airport to catch my 6am flight the next morning. (Along with Mocha and her daughter, who were also on my flight going to San Francisco.)

See how I needed time to catch up after all that?

So, to sum up, what I liked about this year’s BlogHer conference:

- Nice hotel: the hotel was very pretty, and the conference rooms were big enough. Bravo for choosing a great location

- There was plenty to do in San Francisco, and I have to give credit to the homeless: they’re creative in asking for money.

- Good sessions. While I didn’t attend many, I heard so many inspiring comments from those who did attend the various panels, and I took something away from each one I attended as well.

- Of course all of the amazing, talented, inspiring women I met.

And what I didn’t like so much:

- Sadly, I have to admit this conference was TOO BIG. There were women that I planned to see at BlogHer – even knew vaguely what they looked like – and yet never found them, or only saw them for a few minutes until they were gone again. Even when we were both looking for each other, it was difficult to wade through the sea of people to find the other person.

- The food was lacking this year. By the time of the Cheeseburg-Her party, I was famished and craving protein. Cold carb breakfasts, cold boxed lunches, candy bars for snacks…it made my stomach cramp. Please provide some hot food next year, and more protein.

- While I liked the location, it was also too easy and too tempting for everyone to disappear into the city. I’d love to see the next BlogHer at a resort hotel where there is plenty of space for us, yet nothing around. I remember hanging out at the pool with others during BlogHer 06, or in the hotel bar or restaurant. I really liked that setting.

OK, so that was my superficial recount of BlogHer 08. You can see all of my pictures on Flickr, and I’ll be talking in-depth about other aspects in future posts.

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  1. I have to agree about the location of Blogher 06. There was no place worth going and that awesome pool/patio was at the center of everything. made for much easier socializing and finding people and they let us hang there wee into the night with nary a security guard in sight.

    However, I will say that Blogher 06 AND 07 would have been greatly enhanced by the presence of Isabel and her awesome-sounding Alphamom suite retreat.

  2. Hey look! There’s the back of my head. The one without a bag on it.

    I think a lot of people left the city without having had a chance to see much of it, which is equally sad.

  3. As usual, a lovely and fair round-up.

    And definitely lacking in the food.

  4. Yeah, but you were still there. And that’s cool. My goal is to get my blog to a point where I won’t feel like a wannabe for attending.

  5. For some reason, I thought the food was great. Maybe because I was on a health kick and I enjoyed the fruit and the thai beef salad in a box.

    I really loved the location. San Francisco was amazing. I do understand the temptation to skip sessions and tour the city…I wanted so badly to ditch, but I also wanted to learn from the panelists, too.

    My only regret was not coming a day earlier to do all the sightseeing. But these trips are expensive…I had to cut down to the bare bones of it all.

  6. Jaelithe says:

    They should have the next BlogHer in St. Louis. Everyone will think there is nothing to do. I won’t tell them about the free zoo and free art museum and world class botanical gardens and the boutique shopping and the fabulous restaurants, though.

    (Oops. Did I type that out loud?)

  7. I was also disappointed in candy bars as snacks – at least some pretzels or something that don’t make teeth ache?

    I felt like I missed seeing a lot of folks, but that was probably due to being in transit a lot (to go home to nurse). I really liked having the sessions and the guest rooms all in the same building.

    Fun times though! So glad to have seen you again.

  8. I am SO jealous of everyone that could make it.

    I say, Iowa for 2009. It’s right smack dab in the middle of the US, not a huge travel destination, and cheaper prices for the nicer places!. Plus, I could go!!!

  9. yes.. TOO BIG. i agree. and izz and i were totally talking about how the san jose location, while there nowhere to fucking go, was great in the sense that there was that big outdoor patio for everyone to meet at and hang out at. i hated that there was nothing outdoors in SF (it’s too cold anyway)… but it was hard to just hang out in a group with people, without isolating yourself.

  10. Her Bad Mother says:

    You read my mind with your thoughts about ’06. I missed that intimacy.

  11. Sounds like a cool gig. You know, Clumbus is stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing around, maybe you could suggest here for the next venue. ;)

  12. It was great meeting you at the Cheeseburger party – too bad our budding friendship was thwarted by THE MAN.

  13. Great recap!

    I agree with the food thing, I kept hearing how much better it was in previous years.

    And I’m so mad at myself for only being in time for the lobby part of the cheeseburger party! Still, good times.

  14. Geez, I look so competent in that pic. I will print it and carry it with me always.

    Agree whole-heartedly with your assessments. I missed seeing so many people, even with Oliver in tow to make me easily identifiable.

  15. Wow! I have been reading lots about BlogHer and it sounds so great! I need to start saving my pennies for next year……..

  16. Good summary and I was glad to meet you there, in person!

  17. I was thrilled to meet you and talk to you. Anytime you want to continue our conversation, I am here.

    I think a lot of people cried in the first few minutes of that special needs panel. I held it together that day, but I do my fair share of crying too. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    This was my first Blogher and I loved just about every second of it. I hope to see you next year too!

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