BlogHer, in my mind, was going to be a blogging conference – a conference about blogging. Because we were all bloggers, and therefore not tech newbies, I expected a little more emphasis on the technology that makes it all work. A little more social media, a little more blogging, and a little less recipe sharing and parenting.
I attended several sessions and I spoke on a panel and well, BlogHer was chock full of surprises for me.
I was really interested in some of the Geek Lab sessions, and sad to find they were only 30 minutes each. Not only that, there were multiple GeekLab sessions running at the same time, in the same room, which was divided into giant cubicles. I had the experience of attending sessions led by one sweet girl who had no projection to her voice at all. That means that although I was in GeekLab session A, I was hearing GeekLab session B in the next cubicle, taught by someone with no fear of projecting her voice. For a blogging conference, I was sort baffled that this is how the tech would be treated.
The one exception to this was a good panel on Advanced SEO & Stats. Why this one session was led in a full conference room and the others were not, well, I don’t know.
The Tech vendors, such as Microsoft Bing, Intel, Best Buy, and Nokia were not on the expo floor. In fact, they were in a tiny created hallway at folding tables on the way into the Geek Labs. I don’t know if this was their idea or BlogHer’s idea, but I would have liked to talk more with these folks – Nokia, in particular – without talking over or under the labs in the next cubicle. (Microsoft, at least, managed to score a suite they called the MicroSpa in a different area.)
There are some brilliant women out there who speak on social media and technology in general that weren’t a part of BlogHer. I was thrilled to see Corvida on a panel, which was also supposed to include Laura Fitton (who had to cancel at the last moment). Outside of those two, I didn’t notice names I’d have liked to see represented. Where was Kathy Sierra? How about Kara Swisher or Gina Tripani? There are a lot of great ladies in tech and social media right now (just look at any of Brian’s photo posts). I would have loved the opportunity to learn from them.
By saying that, I’m also sort of dissing myself. I was on the Food Blogging in the Recession panel (with my Wine Blog). It was eye-opening for me. I always thought of food blogging (and wine blogging is a subcategory) as people who ate food and wrote about it, whether it was in their own kitchen or in Thomas Keller’s restaurant. I always considered (and still do) restaurant bloggers to be legitimate food bloggers. This was a room of folks who wanted, for the most part, recipe tips. We talked about leftovers, freezing things, spices, but very rarely did we touch on actual blogging or other types of food blogging beyond cooking (live blog). I had really wanted my panel to discuss how we’re handling blogging itself in the recession, with an emphasis on food & wine. I did not expect it to get into coupons and leftovers. Obviously, I wasn’t accurately prepared for my audience and that is my own fault.
I’ve seen some tweets rudely stating that if you didn’t like BlogHer, then you should stay home. Other tweets and posts have implied that if you want tech, you should go to technology conferences. But here’s the thing – BLOG is in the title and even the New York Times called it a technology conference. Next year I hope they add a Technology Track. Not just a Business Track, but a full-fledged tech track that happens inside larger conference rooms and not cubicles.