Colin and Neuza Blunder Out of Blogger Con and Some Son of a Gun Steals their Cab
Frankly, I've exhausted my BloggerCon blogging by leaving some comments here and there on the top results from the conference's Technorati Cosmos. Our arrival was sandwiched by two ten-hour days working in the much-maligned "old media" and some really annoying transportation fubars, including the theft of our radio-dispatched cab by some other conference-goer who said "Yep, that's me" when the driver asked if they were us. Talk about your core value of trust.
I did have fleeting conversations with Scott Rosenberg and Ed Cone--fixed smile and edging away, edging away, though I thought I was perfectly polite, and observed the Gricean maxims--be relevant, be brief, and so on. A preponderance of chiefs and not much interest in lobbying from the rank-and-file Indians. Still, I met this normal guy who lives in Harlem and runs videoblogging.info who actually came up to us and said, "Oh, you're that translate the blogs guy, cool." That was kind of nice and ego-gratifying and embarassing. Dude, my link to you is worthless in the economy of non-semantic link-ranking, but I'm like totally into what you're doing. I'll be in touch. And check out my maiden vlog.
Kind of embarassing that my blog was down during the conference, with tech support at Lazy Lizard acting as sluggish as their namesake. (I think I am going to port everything over to Lunar Pages, which hosts my wiki and a bunch of other weird stuff I like to futz with.)
As I told Scott, the one thing you never hear at sessions on journalism are front-line, rank-and-file journalists saying what you hear in newsrooms and freelance-haunted bars all the time: "I wrote a great story, and that slimeball of an editor fucked it up." Case in point: that Wall Street Journal reporter and her private dispatch from Iraq. Editors and reporters often have a conflict of interest. The best editors used to be, and spiritually still are, reporters--Bernstein is an example--but that seems to be less common in the business these days: the editor's desk moves ever closer to the marketing department.
(I try so hard not to get that rep with my writers, but they probably feel the same way about me sometimes. I need to produce that style and editorial handbook I promised. There's a fine line between shaping stories, finding the compelling angle, and distorting them.)
No, these things always seem to chaired by managing editors (Rosenberg) or think-tankers (those people from the OJR) and producers-turned-research-fellows (MacKinnon): Canny careerists, in a word. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's hard to see how this purported "users' conference" can live up to its stated values when the microphone is in the hands of management and not labor.
My deep thought about the whole thing: Blogging is doomed to be a flavor of the month because for all its communitarian rhetoric, it's essentially egocentric, and the technical demands, and the investment of time and energy, of supporting its "core values" are going to be too much for the kind of people who might want to make use of it. (I'd link here to my ramblings on what I call "karass discovery," but my site is still down.) As Brazilian users of Blogger.com.br found out, the only way to maintain your independence is to own your own domain, and even then, the Brazilian libel laws can destroy you from one day to the next. (Reminds me, had a nice short chat with an Aussie journo who brought that point up in the journo session, can't remember his name, it's in my low-tech reporter's notebook: I only had my Axim, which actually performed well on the wireless network there but made me realize I need a backup battery.) Really, participating in a LISTSERV or a forum or a social network is a lot more gratifying, and a lot less hassle.
I remember reading a really good article about this on a French Web site, which turned up its nose at "blogging" and argued we should all be talking about the broader category of "do-it-yourself content management," with an emphasis on facilitating community.
Blogging is so Ayn Randian and "I am my own product and brand," really. One thing bloggers could learn from the pros: That stuff that seems so polished in the press? It's not actually the product of a single genius person, but a team of people going through a pretty elaborate process to try to get it right. It's just that the talking heads and the celebrity editors get out in front of it and put their brand on it--then turn around and blame the little people when they make asses of themselves.
Oh, well, I have now committed my desultory rant. It's good to be back at work, actually, trying to nail down the road map for the close and wrinkling my brow over how to get all the good stuff into the lead and cast things in the active voice and all those lovely old rules of thumb and superstitions I've accumulated over the years, like frequently sharpened files and rasps. Neuza is sitting here on the sofa with me going gaga over the Beatles Anthology I got her for a coming-home present. The episode about the Beatles and Imelda Marcos is actually pretty amazing.
Over and out. Cameraphone shots will go to Flickr shortly. Let it not be said I, the participant-observer, did not try out every possible gadget!