Sunday – After what shall forever be known as the week of a zillion hysterical Tweets, Sarah, Missy and I piled into a Saturn VUE and drove from Knoxville to DC. Okay, we drove to Bethesda, but that’s like DC’s version of Farragut. Actually, the only thing Farragut and Bethesda have in common is that they are both charming towns close enough to a city to be suburbs. Missy made treat bags and Sarah happily lived on a steady intake of sugar and starch the entire trip. I couldn’t complain (much) since, Missy and I were fueled by Starbucks and Slurpees. The junk food distracted us from the fact that our lungs are coated with green slime that the Ghostbusters failed to remove. If DC shuts down due to illness next week, it’s our fault. Fueled by anticipation (and caffeine), we made it to our destination, cheery and excited. We were treated to a delicious dinner of steak and lobster where Sarah ordered macaroni and cheese. I don’t think I have ever seen a waiter do a better deer in headlights expression than ours did when Sarah ordered.
Monday – I started the day seriously contemplating staying in the shower all day. I decided to leave the blissful hot water and brave the crowds in the deepest dungeon of the Bethesda Hyatt. Cell phone reception was spotty at best, but we Twittered too much anyway. Unlike conferences where you have to visit the hotel suite of someone selling something to get food, BlogHer has food magically appearing in the foyer throughout the day. Breads, cereals, fruits and coffee morphed into an incredible Asian buffet which became a cookies and candy table. Sarah just ate breads, cookies and candy.
The conference began with a PowerPoint review of a BlogHer survey. The survey shoved me into the Baby Boomers when my technology usage fits Gen X, so I think I will start lying about my age now. Michael might be interested in page 10 and 15 of the survey. I like page 17.
The blogging community is passionate – before giving up participating in the blogosphere:
– 43% would give up reading the newspaper or magazines
– 50% would give up their PDAs
– 42% would give up their i-Pod
– 55% would even give up alcohol
– BUT, some things are sacred … only 20% would give up chocolate!
The audience was a mix of women who wanted to learn and prepare before starting their own blogs, women who were blogging but wanted more out of it, financially successful bloggers, popular bloggers, bloggers there for the sense of community and men who wanted to know more about women who blog. After the opening program, we broke out into smaller groups for focused panels on different topics. The programs were educational but motivational. My very favorite panel was the non-profit panel. I love, love, love the idea of blogging about something that you feel passionate about, to increase public awareness, instead of spending all your time writing grants and pushing paper for foundation boards. I don’t know what you would expect the mood to be in a building packed with females, but I promise that it was the happiest, friendliest crowd I have ever seen. This was a crowd of intelligent women who are passionate and involved. Okay, one person seemed a bit stiff, but I’ll guess that’s because she was in a crowd which was largely passionate about politics that differ from hers.
Although she spent the cocktail party playing laser tag with Lisa Stone‘s son, Sarah came away from the event with a very clear plan for her blog. She’s actually more excited about it than I am, she’s just too cool to show it. If there was a tag cloud for the day, the largest word would be Twitter. It wasn’t just that Twitter was open on so many laptops, it was a hot topic in almost every panel, including the keynote with Lesley Stahl. BlogHer was amazing and I want to do it again when I don’t feel like I’m breathing water. I hear there will be an event somewhere in July 2009. Somewhere not yet revealed, but rumored to be on the upper East Coast.
Tuesday – After we checked out of the hotel, Sarah spotted a McDonald’s less than a block from where we had been starving her for the past two days. I think she wept.