Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Big Day has arrived!

It's Bloggercon at Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA. Let's not talk about the fact that my print-out of directions to get me to the venue was for Harvard, not Stanford - ie Bloggercon 2, last October. Instead, let's give up three cheers for the lovely maintenance man who had me follow him to the right building behind his white van - well, have you ever tried to find anyone to give you directions on a student campus at 8.15 on a Saturday morning?

Got there in time for some much-needed coffee and headed upstairs to a packed auditorium.

So – what do do you call a gathering of bloggers? A blurt? A byte? Or, as Jay Rosen might have it soon - a 'globe' of bloggers. (Okay, there weren't that many folk from beyond the US there, but, for Bloggercon 4, who knows?)

Here’s what you get - laptops a go-go. 3 to 2 ratio of PCs to Macs, I reckoned. Oh, and probably one woman to every 5 chaps. Most of those with laptops were online using the wifi links that had been set up. Not me, though. Oh no. I’m offline and on good old Word.

Larry Lessig opened up the conference as our Stanford Host. And got a spontaneous round of applause.

Dave Winer then took over for what was billed as the National Anthem. A lot of intro stuff about the conference and the rules, such as they are. Dave calls Bloggercon an ‘unconference’. It flows and links – like a blog. Several (young and agile) Stanford students have mics and will leap nimbly around the lecture theatre to let folk talk.

The roll call of Discussion leaders reads like the Burke’s Peerage of Blogger - Jay Rosen, Doc Searls, Adam Curry (who, embarrassingly, I used to watch on MTV Europe in the early 90s) etc etc. Rebecca McKinnon – who's chairing the first session I'll go to - says that ‘newbies are going to shape the future of blogging’. Dave W says that this could be the anthem of Bloggercon. I'll sing along to that...

So, what do folk want from this conference:

- What is podcasting and how do we do it?

- Learn more about text blogging and how to get into video blogging

- How to sell blogging to a large corporation?

- How not to screw things up in this medium like we maybe did in other keenly-touted technologies

Tony Kahn from WGBH in Boston talked about a whole new chapter of what could be called ‘public broadcasting’ and wondered how can we take this forward. Yours truly stood up and talked a bit about the BBC's (limited) work in this area - and got a wee round of applause and a ‘right on’ from Dave. ‘Let’s give people the tools to change the world’. Right on indeed, Sir.

What to sing as the National Anthem was debated. What should it be? The Stars and Stripes was out, it seemed. The room went through the Oscar Meyer Wiener song, Yellow Submarine, Kumbaya, the Internationale and even the FRENCH national anthem. Came up with This Land is Your Land. Googled it to get the words and off we went! And as Dave said, who’d imagine you could get a room of folk to sing even halfway tunefully - let alone willingly - at 08.45 on Saturday morning…

A post per session coming up. Stay tuned, Blog Fans.


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