it’s that time of year again

when half of my blogroll bloggers are making reports from the BlogHer conference in (San Jose?) California.
Geeky Mom
Dooce
Suburban Bliss
Fussy

I read through the BlogHer reports each year with a combination of envy/longing and indignation. And while my indignation, to be sure, is borne completely out of the envy, I still give it a little consideration as a valid reaction.

The exclusionary nature of the gathering peeves me. One must have certain resources (green paper resources, mostly) to be able to participate–especially when one lives in the east and the conference is always on the west coast.

Of course, if I could convince my family that this conference was a necessary trip for me to take for my research, I would be able to scrape up the money and babysitters necessary for me to be gone for a long weekend in the summer (read: rack up the credit cards and desposit the children with my mom). But because my research–the stuff that is fast evolving into a disseration project–is about blogging, somehow I find very few people (outside of my scholarly peops) who take what I’m doing seriously. However, when on the surface (from many reports), the conference simply looks like one big trip to CA for Starbucks, sushi, and lipstick, this makes it hard to convince anyone (myself included) that I should indeed be participating in the gathering.

There is something important, to be sure, in the BlogHer phenomenon: that even with the networks and communities that emerge in such online spaces, we still seek out (and envy) “real” interaction? A similar physical congregation of running bloggers in Chicago has recently emerged as well; while it is not of the proportions of BlogHer, it is similar: once a month a group of running bloggers meet for dinner to somehow “solidify” their online connections.

It makes those of us who participate in online communities because of the ease of access and lack of logistic constraints (we can participate regardless of where we are, or what time of the day it is, or whether our kids are with us or not, etc) somehow second-rate, that once the communities move past simply the blogging networks and into something “real,” those of us stuck in our houses are less-than.

Well. I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a whine fest. And really, if I had the $$ to go to BlogHer, I’d be there–but NOT without a second thought about the long tail (of which I am a part) of bloggers who must read about the sessions from afar, and how Andrew O’Baoill is right: the technology of social software does not afford users that ideal public sphere where stratifications are flattened.

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5 thoughts on “it’s that time of year again

  1. Hey Mad,

    I totally agree with this money/class issue. It has been something I have been thinking about a lot in connection to the mommy-blog phenomenon. I think it is empowering in a way, but all the “big blogs” I read, a similar list to yours, all have middle to upper-middle class means to get around, hire babysitters, and stay-at-home. So then the “choice” of staying at home versus working really becomes the liberal feminist middle-class one that marxist feminists agree should not be the point of feminist struggle anymore.

    Anyway, I think class cannot be ignored when looking at the non-long-tail bloggers in the mommy world, and I totally agree with your indignation.

  2. I totally agree with you too! There is elitism on the web, just like everywhere else. And yes, many of the better known bloggers may be stay at home moms, but they have nannies, or husbands who make a lot of money to assist them in being “famous.”
    Those of us who don’t stay at home, or only stay at home because we have a 50/50 relationship with our partners are the “blue collar” bloggers. But why should the internet be different? I think it simply reflects the stratification we find in society.
    And, I have to say, that I find many of the “famous” blogs boring. Maybe because there seems to be none of the concern you so eloquently express here for the ways in which class/money/labor inflect our blogging lives.
    thanks for the thought provoking post!!

  3. I agree with you, even though I myself am at BlogHer. The only reason I was able to go is because it’s within driving distance and I decided to splurge in a big way. I believe next year the conference will be held east of the Mississippi.

    Of course, the conference sessions themselves are interesting, but I’m not sure how much I’m actually learning. What’s more fun are the connections I’m making. And who knows if any of them will prove valuable to me? But I do know that it’s a helluva lot more fun than academic conferences (at least those I’ve attended).

  4. I really didn’t mean for this post to be a snarky as it turned out to be. And I’m thrilled that the conference is going to start moving around so that certain geographies are privileged.

    I’m just cranky right now. It’ll pass.

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