Jay Rosen writes that one of the themes he recognized at the BlogHer conference was fear. Women bloggers were more likely to admit that they felt afraid, about job risk, stalking, and other risks of blogging. When I read through the Blogroll in prep for the show, I noticed people talking about pre-conference jitters. I suspect there are fewer posts admitting to butterflies about, say Always On.
My pre-Blogher jitters were about the potential level of identity politics. I blog about women in technology and business occasionally, but most often about other things -- social software, tech policy, books. If there was a conversation about what it's like to be a woman blogger, I don't think that I'd get that far.
When you assemble a group focused on "identity x", there's the risk of rathole discussions about whether people and things are "x enough".
Overall, Blogher avoided the perils of identity focus, and got good things done because of the focus:
* Mary Hodder started a speaker list to identify female conference speakers. There is no good excuse for conference program organizers who just can't think of women panelists.
* Blogs and the mainstream media have even fewer excuses for stupid stories about the scarcity of women bloggers.
* Ideas about alternative blog metrics beyond the mass-market A-list were catalyzed, as a result of conversations among people who care more about their "long tail" subcommunities than overall fame.
* In the panel on investment, audience members asked basic questions ("what is the difference between angel and venture investors"), and got answers that were friendly and informative. The questioners might not have spoken up at the investment panel at a general (mostly male) event.
* Reports say the Mommy blogger panel rocked.
* Interesting insights from the globalization session about the challenges of blogging in multiple languages -- what to say to whom, in what tone.