I think it’s interesting that I met two of my favorite bloggers for the first time at BlogHer (both of whom are men, Guy Kawasaki and John Battelle).
But, that beside, what else did I learn?
Heather Champ, community manager of Flickr, did a great session on digitial photography, but she demonstrated how important it is to listen after the session is over. A group surrounded her and wanted to know more. She introduced us to filtrs, which is a very interesting concept I hadn’t considered before.
Let’s say you have a cell phone camera. And you want a black and white photo, but your cell phone camera doesn’t do that. Well, you email your photo to a different email address that takes your color photo, strips out the color, and then uploads that photo to Flickr.
The problem is only one guy (Aaron Straup Cope) I know of has some Filtrs of his own (he wrote them and runs them on his own servers for his own use). That makes Heather (and me) very jealous. You can see an example of one of his Filtrs in this photo he made of Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield.
Other things I learned from BlogHer?
That the stereotypes about women are true (they talk about things like mothering, cooking, sewing, and soft stuff like feelings, sex, relationships, along with broader things like books and movies far more often than I usually hear among the male dominated groups I usually find myself in after conferences). But, the fact that they are true gives women HUGE economic power and content power that the tech bloggers simply won’t touch.
Saturn did about as good a job of marketing to this group as I’ve seen a company do.
Seth Godin wrote that all marketers are liars. But Saturn taught me that you don’t need to lie, or even write a story. What a good marketer should do in today’s world is let people write THEIR OWN story about the product.
How did Saturn do that? They brought several prototypes, along with some cool ass convertibles. Then they said “here’s the keys” and stood back.
I watched as group after group came back with smiles on their faces and, more importantly, as tons of photos were snapped:
Not every company did it right, though.
MSN Windows Live Spaces didn’t improve its position with this audience. I took careful note of what people are using here. My wife’s blog is the only one I saw that was done on MSN Spaces.
This brings me to another point. Companies that listen to audiences like this are hyper rare. They still look at audiences like this as a one-way conversation. Let’s just push our crap out to them, and get our messaging in front of them, but let’s not send any of our engineers or program managers to LISTEN.
If they were listening they would have heard just why almost no one here uses Spaces. And why Six Apart’s Vox product is doomed to fail (Mena, why did you give a product pitch when asked on stage “what do you think the future is going to look like?” That got you scorned by women at dinner afterward that I, and my wife, talked to). More on Vox soon.
My wife, even made one of Spaces’ most negative things (that you need to sign up for Passport to comment) into a positive (it keeps away most of the trolls).
But Spaces’ feature set demonstrates that they aren’t listening to this audience. Buying a sponsorship makes everyone feel good, but the story that the conference goers I talked to are writing is “that was nice, but use WordPress or TypePad cause they are better tools.”
Oh, and BlogHer attendees, they don’t listen to me either so welcome to the crowd. (I gave them a list of things that they should do, starting with “improve your HTML quality” and “get tagging” and they didn’t do any of those yet, which demonstrates a lack of listening on their behalf).
Other things I noticed: the men were quiet. For the most part. Some women complained about Marc Canter’s interruptions during one session. Christine Heron took that to mean that men weren’t heard from. Well, I came to listen, not to speak. The other men I talked to felt the same way. It was refreshing to work on listening skills again and learn something from a group of people I wouldn’t usually be with.
Why don’t I take notes anymore at conferences? Cause of people like Christine Heron. Wonderful reports. Technorati is brimming over with great reports from Blogher. Interesting how our conference attendance behavior has changed. Now the first question I hear isn’t “how do you get on wifi?” but is rather “what’s the conference tag?”
Or people like Lynne Johnson who wrote up the panel Maryam was on in exquisite detail. Amy Gahran is another great reporter that was there.
The BlogHer blog has a LOT more.
As to Vox, the idea is great (expand blogging to more “regular people”) but I’ve gotta wonder how successful it’ll be. Microsoft’s Bob taught the world that no one wants to be a beginner, or seen as one. I think it’s condescending, don’t you? If you’re going to get dragged to learn to ski, don’t you want to get off the beginning slopes and hang out with your friends on the intermediate and advanced slopes?
The world doesn’t want a ski resort that caters to beginners. Doesn’t work.
Same for blogging tools.
Mena shouldn’t have used her time on stage to appear visionary to pitch a product, especially to position it for those people who don’t have the technical chops to join Blogher.
Instead she should have laid out a real vision for blogging for 2010. How do we get half a billion people blogging? What will that look like? What will it look like when I can put my blog on top of a map? When you’ll read my blog on a portable device? How will video blogging change and/or improve? What will advertising systems look like in 2010?
Mena had an awesome opportunity to lay out that kind of future. Instead she did the thing Microsofties usually do: she pitched her product. What a disappointment.
What did you learn from BlogHer?
Well, I have to go.
The women are Ponzi is calling and I’m still Maryam’s driver — we’re heading to Berkeley today with her. 🙂