What I learned from BlogHer

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.

DSC_2370.JPG

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:

A Row of SaturnsTest driveJeremy test drivingBlogHer SaturnsLittle Red SkyErica gets ready for her test drive

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. :-)

143 thoughts on “What I learned from BlogHer

  1. This is a fair amount of planning and we have yet to reach the water. Then there is the challenge of allocating quality time without negatively impacting personal duties of church, family and work commitments. The complications of scheduling time may increase (exponentially) as one adds fishing companions. As one famous fisherman quipped, “If your job interferes with your ability to fish, then quit your job.” An ideal that many fishers strive for today while others fall short.

  2. This is a fair amount of planning and we have yet to reach the water. Then there is the challenge of allocating quality time without negatively impacting personal duties of church, family and work commitments. The complications of scheduling time may increase (exponentially) as one adds fishing companions. As one famous fisherman quipped, “If your job interferes with your ability to fish, then quit your job.” An ideal that many fishers strive for today while others fall short.

  3. Pingback: ativan link
  4. I don’t know what BlogHer you attended, but the one I went to was not only about “soft subjects.” We discussed technology, cool new gadgets, travelling, how much computer memory we really need, apple vs. ibm, american big beast cars ruining the environment, how to make blogher a more racially and sexually inclusive community, and the list goes on. It looks like BlogHer didn’t teach you anything as much as it seemed to re-affirm your stereotypes…The way you begin your post by citing two men already suggests this…BlogHer was a chance for women using technology (in this case blogging platforms) to get together and discuss. And that’s what we did. It would have been more academic of you to not generalise and situate your remarks within your personal experience of BlogHer rather than stereotyping all women.

  5. I don’t know what BlogHer you attended, but the one I went to was not only about “soft subjects.” We discussed technology, cool new gadgets, travelling, how much computer memory we really need, apple vs. ibm, american big beast cars ruining the environment, how to make blogher a more racially and sexually inclusive community, and the list goes on. It looks like BlogHer didn’t teach you anything as much as it seemed to re-affirm your stereotypes…The way you begin your post by citing two men already suggests this…BlogHer was a chance for women using technology (in this case blogging platforms) to get together and discuss. And that’s what we did. It would have been more academic of you to not generalise and situate your remarks within your personal experience of BlogHer rather than stereotyping all women.

  6. I, too think that the “Be Jane” crap was absolutely ridiculous. So off target. So typical Microsoft.

    Saturn was great – I loved test-driving the convertible and I, too, took pictures of it. Brilliant. And no sales-pitches, either.

    The GM freebie bag had Crabtree & Evelyn products, but the condescending brochure about women and cars was quickly tossed out.

    I have to disagree with you on vox. I love it. I’m a web/blog design who uses Movable Type, Typepad, WordPress, and Blogger and I find this a really easy-to-use tool. I don’t think it’s condescending at all. I think it’s a brilliant way to connect people.

  7. I, too think that the “Be Jane” crap was absolutely ridiculous. So off target. So typical Microsoft.

    Saturn was great – I loved test-driving the convertible and I, too, took pictures of it. Brilliant. And no sales-pitches, either.

    The GM freebie bag had Crabtree & Evelyn products, but the condescending brochure about women and cars was quickly tossed out.

    I have to disagree with you on vox. I love it. I’m a web/blog design who uses Movable Type, Typepad, WordPress, and Blogger and I find this a really easy-to-use tool. I don’t think it’s condescending at all. I think it’s a brilliant way to connect people.

  8. Hey! I was looking for you and didn’t get the chance to say hi. (I’m Gil’s ex-wife. Isn’t that cozy? When I saw John podcasting last year’s BlogHer I said, “Look, there’s my ex-husband’s ex-boss. And now current boss.”)

    Thank you for noticing what an economic force the women are. Decisions are made jointly, but as you heard, women talk and compare and shop it to death first. I was shocked when I suggested to one startup CEO that he create a car directory searchable by number of kids, car seat capacity, etc. and he responded, “But wouldn’t I want to talk to the men?”

  9. Hey! I was looking for you and didn’t get the chance to say hi. (I’m Gil’s ex-wife. Isn’t that cozy? When I saw John podcasting last year’s BlogHer I said, “Look, there’s my ex-husband’s ex-boss. And now current boss.”)

    Thank you for noticing what an economic force the women are. Decisions are made jointly, but as you heard, women talk and compare and shop it to death first. I was shocked when I suggested to one startup CEO that he create a car directory searchable by number of kids, car seat capacity, etc. and he responded, “But wouldn’t I want to talk to the men?”

  10. Maggie: I wasn’t telling BlogHer attendees that. I was telling product planners on MSN Spaces that.

    And if Mena had pitched Vox like THAT instead of positioning it as for beginners, then that would have gone over very well (a pitch would have gone over much better if it fit into an actual answer to the question — when asked for “vision” your first answer shouldn’t be a product that people can use today).

  11. Maggie: I wasn’t telling BlogHer attendees that. I was telling product planners on MSN Spaces that.

    And if Mena had pitched Vox like THAT instead of positioning it as for beginners, then that would have gone over very well (a pitch would have gone over much better if it fit into an actual answer to the question — when asked for “vision” your first answer shouldn’t be a product that people can use today).

  12. “improve your HTML quality” and “get tagging”

    I’m actually kind of stunned that you said that. Were you talking to a group of super beginners? Everyone I knew there had been blogging for years. My girlfriends would have smirked at each other and rolled their eyes. I can’t imagine a guy saying something like that at SxSW, for example. I know your intent wasn’t be insulting, but I would have been annoyed had someone said to me, “There’s this amazing and powerful thing you should be leveraging called… TAGGING!”

    “Six Apart’s Vox product is doomed to fail.”

    Not sure who you were talking to, but in my slice of the Blogher community, Vox invitations are like gold. Women are digging the social networking aspect and the ability to whisper to friends instead of shouting to the whole world. I didn’t see Mena’s speech, but one clumsy (or overly excited) product pitch doesn’t equal eternal doom for a product that has something to offer.

  13. “improve your HTML quality” and “get tagging”

    I’m actually kind of stunned that you said that. Were you talking to a group of super beginners? Everyone I knew there had been blogging for years. My girlfriends would have smirked at each other and rolled their eyes. I can’t imagine a guy saying something like that at SxSW, for example. I know your intent wasn’t be insulting, but I would have been annoyed had someone said to me, “There’s this amazing and powerful thing you should be leveraging called… TAGGING!”

    “Six Apart’s Vox product is doomed to fail.”

    Not sure who you were talking to, but in my slice of the Blogher community, Vox invitations are like gold. Women are digging the social networking aspect and the ability to whisper to friends instead of shouting to the whole world. I didn’t see Mena’s speech, but one clumsy (or overly excited) product pitch doesn’t equal eternal doom for a product that has something to offer.

  14. I think your assessment about marketers is spot on. Personally, as one of those “beginner skiers” I liked hearing from Mena. Your points are good but listening to her as an entrepeneurial young woman more so than a woman there to promote a particular technology, I found it inspiring.

  15. I think your assessment about marketers is spot on. Personally, as one of those “beginner skiers” I liked hearing from Mena. Your points are good but listening to her as an entrepeneurial young woman more so than a woman there to promote a particular technology, I found it inspiring.

  16. Robert,

    Recognized you running the video at BlogHer and thought “how cool!”. I enjoyed a lot about BlogHer, but it fell short of my expectation mark.

    I think some of the sponsors hit the mark, and MicroSoft?? Didn’t even know where the target was.

  17. Robert,

    Recognized you running the video at BlogHer and thought “how cool!”. I enjoyed a lot about BlogHer, but it fell short of my expectation mark.

    I think some of the sponsors hit the mark, and MicroSoft?? Didn’t even know where the target was.

  18. Pingback: Hasan's Blog
  19. Thank you for the video shooting pointers. I immediately tried to put them to use with this:

    I think I only made 1 out of the 3 mistakes (rule of thirds in terms of framing) …

  20. Thank you for the video shooting pointers. I immediately tried to put them to use with this:

    I think I only made 1 out of the 3 mistakes (rule of thirds in terms of framing) …

  21. Why is it depressing when four “amazing” women are on a closing keynote and nothing stunning happens?

    The more I read the Blogher comments and articles, the more I’m wondering if that .25 of a chromosome is now giving women super powers. It wasn’t amazing, and that’s bad? If they weren’t used to that kind of a situation, it’s kind of inevitable that it’s going to be less than stellar.

    I think the last line in Fatemeh’s comment (#61) is interesting. I’ve done sessions at Macworld with women in the audience asking questions, and I can tell you they were just as technical as any of the men. I’ve taught too many seminars where most of the audience were female IT managers. Trust me, they weren’t asking for affirmations, and the only confessionals had to do with the evil things they’d like to do to their users sometimes.

    I asked a few of my geek female friends about Blogher, (note, none of them went) and I got pretty much the same two answers:

    1) It’s too close to the WWDC/I have better conferences to go to
    2) Who the hell wants to talk about that crap for days? They’re not teaching me a damned thing other than what it’s like to be a woman with a blog. I think I’ve figured that part out for myself.

  22. Why is it depressing when four “amazing” women are on a closing keynote and nothing stunning happens?

    The more I read the Blogher comments and articles, the more I’m wondering if that .25 of a chromosome is now giving women super powers. It wasn’t amazing, and that’s bad? If they weren’t used to that kind of a situation, it’s kind of inevitable that it’s going to be less than stellar.

    I think the last line in Fatemeh’s comment (#61) is interesting. I’ve done sessions at Macworld with women in the audience asking questions, and I can tell you they were just as technical as any of the men. I’ve taught too many seminars where most of the audience were female IT managers. Trust me, they weren’t asking for affirmations, and the only confessionals had to do with the evil things they’d like to do to their users sometimes.

    I asked a few of my geek female friends about Blogher, (note, none of them went) and I got pretty much the same two answers:

    1) It’s too close to the WWDC/I have better conferences to go to
    2) Who the hell wants to talk about that crap for days? They’re not teaching me a damned thing other than what it’s like to be a woman with a blog. I think I’ve figured that part out for myself.

  23. Interesting perspective from a male… In some of Saturday’s sessions, I felt like several of the men who stood up to ask questions were actually shilling a product, which was interesting.

    As for the closing keynote: the whole damn thing was depressingly amateur.

    Four amazing women up on that panel, and nothing really impressive or eye-opening to walk away with.

    My tablemates and I remarked that all the so-called “questions” from the crowd were either more like confessionals or requests for affirmation.

  24. Interesting perspective from a male… In some of Saturday’s sessions, I felt like several of the men who stood up to ask questions were actually shilling a product, which was interesting.

    As for the closing keynote: the whole damn thing was depressingly amateur.

    Four amazing women up on that panel, and nothing really impressive or eye-opening to walk away with.

    My tablemates and I remarked that all the so-called “questions” from the crowd were either more like confessionals or requests for affirmation.

  25. Pingback: Those Bastards!
  26. Thanks for joining us. It’s rare to get 750ish amazingly diverse and talented women in one place at one time. Lucky are you and the other brave men who came to listen and extend the conversation.

  27. Thanks for joining us. It’s rare to get 750ish amazingly diverse and talented women in one place at one time. Lucky are you and the other brave men who came to listen and extend the conversation.

  28. Let me say this…if you can teach me…then you can teach anyone. What is the intent of the blog…to display, portray, sell, inform, all of the above, or just to share.

    They call this an information highway. I want to cruise across country in a souped up convertable art car reading my poetry to anyone who will stop and listen.

    And not to leave the men out…there’s the fishing blog, car repair blog, and learn how to read a road map…or mapquest.

  29. Let me say this…if you can teach me…then you can teach anyone. What is the intent of the blog…to display, portray, sell, inform, all of the above, or just to share.

    They call this an information highway. I want to cruise across country in a souped up convertable art car reading my poetry to anyone who will stop and listen.

    And not to leave the men out…there’s the fishing blog, car repair blog, and learn how to read a road map…or mapquest.

  30. Blogging for Beginners? It’s really quite simple. Training wheels. This computer is a vehicle. Everybody learns to drive right?
    Come on. I’ll be the inept Guinea Pig…with wings, cause pigs can fly. If you have a few angels. Now the idea behind this is really simple. Get a bunch of folks together that aren’t technically skilled, like me, and give them a guru that can talk the same language, advise, and offer assistance…without hunting allover the internet. Come on, do you go on the freeway right after you get your licence? Put this in the right perspective. See…it’s simple really.

    TRAINING WHEELS…Where saavy techs can help you GET BEHIND THE KEYBOARD and DRIVE ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD YOU WANT TO GO. Really.

    So who wants to teach me…we can create a blog about beginning a blog with focus.
    Lets see…there’s the crafty mom bloggy. Or the super mom bloggy. The Granny Bloggy (photos and geneology), can you see this? I can.

  31. Blogging for Beginners? It’s really quite simple. Training wheels. This computer is a vehicle. Everybody learns to drive right?
    Come on. I’ll be the inept Guinea Pig…with wings, cause pigs can fly. If you have a few angels. Now the idea behind this is really simple. Get a bunch of folks together that aren’t technically skilled, like me, and give them a guru that can talk the same language, advise, and offer assistance…without hunting allover the internet. Come on, do you go on the freeway right after you get your licence? Put this in the right perspective. See…it’s simple really.

    TRAINING WHEELS…Where saavy techs can help you GET BEHIND THE KEYBOARD and DRIVE ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD YOU WANT TO GO. Really.

    So who wants to teach me…we can create a blog about beginning a blog with focus.
    Lets see…there’s the crafty mom bloggy. Or the super mom bloggy. The Granny Bloggy (photos and geneology), can you see this? I can.

  32. Even for someone like myself, who can code HTML and tag with the best of them, Vox is a useful blogging platform. It’s very like Flickr, and I think the functionality (such as making posts public to a select audience) and customizable integration with a boatload of services is a very big draw.

    Your list of things we women should do (improve the quality of our HTML and tag more) is condescending and presumptive. Was it intended that way? Seems to me that women at a tech conference already know enough about those things to use or dismiss them as they see fit.

Comments are closed.