On the road

by Susan Getgood on September 22, 2008 · 3 comments

in Blogging, Travel, TV/Film

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Billboard in Las Vegas

I’m just back from BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas and Friday I leave for Sci-Fi Channel’s digital press tour in Colorado. October will be just as busy, with the Montgomery County dog show weekend October 3-5, BlogHer Boston on the 11th, and then a trip westward to Chicago and Cincinnati for speaking engagements the following week. Whew!

I’ll try to keep up with everything here, especially this weekend at the Sci-Fi event. They will be featuring the new Amanda Tapping series, Sanctuary, and I’m looking forward to that. We don’t have much sci fi TV these days, and even less of it stars women more than a few years out of college, so I have high hopes. The whole weekend has a Ghosthunters theme, which is of less interest to me as I am not a big reality, or unreality in this case, TV fan, but I intend to keep an open mind.

So, BlogWorld Expo. Generally, it seemed successful, but for me personally it was a mixed bag.

I recall a comment from my friend Toby Bloomberg after the first one last year. I can’t remember if it was on her blog or somewhere else. She said that when she walked into the exhibit hall, she realized that social media had become an industry. She’s right. Unfortunately, it also means that we now have all the trappings of industry, including the less positive ones.

Lots of people pimping their latest thing. On the show floor. In the panels. From the floor. Even, perhaps especially, the speaker lounge. Big loud parties with expensive drinks and very few people you know. The celebrities of social media. And of course, if we’ve got the haves, there are also the have-nots, the “regular folks” dying for their moment in the sun with their social media heroes. It reminded me of nothing so much as Internet World in the mid-90s. Draw whatever conclusions you wish from that comparison.

To be fair, my feelings about the show are highly colored by my disappointment that so few people turned out for the panels on social media and the writers strike. Not because I had put time and effort into creating them and recruiting the panelists. I did, but what really bummed me out was that this was unique content that we don’t get a chance to hear at every other blogging conference, and nobody came. The panelists were television and film writers who made time in their schedules to attend a conference that quite frankly, they would not have attended otherwise, and I personally felt terrible that so few people came to hear what they had to say. They were very gracious about it, but I still felt awful.

Why did so few people attend? It could be any number of reasons. The first panel started at 2:45, after a very long break for lunch. There was no food at the convention hall, so folks had to trek to Vegas restaurants. Perhaps they got stuck on the strip and didn’t make it back in time? Perhaps they went to the pool? Or the card tables? There were also 8 concurrent break-out sessions, which seemed like an awful lot of tracks for the expected attendance.

Maybe people didn’t know the panels were even on the program. I can’t and won’t second-guess the decisions of the organizers about which speakers and panels to promote, but I do wish there had been a little more for these two panels.

Of course, perhaps attendees at BlogWorld Expo just didn’t care about the lessons in community building and user-generated content that we can get from a look into the writers strike. Short-sighted in my opinion, but nevertheless legitimate. If it doesn’t interest you, fair enough. I just wish we’d known that before the panelists invested their time to come to the conference.

As it was, I think the handful of people who attended the two sessions enjoyed them. I just wish there had been more of them.

Funnily enough, though, what happened with these two panels validated something that Rick Calvert the founder of BlogWorld told me earlier in the day. At the time I had not agreed with him, but given this experience, I do now.

We were discussing the fact that BlogWorld was unable to book a woman keynote speaker even though they tried. Rick commented that they just couldn’t get a woman with sufficient celebrity to attract attendees. His position was that he needed famous/well-known “rock stars” in social media, and none of the woman rock stars he asked could do it.

I disagreed. I thought a strong topic could attract attendees even if the speakers are less well known.

Guess not.

Enough of that. There were some good things about BlogWorld too. As I noted above, I think my experience is the exception; the folks I’ve spoken with so far said they got a lot out of it. And not everything about my BlogWorld experience was unpleasant or awkward.

The mommy blogging panel earlier in the day (before lunch) was well attended and very lively. I got to meet a number of interesting and dynamic women at a dinner Friday night organized by Jennifer Openshaw and Elisa Camahort Page. I reconnected with some friends and made some new ones.

And yes, I got to hear the stories about the strike, strike videos, parody websites and fan reaction directly from the four panelists Jeffrey Berman, Erica Blitz, Michael Colton and Mark Verheiden. I will be forever grateful for their grace in that ever so awkward moment when we realized that the audience really was that small and for the effort they put into delivering the best presentation they could anyway. Class acts, every one.

I’d like to leave you with a couple pictures from my photo walk on the Las Vegas strip yesterday morning. I decided my theme would be casino signs in the daylight. Here’s Paris Las Vegas:

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The Frontier Hotel was torn down a year ago, but the marquee still stands in front of a vacant lot.

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Only in Las Vegas…

UPDATE 9/23/08 – My fellow panelists in the mom blogging panel have posted their thoughts on the show. Stefania, as usual, has some very astute insights. Sheila had a great time and found the conference very useful.

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