Big Change for BlogHer: A NABLOPOMO Recollection

SheKnows_team
R- L from top R: BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone, SheKnows’ Philippe Guelton and Samantha Skey, and BlogHer co-founders Jory Des Jardins and Elisa Camahort Page

BlogHer has merged with SheKnows, as Lisa Stone and and AdAge announced this morning.  Since 2006 the wonder that is BlogHer has been a central part of my life.  On this NABLOPOMO day 3, here’s why*:

In 2006, I was working with David Aylward and the National Strategies firm.  He doesn’t know this but there’s a story (If you know me you know there’s almost always a story.)  We had a client who wanted to reach parents.  David hired me to help and I had this big idea about making a parent website to promote them.  Well. David sort of said “What about these blogs I keep hearing about? Would that be better?” I knew so little about blogging that I had to go look it up online. I found a story about this little conference in San Jose called BlogHer, meeting for only its second year. David and I convinced our client that I should attend this mysterious event and off I went along with fliers for our product and real curiosity about who these women were and what they were up to.

Cindy and Kelley croppedCindy and Sarah G croppedStacey and cindy croppedMe with jenn pozner smallerphoto 3

Here is what I received – from BlogHer 2006 and every one since:

1.   Access to an entirely new world of remarkable women (and men too.)   Including ( a little bit of a yearbook list) Elisa Camahort Page and Lisa Stone and Jory Des Jardins and Morra Aarons-Mele and Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann and Liz Gumbinner and Kristen Chase and Asha Dornfest and Jennifer Burdette Satterwhite and Mary Spivey Tsao and Danielle Wiley and people I haven’t mentioned here (Sorry – some I’m not completely sure who I met in 2006 and who later.) Feels like I’ve known you all forever as well as Sarah Granger and Kelly Wickham and Jill Miller Zimon and Joanne Bamberger and Stacey Ferguson and Cynthia Liu and Anita Sarah Jackson and Jenn Pozner and  Cheryl Contee (and and and)  And that doesn’t count the new (to me) folks like Sharon Hodor Greenthal!.

2.  An entirely new way to communicate and create.

3.   More fun than a barrel of groovy blogger women knew they could deliver. And – here’s the reason I’m writing this post at all:

4.   Another decade at least of being part of and participating in the new parts of the world – online and on screens, instead of watching from the bleachers.

Lots of boomer women have joined me and the other early birds each year and I am certain they feel the same way (I’ve asked several and besides they’ve written about it.)  At a time when many of our friends are settling into a more and more peer-centered life, we have the gift of having broadened, rather than narrowed, our world and hearing the voices of women we never would have known about, much less known for real. So David, thank you for the gift of my entry into this universe and for the imagination and vision that opened your mind to its possibilities.  It’s a beautiful place to hang out and I’ll always remember who sent me through the door.

*This post first appeared on August 2, 2014.

The Heathers Would Love American Blogger (at least the trailer)

First, watch this and see if you notice anything odd (other than the SNL-ish narrator)

When Sheryl Sandberg launched her Lean In Foundation, I noted the homogeneity in looks, age and (not literally but almost) hair on their Who We Are page.  It’s gotten a little better over there, but the coming documentary American Blogger (or at least its trailer) … hasn’t.

I wish I were as temperate as Be Blogalicious co-founder Stacy Ferguson , as thoughtful as Katherine Stone and others on the #americanblogger Facebook thread or as enthusiastic as some of the film’s participants and their friends, but I felt like I was watching Charlie’s Angels Build a Blog..

The rest of us seemed somehow excluded — unworthy, almost.  Because life online, and blogging especially, can be such a naked experience with such power to build deep relationships and tribes, the unfortunate, beauty queen/Martha Stewart Home nature of the two minutes we saw seemed a personal assault, suggesting that the women in this film are the women we need to know to understand and appreciate the online world the rest of us have come to rely upon and love.

For me, this world is better represented by the tribe that surrounded the last journey of Susan Niebur, the infertility quest of Melissa Ford, Laurie White’s transformation, Kelly Wickham’s tales about life, The Cuban and the kids in her school, Erin Kotcecki Vest’s fight against lupus, Morra Aarons-Mele on business and on politics, Joanne Bamberger on women and politics, Jill Miller Zimon on politics and running for office (right now!) or Liz Gumbinner about almost anything.

I know the women chosen here also have deep feelings about blogging and they are in no way responsible for the choices made by the film’s creator.  The film is the sum of its parts and it seems that each individual participant joined in good faith because of their love of what they do.

But this trailer, as it introduces us to the project, is so exclusive and exclusionary that it’s hard to remember that if you know it and hard to discover if you don’t.

Take a look at this perfect response: The Real American Blogger, where bloggers across the web post less airbrushed versions of the women who write here, who are of course as diverse and generous and cranky and skinny and large and messy and neat and coifed and barely head-covered and patient and pissed and happy and sad and lonely and not as the rest of us – except, apparently, the women chosen to promote this film as it moves toward release.

 

 

Women Bloggers Are NOT Cute Little Girls: Tell the New York Times

BH Cool Moms 2

What is it about women who blog that scares so many people – even other women —
even the New York Times?  Once again this time, they’ve decided to offer an “analysis” or a “portrait” or an I don’t know what
about bloggers who are women and moms.  And when they do, they write with
a condescending, bemused attitude that is what I remember from the early days
of the women’s movement, when men would joke about our desire to open our own
doors, earn our own livings, make our own decisions.  It was kind of cute
to want to be able to get credit cards without a husband’s permission, to cover
a story without having to go up in the balcony, to keep our names when we got
married.   Feminism was just so adorable.

Now, we’re free on so many levels, and one manifestation of that freedom is the
vibrant world we’ve created online.  Sisterhoods that cross race and
politics and religion and age as we share ideas and pain, joy and pride, birth
and loss and every other story that is part of living a life.   There have
been a couple of wonderful responses to this irritating TIMES piece (and it’s
not the first…)  One of my own favorites, Mom-101,
whose admirers are legion, wrote

“…once you
get past the first half of the article, there’s actually some solid information
in there….But I wish [all] that had been to focus of an article about my
favorite blogging community that just made the front page of my favorite
section of my favorite Sunday paper.  I wish it had opened with the yearning
of bloggers for the community to return to good writing, and the evidence that
in the end, that’s mostly what pays off….  

Of course, there
are more.  My friend Danielle Wiley, known to many of her friends as Foodmomiac but also an executive at Edelman PR, has also weighed in.

I invite you to read the full piece and form your own opinions, but sentences like “bringing
together participants for some real-time girly bonding” might very well stop
you in your tracks. As I write this, my husband (and fellow Edelman executive
Michael Wiley) is at SXSW. Would Mendelsohn classify that experience as macho
bonding? Or would she write that he is attending a conference for the purposes
of education and networking? Why do people, including Ms. Mendlesohn, continue
to refer to networking among women as girly bonding? I seriously doubt the
participants at Bloggy Boot Camp were wearing jammies and braiding each other’s
hair. However, from the tenor of the piece, it was pretty easy to jump to that
conclusion.

Here’s the bottom line:  I’m old enough to be the mother of both of these women
and many of their peers yet they have welcomed me as a sister – a blogger and a
friend.  They’ve honored the sappy posts I’ve written about my sons
and my marriage and they’ve shared ideas and advice in comments, in twitter and even in real life.

They and their compatriots are talented, compassionate,
ornery pioneers
who have built what I think of as the new quilting bee, the new Red Tent where they share the wisdom and mysteries that are women’s lives.  And they do much more – just go check out the list in Liz’s post.  Not for one moment are they
silly or unaware or careless or trivial.  And to gain a few points with
silly headlines and denigrating phrases isn’t bad taste, it’s also bad
journalism.  Go see for yourself.

9/11 Predicted the Role of Bloggers (I’m Not Kidding)

911 by Macten I don't know about you, but 9/11 footage still wipes me out.  It doesn't get any easier to watch.  But this morning MSNBC was running the first few hours of coverage from the TODAY SHOW in real time and I watched a couple of hours.

It was like watching a horror movie as Katie and Matt started out so cheerily, then began reporting a "small plane" flying into the first Tower.  Then, gradually, the awful reality began to emerge.  And for a good long time, and intermittently thereafter, it was "eye witnesses" and "neighborhood residents" and other information "civilians" who delivered the best information. 

I listened as a young woman on the telephone, on her way to work at a downtown hotel and having just emerged from the subway just below the Trade Center, described the early sights of the attack.  She calmly detailed what she saw, at least until the second plane hit when she responded with understandable emotion.  Even then, she was able to carefully report developments – even putting her questioners on hold to check with a local policeman.  No seasoned reporter could have done it better.

Later, other eyewitnesses appeared, one after the other.  They used words like "reportedly," were very careful as they described what they saw, and offered careful, tempered accounts.  This went on all day.  Of course those closer to the real product of the attacks, the bodies, the people jumping out of the windows – civilian and reporter alike – were deeply moved and it showed. 

So fast-forward to today.  As the mainstream media fights for its life, as programs like my alma mater (9 years) the TODAY SHOW move more and more toward infotainment, the serious, thoughtful and original journalism is done as often on blogs as it is anywhere else.  Of course there are impulsive writers and rumor mongers and gossip tramps but that's true everywhere and, as the witnesses demonstrated eight years ago, you don't need a network paycheck to deliver reliable and well-presented information.  The citizen army of bloggers today is validated every time a caring and thoughtful eyewitness offers mainstream media a sane, helpful description of what's happening, or has happened.

So next time you hear someone going on about "those bloggers" and their untrustworthy nature, take it from a long-time broadcast journalist turned blogger:  it's the content of character, not the brand of employer, that makes a journalist.

Photo via Creative Commons by macten

Blogging Boomers Carnival #116: From 401(K)s to Folk Art

Carnival Welcome to the 116th Carnival of Boomer Blogs.  This crew has been a joy and a great resource for as long as I've been privileged to be part of it, and this week is no exception.  Given the economy and all, let's start with John Agno of So Baby Boomer.  John, always wise, warns us this week that early withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts and 401 (K) plans are a "No, No!" because they trigger taxes and penalties that can really add up.  Good advice, no?

While we're on serious "boomer interest" topics, we'll move to Wesley Hein at LifeTwo.  This week he's writing about HBO's multi-part documentary on Alzheimer's Disease.  The underlying message is that Alzheimer's can no longer be ignored.  I've actually seem some excerpts and would concur.

That health issue is part of what makes Janet Wendy at Gen Plus "mad as hell" and she's not going to take it anymore…maybe.

On another side of the economy, let's talk business.  Andrea Sternberg at The Baby Boomer Entrepreneur asks: "With Twitter you can have conversations with a large number of people, but do these twitter conversations convert to actual sales?  That question haunts many small business Twitter users and is the main thing", Andrea says, "holding others back from giving Twitter a try."  You'll find her answer to this dilemma in her post Make Money with Twitter – Is It Possible?

Also on the business end of things: do you ever feel like a loser?  The Midlife Crisis Queen did often after she lost her job.  This is how she dealt with it.

One of our founders and leaders, Rhea Becker, reports from Boston on The Gemini Web "I can't read my favorite magazines any longer without eyeglasses.  I think they're using smaller type.  Or maybe it's just me."

 On a cheerier note, the Glam Gals (style experts for women over 40) ask, "Have you heard the true story of the woman who overcame having diabetes, while losing 100 pounds and then entered the Mrs. Idaho pageant?"  This is a must-read and inspiration story, they  tell us.  Find out more from FabulousAfter40.com.

Oh – and do you remember watching Art Linkletter?  Dina at This Marriage Thing, who loved the show Kids Say the Darndest Things shares some newly discovered gems about marriage "out of the mouths of babes."

Feeling artsy?  During her recent travels in the Florida Keys (who wouldn't love that?) Barbara Weibel at Hole in the Donut discovered Stanley Papio, whom some consider an important folk artist, while others insist he was nothing more than a welder with a yard full of junk.  Stop by and contribute to the conversation!

In the same vein, Ann at Contemporary Retirement has a video clip of some amazing sand art, crated by Ilana Yahav using just her fingers, some sand and a glass table.

One more travel contribution from Nancy Mahegan at Vaboomer. Ever want to sell everything and retire on a beach in Mexico?  Read about real people who did at Vaboomer.com,

Finally, my own contribution is a tribute to an old friend, long-time New York Times Book Review Children's Book Editor Eden Ross Lipson.  If you have children you've probably made use of her classic NY Times Guide to the Best Books for Children.  She was something special.

Blogging Boomers Carnival # 110: Marriage, Music, Politics and Dating

Marriage Thing
This week Dina at This Marriage Thing hosts our boomer carnival, and a fine job she does, too.  For topics ranging from diet to dating, caring for elderly parents to politics and even a visit to the Sarasota Opera, the Carnival has something for you.

Blogging Boomers Carnival #107! At Least as Good as It Usually Is

GENPLUS
Yup – this week my friend Janet Wendy Spiegel is hosting the carnival.  As usual, it's rich with content, including Facebook, bad hair days, Twitter, fashion, antique lighters and retirement envy.  Don't miss it!

Blogging Boomers Carnival #106 and Still Full of Great New Ideas

LifeTwo
Can a week have gone by already?  Must have – Blogging Boomers carnival is back on this snowy Monday, hanging out this week at Wesley Hein's LifeTwo.  True Love to 401Ks, innovation to blue jean fashion, Boomer women and Twitter – it's a wide swath of life covered this week.  But then, that's always true at the Blogging Boomers, so don't miss it.

Blogging Boomers Are at It Again!

Contemprorary Retirement
I'm a bit late posting this week; life took over unexpectedly.  But that doesn't diminish the usual value in the assembly known as Blogging Boomers Blog Carnival #103, this week posted by Ann Harrison at Contemporary Retirement.  This time we have everything from the stimulus package to canned food to hormone replacement.  And there's lots more.  Don't miss it.

Inaugural Thoughts from Around the Web

Obama oath
So much has been written about this Inauguration that I thought I'd take you on a little tour; there's not much I want to say beyond what's been said and said and said again, so I'm sharing the thoughts of others instead.

Tina Brown calls yesterday 9/11 in reverse.  It's pretty interesting.

If you go to the Huffington Post today, the 21st, you'll see Inaugural magazine covers and front pages from around the globe.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Matt Cooper considers the "hawkish" nature of the Inaugural address, and its meaning.  Politico's John Harris offers a more complete analysis of both style and substance.

Michael Tomasky at The Guardian thinks the speech was "prose, not poetry" for a reason. And American Prospect's Ezra Klein has a nice little set of observations from his seat in "the second row."

Atlantic columnist Marc Ambinder has noticed, as the day went on, that "even motorcades have changed" in the new administration.  And BlogHer's Erin Kotecki Vest describes the logistical disasters that, huge as they were, failed to ruin the day.

Women's Voices for Change ran a live blog for contributors and members all day.  It's posted in three parts.

If you know Mocha Momma you know that she mixes the irreverent and the sublime.  Yesterday was no different. 

The Women's Rights blog at Change.org features a moved, and moving, post from editor Jen Nedeau.  and a French friend of mine described using my Inauguration post to teach her students.  It's interesting.

So.  This is a random survey.  I'll be back tomorrow with some thoughts of my own.