January 28, 2005

Documenting BLOJO CRED

Jon Garfunkel, who attended BLOJO Cred at Berkman, has written up a thorough summary on some of the touchier issues around the conference. He polled some of the excluded and included some thoughts from critic-skeptics, I think in part so that there would be a centralized record of what some of the outlying blog voices were talking about when the initial criticism of the conference began.

Jon did a lot of work compiling his analysis, and it shows. While I agree with his assumption that the lack of diversity didn't affect the outcome or the tenor of the conference, I maintain my dismay: That's the point. That by not assembling a more diverse group both the high priests of blogdom and high priests of journalism were safe in securing their desired positioning without challenge from their own parishioners. Each desired to win the coveted credibility grail from the other. In the end, no one got to take the trophy home.

As for the rest of us? Well, we were right, and a hell of a lot more funny, but that doesn't count for much in closed circles.

Jon concludes his essay by describing what happens when a homogeneous group tries to achieve something meaningful:

"Getting a group of fifty in a conference room tilts the conversation too much. There are just too many affluent men (and too few women) strutting their own stuff without anybody to challenge their assertions. I know; I was there; I offered the challenges. I got support from the people on the outside looking in, but the insiders had little response, and the good folks in academia who should have led the questioning had checked their skepticism at the door."

And while the conference apparently failed to achieve any accord or agreement (the best news I'd heard come out of the Berkman Center in a long time), Jon concludes that perhaps we can do a better job at talking with the elite without attacking them:

There's still work for the readers to do, and perhaps this is what Dan Gillmor meant to say. Outsider participants need to figure out ways to get the insiders' attention without dropping into personal attacks.

There are moments when I think that having civil discourse over heated matters helps. But I've found that usually it doesn't. There is a certain demographic among the blog elite that doesn't hear unless you get in their face. I'm willing to keep doing it. Partly for me and partly for those more civil than I who otherwise don't get heard when posting opinions of dissent. The ones who email me saying, "That rocked what you said on your blog."

If three or four years of fine writing and thinking -- of humor and horror, of piss and passion -- on the part of the excluded aren't enough to get the "insider's attention," then it's just not going to happen.

And that's okay.

Because what they don't seem to realize is that they are quickly positioning themselves as the "business as usual" crowd of blogdom and journalism, the institutionalized among the amateurs. They are becoming what they came here to diss.

Tee hee.

The CEOs of Blogging are no sooner going to forgo their $50,000 in "pocket change" than I am going to stop pointing out how silly they look in their fancy-dancy ties.

I think we don't need their attention. We simply need to keep talking to one another, and when they do and say ridiculous things within the hallowed halls of conferenceland, attempting to define standards and ethics for an "unspace" like the blogworld, then we keep talking to each other.

That's what we do.