No Fancy Name
Sunday, August 06, 2006
blogher: where I go from here
[note: here are links to all my BlogHer posts. I'm finally done with them all!]

This post should really be titled "so am I going to BlogHer07 or not?" The answer: no freaking clue, and it has very little to do with my various impressions of the conference in its first two years, the structure of the BlogHer organization, the community, etc.

This time next year, I could be preparing for a move to Davis (CA), Eugene, Seattle, Pullman (WA), Albuquerque, or none of the above. I'm applying to PhD programs in those cities. I might get into one, I might not. If I do, next summer I'll be moving and selling my condo in San Jose. If I don't, I'll be figuring out if I keep working with my friends full-time or cut back to "as needed, and not for large projects" as already planned (those of you who have been grad students know that I will definitely be able to use the money!), while trying to pick up composition classes to teach at any of the gajillion community colleges around here. Provided, of course, that I finish the MA I'm currently working on!

Some of you may have picked up on the fact that I'm a very conflicted person when it comes to my job and working in this industry. At our little table of folks during the evening drinking time on Day 2 of BlogHer, you would have heard me talk more about Emerson, Thoreau, Muir, and various and sundry Transcendentalists than you would have heard me talk about code. You see, despite my job at the most friendly, accomodating, flexible, deals-with-my-shit place I could ever work in technology-related things, working in this industry (for me) is an incredibly soul-sucking endeavor. Going back to academia is my way out. [Yes, I realize there are academics who feel exactly the same way about their position in academia. To each his/her own. It's all a matter of perception.]

Why would I go to BlogHer07? Hell, I might have a book on Drupal out by then (seriously—the first thing I did on Sunday morning was to email my super bossman editor Mark and say "so, how about a real Drupal book that people can use to do things, not a rehash of documentation?") and people might want me to chat about such things. Or about blog things for beginners (see book). Or about getting started in web-based application development with xAMP (see other books). Or edublogging sessions get ramped up and there's stuff of interest to me that I can learn about for my academic life. Or maybe this will be the conference that all my other blog buddies (the ones who didn't attend this one) go to, in which case there will be a hell of a good time talking about myriad topics, regardless of the direct application of sessions to me.

Kathy Sierra has a post called I am not a "woman blogger," and there are so many statements in it that I completely agree with, as they apply to me (minus the co-blogger part), such as:
I am "one who blogs" (among many other things). I happen to be a woman. But I am NOT a blogHer, and my male co-author is not a blogHim.

I write code. But I am NOT a programmHer.

I write tech books. But I am NOT a writeHer.
In her post, and in ensuing comments, there's some discussion as to how the conference is framed—is it a tech conference? is it just for women? is it because women need "extra help"? I would say no, it's not a tech conference, but some people would say it is. Some people think it should be all women, but some people (myself included) think that having guys around is perfectly fine. I even think that having guys on panels is fine, depending on the guy and the panel. It reminds me of my college years. I went to a women's college, but we had a small percentage of men in the non-residential program, inegrated into our classes. They were welcome voices. Do women need "extra help" when it comes to tech things? I certainly think there are some women who erroneously believe that they can't "get it" because they're women—because that's what they've been told. Now, we all know that's a load of crap, but it certainly shouldn't negate the individual's feelings about it, just because some of us know it's crap.

As such, I think the value of BlogHer is as a community. No, it's not [yet] "where the women bloggers are" (despite the tagline), it's where some of the women bloggers are, and a place where all women bloggers are welcome, where they can feel comfortable, get their feet wet, try out new ideas and tools, without any sort of feelings of insecurity which they may personally perceive elsewhere, even if others do not. [ed. note—I was referring to something said in the comments to the Kathy Sierra post; I get that the tagline is a statement of intention and not truth!]

I see BlogHer as a community of opportunity. While I personally get absolutely nothing out of being a member of the community, besides finding new people to read on various topics [ed. note—here I meant "applicable to my job in tech," and it wasn't my intention to discount finding new blogs to read! more here], plenty of people do get a lot out of it because we all start out at different places on the spectrum [of needs].

Ok, I'm done.

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