Heads up, this content is 16 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

i heart blogherI spent four long days at my grandmother’s hospital bedside in New Hampshire and got back here just in time for BlogHer.  That is to say, I’ve been on emotional input overload for the last week, and my brains are a little muddled.  That is to say, the post that I’d like to write about where BlogHer is in the context of its own history and the broader evolution of social media will have to wait.  And so will the post about all the neat stuff I learned at panels this weekend.  In the meantime, I want to give you the post where I shower lots of people with the love that’s still ricocheting around in my brain from the last few days, because that’s what matters right now. That is to say, if you don’t like love, you should probably just stop reading.

Still here? Great! I’m in love with…

  • Mle-Mle for being extraordinarily gracious about the fact that I accidentally locked her out of my apartment and made her roam the streets of San Francisco without sleep for an entire night.
  • Susan Mernit for inviting me to speak on such an inspiring and affirming panel, and for moderating it with such skill and compassion.
  • Fivestar for showing up, for pointing me in the direction of the queers, for helping me flirt with the mommybloggers, and for sporting the hottest blog redesign I’ve seen in awhile.
  • JenB for being so beautifully warm, welcoming, and open when she sat next to me on the panel that I felt like I was chilling out with family instead of speaking in front of 100 people.
  • by Shannon RosaShuna for letting me turn into a cuddly fuzzy pet cat on more than one occasion, and for raising her hand to say (something like) When we own something about ourselves and put out it into the world, the people who want to criticize us can no longer use it against us.  
  • Elkit for hugging me for a full five minutes to help me get my bearings after a painful-to-face serious of panels when my mind and heart and body were already completely exhausted.
  • Amy for making so much space for me.
  • Koan for showing up and telling a hard story to tell, and an important story for people to hear.
  • Nicole Simon for laughing with me as we ate messy Chinese food over a display of $900 shoes at Macy’s.
  • Lisa Williams for wearing dead sexy cowboy boots and for calling me the “Queer Oprah.”
  • Angryrock for crashing the conference (crash! smash! bash!) and for griping up a storm of entertainment.
  • Debbie and Laurie for being consistent voices of strength, reason, guidance, and encouragement. Always.
  • Me in the underwear dept at Macy's, by Liz HenryLiz Henry for licking chocolate off my face and letting me bounce my breasts gratuitously on her head.
  • The Queen of Spain for attempting to introduce me to one of the heads of the Obama campaign while I bounced my breasts gratuitously on Liz Henry’s head, and for gracefully changing the subject by asking me to go hug her husband innappriately on her behalf.
  • Deb Roby for becoming stronger and more gorgeous every day.
  • Maria Niles for slipping me a new vibrator (shhh!).
  • Stephanie for telling her story with an honest smile.
  • Jess for telling her story with honest eye contact.
  • Schmutzie for being a totally charming real person and getting into a mutual-fangirl-oglefest session with me.
  • Denise for hugging me just slightly more often than she teased me.
  • Carfi for getting the word out about the fact that we’ve built the best damned conference widget EVAR, for making me continually proud of my work, and for always wearing a conspicuous hat.
  • Jenijen for kissing me on the cheek whenever she walked by me.
  • Kirrily for pre-stalking me, finding me, and getting me super excited about the direction women’s spaces are moving with O’Reilly conferences.
  • Beth Kanter for sidling up to share tech tips, happy life news, and stories about how her kids are becoming dangerously similar to me.
  • Sean for being the most attractively dressed human being at the conference (sorry, ladies).
  • Genie for standing up tall in all the ways I like to think I would, too, if I were paying as much attention to the world as she does.
  • Lisa, Jory, and Elisa — BlogHer’s founders and fearless leaders — for winning my heart, devotion, and adoration forever and ever and ever.

There’s more.  I’m just too wrapped up in love pillows to keep typing.  You’ll have to take my word for it — the rest of them are amazing, too.

And on that note, thank you everyone for fantastic weekend!  See you again in the fall for the BlogHer Reach-Out Tour (which — yay! — I’ll be tagging along for)!

Heads up, this content is 16 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

I’m a huge fan of BlogHer. Their conferences, community, and resources have changed my relationship to the Internet and grounded in me in a sense of belonging. Seriously — I went a really long stretch of my life thinking that women’s issues, technology, and writing didn’t belong in the same room with one another, and that I was just a fragmented oddball for being passionate about all of those things at once.

But one magic day, I met Liz Henry at a literary reading, and she told me I needed to go to WoolfCamp. Then everyone at WoolfCamp told me I needed to go to BlogHer. And my life has been on the upward spiral of awesomeness ever since.

That’s why I’m overjoyed to be speaking on a panel this summer at BlogHer 2008. This is the community that took me in as a misfit internet duckling and told me I would turn into a beautiful blogger swan. Being invited to speak is a huge honor to me.

Here’s the panel description:

Who We Are: “Coming Out” via Blog

“No, this doesn’t only apply to the most common meaning of “coming out”, but rather to taking the brave step to reveal and address something highly personal to your blog community. The risks are real, but what about the rewards? Susan Mernit will moderate a discussion with some very brave bloggers. Stephanie Quilao blogs about health and a positive body image. Making the decision to blog a bulimia relapse risked losing a core audience who counted on her to be a voice of body image reason. How did they react? JenB has been up front about both mental and physical health issues on her blog. Does she feel supported…or judged? Finally, Sarah Dopp did launch a new project about being gender queer. At first she used a pseudonym, although she shared the site with people she knew. Eventually she came out and associated her real name with the site. Was there fallout? Or none at all. Find out how coming out via blog turned out for these women, and share your own story.”

I’m going to be up there with some incredible people talking about deeply personal stuff, and I hope you’ll come (you know, so I can turn bright red when we make eye contact from across the room). This particular panel is on Day 2 at 1:45 pm.

And if you’ve never been to BlogHer before, I sincerely hope you get off your butt and come this year. It’s in San Francisco from July 18-20 (that’s a weekend). In the past, they’ve sold out out of full conference badges way before the event, so REGISTER RIGHT THIS MINUTE.  Go.  Now.  I’m serious.  Don’t give me that look.  Just do it.

And if the idea of paying for an expensive hotel room is the reason you’re hesitating, talk to me. San Francisco is my home turf. I might be able to hook you up. ;)

Heads up, this content is 16 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Unless you’ve been following my twitter feed or partying in Austin, TX, you haven’t heard much from me in the last week. That’s because my laptop died a horrific logic board death in Oakland Airport, just before I boarded my flight to SXSW. Emails and blogging quickly became a thing of the past, and I resigned myself to in-person interactions and text message documentation. Now I’m back online with a cheap desktop PC while the Apple store continues to try to fix my baby, and I’ve got a week’s worth of epiphanies and adventures to blog about. So here’s the abridged version.

What’s SXSW?

SXSW (pronounced “South By Southwest”) is actually three different festivals that happen all at once in Austin every March. Most famous is the Music festival, where every band who’s any band comes to town and plays a show. Then there’s the Film festival, where all the top independent films of the year screen their glories. And there’s also the Interactive festival, which no one except us geeks actually knows about, because Music and Film are far more glamorous. It’s all one big 5-day party of brilliance with exceptional speakers and wild nightlife and the most fun many geeks get to have all year long.

What did I learn?

Here were some of my major “Aha!” moments from the panels and conversations.

From Kathy Sierra on wooing users…

  • A successful website is one that makes a user feel like they are awesome.
  • Adding randomness to a situation increases the chances for serendipity, which increases the chances that people will think an experience was perfect and was meant to be.
  • Since lots of people still think the Internet is a “totally lame waste of time,” a successful website will give its users an easy way to defend their use of that waste of time to friends and family.
  • The iPhone is awesome because its animations replicate the laws of real physics.
  • A successful website will enable people to do something really cool really quickly. Minimize the learning curve for experiencing gratification.
  • There are no dumb answers. Encourage people in your organization to answer questions, and keep encouraging them if they don’t give the right ones. A culture of answers is a culture of support.
  • Jargon is valuable — it’s a rich language that passionate members of a community use to talk with one another efficiently and effectively. Don’t insist on not using jargon in order to make newbies feel more comfortable. Instead, create a space for newbies that is separate from the jargon users.

More brilliance…

  • Parents need to realize that “TV time” and “Internet time” are as different as “TV time” and “reading a book.” Don’t lump it all into “screen time.” (Henry Jenkins)
  • The best thing you can do for your health this year is see a therapist. Instead of forcing yourself to go to the dentist (or eat better, or exercise more, or meditate regularly), get some help on unpacking your unconscious avoidance of it. (Kathryn Myronuk)
  • True anonymity on the web is not a realistic goal. Whatever you do under a pseudonym, you should accept right now that someday it may be attached to your real name. (Sex and Privacy Panel)
  • Marketing is the price you pay for creating mediocre products. (via Tara Hunt)
  • “Social gestures beget social objects which beget social markers.” (Hugh McLeod)
  • You’re only going to execute on 10% of your ideas, so give the other 90% away for free. It shows people that you have them. (Jeremiah Owyang)
  • If you have a startup with a small user base, now is the best time to put energy into answering every question personally and convey that they matter to you. Don’t just put up an FAQ. (Deb Schultz)
  • Don’t treat users like they’re stupid. Explain what your service is going to do for them, not how it works. (Leslie Chicoine)

And epiphanies overheard by others…

  • Drupal is like getting a dump truck full of legos.
  • You can’t control the information that’s out there on the internet about you. But you can curate it.

I’m also honored (no wait, that’s not the right word…) to have witnessed the Zuckerberg-Lacy keynote trainwreck and ensuing analysis. I’ll let the other tech pundits give you their analysis on that one. (Or you can just watch it here.)

The panels were brilliant as usual (especially if you picked them by speakers rather than by titles). But the real focus for me this year was the partying. I was out until 3am every night (except for that last night when I was out until, um, 7am) laughing and dancing and feeling alive and revived among “my people.” This is, arguably, what makes SXSW so special. If all you want to do is talk about technology, there are plenty of opportunities to do so that don’t involve getting on an airplane. But for a whole bunch of geeks to show up in one place equally inconvenient to New York, LA, Chicago, and Silicon Valley and create meaningful experiences with people who do what they do… that’s juice of what matters.

And frankly, I’m pretty sure that when geeks party, the Internet becomes a better place.