Bloggers lounge

One of the most telling juxtapositions at this week’s Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco is taking place on the third floor of the Moscone Center, where the traditional press lounge and the bloggers lounge (dubbed Blogtropolus, above) were set up side by side.

As someone who inhabits both worlds, I was fascinated by the study in contrasts. Both rooms have wireless access, but there the similarity ends.

Enter the press lounge and it’s akin to stepping into a public library: about 18 tech reporters are hunkered down at their laptops, sitting around small tables with nary a whisper. A partitioned-off unit with three black modules stands off to one side, allowing for one-on-one interviews. (They’re all empty at the moment.) Stacks of brochuresware and press releases line the room. A coffee stand is set to one side. This, apparentlly, is the preferred habitat of the professional journalist, a recent addition to the endangered species list.

Bowling

Immediately next door, Blogtropulus brims with energy and buzz. About five dozen bloggers mill about, chatting up friends and new acquaintances. (I recognize about a dozen folks.) In the back, a line forms at the two chairs where you can lie down for a massage. At the far left, three bloggers in their 20s are taking turns playing virtual bowling on a Wii; one simulates a bowler’s stance, and moments later a bowling ball sails down the lane toward a perfect strike on the projection screen. (Barack Obama, you should have practiced on a Wii.)

A video setup with professional lighting sits at the rear of the room, ready for on-camera interviews. Music pumps out of a pair of high-quality speakers, though not quite at party levels. A waiter pushes a portable cart, plastered with corporate logos and sporting a variety of drinks. While about a third of the bloggers sit pecking away at their laptops, most are talking about favorite startups they’d seen or cool sessions they’d attended. In Blogtropulus, the emphasis is on conversation and socializing.

As I prepare to leave, another former traditional journalist is talking to a friend about the Old Media press room. “It’s like a wake in there,” he says. “Talk about night and day.”

You can guess which room I spent more time in.