I just returned from BlogHer09, a conference that brought together over 1000 female bloggers from far and wide for a weekend of sharing stories from the blogosphere and meeting online friends face-to-face. (You can see why we wanted to be there.)
I spent Friday at the Frontline Digital Nation booth, talking about the project, meeting bloggers and hearing their stories about life in the digital age. I met so many incredible women (and yes, a handful of guys came by too). We heard stories about parenting, information overload, multitasking and dating, (One woman met a guy through Twitter, only to discover he lived in the same apartment building as her!)
Friday evening we went to the community keynote organized by Eden Kennedy (who shared her own great stories with us on Saturday) where blog posts were read aloud. What struck me at this particular event was seeing all of the bloggers blogging about the blogs they were listening to!
After the keynote we went to the Friday night cocktail party, hoping to hear more stories. There was a photobooth on site, and Sam (our videographer) and I couldn't resist (though also couldn't separate from our phones!)
Aware of our own need to be connected at all time, we decided that our tactic for talking to people that night would be to be on the lookout for people who couldn't detach from their phones/laptops/Blackberries even at the cocktail party.
That was a late night, reading over the profiles of some of the amazing women we had scheduled to speak with us the following day... And Saturday started bright and early, with a full day of interviews for Your Digital Nation and the PBS Youtube Channel.
I was so impressed by the women we spoke with, and their candor to open up and share their stories about life in the digital age. Elisa, the cofounder of BlogHer shared a story about being forced to unplug during a recent trip of Africa; Dr. Gwenn told us about how she has to instant message her daughter to get her to come to dinner, even when they are in the same room. Both were common experiences we heard repeated throughout our time at BlogHer; this is the new normal of our Digital Nation.
Raney Aronson-Rath, Frontline's senior producer, was part of the panel at the closing keynote moderated by Elisa Camahort, alongside Danah Boyd, Eszter Hargittai, where the conversation was focused on the future, and a lot of the questions we've been addressing (and asking) were raised. This was a fascinating discussion, especially so the dialogue between experts and "real people" the bloggers in the front line of the digital age.
We'll be posting stories to Your Digital Nation from BlogHer over the next few weeks, so definitely come back to hear some of the wonderful, touching, funny and very timely stories this great group of women had to share. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with us at BlogHer, and for those of you reading this blog, we look forward to hearing your stories about life in the digital age.