BlogHer10 pics, swag, vendors — and an interesting contrast to Netroots Nation

I’m reporting from NYC at the 2010 BlogHer convention, and it’s my first time attending this event, held this year at the New York Hilton. It is HUGE; it’s like an explosion of women from all walks of blogging life – mom bloggers, young newbies, seasoned women full of energy and activism, lifestyle bloggers, etc.

I’ve yet to attend any sessions; I’ve been so busy with offline networking – there are many areas for just chatting and meeting up. I also had a number of other appointments outside of the con, so that complicated matters a bit.

Welcome Swag

The welcome bag is an enormous burlap bag holding many goodies and promotions, but wow – really heavy on stuff for kids – toys, alarm clocks, grow-a-plants… The item holding 3 cans of Play-Doh was the most amusing – and heaviest goodie by far.

What was really nice is that there was a Swag Exchange room where you could recycle (i.e. dump) the items you didn’t want and pick up ones you liked that others discarded. Well what did you know — the tubbie containing the Play-Doh was overflowing. Note to vendors — bag-dragging goodies that need to travel aren’t popular, even if fun and useful for kids.

Exhibits and atmosphere: this is NOT Netroots Nation

One of the fascinating aspects of BlogHer is that it’s fairly non-political on the surface, but highly political once you scratch that surface. The conference is very mom/kid/family-focused when it comes to the market that the vendors and sponsors target – there are kid-accommodating eco-friendly cars, toys, learning projects…and a whole lot of food, from Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean, Healthy Choice…I lost track. You could basically graze the hall and leave full. Also, I have to go back today to check out the skin care and other lifestyle vendors. There was one exhibit with some feminine protection items. I joked on Twitter with Lizz Winstead:

Pam_Spaulding: #blogher10 sponsors: food, everything for baby, autos, lifestyle products…def not #nn10. Totally different feel.

6:07pm, Aug 06 from HootSuite

lizzwinstead: @Pam_Spaulding I’ll be there tomorrow. Curious to compare and contrast. #blogher10 #nn10

6:08pm, Aug 06 from TweetDeck

Pam_Spaulding: @lizzwinstead @Pam_Spaulding A mind-blowing difference. You didn’t see a tampon of the future @ #NN10. ;)

lizzwinstead: @Pam_Spaulding And I don’t have much of a future in the Tampon dept…. #NN10

In all seriousness, the number and variety of corporate sponsors at BlogHer dwarfs those at Netroots Nation. Of course, when you think about it, the level of PC at Netroots — concerns over union issues, corporate responsibility, etc., I would think one advocacy group or another attending NN would have some problem with some of these companies, making it difficult to please everyone.

All of these sponsors are dying to get to the technically adept, wired moms and other women who have a lot of spending power that are attending BlogHer. It’s an aggressive presence of a wide .

There’s no specific targeting of the LBT market at BlogHer; it’s not that there aren’t lesbians here and I’ve seen no trans folk; I’ve spoken to several lesbians, but they are there as moms, which means they fit that target market. So if you’re a child-free, not-straight woman, BlogHer may feel like an odd experience, a dip into a very hetero-centric pool. That said, there’s no homophobic vibe at all; in fact the sisterhood of living in a man’s world is quite powerful politically, and that’s a common thread in the discussions. Women still earn only 77 cents to the dollar that men earn, with women of color earning way less than that. The need for more political involvement and organizing is essential, something Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said during her Q&A (more on that later).

It would be great to see more women of color at BlogHer as well. Netroots Nation has bolstered its POC and LGBT presence (and content) significantly over its five-year existence; women’s issues not so much. Of course these conferences are not equivalent in purpose, but it’s hard not to analyze the differences and similarities in programming and exhibits and what it says about target audiences.

***

The panel I am on today at 3PM:

Change Agents: How to Start, Engage in and Moderate Civil Political Debate

What are the online “rules of the road” that can keep even heated debates civil? Where is the line between dissenter and troll? How do you take personal responsibility for your role in the debate, and how do you encourage the behavior you want to see on your site and at the online communities you frequent?

Four women will share their secrets to stirring their readers and engaging in friendly debate: Ann Friedman of The American Prospect and Feministing.com hashes it out with Denise Tanton, community manager at BlogHer.com; Pam Spaulding author of Pam’s House Blend and Suzanne Fortin, the writer behind Big Blue Wave. Join us for a lively discussion, pick up a few tips, and share a few of your own!

As you can imagine, we’ve had to deal with all sorts of moderation issues over the years, and there will be war stories discussed about trolls, astroturfing, reprimands and warnings, and more.

Some photos of the brilliant women I’ve met up with at BlogHer10.



@sharkfu, a.k.a. Angry Black Bitch; with @GloriaFeldt of HeartFeldt Politics.



Cheryl Contee, a.k.a, Jill Tubman of Jack & Jill Politics. @ch3ryl; @LisaStone, BlogHer Founder & CEO.

I’ll have a post about yesterday’s meeting with Sen. Gillibrand later (I have to head over to the conference now!).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

NY U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Q&A at BlogHer10: DADT vote and passage by end of year

On Friday about 15-20 BlogHer attendees, including your blogmistress, were invited to a meet and greet, on-the-record Q&A with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who is running for the junior U.S. Senate seat she has filled out that was vacated by Hillary Clinton. Attending BlogHer was important to Gillibrand, who is very attuned to the power of the Internet, blogs and social networking in creating an effective campaign.

I’ll give you all the short review:

* It was a very short presser, but Gillibrand made sure to mention a timeline on DADT vote from her perspective – she expects passage by the end of this year.

* She’s very polished (as in message discipline), but still comes across as earnest and believes strongly in transparency in government.

* As this was tied to BlogHer, I was pleased by Gillibrand’s focus on the importance of women and technology – more women need to be in the room when the legislative sausage is being made on the Internet, since it involves privacy and security matters, and issues that women bring to the table are important to factor in decision-making. Here is a clip of Gillbrand on the importance of encouraging girls to go into the hard sciences, math and technology studies. Sorry for the less-than-premium video, it’s actually not bad for my Droid phone cam.

* Her immigration positioning was excellent — and excellently delivered. Sen. Gillibrand discussed reunification of families (including LGBTs) in immigration reform. Need to have a realistic conversation about having 5 year work visas and true reform, not tinkering with a broken existing system. She supports the Dream Act and a path to citizenship. She believes something will be done in the lame duck session.

* She’s very stoked about working with bloggers in new media venues (liveblogs, call-ins,), and is savvy about their influence

* There wasn’t enough time for questions (but isn’t that always the way).

My one question that I would have asked, as a follow up to a question asked about advice for progressive women running in more conservative states (she was asked about women running for office in Texas), that she didn’t really answer:

For qualified women in politically transitioning states, like Elaine Marshall — does she have advice on how to advance the progressive agenda in a more challenging environment? Does she speak with candidates in this class of 2010 about these issues?

Todd said he’d follow up with Sen. Gillibrand.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

BlogHer10 exhibit hall: I wasn’t lying – here’s the ‘tampon of the future’

I figure this post will freak out a good chunk of the readership, but hey, how often do I talk about feminine products in the coffeehouse? I mean it’s just an item that most pre-menopausal women throw into the shopping cart on a regular basis.

Tampon of the Future

Anyway, this was the item I was joking with Lizz Winstead about on Twitter yesterday, calling it a “tampon of the future.”

At BlogHer10, there are so many major vendors here, including a “Fox for Family” exhibit with a giant Great Dane posing with attendees for the latest Marmaduke movie, that it’s hard to figure out what’s blogworthy. So I picked what I thought was the most appropriate, unique and interesting one – the RepHesh booth, featuring its Brilliant tampons. (BTW, I’m not compensated for the post, other than the swag everyone receives for walking up).

So one of the women behind the booth came out to do her pitch; I mentioned my tampon of the future remark and she actually confirmed that for me – this is the first major change in tampon technology (boy is it bizarre saying that) since the 1920s. Why does that not surprise me? Just shove a rag up there.

Anyway, the big change is that each tampon is infused with natural active ingredients (L-lactide and citric acid). During your menstrual cycle your pH will shoot up to 7.4. These substances in the tampon help maintain the pH in your vagina at the normal range of 3.5-4.5. Basically, this means fewer “fun” things going on in that environment.

One of the funny exchanges while at the booth – the representative was hawking one of its other pH balancing gel products to use when Mother Nature isn’t calling. She says to me:

“It really helps out after all of that semen gets in you.”

I say:

“Well, I don’t have to worry about that.”

She says:

“Thank goodness, all that semen can be nasty to your pH.”

I was close to ROTFLOL on that one. No, this definitely isn’t Netroots Nation.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright