A stupendous day and a half at the BlogHer 2006 conference, plus a whole lot of driving time to digest what went down, has produced the following fledgling thoughts:
Like most things in life, the value you get out of an endeavor ain't necessarily what you'd thought it would be going in.
It's too early to tell what I'll ultimately take away from my two days parked around a pool in San Jose, but I doubt it will be a better way to drive visitors to my site (although there were tips aplenty) or best practices for my business blogging clients (although not only were there plenty, but a volunteer offered to write them up and post them for the group). More likely, it'll be some echo from the amazing conversation about life and its strange, twisty paths I wound up having in the spa, post-conference, with the wife of a Silicon Valley millionaire. She had never even heard of blogging; I wish she'd start one.
It's the people, stupid.
As opposed to the stupid people, who were in mercifully short supply (see below). Maybe all the smart people weren't exactly to your taste, but there was no lacking for smarties. Open-minded smarties, most of them. Nice.
If you are a dude at an all-chick conference, try extra hard not to make a moron of yourself, okay?
Overall, the men who braved the Electronic EstroFest erred on the side of shutting the hell up, which was kind of too bad. Of course, then one of you has to open your mouth and ruin things for everyone. During a session that will remain nameless, one of your gender got up and made a(n erroneous) statement about branding so ludicrous, I was actually embarrassed for him. Since we are polite ladies and your idiotic remark was also completely off-topic, we let it go. That was not your cue to jump up twice more with additional remarks. Dolt.
Chicks do better food. They just do.
Note to SXSW: you want more women in attendance? Hell, you want more everyone in attendance? Food! Food! Food! I know the city of Austin wants to make a buck, five, for water, but the people at a conference want food, now and always and really accessible. I did not walk five feet from a session EVER at BlogHer without there being baskets of fruit or plates of cookies or dishes of something. It improved my mood enormously. And I couldn't have cared less how many sponsor stickers were plastered on something. Food = good.