To be clear about this: I had nothing to do with the planning or execution of this event. When Karla Porter and I got to talking at the Fall 2011 BlogFest about having some sort of non-political get-together of bloggers - BlogFest was originally conceived as a political mixer, and the founders have made efforts to make it less blog-focused and more politics-focused - Karla began talking about a blog conference of some sort held at one of the many local institutes of higher education, with panels and educational sessions and all the stuff associated with a convention. I immediately backed away from the idea as being too complicated and too burdensome - especially for someone whose top priority at the time was to find full-time employment of some sort.
Six months later, Michelle Hryvnak Davies and Karla Porter connected at the Spring 2012 BlogFest and revived the idea. Michelle was enthusiastic where I was reluctant. They brought on board two other bloggers in attendance at the BlogFest, Mandy Boyle and Leslie Stewart, each of whom, like Michelle and Karla, brought with her extensive blogging experience, technological expertise, and a personal social and online network that partially overlapped with the others. By the next day the four had dubbed themselves the "Fearsome Foursome," and threw themselves at planning the first-ever NEPA BlogCon.
There was a lot to plan, and a lot to arrange, and a lot of decisions to be made. Through an enormous amount of very hard work, the four of them brought in speakers from throughout the blogosphere and the world of online commerce, arranged a location for the event at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, secured sponsors and purchased supplies and brought in dancing girls and...
Well, I didn't really contribute nothing. I did construct a series of image macros to be used for promoting the event:
...but that was pretty much it. I wanted this to be a blogging event where I could take part as a participant, not a planner. And I didn't want to butt into anyone else's plans with my own harebrained idea.
The event itself was astonishing. I was confronted with a sea of unfamiliar faces, which anyone who knows me realizes is nothing new. But in this case it was legitimate: Aside from the Fearsome Foursome, I knew a handful of the presenters. But many of the bloggers were strangers to me.
At the Spring 2012 BlogFest, as a result of a huge promotional campaign and media blitz by Michelle, we had the best-ever turnout of bloggers - perhaps two dozen or so, including the three political bloggers who organize the BlogFests, Michelle, and me. Without the media blitz and promotional drive (out of respect for the founders, who felt that the BlogFest was in danger of losing its political character and becoming too blogger-focused, which is a little confusing in light of the name, but whatever), last week's Fall 2012 BlogFest saw about half that many bloggers - maybe a dozen, all told, including the three organizers, Michelle, me, Karla, Justin Vacula, political bloggers Dan Spak and James O'Meara, and a few others. Maybe not even a dozen.
NEPA BlogCon had something like one hundred bloggers in attendance. (I'm still waiting official totals.) And they weren't just from NEPA. Some came from as far away as Delaware and New York. Some might have come farther.
The sessions were informative and well received. Some were more basic than others, which was a good thing, because some of the bloggers in attendance were experienced, and some were just starting out.
The Fearsome Foursome passed out surveys at the end of the sessions, asking for feedback on the event and suggestions for sessions at future events. My suggestions were these:
- Blogging and copyright. How do you establish that your work is your own legally-protected intellectual property? The question came up and no one really had a solid answer.
- In a similar vein, blogging and the law: how to avoid running afoul of laws involving copyright, libel, slander, trade secrets - even how to avoid getting "dooced," losing your job over something you've blogged about.
- On a more personal note, a piece on blog networking. I think it was a mistake to keep out of the planning of the BlogCon, and to keep NEPA Blogs out of it as well. As the only blog networking organization in Northeastern Pennsylvania, something like BlogCon provided an excellent opportunity to connect with many new bloggers who might not be aware of the size of the local blogging scene. And I blew it. In part I was so caught up with being an attendee I totally shirked my responsibilities as the founder of NEPA Blogs. I did pass out a few blog cards in between sessions and at the after-party, but I could have reached out much more effectively than I did. Next time.