Sunday, December 13, 2009

Goodbye, The End, Finis

Today, December 13, 2009, is the fifth anniversary of ByJane. And today is also it’s swan song. Those of you who check in from time to time know that I’ve only been posting from time to time. And when I do, I generally cross-post to MidLifeBloggers--which seems like a waste of, well not paper, but bytes...or something.

And too, the kind of posts I did for ByJane seemed a bit too casual for MidLifeBloggers. With ByJane, I just wrote--whatever. Sometimes I would start in one place and end up in a totally different direction. But that was the fun of it. That is, actually, what blogging is about, at least to my mind. That’s not what MidLifeBloggers is about. When I choose posts to put up, I’m looking for what are basically non-fiction essays. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. They make a point, and they use some or all of the tools of literary writing to do so.

Still I miss writing those casual, personal posts, but all of my energies these days are going into MidLifeBloggers. That’s where I’m doing the social media dance that one does to build an audience. It’s where I’ve got plans and intentions and goals and dreams and--well, you know. So I’m saying goodbye to ByJane as the blog exists in this incarnation. This will be my last post at this url. But because I miss blogging and because I still want to do that meandering personal kind of writing, I’m officially folding ByJane in to MidLifeBloggers. There’s a sweet spot on the sidebar where you can read ByJane; you’ll just have to go to MidLifeBloggers to do it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

BlogWorld Expo & Not H1N1

BlogworldexpoShuffle, shuffle...creak, creak. Those sounds are me trying to get upright and in the saddle again after several (SEVERAL!) weeks off. First, I was at BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Vegas--about which more anon. Then I was at death's door (okay, slight exaggeration) from the dreaded flu. Well--not The Flu. But some flu.

Here's what I wrote before I got sick:

It has become the convention for bloggers that after a conference, one writes a roundup of sorts, in which one links to all those new and exciting people one met. One does this; I, however, do not. It's just another example of how stubborn I can be about doing what one is supposed to. Especially when it would be helpful to one's I hear some whispers about "cutting nose to spite face"?

To continue and finish all those thoughts....

After BlogHer'09, the roundup I wrote attracted the attention of several of the bigwigs at BlogWorldExpo, most notably Rick Calvert who started the who thing. I compared the sessions at BWE08 to those at BH09, with the former coming out ahead in substance and relevance. BWE09 was no different. The sessions were, in the main, incredibly informative. Last year I just went wherever my interest took me; this year, however, I had a plan. I started out in the news business as a radio reporter, so it makes sense that I'm interested in adding a multi-media aspect to MidLifeBloggers. Therefore, I chose the Podcasting/Audio/Video track, and the basic ones at that.

Andy Walker of Butterscotch filled his session, "Video Podcasting 101", with an hours-worth of helpful information, such as "Plan your show, perform your plan. Ad lib with structure. Whiteboard with bullet points. Improvise inside a structure." Similarly, Lee and Sara O'Donnell of Average Betty gave solid advice about all aspects from pre through post production in their session "Work With Whatcha Got: Video Production." By the time I had sat through those sessions, I knew enough to know that I'm not quite ready for prime time when it comes to videoblogging, but I've got a good idea where to start.

Because there's such a wide range of bloggers at BlogWorldExpo--political bloggers and sports bloggers, real estate bloggers and PR/Marketing bloggers, Mil bloggers and med bloggers and, yes, mommy bloggers--there are a wide variety of sessions and tracks to choose from. No complaint there at all. The exhibits on the showfloor were similarly diverse. There, too, I tried to narrow my focus to those exhibitors that had something to say to MidLifeBloggers, and in the future I expect you'll see some results of my conversations. But---you knew this was coming, didn't you--here's where BlogWorldExpo leaves me cold: the socializing.

Yes, there are parties and sponsors and keynotes and-- it all seemed aimed at guys in their 30s and their aging wannabes. Okay, it's Vegas, so probably the emphasis on waitresses with huge tits is unavoidable. But what was with the showgirls wandering around with a photographer in tow at the Opening Night party at the Mirage's JET Nightclub? And why is it that the open bar at all the "official" parties offered only bottles of warm beer? And who decided that the Closing Keynote should be Guy Kawasaki playing (badly) David Letterman to Kevin Pollak, Chad Vader and Jenny The Bloggess? You've never heard of Chad Vader? Oh, then you're not a thirty-something geek who's never gotten over Star Wars. And Jenny The Bloggess? I know she's got quite a following; what I can't figure out is why. Her "humor" (quotes intentional) seems aimed at--oh yeah, thirty-something guys and their aging wannabes.

It is possible to create a party that appeals to men and women, young and not so young. ScreenLife did it at their party to introduce their new game SceneIt. Next year at BWE10, I suggest that there be several women on the party planning agenda. And, at the least, the beer be icy cold. Oh, and a couple of near-naked dudes be sent to the various venues wander around for the viewing pleasure of the ladies. Is that too much to ask?

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Boys Are Back

...and so am I. At least occasionally. This is cross-posted from MidLifeBloggers but I don't know who reads that or who, if anyone, reads ByJane.

People who know me know that I'm a real snippy critic when it comes to movies. Much of what the film industry puts out earns Three Snorts from me. So when I tell you I thought a movie was terrific, trust me--it was terrific.

Last night I went to a screening of The Boys Are Back. I didn't expect anything special. Didn't really know much about the film except that it starred Clive Owen and had boys in it. To what end, I wasn't sure--and really, that wasn't the point in my going. It was a screening, for heaven's sake. Shades of Hollywood, for heaven's sake. Not to mention a chance to make myself feel like LA's not that far away. So I met up with Margaret of NannyGoatsInPanties and Alena of LenaLoo's Inner Green Fairy and Larissa of no blog at all, bought myself the popcorn I must have to watch a movie and settled back to see what was what.

What I saw was one of the best films in ages. I hate movie reviews that recount the plot so I won't. Suffice to say, it's a love story between a father and his sons. It's about trying your best and sometimes coming up short, but sometimes not. It's about trying and sometimes failing, but sometimes not. It's about family in all its messy glory when each member is valued as an individual. It's about males without women but not in a way that demeans either gender.

It's about filmmakers not going the quick and dirty route with heavy-handed symbolism and Lessons Learned. No manipulation by music, no cheap Hollywood tricks to create an emotional response. Scott Hicks, the director of Shine and producer of Billy Elliot, directed it, from a screenplay by Allan Cubitt, which was based on the memoir, The Boys Are Back In Town, by Simon Carr. They have created a spot of real life in a movie theatre. Truly, if I hadn't recognized Clive Owen, I would have thought I was watching a documentary. I loved the world they created on the screen and, frankly, I didn't want it to end.

I can't remember the last time I was so touched by a film. Yet, such is the world of movies these days that I don't think I would have seen it if not for the screening. Too many bum deals out there for $10.50 a pop. Too many films where the best thing going was the popcorn. So I have to thank Melissa from Women and Hollywood for getting me on the hallowed screening list. And I have to thank the filmmakers, all those involved, for creating a film that made me remember that moving pictures are indeed an art form and that the best of them reflect who we are and refract our values.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

BlogHer'09: The Good, The Bad and The Meh

  1. I liked seeing all my online friends in the flesh. Just wish there had been more time and opportunity to really sit down and talk. That there wasn’t, I think, is a function of the size and intensity of the conference. Not only is the BlogHer schedule jam-packed, but the number of outside parties and such seemed endless.
  2. The sessions—so many choices, so little time. Just wish they had been less general. I know that BlogHer prides itself on the conversational tone of their conference sessions. The emphasis for speakers is less on presentation and more on dialogue with the audience. That works very well when it’s a small group. But when it’s a lecture size audience, allowing the audience members to determine the flow of the topic ends up being a crapshoot. Will the probing questioners get to the mike? And if a question sparks a dialogue, will the dialogue be allowed to continue—or will it be truncated in the interest of others getting a chance to speak? The answers to those questions at the sessions I attended was “probably not.” Consequently, there’s no real depth to the sessions.
  3. Swag. This is good, bad and meh all together. I know there’s a debate going on on Twitter about Too Much Swag. To me the amount of swag wasn’t the issue. The focus on the commercial aspects of Blogher was. Lisa said at one session that she, Elisa and Jory founded BlogHer with four purposes in mind: exposure, community, education, and economic empowerment for women bloggers. I think the economic empowerment head is now leading the beast.
  4. When my panel was announced, I couldn’t figure out what we—one shopping blog, one lesbian blog, one the-personal-is-political blog and me, the midlifeblogger—had in common. What was our reason for being? Then during the preconference phone call, Elisa stressed that we were the panel to give voice to those not often heard. That confused me further because I don’t feel particularly marginalized in the blogosphere. But then I got to the conference and looked around, and I understood—within BlogHer itself, we are marginalized. The emphasis of the Conference is on sponsorship and the sponsors are focusing on one particular demographic; that leaves the rest of us out in the cold. I can’t tell you how many times during BlogHer’09, midlife bloggers came up to me and asked, “Where are we in all this?” I could only shrug. I dunno.
  5. Two years ago in Chicago, Butterball was a sponsor and handed out oven mitts as their swag. There was a lot of flack from bloggers about that—“what? You think all we do is cook?” This year it is obvious that the sponsors think we have a shitload of laundry to do. And meals to prepare. And we’re pinching our pennies so we’re willing to ignore Walmart’s business practices to save a cent or two in their stores. (I’m building up a head of steam here, so if you’re delicate, you might want to leave now). Talk about allowing the marketplace to define us! I have no use for Ragu's nifty wheel that allows me to plan meals for my non-existent family. Nor am I cherishing the gift bag left in my room by Tide|Bounce which contained stick on dryer sheets, all wrapped up in pretty orange paper. The one sponsor that did speak to me was Microsoft Office|Bing, and I spent more time in their suite than anywhere else. They had fantastic pastries, coffee, and their swag seemed for grownup women, rather than Mommy's.
  6. I just read Lisa Stone’s post about Valerie Jarrett being at Blogher’09. She was? Where was I at the time? Why didn’t I even know about it?
  7. For me, what is missing from the conference is substance. Did I say that before? It bears repeating I went to BlogCon Blog World Expo last year and found the sessions there jam-packed with information. It was very obvious to me that people were there for information, to learn from the experts. The sessions that I attended at BlogHer’09 were much more general, the questions more abstract, the responses much less satisfying. This may be a function of the fact that I’ve been blogging for four years and this was my fourth BlogHer Conference. Perhaps there’s a shelf-life for bloggers attending the conference, and I've passed it.
  8. I’m on the fence about BlogHer’10. If it’s going to be another hoo-hah Mommy-PR extravaganza, I’m not particularly enthusiastic. There has to be something more there for me to make it worth the cost of going.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Are We Done?

I wasn't going to post today, because--well, I just wasn't. Then I read this by MaggieDammit and she voiced so much of what I'm feeling about ByJane and MidLifeBloggers. I offer it to you just to let you know where my mind is--sorta--and that I don't know if I'm done here forever.