The discussion leader was Rebecca MacKinnon. Because BloggerCon is an "un-conference", and there is no presentation or pre-set agenda, she asked people in the room what they were interested in. There was actually an interesting mix of pure blog newbies to blog veterans (meaning that they have been blogging for over 2 years ;-). Some were interested in finding out how to start blogging, others how to push a corporate blogging agenda, etc. Lots of different perspectives and levels of experience/expertise.
A few people were working for blogging tools vendors, but they did not really speak out because of the BloggerCon policy of not allowing vendors’ plugs (which unfortunately prevented these very experienced users to share their expertise – Niall has a great post on this).
Topics of interest related to bloggers’ motivation: why bloggers are spending time publishing diaries, journals,… as opposed to going to meet people face to face. Dave Mc Clure (who also posted about this session) stated that his interest surrounds how to move blogging into the mainstream of web publishing of multiple media: text, audio, photos, videos, music, etc.
The overall message to vendors from the Newbies: if it is not easy enough to 1) generate content, 2) publish, and 3) syndicate/get traction then… they won’t hesitate to switch. Kind of obvious, but there are people in the room who are already into their third blogging tool in a few months.
"Blogging: what is it about for you" ? This is the central question to ask yourself before starting blogging, as opposed to how often you should post, which tool you should use, and how much commitment you will make to it. Blogging takes time, energy and has potential implications, as a gentleman from HP points out. When you blog, you become a "public" person and therefore that might have an impact on the way you are perceived in your corporation (even with all the necessary disclaimers, etc.).
Julie Adair from the BBC refers to an experience they have put in place: Island Blogging, where they have provided PCs and narrowband connections to people of 17 islands on the borders of Scottland, in order to get them to blog about what is happening in their life and their environment. This has been successful and therefore the BBC is going to extend this to other places in the UK.
Rebecca then ranted about the difficulty of managing a MovableType or WordPress installation, publishing HTML, etc. She is then explaining that the reason she moved to a deployed version from a hosted one was that typepad.com was blocked in Korea and China, and she had a South Korean related blog. I explained that this is really really difficult to do, and that is why there are easy-to-use hosted offering for "basic" usage and deployed solutions where you can do what you want.
As I raised the issue if starting a blog through pictures, Mie shared her experience of only blogging through her mobile phone, snapping pictures and expressing herself that way, as opposed to using her PC and publishing a text blog.
People in the room are asking for ways to get introductory classes, tutorials, etc. about blogging and how to get started. And it is over.
There was no real structure to the session (and to this post I am afraid), even though Rebecca did a good job at trying to get questions answered. But we did not really touch upon the issues of how to get started in corporations, what evolutions are required to the current generation of tools – which are still too complex, etc. In insight, it would have been great to have a list of pre-reading materials for the audience so that at least basic definitions we spent time on (trackbacks, RSS,…) were taken care of.
Update: Rebecca, the moderator, has posted her summary and take-aways of the session.