I wrote this post a little while after I got back from the conference and promptly forgot about it. Things in italics are me writing from now, as some things needed to be changed from what I wrote way back then. Here we go.
As a bunch of people have already posted, BlogHer has announced the location of the 2009 conference. I posted - a lot - about the people and places from my San Francisco trip, but didn't really mention the conference as a whole. Here is my take on the conference - what worked and what would be good for 2009.
I know I am way behind everyone else; they've moved on, I clearly haven't.
Or, I was on holiday and wanted to wait until I could think about this before writing it. Take your pick. (Or I wanted to save up for an important occasion like NaBloPoMo where it would do some good.)
In essence: The conference? Amazing.
(You didn't think I was going to leave it at that.)
Tiff and I were very brave, made easier by the fact that pretty much everyone was nice and willing to talk to everyone else. Next year, I think I would rather introduce myself as "Missy, from Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch," but I don't regret playing the Australia card so much this year.
Yeah, I said next year. We might as well address this straight up. I want to go back next year. Yes, BlogHer, you suckered me in. After summer camp, we were all, "We totally have to keep coming back," but hardly any of us did. It was just not practical. Now, it's possible that BlogHer09 will not be practical either. But I think I would get more out of returning to BlogHer than I would have returning to camp, so I am more motivated to make it work.
I might as well un-address this straight up: I am like 90% sure I will not be going to BlogHer09. A trip around the world every year is kind of insane. I would rather do it properly every second or third year than go for the weekend and have to come home due to lack of spending/travelling money. When the conference is in Australia, then we'll talk.
I actually learned things at the sessions. (Basically I went to BlogHer to squeal at people, so this is kind of a shocker.) Some I went to more because I was interested than because they were relevant to me (if that makes sense), but I enjoyed them anyway. Due to scheduling conflicts, I missed out on some sessions I would have liked to attend. I did feel there was sometimes a divide between new and more experienced bloggers as far as discussion topics from the audience within sessions, which is a hard thing to control. (Also: Shut up about Twitter.) (Ahahaha. Awesome.) When I'm settled back, I plan to listen to as many of the recordings as I can.
The best session was Maggie Mason's one on Pursuing Your Passion. All three speakers were great, all very funny, and Maggie was the best moderator I saw. It was like a big conversation between friends; there was audience participation, but not so much that having speakers seemed pointless.
The food was not brilliant. Serving the same thing three days in a row gives the impression that it is the exact same box that was left over from three days ago. Not cool. The dessert rocked though, as did the Ghiradelli chocolate. And those cookies that time. Good work for having water bottles available all the time, I definitely needed it.
The ballroom was definitely the most intimidating room, as I mentioned. The reason being is that once any number of people are sitting at a table, they are "a group" - even if they were all random individuals who just happened to sit down at the same table. Having everyone in "groups" makes it hard to sit down. My suggestion is to assume everyone is just random individuals and sit down wherever the hell you like.
The speed dating did not work very well. From what I heard of last year, it worked much better the way they did it then (two circles facing each other, moving over one person every howevermany minutes). The first problem was that when we got up to move, the people behind us skipped our table in favour of the one ahead of us, leaving us with nowhere to go. The second problem was that, with the exception of the two new people, everyone had already heard everyone's introduction, yet they had to keep repeating it. The third thing - not necessarily a problem - was that it broke down fairly quickly, and everyone was moving randomly. Or not. And if not, you really got out what you were putting in.
Popular bloggers are not famous people. Except at BlogHer, where I hope everyone felt like royalty at some point or another.
Sponsors. I have no problem with BlogHer being sponsored to all hell. It's expensive enough as it is, go crazy, guys. There were a lot of products geared towards mums, but guess what? There were a lot of parents there. Shocker there's a correlation. I am very glad the Recycling Room was there; there was no way I was carrying everything I got all around the country and back home.
The Community Keynote was awesome. Must have it next year.
Also keep: the massage/relaxy room. Even if there's no massages, having a chill-out place was very welcome. I found out later about the AlphaMom Re:Boot Room, which sounds like it was awesome, and just what many people could have done with.
I am sure I missed something, but I think this'll do. Thank you a bajillion times to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen, and everyone who attended, you all are freaking awesome.
On the topic of the 09 location: I am surprised they are revisiting a city where the conference has already been held, but as it's a city I haven't visited, I would still be happy with it. If I was going. So maybe I should be annoyed it's not somewhere I've already been. Anyway. I'm glad they got the (very loud and repeated) message about having the hotel and conference in one building, and it looks like 09 will be an awesome conference. Whoo!