Twitter changed BlogHer

BlogHer09 is over.  The conference weekend (was it only a weekend?) has come and gone, and now we’re each left to sift through the conference detrius that remains:  programs, business cards, ads, coupons, swag, more swag, ads that came with swag, and memories.  We’re each alone with our thoughts as the mania subsides.  The “we” is over, at least for a time, and we must sit with the “I,” forming our afterthoughts, asking questions like, “What did I think of BlogHer?  What did I get out of it, and who did I meet that I want to see/read/tweet with again?”

This is not that post for me.  It’s still bouncing around inside, and I’m conflicted on so many topics.  It was … different this year.  It wasn’t the bigger expo hall, the sponsored lunches (complete with a giant pasta jar made out of vegetables), more company mascots (Ms. Potato Head, the SoBe lizard, and not one, but TWO All laundry fairies), the costumes (at BowlHer and SparkleCorn), the private swag parties (I didn’t go to any), or the mania that ensued.

The difference was twitter.

Last year, I was a laptop girl, dutifully setting it up in each conference panel, taking notes, bookmarking sites, contributing to wikis, and otherwise taking action on ideas real-time.  This year, I left it at home (too heavy!) and brought my new iPhone.  It changed things completely.  Even thought I went to the same number of sessions (all of them), the same number of parties (the ones open to all), and met many of the same people (hello, you!), it was … different.

Here’s my top 5 list of how Twitter changed BlogHer, in no particular order (aside from the order I tweeted as I thought of them):

1. Tweeting key points made sessions more interactive.

2. By listening to #blogher09 backchannel, I could hear the best of other sessions too.

3. Party prep excitement was shared with everyone with Internet.

4. People heard exactly what they were being left out of … While it was happening.

5. What may have been intended as a whisper was broadcast worldwide.

Twitter enabled me to meet people I wouldn’t have found organically (by saying, hi! where are you standing? when shall we meet up?), but it also enabled a whole new level of disenchantment and rumors.  Overall, I’d use a conference backchannel again — but I’d take it with many more grains of salt — and I’d force myself to wait longer before reacting or retweeting.

How did Twitter change your conference experience?

40 Responses to Twitter changed BlogHer

  1. I brought a netbook (my mom’s!) but had such a hard time with the poor wifi service that at times it wasn’t worth having on.

    That said, I opted out of TBEX, a post-BlogHer travel bloggers expo, and was so intrigued by the tweets that I wound up walking over to the conference and joining in (encouraged by people tweeting the event). That was pretty cool.

    Great seeing you. I have a cute photo of you getting a foot massage at the Blogalicious event. You look so relaxed. Great seeing you and your iPhone.🙂

    • whymommy says:

      What a great use of twitter — I “saw” you and Susan Getgood go over there, actually, while I was at the airport and you were tweeting your decision to go join in the expo. It sounded great.

  2. It was my first time, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I definitely used Twitter to contact people whose phone numbers I don’t have, to connect and communicate. I hated being in rooms where there was no wireless connection. Twitter made things easier…and harder.

    • whymommy says:

      It was your first conference? Were you the one in the cowgirl hat? I totally wanted to come over and ask and say hi if you were — now I regret that I didn’t!

  3. “People heard exactly what they were being left out of … While it was happening.”

    So true. As inclusive as Twitter can be, it can also be used as a somewhat brutal form of social currency.

    • whymommy says:

      Um, yeah. And people got hurt.

      • tela says:

        LOVE this!! I definitely did. (Tried not to be, but unfortunately it’s hard when all your friends are tweeting about going to the this-and-that party and you are sitting in your hotel room wondering why no one is returning your calls.)

  4. Amy says:

    I am so sad that we only got to give each other a brief hug near the giant veggie pasta jar. Next year I’ll use Twitter to find you earlier and more often.

    You look AMAZING, by the way. Your smile lit up my day.

    • whymommy says:

      Aw, thanks, Amy! You know, I was on my way to a meeting with the American Cancer Society bloggers, but I just assumed we’d meet up later in the weekend.

      Bad assumption. I’m so bummed!

  5. Headless Mom says:

    Uh, it didn’t. I don’t have an iphone and as others have mentioned I couldn’t use my laptop for twitter (bad wifi.) I was counting on it so I actually missed many people that I wanted to meet/see. Although reading some of the recap posts that could be a good thing?

  6. “What may have been intended as a whisper was broadcast worldwide.”

    So true. Although…maybe the fact that it WAS broadcast worldwide was a good thing. I’m not sure which ones your actually referring to, but some of the tweets needed to be exposed. AND retweeted.

    Great seeing you!!

    • whymommy says:

      Cattiness. And also fear.

      It was GREAT to see you. I have so much good to say about the Blogalicious party (if I could only spell it) — I think you ladies really did it right!

  7. JavaMom says:

    My phone is not as sophisticated as others, so I felt a little bit behind b/c I couldn’t participate via Twitter as much as others. So in a way, Twitter created a digital divide at BlogHer — it was like if you weren’t tweeting constantly, you weren’t “in it.” I came home and told my husband “I need to upgrade my phone if I’m going to play in this space. I was completely behind b/c I didn’t have an iPhone or a BlackBerry. I was missing out on meeting people, I couldn’t synch up with my friends, I felt sort of shut out all b/c my phone wasn’t up to the task and the wireless was so spotty I couldn’t use my laptop enough.” He just sort of grimaced. I was so excited when I got this phone (Env2) in Oct. and already I’m mad at it. BUT, if my phone were a little cooler, I would’ve LOVED how Twitter impacted BlogHer. Although I found the Michelin tweets to be a bit distracting — those I managed to get on my phone. But I commend them for being interactive!

    • whymommy says:

      That’s too bad. Perhaps the organizers do need to address this digital divide — it shouldn’t be necessary to have the latest technology to enjoy the conference.

      You know, at other conferences I’ve attended, there’s an announcement board and a place to leave notes for each other (bulliten board with pushpins) — wonder if this “old” technology would fill a gap?

    • marty says:

      I agree, Javamom. That happened to me in ’08.

  8. Like Java Mommy, I am also cool-phone-impaired. Plus, I am sooooo lame that I not only cannot Twitter (Tweet?) from my phone, but I also don’t text as it costs me a fortune.

    So I also felt a bit out of it at my first BlogHer. Not only did I miss out on the whole underground Twitter aspect of it, but I often sat down at a session or table ready to say “hi” and meet someone new only to be greeted by the top of their head as they sat bend over their iPhone.

    That said, I had a blast and especially enjoyed meeting you!!

    • whymommy says:

      I totally enjoyed meeting you too — and it was great to run into you at the cocktail reception afterwards.

      Yes, that was certainly a drawback — and a big one, too! At one point, all four of us in the car ride in were tweeting instead of talking to each other. But we got over that pretty quickly.

  9. jodifur says:

    Huh. Interesting perspective.

    I wonder as well.

  10. Another mostly twitter-free attendee of BlogHer here. I left my laptop in my room so I could be in the moment. And I can’t twitter on my phone unless I wanted a billion dollar phone bill back home in Canada, so I too felt out of the loop. I think it would have been more inclusive and helpful if the Twitter blogher09 stream was up on a screen behind the speakers. We do that sometimes at local Tweetup events and it means everyone can be a part of both aspects (live and online), regardless of the technology they’ve brought along! I think seeing it so openly broadcast *might* help people take that extra second to think before tweeting too (only might mind you!)

    I’m getting as much out of the post-BlogHer discussions as I did the conference itself I think!

  11. I think MobileMommy’s idea is a neat one.
    I used my iPhone too and it saved me a couple of times and made it fantastically easy to find people!

    Great discussion and sorry that we didn’t meet!

  12. magpie says:

    Spot on – twitter did much the same for me – helped me find people, let me “talk” to people who were in different parts of the same room.

  13. Yeah, it was my first time too. But I wouldn’t have found people without my iPhone, that’s for sure!

    And I wouldn’t have been able to BUMP! with you in the car that we randomly climbed into together. Do you know I only bumped one more person and that was at the last keynote on Saturday afternoon? When the conference was almost over? Dude didn’t even ask me, he just shoved a “Ready to Bump” screen in my face. And I reacted with glee at the opportunity because I hadn’t been able to do it all weekend! You know, Bump with a guy – and I don’t know what that means, by the way.

    • whymommy says:

      I didn’t use the Bump! application with anyone else either … but I’m hoping to with people I know and see here locally. It’s a cool app.

  14. AnnetteK says:

    I still kept my laptop with me for some of it when I found the wifi worked where the 3G didn’t and vice versa. Twitter definitely made it easy to find people but I found myself too caught up with great sessions and great conversations to pay much attention to it otherwise.

    ps. I loved meeting you!

  15. So true! I loved using my iPhone all weekend especially to learn what was going on in the other sessions via the backchannel. It also proved to be especially useful for planning a dinner meetup! Never would I have imagined that we would would have gathered 12 women so easily on the last night to hit the pavement in search of sustenance so quickly!

    And it was especially useful in locating roommates who were- um- at the next table! 🙂

  16. I’ll say that I kind of felt left out without a cool SmartPhone…

    But. I’ve refused to get a BlackBerry or iPhone thus far because I don’t want to become someone who is constantly Tweeting or checking email or posting. I don’t want to always have my eye on my phone. I didn’t feel I did this conference due to my old phone.

  17. Twitter did make all of the difference. If you were headed one place, and someone on Twitter was speaking about something else exciting, it gave you options!

    Additionally, it was just more fun ~ although this being my first time – I have no way of knowing how the last ones were. Wonder what 2010 will bring!

    Either way I am sure it will be fun ~ People made this extraordinary! It was great meeting you (Lost tag line – I advised you about a fellow scientist blog!)

    Great post!

  18. You know, last year Twitter was just kicking off and I followed some of BlogHer08 on my computer (I didn’t have a smart phone at the time!). This year, because I was smart phone ready I didn’t follow quite as much on Twitter as I did then. Though it did help me connect with a couple people!
    I reading tweets about conferences that I don’t get to attend. I just hope that people who weren’t in Chicago got more than just rants about parties and swag…

  19. VDog says:

    Always happy to see you, darling.

    NYC? I have MY ticket!!!

  20. Lady M says:

    I’m now definitely contemplating an iPhone, where I’d brushed it off before.

    It was so nice to see you again!

  21. Mom101 says:

    This is one of the most insightful wrap-ups I’ve read.

    I also wonder if it’s changed the dynamics of the conference-goers too.

  22. bubblewench says:

    I thought it was cool to follow peoples ‘adventures’ but I have to say…. What makes Blogher peeps think us non attendees were ‘left out’? I never once felt that way. I even wrote a blog about that exact comment after I saw it on Twitter.

    • whymommy says:

      On my way over to check it out now! But perhaps I should have expanded this post to explain what I meant in these 5 points … I was referring to the crazed tweets from private parties and party planners making (some) people who were there — but not “on the list” — feel jealous and/or left out. So that when there WAS a party that they were on the list for, a bit of crazy behavior ensued.

  23. Kristen says:

    One hug from you was not enough….

  24. kelly says:

    I so have to get on this twitter thing. I have an account, but I rarely use it. Okay, must go twitter now.

  25. tela says:

    Another observation, and something I thought was so weird. In one conference I was sitting next to a few woman who were twittering about stuff and kind of ignored me to twitter instead. I tried to have a conversation, but they were more interested in twittering stuff, like that we were in the session together.

    I think this is odd–instead of actually conversing with me, we exchanged a few words. Then they told everyone else what “we” were doing. But “we” weren’t doing anything. I was being ignored for twitter.

    Twitter sometimes feels like some big popularity contest to me–see how many friends I have and all the cool things we do together. People talking about doing this and that with this person and that person. Instead of acutally *having fun* doing the this and that with this person and that person.

    It’s late (for me) on a LONG-ass Monday. I hope this comment makes SOME sense.

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