This Fit by Five will focus on Beyond Blogging - not just the blog and event, which I'll talk about a bit, but on the idea of attempting to predict the future.
Let's look at the event, because it was an eye-opener for me. As my friends at Fleishman-Hillard know, I was extremely honored to be invited to join the other stellar panelists as a thought leader. In some respects, without even realizing it, that's what I think of myself as - a thought leader. One with a focus on social media - and how women fit into that construct.
ALL of the panelists brought insightful comments and reflections to the event - and, to their credit, audience participation made it worthwhile. The audience drove the conversation, beyond opening remarks, and offered keen insights of their own. Or, questions that generally revealed the need for more such events - as the audience members were eager for information on how to make this new social computing, social networking tool work for them.
Mica Sify summed it up best when he said that "the collective minds of this audience are smarter than all of the panel members put together." That's not a direct quote - just my citing from memory. The idea is there - that blogs are allowing collective voices to be louder and stronger than any individual voice. Blogs encourage story-telling, give and take, and even mistakes. Mistakes that are quickly discovered or uncovered, and accounted for, in ways that used to take mainstream media weeks or months to reveal. Blogs, as Mica seemed to be saying, support a true meritocracy - not merely because of their ease-of-use, but because of their growing pervasiveness.
Since my participation in this event centered around women - I'd like to share my opening remarks with you. I'm curious to know how many of you agree with what I said, and...how many of you can take my thoughts one or two steps farther - into the next decade, where all of this (blogs, social media, wikis, podcasts, etc) will be part of the social lexicon...in ways that are yet to be determined. Here is the jist of the opening remarks I made at Beyond Blogging 2006 (I veered from my notes a few times, so the content here, which is from the notes, is not word for word, but close enough):
"Shhhhh! Let's take a moment to just listen. Can you hear that? That's the sound of fingers clicking away on millions of keyboards all over the world. It's the sound of millions of women writing in their blogs.
"They're writing about - you (make eye-contact with audience), and you, and you. They're writing about high gas prices, what they're reading this summer, who should be elected to office, and they're surely writing about this event - because, after all, I wrote about it in my blog. They're writing about the thousands of topics they find relevant to their work, social and family lives.
"To me, these women are the face of Beyond Blogging. When I was asked to sit on this panel, and told what the topic was, I had to stop and think for awhile - think about what Beyond Blogging meant to me. I decided it meant stepping away from the technology into a world commanded by women. I was reminded of those age-old saying like, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World. And, The Pen is Mightier than the Sword, and my personal favorite from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Women are the real architects of society.
"As far as blogging is concerned, you can pick up any issue of the Washington Post, the NY Times, any business magazine or ezine, and you will see blogging described as social media, social computing, social networking. I ask you, which gender is known for being more social?
"Blogging is now and will continue to be a conversation. Which gender is known for talking the most? That always reminds me of the saying from my childhood - maybe some of you baby boomers will remember it - telegraph, telephone, tell a girl. I say we now have to add - tell a woman with a blog. It's all part of the gossip principle...which, BTW, is nothing more than what we're all doing today - it's people sitting down for coffee, virtual or otherwise, and sharing stories.
"Here's why I'm so confident that the face of Beyond Blogging is female:
In the Guardian newspaper last week, there was a story titled, "More girls than boys have a mobile, use the net, listen to the radio, and read newspapers."
According to Marketing to Moms company, Lucid Marketing, 8.8 million Moms visited blogs in March. Compared to 6.3 million women who are not Moms.
And, perhaps most importantly, the up and coming generations of women - those Gen X and Gen Ys, or Echo Boomers (by the way, they HATE those labels), don't just demand equality...the expect it. And, they're using their blogs to get it.
"Before I end today, I'd like to take another moment of silence. Let's listen once again...do you hear that? That's another thousand women - somewhere in the world - starting a new blog. Many of them are under 30, some of them are in their 40s and 50s - and there are even a few who are well over the age of 50. ALL of them are part of a ripple effect that is going to change the fabric of life in the 21st Century. All of them are the face of Beyond Blogging. Because in the end, it isn't about the technology, it's about the people."
I would also like to give a hearty thanks to dc communicator, the DC ezine and other sponsor of the event. It seems to me that dc communicator and Fleishman-Hillard have started something - worth continuing. Stay tuned for more information, as it comes available.
Before signing off, I have to say that I loved Washington! It was one of the most pleasant trips of the past year. Good people, great architecture, adequate hotel (not great, but not bad), and inspiring conversation.