The exuberance at BlogHer yesterday, July 30, in Santa Clara's otherwise sterile TechMart conference center, was palpable. The lilting cadences and rollicking lolls of women's voices were audible from every open conference room and along the corridors and even in the bathroom stalls, where flushing toilets barely breached the continuous flow of talk.
This conference exemplified the reason for all conferences: to stimulate the exchange of ideas and creation of new ideas, new friendships, and lasting unions of people dedicated to the promotion of ideas. There was no hostility, either overt or subvert, and the diversity of attendees, which included almost every type of human species on our planet, added to the general gaiety. It was a carnival of sorts, for women who blog under monikers such as Arse Poetica and Cross Over (transgender) and Time Goes By, and during the course of the day, layers of knowledge and accomplishment, humor and humanity and invention were exposed like so many facets of a gemstone .
A critical difference between this conference and most other tech conferences I have attended was the negligible attention paid to money. Rich people did not dominate the event, and if they were there, they were inconspicuous. Big companies did not dominate the event, and even one of the BlogHer sponsors, Technorati, was heavily chastised during the opening session for the criteria used to establish its top 100 list. This conference felt as if it belong to the traditionally disenfranchised -- housewives, stay-at-home moms, students, ethnic minorities, women way past their "prime," and those on the economic fringe. Lots of women I asked were "between jobs" and working out a new mode of existence, listening to the song of their hearts, akin to troubadours.
This conference will thrive. But I already feel a bit of nostalgia for what happened yesterday: the birth of BlogHer, like Woodstock or May '68 or Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, marks a sea change in the culture of communication. The blog might do more for the emancipation of women than the invention of the birth control pill almost 50 years ago.