Personal Democracy Forum: Winning Friends and Influencing People in the Blogsphere

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: May 15, 2006 10:07 AM

It's a rainy day in New York and I'm at the Personal Democracy Forum.

Roger Simon is here, looking dapper in his hat, and he blogged the morning session, here.

Now, Roger's on a panel on "How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Blogosphere."

I'll probably blog a bit on it as I'm sitting here.

This has turned into a slightly different conversation than it started as. It's interesting, all about whether blogging can and should make political conversations more civil online, create solutions, bring us together instead of pulling us apart, Kumbaya and all that jazz.

Mike Krempasky:

"Any long-term movement demands personal relationships."

"No matter how good your blog is...they simply cannot come close in any way to dinner... The relationships are what will drive these movements over the long term."

"Conservatives built a movement over the long term that didn't really have any real influence until 15 years after it started."

Roger L. Simon:

"There's a lot of 'my team is red hot, yours is diddly-squat' (with respect to the mainstream media). I think it's time we sort of got over it...we have an amazing tool on our hands for...dialogue. People on all sides will come together with respect and civility and talk about issues."

Pajamas Media is working on Political Center, a place for the part of the country that is politically hybrid to come together and talk about issues.

"By hook or by crook, raise the level of political discourse on the 'Net."

Joe Trippi:

"I think we oughtta be able to do better than what the other mediums have done."

"To a large extent we mimick that (the cable show 'yelling head' model of debate)...We're better than that and we should be."

"Who's trying to win friends and influence people in the blogosphere? The answer is anybody with a brain."

"How do we get this conversation offline...with each other as Americans?"

Trippi talked about using Meet Up to have supporters meet offline-- 175,000 of them, in fact.

"The most amazing thing that happened... was after everybody left, the host went back in the house and the jewelry was still in the jewelry box...The American people are actuially pretty damn decent people."

Peter Daou:

"I really do believe that type of passion, frustration, anger, whatever you want to call it is an essential and good part of the blogosphere."

Simon:

"We've got segregation...What you have is a lot of preaching to the choir...No one knows what the other guy is saying and no one is convincing anybody of anything...This is the lack of argument, to some extent."

"I'm not talking about pulling your punches. I'm talking about actually talking."

Daou:

"Your average blogger, 99.9 percent are people who are just passionate about what the believe in...I would recommend that people check in, walk over and become a part of that discussion."

Jill from Feministe:

"The title of this panel would imply that you guys are the ones who have won friends in the blogosphere. If that's the case, where are the women and where are the people of color?"

Thus begins a lot of stuttering, hemming, hawing, blushing, and basically saying "Oh, God, you're right. We're so sorry we're white and male. I hope there's never a panel that looks like this again. Women bloggers are way better than us."

Two panelists point out that they are, in fact, of mixed ethnicity (and the moderator was, too, I might add).

One panelist (of Weblogs Inc.) tried to make the argument that anyone can start a blog, and his stats show that women bloggers, in fact, get statistically much more traffic and many more comments than male blogs. Both the moderator and the audience got ill with him about that.

Joe Trippi had this to say, very sarcastically:

"I apologize for accepting the invitation. I'm very sorry. I won't let it happen again."

Feministe vs. Trippi. Awww, yeah.

I'll comment more on this later, but I gotta get ready for my panel (on which I will be taking on the woman role) at 3 p.m.