I sat down to write a big BlogWorld Expo recap, something along the lines of What I Learned At BlogWorld Expo, but then I saw a shiny object. It was a nickel! Also, I figured that if you wanted to listen to a blogger tell you things about blogging that are sometimes painfully obvious ("Write interesting and original material! Do SEO-friendly things!"), you'd have gone to BlogWorld Expo.
I was there as part of Team Man of The House, and Team Man of The House was there for BlogWorld Expo. (See? SEO-friendly!) BWE is the largest gathering of bloggers in the world; I'd wanted to go for years, and this was my first time. And I went as a Pro, no less! Representing a hot new website! (As mentioned in Slate! And Ad Age, yo!) Alongside people who I admire, respect, and - above all - really, really like. The irony was not lost on me: writing about my life as a father was the reason I was in a Las Vegas nightclub at 2:00 a.m., drink in hand, whooping it up on a crowded dance floor.
But I wasn't there to party, I was there to work. There were over 4,000 attendees at BlogWorld, enough to crew a Vietnam-era aircraft carrier. Most of them had no idea who I was - apparently 3,990 attendees didn't get the memo that it's the Year of the Dadblogger. The expo floor was filled with brand reps, bloggers, and Social Media Gurus; I was there to meet as many of those 4,000 people as possible, promote my site's stuff, make new contacts, build the brand. It reminded me of every job fair I ever worked as a recruiter, or attended as a job hunter. It's not a bad thing, but it adds an antiseptic air to the whole proceedings. At BlogWorld Expo, the currency is measured in Uniques, rather than job experience, but the effect's the same: the person behind the work gets taken out of the equation.
I dropped in on a couple (two, exactly) sessions, both of which were aimed at the promotion of the work, but not the work itself. This is not a creative writing workshop, by any stretch of the imagination - those looking for ways to develop their actual writing skills should look elsewhere. I don't mean that as a criticism - well, maybe I do, considering the number of bloggers out there who don't know the difference between "your" and "you're" (or "dads", "dad's", and "Dad's"). And there's the rub: the blog is the work, and you are the blog.
So there was networking, having good conversations with engaging people who truly wanted to partner with you, having awkward conversations with smarmy kiss-asses who wanted something from you, people who lit up the room, people who sucked the air right out of it. Back and forth I went, swimming through blogger-infested waters, occasionally coming up for air, or a drink, or a cigarette, or anything with caffeine. The iPhone kept dying - they don't want you talking or texting in Vegas, they want you to gamble - but during those moments when the signal broke through the casino bosses' jamming devices, I dove into Twitter. People seemed to be enjoying themselves. Everything was Amazing and New. So-and-so was Brilliant. Best conference ever!
Vegas. How perfect a location for a blog conference, for BlogWorld Expo was a casino, of sorts. Most people there came to play, hoping to hit the big time. I had a tiring, occasionally frustrating, but ultimately great experience. (If anyone's interested in putting together a conference that involves a few writers sitting in a room with a good bottle of wine and talking about writing, lemme know.) And if I came away with nothing else, I heard this song while roaming the Strip, and it stayed with us for the duration.
(Postscript: One of the highlights of BWE - Saturday afternoon, Beth and I are sitting at a cafe eating a sandwich and Cecily Kellogg sees us and yells "JASON!", and we hang out and have an actual conversation about actual things. Cecily Fucking Kellogg, people. (She'd appreciate being called that; we devoted some time to talking about cussing, and whether or not one can cuss too much. Shit no, says me.) This is someone with a following that far exceeds mine, who knows me only through my Twitter rants and blog posts, and now she's no longer @CecilyK. She's Cecily. Pretty awesome. Also, shoutouts to C.C., Chris, Patrick, Karen, and Mike - it was great seeing you all.)