I’m writing in the lobby bar of the J.W. Marriott in the L.A. Live complex getting ready for the BlogHer annual conference to commence tonight, Thursday, August 4th. I arrived here in LA on Tuesday night, but went to Long Beach via the metro and a bus on Wednesday to catch a ferry to one of the Channel Islands, Santa Catalina Island.
Yesterday was a personal pilgrimage to a place where a woman who influenced my understanding of what how a woman, a writer and a scientist could combine these constraints. She was a writer of simple, and sometimes saccharine tales of the midwest of her childhood in the mid-late 1800s. Gene Stratton-Porter wrote best-selling novels between 1904 and 1924. She also leveraged her celebrity and ability to sell books with her publishers so that she was able to write and publish an amateur science nonfiction book between each novel.
I grew up knowing about her forays into swampy and wetland areas where she used ethological practices to document the hatching of birds and other previously undocumented behaviors. The techniques she used would not be put into common practice until the likes of Jane Goodall began using non-intrusive methods to document animal behavior. Stratton-Porter also influenced Rachel Carson to work non-destructively within the living systems she loved and documented. Without the generations of influence of women who understood the world in different ways than the male-dominated science and governmental systems that controlled science and our understanding well into this century, we would live in a poorer world for lack of the nuanced understanding they brought to us and interjected about living systems. Their influence is still unfolding. They are all with us still.
I grew up amid remnant bits of swamp in the waterlogged mid-west, I know the settings of Stratton-Porter’s books. I grew up in them. I wanted to see the island she grew to love later in her life. So I took an afternoon trip the day before the conference started to Catalina Island in the Channel Islands off the California Coast.
I whole-heartedly recommend taking the ferry from Long Beach to Catalina. Here is a brief overview of my all too brief of a trip.
This trip oriented me in an unanticipated way for the largely female attended conference I attended over the next three days. For me, and perhaps through me, the past all the way back to the 1800s touched the future of women’s communications throughout the 21st Century. Gene would be proud.
When I want to know how a company is structured, who owns it, and other basic facts about it, I go to government filings that all corporations have to file. Bloomberg captures the essence of these filings in their research snapshots. This snapshot of SheKnows, LLC is available here. BlogHer is not listed, as it was purchased by SheKnows in the autumn of of 2014.
The CEO of SheKnows is Philippe Guelton. He previously served as COO and Exec VP of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Inc. A huge publisher of magazines and books that is now owned by Hearst Media. BlogHer is now playing with the big boys.
Samantha Skey serves as President and Chief Revenue Officer of SheKnows.
So what happened to the women who founded, nurtured, and saw BlogHer along until it was all grown up? Well, last December Lisa Stone, Co-Founder and CEO left BlogHer. She wrote A Toast to Building Movements and Challenging the Status Quo on BlogHer last October to announced her departure. She is still associated with the corporation/conference as a member of the BlogHer 16 Advisory Board.
Jory De Jardins is also on the Advisory Board of BlogHer16 but has left the company of which she was also one of the co-founders, and for which she served as President of Strategic Alliances, according to a post she published on Linkedin, Why Mommy Bloggers are not Magic Beans. The article is well worth a read per her assessment of the women’s blogging world. She is listed as SVP, Global Strategic Alliances, on SheKnows Media team page.
Elisa Camahort Page has transitioned from Co-Founder and Chief Operating Office at BlogHer to Chief Community Officer at SheKnows Media. BlogHer is still her baby.
But then you probably knew all that if you have been around the blogging scene and BlogHer for a while.
Now for the scuttlebutt you were hoping to find here… Well there isn’t that much given the fact that SheKnows which was headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, and still has offices there, is now run from New York where Guelton and Skey have their offices. Glassdoor.com is the place to find out such stuff and hear insider grumblings from the Scottsdale staff about New York management.
My only real concern about the current version of BlogHer a la She Knows is what may be shaping up to be an “all things to all people” strategy. That was my first reaction to the announcement of a 13 year old prodigy DJ who will be spinning at the BlogHer closing party.
The “gone Hollywood” assessment is in the wings, but I will reserve judgement about The Pitch – which is sorta like A Reality TV Show for Content Creators – that will be produced live at the conference.
The Femvertising Awards look quite interesting. They wrap up a week or so after after the conference.
I have to say that I am wondering what I will find at #BlogHer16. I did not attend last year. So this will be the first BlogHer Conference I will attend after BlogHer became a brand.
Many of my midlife friends will not be attending the conference this summer as they feel that ROI isn’t large enough for established bloggers. As someone who closely follows shifts in women’s culture, I think I will have a great time observing one of the vortices of change in our rapidly evolving women’s culture. I will share what I find out about how the female content creator community is being served by new media moguls.
This year the BlogHer Conference, that is being billed as a “Selfiebration,” returns to the place it all began 10 years ago in San Jose – Silicon Valley.
So between now and the start of the conference I will be posting about various aspects of my journey with BlogHer since I joined the online community in late 2005 or early 2006.
Back when I first traveled to California in the 70s I think I heard people refer to it as The South Bay. This was before Silicon Valley. Things change. My blogging certainly has changed through time. I started out as a pop culture demographic blogger in my first bloggy incarnation:
My goal way back then, 2001 and before, was to get the notion of the quite distinct groups within the Baby Boomer Generation differentiated into cohorts. I could find no one else using the term “Late Boomer” back then, so my relentless elists, newsletter and website posts at the turn of the millennium were about my cohort, which I termed Late-Boomers, who were the last half of the children born during what was called the post-WWII baby boom. I succeeded.
After that I worked for peace with the group CodePink.
Back in 2007 I still used pseudonyms on the internet. Dependent upon the site, topic, and time, I was either thewordwench, cuppakona, pinktucson, or artpax, unless I was in the virtual world of Second Life® where I was Ana Herzog. The first post I can find that I made on BlogHer.com was made as artpax: I had started seriously questioning the utility of pseudonyms, and I was rapidly beginning to think that attempts at anonymity were silly. But a lot of bloggers I met at my first BlogHer conference were attending the conference anonymously too. I haven’t noticed that as much at more recent BlogHer events.
(It was not the first BlogHer conference that I tried to attend – I had volunteered to do podcasting at the 2006 conference before my Hubby had a hissy fit and I had to bail. Boy oh boy, that was a year full of stories – that I have as yet to tell.)
I billed myself as a political blogger at the time. I’d already run afoul of media squelching my stories. Huff Po would not allow any links to my blog due to profanity, or so they said. But I suspect that fascistic trolls has complained about blog and they banned links without even checking. I reported on stories back then that no one else was covering. The following pics and snippet of text is mine:
Even back then I was outside the Mommy Blogger mainstream, and truth be told I was a bit sad that I was, as always, outside the in-group. I should have tried to tag along with Anne-Marie, my wonderful roomie, of This Mama Cooks fame to meet some of her Foodie and Silicon Valley Moms friends. But instead I went to the parties alone and met some nice people, but didn’t really connect with anyone else. I was not able to book a room in the main conference hotel. I had just spent the last 5 months in Northeastern Indiana caring for my elderly mother and then emptying out her home after her death in late June.
Truth be told, I was a bit shell shocked; I knew I needed to attend this conference. I needed – far more than I knew -– to surround myself with smart, vital women’s energy, and there was so much of it there on Navy Pier. It lifted me up and carried me along until I could land back in my Tucson life and home and begin my non-political writing phase. That did not go very well. I did not give up my political blog until 20011.
My goal there was to help people understand that nearly all women want peace, that we had been lied to by war criminals, and that if we work together we can make our voices heard, even when the media will not cover it. I blogged, and some of the things I did (such as CODEPINK in SecondLife) were parodied on The Daily Show.
CODEPINK SL was pretty much myself along with a great supportive guy in Venice Beach, CA. I, in my Ana Herzog avatar, had disrupted military presentations in SL, and protested Newt Gingrich when he spoke on Virtual Capital Hill, and participated in anti-G8 European-organized rallies. I blogged about these adventures at: VIRTUAL PINK – CODEPINK IN THE METAVERSE. Again, I think I met some of my goals. But goals change.
The goals that began evolving at that first conference attendance at BlogHer 2007 gradually replaced many of the goals of my second blogging incarnation.
I never bought into being a vehicle for corporate porridge-sales or relentless pursuit of the pageview, but I learned that I knew a ton about marketing and that contemporary marketing was using all the suggested practices for implementation of the theory I studied decades ago when semiotic methodology was first being introduced to students beyond Departments of Philosophy. Women and our words on the internet were going to change everything. Welcome to my third bloggy incarnation. It has had some shifts, and fits and starts along the way but being a part of a womens’ voice being heard globally underlies all I do in my writing world.
Two little gifts arrived from the Cosmos today. Twice.
I am blessed.
I began thinking about BlogHer’s 10th Anniversary while waiting for my twin grand babies who are now very grownup three year old girls. From this juxtaposition I made wonderful discoveries.
One of the wonderful things about being a prolific blogger who has started dozens of blogs and scores of forgotten accounts is that I can rediscover myself through found writings from forgotten moments. This is what happened when I was reading about 10 x 10 and this coming year’s BlogHer Conference. I haven’t gotten that figured out as yet, but I started thinking about BlogHer’s influence on my life and writing this past decade and I started to wonder when it was exactly that I connected with BlogHer.
Way back then I was using pseudonyms and not caring particularly much about what the long-term implications of having multiple “identities” would mean over time. I had been The Word Wench on Brazen Hussies, Cuppakona on Yahoo, and Artemesia Pax aka ArtPax on a variety of peace and justice sites. Thinking back, I remembered that I first had joined BlogHer as ArtPax. So I searched BlogHer.com for posts under this name. I found them. Boy, I was stupid back then. I missed out on connecting with some wonderful bloggers early on.
I am soon (soon is a relative word) going to do some serious reminiscence about my last 10 years of blogging through the parallel history of my interaction with BlogHer. When I do I will post a link here.
I was a peace and justice blogger, a CODEPINK blogger, back then. Comments were mainly from trolls. I was not trying to build community, I was just trying to provide information and chronicle attempts to push societal consciousness back toward rational thought during the dark years of of Bush/Cheney. I did not follow the mommy blogging formula nor the blog-for-success formula that was developing way back then. I followed my own beliefs about what online writing should be back then. To find out more you will just have to follow along over the next month or so as writing a retrospective post that covers decade-plus-long blog development will take a bit of data gathering.