Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cleveland Weblogger meetup

M_ and I attended the Cleveland Weblogger Meetup at the Rock Bottom Brewery tonight. The event shows about 25 people had signed up, but when it combined with the local Podcasting group, it ended up with 45-50. The bar staff originally tried to seat all of us at a small table - Steve Fiztgerald took note of our swelling numbers and secured us the fairly cool upstairs pool room. Much cat-herding later, George Nemeth introduced everyone to Denise Polverine of Cleveland.com, and broke us off into interest groups, such Podcasting and blogging.

The blogging group hit a number of topics, including the question of "do bloggers understand journalism"? I think some in the mainstream media don't realize one of the facets of blogging is disappointment in mainstream media, and desire to get facts and especially opinions elsewhere. Some may make a big deal of how bloggers are not immune from libel. But I have to think that if you went to (and completed) high school, you know what libel is - and if you didn't finish high school, it's doubtful your writing will attract much attention unless your first name rhymes with Maris and last name rhyme with Milton. Bill Callahan helpfully pointed out some key differences between original reportage and blogs, which bloggers themselves are very much aware of. There was also a brief debate on whether the "shape" of information in a news article should be called a pyramid or a triangle. I hate to step on the toes of journalism professors out there, but unless your newsprint is three dimensional, it's a triangle.

Virtual Lori weighed in with points on how blogging differentiates itself, and Democracy guy noted wryly that the media was not actually present at this meeting in a capacity as media - aside from our gracious hosts from Cleveland.com who supplied beer to insure a lively conversation. M_ also opined that rebranding op-ed columns as blogs - as some papers are wont to do, times being what they are, will not fool anyone.

I also met the well dressed John Etorre who sampled the various interest groups. He walked up and said "Is someone here Jerry ______?" I said yes, whilst wondering in the back of my mind if I really had filled out all those INS forms correctly so many years ago, but it was just a fellow blogger saying hello.

Kudos to the Organic Mechanic, who facilitated the blogger subgroup and neatly summed up all we discussed - taking in all the points without judgment. He does indeed speak like he writes.

The more of these I go to, the more excited I get about blogging, and realizing it's not the island of angry loners some might think. Congrats to George on organizing a very independent minded group!

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