Blogfest Concept

Today's P-G Morning File takes a good-natured trip through the local blogosphere. There's a seed of an interesting idea in there, too:
Pittsburgh's roster of bloggers is growing by the day, as evidenced by the constant commotion at Pittsburgh Bloggers, the online destination for Pittsburgh-area bloggers who want to see and be seen. (In fact, consider it a virtual version of the PG's own SEEN Magazine, without all the photos of gentlemen sporting bow ties and ladies wearing evening gowns.)

Can we take that virtual idea and make it real? What better way to get Pittsburgh's new media community noticed in the community at large than via coverage in SEEN?

I fully expect that the next Blogfest will and should return to Finnegan's Wake, and that all local bloggers who join us will dress and conduct themselves accordingly. Can Peter Leo and Bill Toland can prevail on Marylynn Uricchio to send a photographer to the party? "SEEN-meets-a-slice-of-the-new-Pittsburgh." If the Post-Gazette is looking for traffic for its website, this is a sure-fire way to get it.

For skeptical members of the blogosphere: Don't think of this as selling out to Pittsburgh's cultural establishment. Think of it as cultural entrepreneurship.


12 Responses to "Blogfest Concept"

Paperback Writer said... 4/07/2006 3:53 PM

You know I've been blogging for almost a year and pretty recently I've decided to "out" my blog more. And it's sort of strange, having people I've never met reading, responding and emailing me.

Anyway, just a thought.

Christina said... 4/07/2006 4:21 PM

Watch for a new Blogfest announcement sometime in the next few days.

I'm not sure the event is quite photogenic enough for SEEN, but we'll wash behind our ears and all that.

Cynthia Closkey said... 4/07/2006 4:33 PM

Love it! I love any excuse to get all fancied up, but this seems extra fun.

And the timing is perfect since we're working out the details on the next BlogFest -- we should be announcing it officially tomorrow.

Mark Rauterkus said... 4/08/2006 12:08 AM

The blog fest is nice -- but hardly cutting edge. It is devoid of anything newsworthy, by design.

The blogfest is a yawn -- and -- it is only to be social. I think that is sad.

If anyone wants to do some heavy lifting, online and in the real world -- let me know. There is much to be done.

Case in point: We hired the ninth member of city council last month and I think he thinks -- as he said as much -- that all of the internet is nonprofit. Well, our blogfest proves him right.

Mark Stroup said... 4/08/2006 9:34 PM

I like the idea of doing a black tie-type thing for the next blogfest. Perhaps what's called creative black tie. You can wear a dinner jacket and a red tie, or a black tie with a whirligig. Whatever. Anyway, let's do something that gives it a flashmob feel.

Vanessa said... 4/09/2006 2:38 PM

(Speaking just for myself, and not on behalf of I alone own my opinions.)

I disagree with the notion that Blogfest is a yawn - though that is a matter of personal taste - and even more with the notion that it is bad to hold a purely social event. For one thing, it keeps growing in attendance, so we must not be boring every attendant.

If we turned it into some sort of activist/for-profit event, we would lose a lot of what makes it enjoyable to me - a no-stress agenda-less event with people whose writing I enjoy; a time to forget one's responsibilities. And aligning with any political plaform/party/candidate would make it into something completely different, and that's fine for some other group to put together, but that's not the intention of PghBloggers. We are *intentionally* politically agnostic/non-profit.

LunaMetrics Blog said... 4/09/2006 4:46 PM

Wouldn't it be great if we had a blogfest where we could learn something? Like, how Blogger bloggers, with no "regular" access to trackback, can use trackback wizards (oh Mike Madison, I should have listened to you months ago when you told me to get cozier with WordPress...) Optimal use of FeedFlares. Ten really new ways to market your blog. And so forth.


Anonymous said... 4/09/2006 9:04 PM

I echo Vanessa's sentiments with much of what she said.

Pittsburgh Bloggers, while organizing these purely social gatherings, is not the end-all be-all in getting bloggers together. I know that the Pittsburgh Online Dating guy, along with Rob from Unspace and others, organized a separate gathering. I (and I'm sure the others) wholeheartedly encourage people to get together, share ideas. I've made some wonderful friends and contacts because of blogging and directly the social aspect(s).

And, Robbin, along those lines... I've been planning on having a get together to share information on blogging, tools, etc. Watch for more details soon!

-Mike (from

Mark Rauterkus said... 4/11/2006 2:33 PM

It was posted, "If we turned it into some sort of activist/for-profit event, "

NO.... Come on.... Vanessa.

The Blog Fest is like a visit to Club Med? A no-stress agenda-less event with people whose writing I enjoy, a time to forget one's responsibilities.

PghBloggers are *intentionally* lacking on most fronts -- by design -- like ClubMed. So, it isn't newsworthy. To the media -- it MUST be a yawn. Thanks for proving my point.

People are social beings. I understand that, of course. The blogfest is a big group hug. Fine. But to be 100% social and be forced to only be social -- in a time of great need and challenges -- is to be a hurdle.

Headline: Bloggers eat cake and drink beer. Bliss is as bliss does.

In other news, Rome burns, speaking The Mediterranean....

Here is my point: Growing up isn't so bad. Hey, perhaps we should plan a Bloggers Prom.

Paperback Writer said... 4/12/2006 10:17 AM

Mark: I can see your point of view and I can see Vanessa's point of view.

You're both right. If you want to be social, then go to the next Blogfest event and if you want to learn more about blogging and other aspects about it, then learn.

Do I want it be a media event? No, I didn't start blogging to get recognition - there are enough people out there who do less and get tons of media coverage.

Anyway, just a thought.

Cynthia Closkey said... 4/12/2006 4:38 PM

Mark: I don't understand why it should be a primary goal of PghBloggers to be newsworthy. (I also suspect that you and I have different definitions of "newsworthy," but that might be a topic for another time.)

We started the BlogFests because some folks in this area had read each other's blogs and wanted to make a personal, offline connection with each other. Similarly, we started PghBloggers because we wanted to find more blogs in this area, and a central directory seemed a logical way to make that easier.

Are the BlogFests and Pghbloggers newsworthy? Does that matter? The phonebook isn't newsworthy, but we all use it, and it's good we have it.

If we wanted to turn PghBloggers into some fab new tool, I suppose that would be newsworthy, but I don't see a profit model that would work.

In contrast, what is excellent about is that it cost next to nothing to start, it has gelled into a community, and it has raised awareness of blogging in this area and of individual blogs listed on it. I believe provides a valuable service -- it will be even more valuable as we add functionality to the site, as our resources allow.

As for the "Rome burns, bloggers eat cake" comment, in what way are local bloggers under seige? What responsibilities are we social folk ignoring? Is a person who attends the symphony or a birthday party "forgetting one's responsibilities"? It's not childish to attend a social event. We don't prevent anyone from attending other events -- we're not the jealous type -- and we don't require anyone to attend a BlogFest, so I don't see any way we're forcing people to be social.

Mark Rauterkus said... 4/24/2006 7:42 PM


It was asked: Do I want it be a media event?

I don't really care if it is a media event. I don't think it merits media coverage -- as this started my entry into the thread.

I want social events -- and -- I want events with PURPOSE. To be without design, to be without purpose -- is what trips me a bit.

Another question: As for the "Rome burns, bloggers eat cake" comment, in what way are local bloggers under seige? What responsibilities are we social folk ignoring?

Just today: "Downtown wi-fi comes -- the rest of the region and city get zilch."

Last mayor: "Every Pgh Public Swim Pool closed." So, how about, lets put Wi-Fi at the swim pools.

There are countless ways where we could look as to where we might get involved as a group.

Q: "Is a person who attends the symphony or a birthday party "forgetting one's responsibilities"?

NO. Don't be absurd.

"It's not childish to attend a social event. We don't prevent anyone from attending other events -- we're not the jealous type -- and we don't require anyone to attend a BlogFest, so I don't see any way we're forcing people to be social."

The blog fest and events rub any and all social responsibility efforts OUT of the total landscape. So, the forcing isn't to be social. The forcing is to be ONLY social.

Its like a kid's birthday party. Our kids are going to grow up. And, I dare predict that our bloggers gatherings in town will one day grow up too. Then we'll be SOCIAL and with more serious PURPOSE, (both) from time to time, to each his and her own.

See ya in a few weeks.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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