Congratulations to Ed Cone (www.edcone.com) and the organizers of the 2004 Piedmont Blog Conference that took place today in Greensboro, NC. The event was a huge success and provided some intelligent and thoughtful insights into the worlds of political and journalistic blogging.
The conversations were definitely less technical than the BoF session at PDC I attended in the fall. I didn't hear a single argument over preferred syndication format. In all, there were very few discussions about the software tools involved.
One of the software topics that was discussed was the use of comments, especially in a political candidates blog. The primary concern was enforcing some sort of accountability in the comments. Many felt that comments were too great of a risk while others felt that the comments area is what enables a blog conversation. Interestingly enough there were a couple of people in attendance that have no blogs of their own, and simply participate in the community through comments on the sites of others.
The political attraction to blogs was largely as a method to quickly get a message out, to a large number of people. During a break Jeff Thigpen, a currently running for Registrar of Deeds (http://jlthigpen.blogspot.com)
gave ma a great example of how you may get a bunch of emails from a certain group about a topic, but you have no way of sending an email back out to everybody that may want to see it, where a blog gives you the ability to quickly respond and get the word out.
The second session dealing with the media was very interesting, with a lot of discussion about the difference between blogging and journalism, or if the two were, or could be the same. In the end my favorite quote, and forgive me for not being able to credit the individual that first said it, was that "blogging is a medium, journalism is a craft". There were some great stories shared about blog posts having an impact on traditional media and their coverage of certain issues. The session was well represented with a number of traditional journalists from local print and radio organizations.
One important topic that I think maybe deserved a little more coverage was the concept that readership and credibility are earned. The concept of "journalistic credentials" for bloggers came up a few times, but it was clear that just because you can write it, doesn't mean that the audience will listen.
The closing session touched briefly on the concept of community, and here in North Carolina there is definitely a very active, very vocal, and very visible online community that is is growing in strength and size, developing a very tight community.