The "Live From the Blogosphere!" confab is equal parts literary salon, cyberpunk press conference and geek cocktail party. And before the party is over, strangers who've traded secrets but know each other only by code names will have met in the flesh for the first time, and a young hacker possibly will have become a millionaire.
the biggest personas in blogging have converged on the Electronic
Orphanage, a small black box of a gallery in Chinatown, to deconstruct the
blog. (Blogs, or Web logs, are online journals with entries running in
reverse chronological order, the last appearing first.) Onstage,
gray-haired Doc Searls, senior editor of Linux Journal, is the tribe's
sage. Mark Frauenfelder, founder of bOingbOing and Wired Online, is the
pro: He was in an Apple commercial. Tony Pierce -- "not an IT genius, not
a professional writer" -- is the everyman. Susannah Breslin, who
orchestrated the event (with moderator Xeni Jardin and electronic arts
collective Rhizome.org), is the lady holding the virtual whip. She runs
the racy Reverse Cowgirl's Blog. Evan Williams, the cute guy in the
Blogger T-shirt, is the boy who built the blogging software. To the
digerati, he's "the Blogfather." If Williams is the blogger every other
blogger wants to be, then Heather Havrilesky, the author of the Rabbit
Blog who is brainy and sexy in the manner of Agent Scully, is the blogger
everyone wants to be with.
By a quarter to 8, a crowd of a hundred
or so has gathered. Attendees scribble not their names but their blog
addresses onto sticky badges -- "Hello My Name Is ...
http://www.lablogs.com." They tote laptops, cell phones and Palm Pilots
with miniature screens that glow blue in the darkened room. The super six
answer questions: Are blogs a threat to conventional journalism? How has
the blog phenomenon evolved? How are blogs changing our
"Live From the Blogosphere!" is unprecedented: It is the
first time the alpha bloggers onstage have been in the same place at the
same time. Though in blogger parlance, "place" is a hazy concept. "If I'd
known I was having guests," Pierce quips as his blog scrolls up live onto
the giant overhead screen, "I'd have spruced it up a bit."
blogosphere moves fast. Speed is its nature. People blog about the event
at the event. Seconds after questions are posed, they go public online
through a WiFi wireless connection.
A contradictory mix of
anonymity and intimacy is also part of the blogosphere's nature. You can,
for example, know what Havrilesky's fourth grade teacher told her about
the Apocalypse but never know what makes her laugh. You can, as one
blogger confides, be a vixen in the blogosphere but a wallflower in
person. In the spirit of intimacy, Searls confesses why the line to the
bathroom was so long -- he was in there blogging.
also discuss physical interaction. "This guy came up to me and said, 'Hi,
I'm Boogah,' " says Frauenfelder, gesturing toward a large fellow dressed
in black. "I recognized him from my blog, but he didn't tell me his real
name." Says Pierce: "Mark was nerdier than I expected, while Evan was
cooler. And Doc, I was surprised at how down to earth he was."
the discussion draws to a close, Williams suddenly gets hot news. In lieu
of an explanation, he shakily brings up his blog on the giant screen:
"Google Buys Pyra: Blogging Goes Big-Time," it reads. Pyra Labs is the
company Williams founded. It makes the Blogger software. Google, of
course, is Big Money. "Everyone imaginable will be doing it this year,"
he'd replied earlier to the question of what this technology will mean to
the mainstream. Tonight, a community. Tomorrow, an empire. But for now,
boot up and read about it on a blog.