I went to the NYC Bloggers event last night down in SOHO. It was somewhat interesting, but it really felt like a mid-90s dot com masturbation-fest where many of the folks in the room were seeking validation of their peers rather than information on where the movement is headed. Still, there were some interesting nuggets...
First off the bat, where the hell was Rick Bruner? I would have put serious money on his being there, but I didn't see him the whole night.
The first panel of the night featured Jason Calacanis and Nick Denton. I gather that everyone in the crowd expected these two to go at it Jerry Springer style, but it never really happened. The two focused on business models for their respective companies and the relative advantages/disadvantages. Surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with Jason more than I agreed with Nick, which is weird considering I rarely agreed with anything that came out of Jason's mouth during his Silicon Alley Reporter days. I think Jason is on his way to a good start, with at least one advertiser subsidizing one of his blogs. What I'm concerned about is his company's ability to scale over time. He mentioned he expected to have several hundred blogs within a few years' time. I wonder how ad sales reps will be able to effectively sell advertising on a web property with such wide-ranging content. Also, I think I'd be pissed if I were to be working with him, considering he hasn't hired any ad sales reps yet.
Jeff Jarvis moderated this first panel. Next time, I'd like to see him as a featured speaker. After all, the guy has a ton of intelligent things to say about business models for blogging. It was kind of disappointing to see him in the role of referee for what most bloggers in attendence expected to be a Battle Royale of archrivals.
I liked the second panel, which featured Anil Dash and Meg Hourihan talking about blog management tools. I was pleasantly surprised that the two didn't "geek out." Instead, they brought up some very interesting points about how people use blogging tools, communications paradigms and such. Someone in the audience brought up an interesting question about Movable Type as a Content Management System (CMS) and why people who are interested in a full-featured CMS featuring a blog have to hack two or three software packages together. Honestly, I think this was probably the best comment/question of the night. Some people want their sites to not only host a blog, but other features commonly found in community sites. I love Movable Type, but this site could have easily been a PHP-Nuke site if it were possible to get full-featured blogging out of Nuke.
Unfortunately, I hated the third panel, which seemed like a joke in comparison to the first two. I think it was cool to have some of the more popular blogging personalities on a panel - and the panel certainly was entertaining - but I expected them to talk about something more substantive than how they're handling their new-found celebrity. Also, there seemed to be this overarching sense of suspicion with regard to whether or not a blogger can stay true to the spirit of blogging if they take advertising. There was a question or two about whether bloggers fear offending advertisers. It's a legit question, but I keep wondering whether the blogging movement is just another one of those things that comes out of the Internet that resists commercialization to the point of killing itself. All right, I'm biased, but why is there this fear out there that advertising will pollute everything it touches?