I haven't written about the Yearly Kos that happened last weekend, but it's something I've been thinking about and following with interest. Not because I long to be an activist, but because I think it illustrates something about blogs and the web that bloggers have probably known for awhile, but which non-bloggers and traditional media types seem to be still figuring out.
That is this: the technology that we're using is not an end, but a means to an end. Or something like that. Follow me here... The people who flocked to that convention didn't go to talk about blogging. They went to talk about politics. They use blogging as a way to organize and connect with other like-minded folks.
Much of the media coverage I saw and heard contained some element of the "gee whiz, bloggers want to get together" sentiment. But why shouldn't they want to get together? Most of them are not blogging because they like computers. They're blogging because they like politics, and they see this medium as a new, exciting way to help them achieve their political desires.
When I organized the Vermont blogger meet-ups, I wasn't doing it so we could get together and talk about blogging. (Um, ok, I was doing it partly with that in mind, but only because I feel like I have a lot to learn about it and who better to answer my questions than other bloggers?) Really, though, I wanted to bring together local people who have something in common — an openness to innovation, and a desire to express themselves.
Blogging is an isolating act — when practiced by anonymous online journal writers who don't allow comments. But most blogs strive to create community where none existed before, or they serve as online hubs for communities that already exist offline. It makes perfect sense for those communities to want to meet and exchange ideas in the meatspace (i.e. the physical world; as opposed to cyberspace).
That's what communities do — they gather in the flesh to be inspired and challenged and educated. And individual members of those communities come away from those gatherings with a renewed sense of their own place in the group. Just because the group usually convenes online doesn't mean that its members don't crave these interactions.
I think that concept is new to people who grew up without MySpace and Friendster, Facebook, etc. But it's something that rising generations will understand intuitively.
And it's something I'll probably talk with somebody about at this AAN Convention I'm going to this weekend. Maybe Bill Clinton will let me bend his ear about it?
Incidentally, here's a link to a report on YearlyKos that I really liked, from a Kos contributor. And don't forget, if you're a lefty political blogger from Vermont, you can encounter others of your kind eating meat in the meatspace at this BBQ at North Beach on July 9.
I'll likely be hosting the third annual Vermont blogger meetup this fall. Stay tuned for more details...