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Scattered Bits of the 2006 BlogHer Keynote

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The Blogher keynote is facilitated by Marnie Webb & starring... Meg Hourihan (Megnut) of Blogger, Pyra, and foodblogging fame & Catarina Fake, co-founder of Flickr.

[I'll put my thoughts in square brackets, like this - my usual convention for liveblogging.]

Here's some notes from the last half of the keynote:

Nancy White of Full Circle - question about tagging. When and how did tagging become a catalyst?

Catarina: We didn't expect it. Tagging was hyped a bit and then was pooh-poohed by... someone... I won't say! *audience laughter* "Well, fewer than 1% of our users use it!" But the reason for that was that it wasn't in a social context. There is an instant feedback, an instant result, where value is apparent right away because it's social. I love organining stuff and my sister is a lazy tagger. So, I can tag HER photos of my nephew, and then she and her husband can use them, and the grandparents, and the whole family can use them because of the tags.

[Liz's thoughts: This is very interesting because Catarina is describing Flickr as a tool created to facilitate integry, the (often unacknowledged, unpaid) work that (usually) women do to function as social glue. She is doing work, for her family, by tagging her sister's photos, and she sees that as creating obvious value -- value that is obvious to the user because the user pays attention to the reactions of her social system. Here is an example of a technological tool that is useful for women because it creates value by their terms, which are not necessarily cash as first priority... though it's nice, it's not necessarily what motivates women in their daily choices and actions.]

More on tagging:

Caterina - I'm sure that Blogher is the hot tag of today. So, people in the Flickr community now know Blogher exists who wouldn't otherwise know. Worldwide info, protests. Protests in Chile. Information gets out.

Marnie: "domestic violence" tag on Flickr. You'd be surprised what tags get used for.

Caterina: You can't predict how it will be used. When we started "groups" for Flickr: we predicted "nature photography" but we got "what's in my bag?". Unexpected.

Catarina talks about publicness, sharing among users. Emergence.

Marnie: Can there be too much sharing? When do you need more control?

Meg: People are doing things on blogs that you don't agree with. I was like, Oh no, all these right wing blogs, I don't want to support this! But... you can't control how people use the tool.

[Liz's thoughts: At BlogHer, I notice a strong theme around community, sharing, mutualness and interdependence. We think socially, though we're of course thinking as individuals. There is a bit of a hivemind philosophy, with all its benefits and drawbacks. ]

Question from audience: videoblogging - Where is videoblogging going? Non-text. Audio. Photos. Organization, information, kind of depends on tagging.

Megnut - blogs started as "pages" but quickly needed links within pages. On Flickr - you can put a note on any piece, on a small part of the photo itself. Annotating. that's important. [granularity!] This is important for video and audio. We need to say "at minute 1:37 I liked this one bit..."

Marnie: how did being women impact your roles in your team and also in your interactions outside your team? Did that change?

Catarina: Blogging did change things. When Flickr started... Blogging was seen as a bit weird. Being female absolutely impacted my role. Focus on sharing.

Meg: During the dotcom boom, parties, South of Market in SF, no women in leadership roles. I was the only woman on a small team, 7 people.

Nicole from Germany - what about international issues. For example what is considered obscene is different in different countries.

Megnut: dutch bloggers wanted date headers in different languaes. and I said, well, jesus, I odn't konw dutch. but if you email me how to say Monday Tuesday Wednesday, I'll put it in. And then suddenly peopel wanted it for every language! Crazy internationalization of Blogger happened very suddenly.

Catarina: about different mores in different parts of the world. christians... nudists! Negotiating between cultures and m ores is an extremely difficult job. How to soothe the alarmed and encourage self-expression without offending. You don't want to be strict or harsh or shut people down. It's an important part of online communities. You want to encourage people to be themselves. But you want to create a place where everybody can be involved.

Meg - LJ problem, the breastfeeding icon controversy: user image, the user icon, breastfeeding image. Mommyblogger protest. A huge disaster. How to manage this?

[Liz's thoughts: Wasn't the original "objection" to the icon actually fake, from a troll?]

Jennifer - Audience question. Indecent material on web. myspace. profanity. flickr, bloger, social network sites. litigation. how are you advocating....

Catarina - One of the great things about being employed by Yahoo is they have a legal team *audience laughter*

Catarina - User generated content... the people using these tools for self expression, we are serving them and their needs.

Question: Learning curve for Flickr, Blogger, how do you encourage people to take that step?

Meg: Before we launched blogspot, you had to have your own website. You had to ftp content to your website. *derisive laughter from audience* We attracted these early adopters who already had blogs. We got them first and then made it easier for people. Then the people who had geocities homepages... "It's like sending an email to everybody on the web, you just type in this box and push the button!" "Humph. Why would I want to do that again?" Incredibly frustrating. Then political blogs took off and then people started realizing what they were.

Catarina - a lot of the usability education happens when people see a blog and a photo on it and then click and see what it is. People get a strong idea of how it's used. (By example).

Betsy Devine - Commmunity management issues. At Wikipedia - one of the things they've been doing is separating the community management from content generation. Have content separate from troll management.

Catarina - Trolling really just about getting negative attention. it's part of community management. Trolls and abuse, we're also talking about spam management.

[Liz: This is only a small part of of the BlogHer keynote discussion, but you can get to more reports on it through this Technorati search on blogher+keynote. From the BlogHer site itself, here's a link that will be collecting liveblogs from the BlogHer conference.