I’ve just gotten home from the second and final day of the 2006 Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth. I had a wonderful time. It was great to see so many people that I haven’t seen since last year’s event, and it was particularly great to make so many new friends.
We Charlottesville bloggers invited everybody to breakfast at Bodo’s, and at least a few dozen of us convened on the spot at 8:15. It was great to see such an unusual mix of people sitting and sharing breakfast in the morning sun — people of ages and backgrounds and partisan affiliations that would never meet were it not for their common trait of political blogging.
A pair of workshops started off the formal part of the day, one being Chris Piper and Claire Guthrie Gastañaga’s presentation on campaign finance law and the other being Josh Wheeler, Sean O’Brien and Shaun Kenney’s presentation on blogging ethics. I spent most of my time sitting in the ethics discussion, which was a lot of fun. The audience got pretty fired up, and they explored some really pertinent topics (not just all ethereal stuff) that will leave me thinking about them for a while. I looked in on the campaign finance presentation for a bit, and I was extremely impressed. Clearly things have changed a lot in the world of campaign finance since last year, and I speculate that I may have violated campaign finance law, based on what I learned. I believe that they’re going to make the slides available for download; anybody who was not at that workshop would do very well to spend some quality time looking through those when they become available. I know I will.
The next pair of panels was journalism and community. I was on the community panel, along with Debra Weiss and David Waldman. The journalism panel consisted of Gordon Morse, F.T. Rea and Danny Glover. I was disappointed to have to miss that discussion, doubly so when I learned after the fact that Mike Shear was drafted onto the panel when he entered the room halfway through the discussion. The community panel was great. The audience for that was half of the size of the journalism panel, so we had everybody sit down up close and turned it into an intimate conversation about how and why a blog becomes an online community, and how that can benefit readers, bloggers, and the community at large. I learned quite a bit from Debra and David, to say nothing of our audience.
Finally, we headed for the last item on the agenda: lunch. It was every bit as tasty as dinner last night. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling spoke for about fifteen minutes, followed by a half hour (or so) talk by Michael Shear. Though I enjoyed Lt. Gov. Bolling’s comments (and I appreciated that he was able to stick around for the rest of the event, rather than leaving straightaway), I really enjoyed Mike Shear’s talk. He gave a no-holds-barred assessment of blogs and their relationship with the media. Though I’m sure some will be unhappy with his take on where we bloggers are at right now, I think he was spot on.
And that was the end of the program. Many of us hung around for quite some time afterwards, though, with Del. Brian Moran socializing with the attendees and Lt. Gov. Bolling getting to know folks. There were drawn-out goodbyes, some really fascinating discussions between unlikely groups of people, and come 3pm everybody finally cleared out.
I’ve got a lot to chew over after the events of the past 24 hours. I learned a great deal from a good many people. There was so much energy among this group that I’m feeling a little hopped-up right now; I know I should take a nap, but there’s just too much to act on, too many good ideas that were generated by the conversations among the group.
Oh, and I found my camera — somebody grabbed it, thinking it was theirs. All is well.
I’m so grateful to everybody who came, and everybody who spoke and served on workshop panels. The collective knowledge and energy of this bunch is just amazing. There was much talk of those who were not able to be there today, so even if you missed it, don’t worry — we missed you, too.
Lastly, The Sorensen Institute has podcast a few of the speeches. The remarks made by Attorney General Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Michael Shear are all available as MP3s. No doubt there will be a great many photographs of the affair available soon, too — perhaps a Flickr group is in order?
5:50pm Update: Here’s that Flickr group. I’ve got fourteen pictures up there now, and I hope y’all who attended will add your own pictures.