07.29.06 08:11 PM
Live Blogging: Next Level Naked
Moderator: Jory Des Jardins
Panelists: Mecca Ibrahim (burned out then London bombings gave her new energy, and now works for Yahoo 360 which has changed things in terms of responsibility)
Lauren Bruce (formerly of feministe now blogs as a man feels she's writing fiction)
Should you have a balance does it matter?
What happens when you have an audience that expects you to blog a certain way?
How do you establish that authenticity?
Lauren was asked did she read Self-Made Man. A lesbian journalist who spent some time as a man. She ultimately had a nervous breakdown.
Lauren says it didn't occur to start as a man but wanted to go anonymous. So after quitting feministe started something else, and felt masculinity was being imposed upon her. She decided to go on as a man. Because I'm still in feminist spaces, people are saying you are a privileged man what do you know. But she can't say I'm not.
Mecca - I often get people who are confused about my being a man because I write about trains and the underground. It's quite weird when people meet me and realize I'm a woman. Because my name is Mecca sometimes people still think I'm a male. I don't think I have a particularly female voice when I blog.
Lauren doesn't know how this experiment is going yet.
Mecca feels like it shouldn't matter what gender you are to what you blog about.
Question from live chat: In blogging as a man couldn't you use your real voice?
Lauren says for her it wasn't getting naked but instead putting her clothes back on. There are so many things I have to leave out because I'm blogging as a man and I don't always feel authentic.
A single father who blogs about his kids asks does that mean he's blogging as a female? No one answers but heads nod.
What do people expect from you Maryam? She was the conference wife. She was meeting people who wanted to link to her but she didn't have a blog. Robert said you should have a blog it's great. Then he said you should stop blogging. People would say I just love you, I love what Robert writes about you. I felt I needed to have a voice and to give my side.
Jory asks have you ever felt restraint. Maryam says of course. There are times when I really love him to death. I want to write to the world how angry this man makes me. And the next day I want to tell the world how much I love him. I know that everyone is reading. I sometimes write but don't hit publish. Robert says she lets me see those by the way.
An audience member remarks on people going back-and-forth on Robert and Maryam's blogs and trying to start fights and it not working.
Maryam says when Robert was working for Microsoft, people not liking Microsoft would see Robert as face of Microsoft and flame in his blog. Same on my blog with my discussions about Iran. Hey it's my blog, I have the power to delete those comments.
Audience member says she feels moral and ethical responsibility on her blog. Wants to know from Lauren what happens inside of her as more and more things become personal in the blog.
Lauren says feministe was blogging about politics and personal life. Very early on I thought you either trust the universe or you don't. There were things that happened that weren't pleasant. I was able to have community with people. I felt more rounded sharing with others. My mom was worried about my coming out her and that the person I was staying with might be a serial killer. I said no mom I know him, but I really don't.
Audience member: What about the social dis- inhibition of the Internet? People doing things online that they'd never do in person because of the anonymity.
Maryam doesn't write anything her family members can't read. Lauren's mother read feministe so she kept it so she could read it. She does like a good flame war every now and then. Flame wars should not bring in the personal. Mecca blogs about the London Underground so I have to be fairly careful about what I say because I know they read it. I'm never libelous. They've never once asked me to take anything off. I feel that I'm keeping a reasonable balance even when I say something negative. Your opening yourself up to the public so you're enabling people to disagree with you.
Jory asks what about Yahoo because you also blog for Yahoo as yourself. I'm quite lucky that Yahoo gives me freedom to blog and they know I blog personally. Mecca says Yahoo knows I have my own blog. But when I blog for them I blog about 360 in Europe. I know I have to blog about product stuff.
Audience member wants to ask about writer's block. Naked blogging, writer's block, when you start modifying for your audience how has that affected your writing?
Lauren: Writer's block and burn out all three of us discussed that. I would go through burn out all the time. I'd post quizzes and little one line stories to keep it going. And people would keep commenting. There's that. I had to stop being so emotionally invested in it. I used to hyper monitor everything. I felt freer when I stopped looking at stats and took the blogroll down and more people showed up.
Jory asks about keeping it fresh and being naked. The three of you have had something that has affected your writing so share about burn out.
Mecca after the London bombings started blogging more seriously than she had before. Prior she didn't know what responsibility she had or what readers where expecting. Whenever I go through the periods people ask when are you going to blog again. Leave yourself for a week or fortnight and you're more renewed and refreshed. Take a holiday. Take a break some time. Your reader will still be there and come back with renewed interest and renewed vigor.
Maryam says she reads others who inspire her. Though she does have quizzes and jokes in the folder and will use them on those days. Its not really the content but the way I say it. It's about being genuine in your voice. It's not the story itself. But the storyteller. Talking from the heart. I don't know what to you guys naked means to different people it's a different thing. What does naked and genuine voice mean to you. (I think I just kissed the microphone) uproarious chuckle
Audience member says you can not be anonymous and naked you can not be genuine if you are not being who you are and that's what I think Lauren is grappling with.
Audience member discusses personal .vs. professional. Colleagues who were bothered by some things in her personal life. Maybe for very personal issues a blog is not the best way to go about it.
Maintaining a safe space is a question from the audience.
Lauren says its a fine line you don't want to censor. But it's my own blog I pay for it.
Mecca doesn't screen comments before they go up. She has no commenting policy. There were lots of arguments after the bombing about whose fault it was. Loads of narrow minded comments but I let people get on with it. If I found people making digs at each other I'd step in as school teacher and asked them to take it offline. Blogs are a good place to air those differences.
Audience member asks Maryam about the war and getting flamed. People would put in the word Arab Muslim during 911 and ended up on my blog and just said hateful things. Most of my blogging I do on LIveJournal and use filters. What you do when you're gonna get called sand nigger and things like that.
Maryam does self-censor because she still has people there. I take down the flaming comments. I always hope I didn't get someone in trouble when I can't keep my mouth shut. I stay away from it unless there is something that really infuriates me and even then its a short post and I keep it as to the point as possible.
Mecca says the Internet makes it easier for you to get these kind of comments. You'd be amazed at the things people can say about others. There was another blogger who was on the train and thought she'd get sympathy. She gets the most horrible people commenting saying she's looking for self promotion and she should have stayed and helped people.
Lauren says the use of filters are useful for creating safe spaces. Then you can't get the drive by flaming.
Halley who has Halley'sComment is anti comment. She feels people can go start their own blogs if they don't like what she says. She doesn't have time to maintain comments.
Maryam responds to every single comment unless they are calling her a slut and she just deletes them.
Jory asks do you have to respond?
Maryam says MSN spaces says you have to login and she feels if they had to go through all of that the least she could do is respond unless they call her names.
Laruen was open about being broke and a single mom and living on college loans. Someone said put up a paypal button.
Jory asks about the pressure of popularity.
Lauren (feministe.us) it was where are all the women bloggers. Using search engines and ranking systems to bring us up. And we got really obsessive. And I decided to take all the stuff off and it was a relief. And someone emailed me one day and said you're in the top 100. Then I was there and now what. The comments are feedback hadn't gone up. It was an invisible growth that I didn't realize it was happening. There was a level of visibility and I continued to pull back with the personal stuff.
Maryam it's the pressure of staying interesting. 3000 people were coming to see me. What if I write and they don't come. What if they come and they don't like what they see. Or they like what they see. It's the pressure of staying interest. I say to my husband or my son do something funny.
Robert asks about competitiveness for stories. We compete sometimes. We race to the keyboard.
Jory reads from her blog you know what about being married to the famous blogger he gets the scoop first. When I called the real estate agent about selling the house, he already knew.
AccidentallyJewish Blogger who is getting flamed for the choice she made to become a jew. People see her as related to Israel. But as a result of her blog she's been forced to become a political blogger. But she also got a job because of her blog with Edelman. I link to other bloggers who blog about Israel much better than I do. A lot of my readers aren't Jewish and I give them gateways into understanding. Do I have to censor myself because of this job, but I can't because they hired me because I have this blog.
About writer's block get your users to subscribe to your feed. Train your readers to read your feeds and then it doesn't matter how often you post. Just post when you feel like it
Step parenting is a touchy subject for Maryam. Patrick has been wonderful about it but she has thought about how it would affect him. She tells an audience member to go ahead and blog about his friend's suicide because he will find support. Lauren says try to address wit in a way you can just say it but it's hard. Mecca doesn't blog too personally. Sometimes it's nice when you have something personal just make it short and as objective as you can. Just let the readers think for themselves.
Robert Scoble says he recently wrote about his mom dying. He got over his fear of writing about non-tech stuff. A journalist who works for Al Jazeera wrote me to say she wished she had such an opportunity because she left home and wasn't able to do such a thing because she came to America to have a job. People wanted to share their own parent's death.
(There was a lot more back-and-forth with the audience and audience interaction in general than I've transcribed here, because there were times that I actually wanted to listen and absorb.)
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