social media workshops

I walked away from the recent Blog World and New Media Expo a bit depressed and I haven’t been able to shake it.

Running concurrently with this conference — in the same convention center space — was the National Book Expo. Here is a rough comparison of the two events:

Blog World attendance: Maybe 2,000?

Book Fair attendance: 20,000

Blog World keynote: Chris Brogan

Book Fair Keynote: Neil Young

Blog World space: In the basement of the convention center, next to the taco stand

Book Fair space: The top level (with windows!), taking up tens of thousands of square feet of display space

Blog World schwag: Free frozen ice cream treat

Book Fair Schwag: Lunch with John Grisham

Blog World Tech: No wi-fi and maybe 30 exhibitors

Book Fair tech: Interactive exhibit produced by Disney and hundreds of industry exhibitors.

Weren’t books supposed to be dying?  Isn’t new media supposed to be overtaking traditional publishing?

To be fair, this is probably not comparing apples to apples and the SXSW event is probably bigger and more star-studded than any book show. But it did drive home a point for me. I didn’t see anything ( repeat: anything) new or exciting at Blog World, one of our industry’s signature events.

Now of course I could not attend every session but I attended as many as I could and even looking through the program, I could not find  anything that I had not heard many times before. Like …

What is the ROI of social media? Gag me.

How do I build a blog audience? This was a new topic in 2007.

How do I monetize a blog? Just Google it and find the 14.8 million hits on this topic, Bub.

My five keys to blogging success. If you read Chris Brogan’s blog, you would know the main points of his keynote speech by heart.

I interviewed Mike Stelzner about the biggest thing in blogging and he named “podcasts,” a technology that was introduced in 2001.

Instead of being inspired, I walked away with a sinking feeling that was only made worse by the pulsating energy and glitzy production values of the book event. I understand that for those who are trying to set out as a blogger for the first time, these are really important sessions to attend. But as somebody who has been around for awhile, I’m trying to distill some meaningful trend from this conference and I’m just not grasping it.

Is there ANYTHING new to be excited about in blogging?  I’m not talking about a tweak to a commenting platform, a new way to schedule tweets, or a WordPress plug-in. What is going to change the game in blogging? What is going to take us to the next level? What IS the next level? What will replace blogging as a means to provide rich content and ideas to our audiences?

If we stagnate, we die.  What’s next? 

Community note: This post prompted a follow-up dissenting article by Mitch Joel and a subsequent podcast on the future of blogging where we debated this topic. This debate is not to be missed! 

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