Thanks to many who commented, we’ve made some changes to the BloggerCon model. The highlights, as you may have noted, are that 1) we’ll give away at least 25 spots randomly on September 1 to those who have signed up to be on the list of possible “scholarship” recipients and 2) we’re making the BoF sessions on October 5 free of charge to all bloggers. We are well on our way toward filling the other seats available at the original price-points (many thanks to those who continue to sign up and to support the event), which we hope will enable us to break even on out-of-pocket costs and provide a terrific experience to those who come. Potential sponsorship, whether to support individual bloggers or to host an event during the conference, will enable the possibility of further changes to the model. We’ll keep listening and working hard to make the conference as accessible and as great as we can.
As to the substance of BloggerCon, which has also been raised in several places, including on GrepLaw: this conference is by no means intended to be a cheerleading session for weblogs. We look forward to hearing from those who have interesting stories about what they’ve done with weblogs, to be sure. But we are academics, first and foremost, and are naturally skeptics. Consider the H2O discussion on this topic. Such skepticism — are blogs really any different? are they just a supernova, to burn out, or into the next wave of technology? — was certainly the theme of the session on weblogs at our Institute of Politics studygroup on weblogs. It’s our job at the Berkman Center to ask the tough questions about trends in Internet and society. We think it’s important for the dialogue to be open to a variety of viewpoints, along a variety of axes — political bias among those axes. And, yes, we do engage in a limited amount of advocacy on certain topics core to our mission.
My hypothesis: there’s definitely something interesting happening in the blogs space, which is why I’m proud of what we’re doing to build out into it and trying to see what we can learn. If my hypothesis proves to be wrong and blogs are a bust, I’ll admit it. Meanwhile, I’ll keep exploring.