I am attending the third day of BlogNashville (my first day) this morning at Belmont. But I have my laptop, so I am not deterred from writing. In fact, it's kind of fun to write from my embedded position here on the virtual front lines of online publishing.
9:00 a.m. -- First thing this morning, I attended a session with Ed Cone on local politics. Ed said that the going thing in the blogosphere is local blogs. I do not know myself how hot that field is right now, but I do sense that there is an open niche for blogging at the neighborhood and city level. According to Ed, local politics can be much more "organic," i.e., not part of political party structure, but essentially an individual initiating political change (example: the conflict in the Iowa Caucuses between the Howard Dean bloggers and the local party chairs who identified themselves as the Dean campaign). Ed tried to stress, and I agree with him, that blogs are not the central tool, but are an important tool in social change. Blogs are means to the end of putting people on the street. The most important question that occurred to me in this session was: is local politics such an open niche because the quality of blogging about national and state politics has not "trickled down," yet or because grassroots organizing is so immense and diffuse and personal and retail that the options are plenty?
10:15 a.m. -- I also attended a session on Citizen's Media by Dan Gilmore. Dan immediately opened up the floor to comments and questions. Discussion included freedom of speech/publication issues and where to draw the line that cannot be legally crossed in expressing opinion and criticism. For those concerned about legal issues of online publication, Dan suggested this site. There is a real question now as to whether you can cite any source without the prospect of being sued. Are bloggers obligated to provide equal time to those who take exception to their posts? According to Dan, the blogosphere is a medium that let's you mitigate damage by correcting quickly and creating good will. A representative from the Media Bloggers Association (MBA) told us that MBA provides first-line legal defense for bloggers who receive intimidating letters from businesses. They also provide training about fair use and other legal issues.
Postscript -- Filmmakers are here at the conference shooting footage for their project, documentary:BLOG. Cyber geeks on the silver screen? That doesn't sound good.
I won't be attending the rest of the conference this afternoon. I've got plans to go out to the arts and crafts fest in Centennial Park with my family. I'll be back for a discussion of Citizen's Media tonight over dinner. I doubt I'll be issuing dispatches from that front. A computer does not lend itself to dinner and drinks.