Monday, June 28, 2010

TBEX '10 report, No wifi, lots of waving, and in the end, radiant insects

In a profusion of handshaking, hugs and exasperated gritted teethed comments about how there could possibly be no wifi at a bloggers conference, I saw my Idon'tknowwhats this weekend at TBEX. My peeps? My tribe? My friends? My coworkers? Yes on many counts.

TBEX is the Travel Bloggers Exchange, and it was a two day set of panels of VITBs (very important travel bloggers) talking about what they think, what they know, and answering (and occasionally not answering) questions from the audience. This year's was TBEX '10, following a tiny but well-attended TBEX '09 that followed last year's Blogher in Chicago.. There was a palpable nervousness in the crowd, as if there was a limited amount of real estate, and people weren't sure if they'd brought enough fencing to stake their claim. Or if they'd get the spot with the well. One of the speakers, a prime example of a VITB, actually one probably in the running for MITB) made reference to there being enough internet for all of us. I think he's right. I also think you should just do what you like, and what you're good at, and figure the rest out later. But then, I always was a bit of a Pollyana (insert HTML code for laughter here).

What I was left with after the conference was that I felt that there was a lack of clarity. Blogging was painted with the same brush as writing for the web, ethics and the law were treated as one in the same (gah! nerd alert, I graduated from law school, it was deadly, and wow are ethics and law ever not the same). I'm also painfully careful with my words, and I was frustrated by people's inability or unwillingness to tease out the difference between ads and affinity arrangements, group and personal blogs, etc. I would also like to have seen breakout groups to get some decisions made, and for people to join forces with their like-minded souls.

But it was great to rub shoulders with some true friends, people I've known online and in person for years, some of whom I'd be hard-pressed to run into anywhere but TBEX. I also met some new keepers and if they like me, too, maybe they're reading here too and nodding. An abridged version of a piece of mine was read as part of the community keynote hosted by Pam Mandel and Mike Barish and it's the first time I've ever heard my voice coming out of someone else's mouth (in this case Pam Mandel's, and her ilk was definitely already mentioned in the paragraph above). I was thinking I'd like to do that again. It also made me want to do voice posts, something I've played around with before but never really figured out. Oh, blogspot, how you mock me. Tune in for OMG, I'm trying to move to Wordpress and I am freaking the everlovingsosueme out.

Coworkers were in abundance, people from Matador, people from NileGuide, people from Bootsnall. Some I joked and laughed with, some were more waves from across the room. Apologies for that if it irked you.

And I hate to say it, but one of the best things that happened to me all weekend was that I came back to my mother's house and for the first time in eons, I was privy to a secret twinkling roving lightshow put on my fireflies. And I've had them on the brain since I wrote a story for Bootsnall about them (and other living things that bioluminesce). And on the one hand, I was so delighted to see them that I dropped my stuff in the middle of the lawn to cup my hands around them and watch them glow. And on the other hand, I was secretly thankful that I hadn't written an article about something nasty, like a centipede invasion.

Because that would have been even worse than two days without Wifi.

Thank you to all, and to all a good night.


Audrey said...

And for me, one of my best memories from this year's TBEX was all the time we got to spend with you. It was super fun picking up from where we left off six weeks ago in Santiago.

And firelies. We saw a glorious show of them in Ithaca about a week ago. Had never seen so many in one place in my life. Such a lovely way to end a day.

Melanie said...

Nice commentary about TBEX 10. I'm pretty sure we didn't meet, thought I think I definitely did hear your story as read by Pam. Beautiful stuff.

The idea of having break-out groups sounds good though almost impossible to do over a conference that lasts only a weekend. Will TBEX 3 be a week long? Couldn't hurt...

Eileen said...

Audrey (and Dan by proxy), kinder and truer words never spoken. I could go on endless exhausting sprees if I could just catch up with you guys after. Horas reponedoras and all that. So yes, time with the two of you was a giant highlight. Also, count on me for idea-bouncing-off if you need it. Safe travels!

Melanie, whoops yes, we may not have met. So many people! Thanks for popping in to say hello, and I know you're right about the break out groups, but as a former educator, I know we learn more from less top-down and more collaborative style, plus a negotiated curriculum and feedback. There should have been a feedback survey at the end. And I should now commence to telling someone who could actually do something about this! See you around the internet!

Nerd's Eye View said...

1. Ethics vs. Law. What you said. It turns out the legal stuff doesn't interest me, rules is rules, done and done. The ETHICS though, I wanted to talk about that.

2. It was an HONOR to read your post even though sometimes the words were dry in my mouth and not pronounced correctly. I love your writing and I love that you love your words.

3. I did the blogspot migration. I lost my comments (wah) but it was EASY! There be not dragons there. It will be fine.

4. I saw my first fireflies in Iowa last summer. What a wonder they are.

5. Too little time. Too little time. Too little time.

Kara @ The Vacation Gals said...

Agree with your point that "blogging" and "online writing" seemed to have been lumped together. To me, long, narrative-style prose found on magazine-style websites is very different from short-content blogging. I also felt that distinction should have been made clear at TBEX 10. I believe there will be a feedback survey eventually... or at least hoping so!

Katie Hammel said...

I was one of those "waving from across the room" interactions and you're irked me! Only because I wanted to get to talk to you more than a quick hello! :-( I need to work on my time management, I felt like I had a million 30-second conversations and didn't get to spend nearly enough time with each person.

sarabeck said...

Oh! Fireflies! I hope I see some for the Fourth of July here. It just to sort of be a tradition, and well recently I haven't been here. Wish me luck!

Craig said...

It was great to say hi again, albeit all too briefly.

Like you, I was frustrated from time to time, would love to have had more small-group fun, and the highlight was a few stolen, long-form conversations here and there: before sessions, during sessions, after sessions.

JoAnna said...

It was fabulous to meet you Eileen. And your piece was beautiful. I'm glad they chose it to read it aloud.

Amy said...

Eileen, it was fabulous to meet you at TBEX - we at Nile are very lucky to have you :)