Through bad planning and happenstance, I landed in Boston with my family smack in the middle of the Democratic National Convention. The DNC is, of course, an excellent explanation for why 6 months ago I was unable to get reasonable tickets into Boston en route to Cape Cod. Instead, I had to fly through Providence. But I digress. Since I was going to be in town during the DNC, I figured I might as well benefit from the hoopla and attend a convention party or two. But, thanks to the good graces of Dave Sifry and the DNCC, I was able to do one better than that -- I was able to get a blogger credential and attend the Convention itself on Thursday.
The fact that there was such a thing as a blogger credential at all is a testimony to the speed with which personal publishing technology has taken hold. Up in the rafters of the Fleet Center on Blogger Alley stood a couple dozen bloggers who had been granted the right to report on the convention from the convention. While some of the bloggers looked as much like journalists as the professionals on the floor, others looked more like sys admins. And, frankly, this new breed of journalists were just that -- sys admins in reporters clothing (or is that reporters in sys admins clothing). The geeky nature of this crowd was worn on their collective sleeves. When wifi connections went down, they shared private IP addresses. They debated the pros and cons of their respective digital cameras. I was even able to find someone with a Treo power adapter when my "personal communicator" started running low (man does the Treo's battery life suck when you're trying to blog on it).
None of this is to say anything of the effectiveness of the convention bloggers as purveyors of unique and interesting information. That debate has only just started to
But the interesting thing to me as an investor and technophile was the incredible power of all of the technology that made the convention blogging possible. I suppose it goes without saying that, first and foremost, it was the blogging software that created the opportunity. The thing that is phenomenal about blogging software is just how simple it makes personal publishing. No need to code and format and futz around, then rebuild your website and only then make the new content available to the general public. Now it just takes the click of a link. Software from the likes of Six Apart and Blogger were well represented at the Convention. Jason Shellen was wandering Blogger Alley, spreading the good word of Blogger (apparently Google sponsored a blogger party the night before I got there and gave out some great Wifi-finder chatchkis). Meanwhile folks like Mathew Gross, the man behind Howard Dean's blog, and Dave Sifry, the man behind Technorati, were singing the praises of Movable Type. No matter what the platform, blogging software has unquestionably revolutionized the publishing world. There will never again be a Convention that isn't blogged in some form or other.
The combination of these personal publishing platforms and coincident technologies that enabled the rapid capture and dissemination of digital content, made it possible for bloggers to challenge the traditional media outlets for Convention mind-share. For example, another technology with an astonishing adoption curve powered Bloggers Alley -- namely Wifi. Thanks to Wifi, the bloggers were able to sit up in the stands of the Convention center and post comments as quickly as they wrote them (no need for a newsroom). Add the speed of digital photography and the flexibility of digital audio (Shellen was audio blogging) and individual bloggers were able to report the events of the Convention as comprehensively as the traditional media outlets.
To my mind, the Convention Bloggers were just another example of technology empowering individuals to achieve what used to require whole organizations and massive infrastructure. The music industry is deep in the throws of this phenomenon, as their production and distribution infrastructure is disintermediated. This years Democratic National Convention was a wake-up call for the production and distribution infrastructure of the traditional media outlets. Next up for disintermediation, television, film, Mastercard, Visa . . . .