Quality vs Quantity
Notes from our first meet-up!
When I walked into Kaldi's Blog Cafe, I could have been faced with a throng of angry young Hitlers...in which case I could have called the meeting a smashing success because of all the people who attended. But alas, it is quality, not quantity. So instead of a throng of screeching Hitlers, I got two young men, one of which I brought myself, and the other of whom wandered over to where my driver and I were eating quiche, pastries and fruit, and drinking Kaldi's high-octane house blend, and said, in English, "Is this the blog group"? That young man was Steve Dunn, of the Begging to Differ blog, and president of the Plaza-Midwood Association. The fellow I brought was Jack (Le Petit Jacques) of History of Time Travel.
As I had only posted the meeting 2 days before, I really didn't expect anyone to be there, except maybe Pam, whom I wanted to help with blogging. And so to even have one show up was a bit of a miracle. Steve himself said that he had only seen the announcement an hour or so earlier.
My first impression of Steve Dunn was that he could have been a twin brother of Jack my my dear friend, Rob Urban, with whom Jack and I like to party in Amsterdam, Paris, Manhattan, Charleston, and occasionally Charlotte. So when I blurred my vision, which is something we right-brainers like to do, I could imagine three old friends once again gathered...only the setting was more reminescent of the Harvard Club than the funky European haunts (although The Grand had some elegant spaces, and is highly recommended), and so to incorporate that image, I would have to blur Jack into, say Ken Phillips, and Ken, Rob and I had some great conversations at The Club, while Jack, even though his sister lives and teaches in Cambridge, never made it up to visit.
And so people are blurring left and right, and I'm thinking "this is some goood coffee"!
Unblurring my eyes, I began to see that Steve was not Rob, and Jack was not Ken, and I was not Clay Aiken. I was Sidney Poitier. A white Sidney Poitier. Well, off-white. Clinton-white. And Jack and Steve were having a discussion.
I finally finished wolfing down my food and joined in...
The discussion ranged from Sidebars, to Amsterdam, to bloggercons and meetups, and on to pedagogy; How and what does one need to teach when teaching blogging, and what are the best ways to effect that change?
My own vision is that we will grow a network of blogger meetups through our large county, and focus on teaching the teaching of blogging. In other words, we can teach people how to blog, and then teach them how to teach others how to blog. In this way, we can grow the Charlotte blogosphere in a most efficient manner, and, among other things, have a goodly number of bloggers with important things to convey when the September 17th BlogFest, BloggerCon, or whathaveyou comes to Charlotte.
One of the things we discussed was what I perceive to be a certain slowheadedness in Charlotte when it comes to innovation. Steve tended to disagree, but I am not sure what proff he could point to to show how fast we are. And I know that the folks in Greensboro and Chapel Hill will tend to back me up, as their blogosphere has evolved far beyond Charlotte's blogosphere, which, alas, it still largely inchoate. But Steve did make some good points in support of a fastheaded Charlotte, and when compared with, say, Gastonia or Marshville, he certainly has a point. But as I was discussing with Jack on our return home...we, in Cambridge, were discussing HDTV in 1980, while I never heard a peep about it here until, oh, the late '90s. And when I moved back to Charlotte, from Massachusetts, back in '96, having been on the Net for a couple of years...very few people had even heard of the Internet. Now the same applies to blogging.
I wish it were otherwise. But alas, Charlotte does not have a Harvard, an MIT, a BU or BC, a Brandeis, a Radcliffe or Wellesley...where the future is constantly being created. But some of the people in Boston would point to the West Coast, and that that there is where the future is actually being created. It is a relative thing, but take a drive out into the boonies, and you will see this relativity in practice.
And so a compromise is in order... Charlotte is in between Greensboro and Spartanburg...and I'm glad we are ahead of Spartanburg.
The Laws of Physics states that for every action there is a reaction, and so one comes to expect that no matter what one says, there will, sure as Physics, be a reaction, and often an opposing reaction. And, just as with Begging to Differ, there will be Thesis, Antithesis, and, occasionally, Synthesis. All to please Hegel, the comb-over philosopher.
But I digress...
Steve, it turns out, lives about 3 blocks from me, and so I suggested we find a closer place to have microlocal meetups...but we both agreed that Kaldi's is a good place to have them until that point where splinter groups are needed. Until that time, I hope to continue to meet and grow other meetups. As President of the Plaza-Midwood Neighborhood Association, Steve could teach and organize those folks, and I can talk to the folks at the Commonweath-Morningside Neighborhood Association and get them involved.
John McBride is blogging for the Elizabeth neighborhood, so I will talk with him, and see if we can get our adjoining neighborhoods together on some projects as well. And where help is needed, help will go. At least as far as I am concerned.
I'd like to see what the folks in Dilworth, NODA and other areas of town are doing about it. Charlotte is so big, and such a car-dependent city, the notion of having a city-wide meetup for all time is simply impractical. This is what BloggerCons are for. But prior to that time, I hope to see a thousand pints of Lite springing up all over this county. We will need all the help we can get.
I am going to contact the good folks in Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Cambridge to learn not to reinvent the wheel, and to glean the good things they have already discovered.
If the Charlotte media is going to have an essential blackout of blogging, which seems to be the case, it will be up to bloggers themselves to spread the word. I am excited about the prospects.
Steve, Jack...thanks for coming out. It was a real pleasure, and I look forward to picking your ample and protean brains again very soon. And for those who may want to join us...don't worry if you don't have a laptop or even a computer. If you have one, you will be accommodated, but what is more important is simply your presence.
I didn't even bring pencil or paper. And your level of skill is also unimportant. If you are a seasoned blogger, you can help with the planning of the BloggerCon. If you are new, you can receive help on getting started. Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Progressive...it doesn't matter. This is about education, not culture war. All viewpoints are welcome.
When: Saturday, April 2, 7:00 PM
Where: Kaldi's Koffee House, 157 N. Trade Street, Matthews, NC
What: Charlotte/Matthews Bloggers meetup