Bloggers as Celebrities: Too Cool for School?

The organizers of a conference I’m just leaving mentioned to me a curious fact: they invited 6 prominent bloggers — not to be named here (and I am certainly not including myself in this category) — to attend the event, called The Leaders Project. Not a single one responded, not even to RSVP “no.”

I was astonished. The group had fewer than 40 attendees, each of whom apparently had responded to the invitation: famous columnists, editors of major publications from around the world, generals and admirals, news anchors, presidents of major news networks, executive producers of shows everyone watches, members of Congress, leading activists from around the world, and even a few lowly academics. It was at an amazing venue, hosted by a former cabinet secretary and US Senator, and an unexpectedly rich, varied conversation. The topic was on the changing global media landscape, a topic that ordinarily would appeal, I’d think, to the serious blogger.

Why would bloggers be the one category not even to *reply* to the invitation? It got me to thinking that perhaps these bloggers are so sought after for conferences of this sort at the moment that they are overwhelmed with travel and the gab-fest circuit. Possible. But unfortunate if that’s so. This moment strikes as just the right time to be talking up the citizen-generated media movement, helping opinion leaders to understand and working through the issues and problems it raises or unearths. The blogging world has the attention of decision-makers everywhere. Now’s not the time to be too big for one’s britches — it’s the time to seize the moment. I suggested that maybe there are others to whom such an invitation should be extended next time. Maybe someone will set up a little speakers’ bureau for bloggers.

* * *

I’m at the Charlotte-Douglas airport, en route to Oxford Internet Institute for a research meeting with others from the OpenNet Initiative. Charlotte-Douglas has won my heart (as far as airports can win a heart) with free wifi in the main concourse. Very nice.

13 thoughts on “Bloggers as Celebrities: Too Cool for School?

  1. That is interesting. I know I was just talking to a friend that does pretty hot web design and is always telling me about CSS rock-stars I’ve never heard of – but when I mentioned TechCrunch he said “that’s a podcast, right?” It’s a strange world. At the same time, I haven’t had too much trouble getting prominent bloggers to let me interview them for the nonprofit I work for: http://netsquared.org/tags/interviews

    Good call on social responsibility though.

  2. I’m the editor over at the Lifehacker.com weblog.

    The lack of response probably isn’t a matter of being “too cool” – it’s most likely more a matter of popular bloggers’ overflowing inboxes. It’s the price of publishing your email address on a web page. We can get over 200 email messages in a day at Lifehacker, and most of them are PR pitches, invitations to talk with a CEO about a new project, journalists asking for interviews, but mostly people pitching their conference, book, product or blog post for coverage. We try our best to look at and respond to every email, but – and I don’t mean this to sound stuck up – if the choice is between responding to all my email and getting my work done for the day with time to sleep, eat and spend a few hours away from the computer for sanity’s sake, some email just doesn’t get answered. Often that is the choice – especially as bloggers are cast as the new hot “connectors” in the media.

    Lastly, I’d like to see how that particular message was worded; often we have to make quick judgement calls about whether or not a message is spam or a personalized invitation, and with the wrong formatting, mistakes can be made.

  3. Hi Gina and Itzy:

    This is great — and makes much more sense than anything I could come up with. Thanks for taking the time to write.

    And Marshall, it’s terrific to hear of the opposite sort of examples.

    -JP

  4. There are two simple words that describe these bloggers’ seeming lack of interest:

    Day job.

    Only a handful of bloggers do it as a full-time gig, some run their own full-time businesses, and all the others have a *constant* stream of email in their inbox that takes precedent (as Itzy has pointed out). In addition, how many bloggers with an in-house job could use any R&D money to go to a conference on changing media? Most bloggers aren’t exactly swimming in cash.

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