BlogHer '09 Agenda: Step 1, Sessions

BlogHer Original Post

Today I am thrilled to announce the first step in planning BlogHer '09's agenda: Sessions!

Sessions are just one part of the BlogHer conference experience, and we look forward to your help in each of these areas. Thanks for clicking on the links below to learn more about each part of the BlogHer agenda:

Step 1. Four tracks of sessions, based on community ideas and submissions (Announced today, December 18! More below)
Step 2. Two tracks of Room of Your Own sessions, which you, as attendees program (Coming soon!)
Step 3. The Geek Lab, which you can program too (Coming soon!)
Step 4. Birds of a Feather (aka topic-specific) meet-ups over lunch (self-formed on the day of the conference. More below)
Step 5. BlogHer '09 Scholarships (available to five international activist BlogHers...announced today!)

Step 1. Sessions: We created 30 sessions based on the hundreds of ideas we received in response to our Call for Ideas...thank you so much for your overwhelming response and boundless creativity. We have not yet attached speakers to each panel, though, and we'll be working on that over the next month or two. Here are the goals and a highlight or two of each track. You can find the full agenda of programmed tracks here.

-Identity & Passions: This track explores how blogging has impacted both Who We Are and What We Do. Sample sessions include "LifeBlogging Outside the Lines: When you’re not a Geek, a Political Wonk or a MommyBlogger" and "FoodBlogging in the Time of Recession"

-Business of You: This track is a primer for those bloggers blogging as a professional platform …whether monetizing the blog itself or using it to promote their skills off-blog. Sample sessions include "Brands and Bloggers" and "Bloggers are Pioneers in a Post-“Employee” World"

-Leadership (formerly known as Politics & Activism): This track is all about owning the value and potential of your opinions, your beliefs, your expertise and your personal printing press to make a difference in the world! The 2008 presidential campaign galvanized an unprecedented surge to activism…on both sides of the aisle and outside of party lines too. How do we keep it up, show leadership and, ultimately, make real change in the world? Sample sessions include "Owning Your Expertise" and "What is “Pro-Woman” in a Post-Palin World?"

-MommyBlogging: We'll highlight what’s new with the cultural and commercial force known as MommyBlogging. Sample sessions include "Have You Found Your MommyBlogging Tribe?" and "Is MicroBlogging the Path to MommyBlogging Bliss?"

Step 2. Room of Your Own sessions: We introduced the Room of Your Own concept at our very first conference in 2005. You can read that original post here. We know perfectly well that 30 programmed sessions and a Geek Lab still won't cover every topic that lots of people want to talk about, so why not turn over the mic and let you all fill in the blanks? Since BlogHer programmed panels typically feature universal topics discussed by diverse voices, the Room of Your Own sessions are the perfect place to dig deeper into any one corner of the blogosphere...its particular challenges, triumphs, concerns, issues. You can lead a discussion alone, or bring a panel of interesting speakers. There will be two full tracks (or 12 individual sessions) reserved for Room of Your Own sessions.

Come mid-January, we will be introducing a new session suggestion and polling tool to determine what Room of Your Own session will be presented. You'll be able to submit sessions you'd like to present and to attend...and flag the submissions from other attendees that you would attend. Stay tuned, and start cooking up your ideas now!

Note: Given we do sell out each year, leading or speaking in a Room of Your Own session is reserved for registered BlogHer attendees.

Step 3. The Geek Lab: The Geek Lab will be one big room where you can go throughout the day to geek out. There will be two presentation areas, one for beginners and one for intermediate-to-advanced bloggers, where a series of 30-minute tutorials on focused topics will go on all day, both days. There will be additional tables and seating spaces for smaller groups, even just two of you, to sit down and troubleshoot specific blogging issues, hack up some solutions, get a little face-time with an expert...or lend a hand and be the expert for someone who happens to need to know what you just figured out how to do last week!

In mid-January we will use the same session suggestion and polling tool we're using to schedule the Room of Your Own session to plan the Geek Lab tutorials. You'll be able to propose a tutorial you'd like to lead, propose a tutorial you'd like to attend, and flag the tutorials that other people suggest...whether you want to contribute or just listen.

We've got an amazing Geek Committee who has been helping us figure out the Geek Lab format, and most of them will be on hand at various times to facilitate. Thanks to Liz Henry, Shazia Mistry, Angie Byron, Sarah Dopp, Nelly Yusupova, Skye Kilaen, Virginia DeBolt, Laura Henry and Alolita Sharma for the geeky assistance!

Step 4. Birds of a Feather Meet-ups: Every year we provide a time and space for attendees to self-form into Birds of a Feather groups around any number of topics. This year we are returning to the method we used in 2007: Birds of a Feather lunches. Find your flock over food :) This year we had a hearty band of BlogHims @ BlogHer meet-up; two years ago one flock coined the phrase "The Digital Ethnorati" for themselves. Maybe some of you former attendees can share your favorite Birds of a Feather experience?

Step 5. Announcing the BlogHer '09 Scholarships for International Activist BlogHers: As we discussed earlier this year, BlogHer won the 2008 Social Impact Award from the Anita Borg Institute, which came with $10K in prize money. After active community discussion we have decided to use the prize money to sponsor five scholarships to international activist BlogHers to finance them traveling to BlogHer '09 and presenting their work. You can read more about the program here, and you can submit yourself or an international activist blogger you admire here.

I know I speak for Lisa, Jory, Kristy, Jes and the entire BlogHer team when I say that we are already starting to get so excited about this coming year's conference. Seeing this initial draft schedule in place has upped the ante (and our anticipation) a lot! Looking forward to hearing which panels you can't wait to attend, what Geek Lab tutorials are must-have and what Room of Your Own session you're dying to see added on the schedule.

Chicago, here we come!

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