Miami Plays Host To Bloggers Conference
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
Social media is often thought of as the brave new world, but often it looks just like the old world. A conference kicking off in Miami, Florida, this weekend aims to change that. It's the second annual Blogalicious Weekend.
Hundreds of blogging professionals and writers will share tips, as well as enjoy morning yoga and evening social events.
We wanted to know more about the conference. So we're joined by one of the founders. Nadia Jones, she's part of the MamaLaw Media Group, which aims to increase online representation, particularly among women of color. She joins us from NPR member station WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida.
We're also joined by Ana White. She's one of the featured speakers of the conference, and she has her own blog about furniture making. And she joins us from NPR member station KSKA in Anchorage, Alaska.
Welcome to you both. Thank you for joining us.
Ms. NADIA JONES (Founder, Blogalicious Weekend Conference): Thank you for having us. I'm so excited to be here.
Ms. ANA WHITE (Featured Speaker, Blogalicious Weekend Conference): Thank you so much for having me, as well.
MARTIN: Well, we're excited to have you. So Nadia, tell us: What inspired you to organize this conference?
Ms. JONES: Myself and my two other founders have been blogging at Mama-La.com, and started attending various marketing events and conferences. And we noticed that there was a lack of diversity in some of the activities that we were participating in. So we decided to do something about that and knew that women of color and multicultural women have a voice in social media, and we wanted our voice to be heard. So we founded Blogalicious Weekend Conferences.
MARTIN: Ana, tell us about your blog.
Ms. WHITE: My blog is basically about building furniture from off-the-shelf lumber. I've been blogging for about 11 months now, and just overnight, the reception has been incredible. And I really feel like I'm in the position I'm in because I am a minority, because there hasn't been much of a voice for minority women bloggers.
MARTIN: Tell us a little bit more about your background.
Ms. WHITE: My mother actually was born and raised in Vietnam. She never learned to read or write. She cannot drive, and she's legally blind.
Ms. WHITE: But it is this that has taught me to be resourceful and industrious, and it gave me a unique voice online.
MARTIN: Nadia, what do you get from blogging? What do you like about blogging?
Ms. JONES: I like the encouragement and the support that I get on our personal blog. We just really write about some of the struggles that we're facing as working moms. The three of us are attorneys. And it's really a form of cheap therapy, actually. It's like writing in a journal, but putting it online and having the ability to get other people to kind of respond to your reactions and your experiences that you're going through.
MARTIN: We've talked about this some on this program. This has also been discussed a bit. Part of the gender imbalance online, some people think, is the tone that online conversations seem to take very often, this kind of heckler's veto. It's the kind of so-is-your-mom attitude, you know. A lot of the people who are drawn to it are drawn to it for the purpose of being mean. And I wondered if you have had that experience, and why do you think that is?
Ms. JONES: No, I have not had that sort of experience. My experiences have been nothing but positive. I have heard of some unfortunate experiences where people may have been heckled for their decision to do something with their children or in their personal lives. And I just try to stay away from that, because that's not why I wanted to blog. I wanted to blog, like I said, for the encouragement and the support of other women who are going through the same struggles that I am.
MARTIN: Ana, what about you? Have you ever had any kind of negative feedback on your blog? Or maybe you just screen everything.
Ms. WHITE: To be real honest with you, I've had over 10,000 positive comments on my blog, and I've maybe had three negative ones. But those negative ones were more hurtful and powerful than 10,000 positive ones. And thats really sad.
MARTIN: Why do you think that is?
Ms. WHITE: I don't have the exact answer, because you would think 10,000 positive comments would be so much more powerful than a few negative ones. But I think that, you know, when somebody is really critical, they tend to be really harsh and they know where it's going to hurt, so they pick that bone. And I think sometimes women have a hard time taking a compliment, if you know what I mean.
MARTIN: Well, I've heard it said the other way. Gloria Steinem says that women are socialized to be more receptive to criticism than to praise.
Ms. WHITE: Yes, yes.
MARTIN: So that's sort of one theory. But the kinds of negative comments that you've gotten, have they been personal attacks, what?
Ms. WHITE: Yes, yes. And, you know, I've heard it all. I've heard, you know, she's had work done. She's fat. She's thin. And you just really have to focus in on those 10,000 positive comments.
MARTIN: If you're just joining us, this is TELL ME MORE, from NPR News. We're talking about Blogalicious Weekend. It's a conference that aims to promote diversity in social media. It kicks off tomorrow. Our guests are bloggers Ana White and Nadia Jones.
Nadia, what about you, why do you think it is that there's still this gender imbalance and not quite the level of representation for people of color that you would like to see? Although it is interesting to say that, you know, there have been a number of surveys done recently, we've reported on them, that say that young people of color are, in many ways, more likely to be involved in social media than others. So, why do you think this imbalance still exists?
Ms. JONES: You're exactly right. The imbalance is actually not there. It just -it's the perception that marketers have. They don't think that we have the numbers that maybe some of your mainstream bloggers would have. But we are using our smartphones. We're on Twitter. We're on Facebook. We have blogs. We have a voice, and we have readership. And what we've done through Blogalicious Weekend is we've tried to show marketers that we are here and that we are influential in the market space.
MARTIN: So Ana, what's your message going to be at the conference?
Ms. WHITE: Definitely that your passion is your product. Who you are is what you blog about, and then your blog is simply a means of getting that message out.
MARTIN: Ana, do I understand that you actually, you live in kind of a remote area? Is that true?
Ms. WHITE: I do. I do.
MARTIN: So you even had to fly to get to the studio today?
Ms. WHITE: Well, we couldn't get a flight, so we ended up driving seven hours. And it was actually snowing on the way up here in Alaska, but I'm so happy to be here.
MARTIN: We appreciate your effort...
Ms. WHITE: Yes.
MARTIN: ...to talk to us. But I'm wondering if that's, in part, what blogging does. It kind of connects you to other worlds in a way that would be harder to do otherwise.
Ms. WHITE: Absolutely. You know, I am just this housewife that had long ago given up on any aspirations of having a career. And I just started writing a blog because I felt like it would, you know, give me just an avenue to share my talent. And I would never, ever dream it would become what it has, and I think that my story shows what a huge opportunity there exists for bloggers.
MARTIN: Nadia, if we get together 10 years from now, do you think you'll still have a need for a Blogalicious Weekend or do you think it'll be different? Or what do you think?
Ms. JONES: Well, if I had crystal ball, definitely. I think there will always be a need for Blogalicious Weekend, only because women of color, we're not going anywhere. This is a multi-cultural world where we live in, and even though we may be discussing different platforms or different ways in which we blog or get our message out and gather our community, we're still going to have a community and we're still going to want to get together and support each other, empower each other and encourage each other. So I'm excited about what the future has for us.
MARTIN: Nadia Jones is one of the founders of Blogalicious Weekend. She joined us from NPR member station WJCT in Jacksonville, Florida. Also with us: Ana White. She is one of the event speakers. She's also the author of a blog about furniture-making, and she joined us from radio station KSKA in Anchorage, Alaska. I thank you both so much for speaking with us.
Ms. WHITE: Thank you for having us.
Ms. JONES: Thank you so much.
MARTIN: And blog it out.
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