A few thoughts about the 2007 Brooklyn Blogfest
As some of you know, I attended the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Blogfest this week. Although I found it enjoyable (despite being VERY crowded) I feel compelled to write about a few thoughts I had about the experience. Although (to paraphrase something Dope on the Slope emailed me) the origins of this event are largely to blame for its distinctly South Brooklyn flavor, I felt there were some greater issues at hand. Issues I would like to share with my fellow Greenpointers (and any other Brooklynites who might be reading this). The purpose of this exercise is two-fold:
- to offer up some constructive criticism
- to initiate an amicable dialogue and/or hear what you think
The previous having been said, here we go…
I read a lot of comments on a number of different blogs yesterday about the Blogfest. The most common criticisms to be found were:
- lack of diversity
- this event was nothing more than “mutual backslapping”
More often than not, the comments I read of the above nature were worded in *a hem* a very hostile and belligerent manner. Although I disagree with the way these people chose to air their grievances, I agree with the point they were trying to make. Being someone who is friendly to what the Blogfest is trying to do (but has some very serious concerns) I feel compelled to give my two cents. Here they are.
Regarding above point #1
Although race was brought up often, I think geography and/or lifestyle are the real issue. Actively courting other â€˜nabes (and the up and coming blogs to be found in them) may help address this problem. Dope in the Slope’s idea of having meet-ups in different â€˜nabes is a good one as well.
As I said before, the origin of the â€˜fest does predispose it to having a distinctly South Brooklyn flavor, but (and this is a big BUT) the roster of speakers could have been tweaked and/or pared down to mitigate it. Which brings me toâ€¦
Above point #2
The amount of attention given to real estate issues (READ: Atlantic Yards and Bruce Ratner) was excessive. Enough so that it even struck me (she who seethes over 110 Green) as being â€˜mutual backslappingâ€™ or clique-ish. While I believe the awareness-raising/fact-checking the Atlantic Yards Report does is both laudable and very necessary, I all too often found myself asking â€œBut what about Coney Island, Kensington, Sunset Heights, Flatbush, Greenwood Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, etc., etc.?â€ In other words:
What about everyone else?
In particular, Norman Oder (of the Atlantic Yards Report) said something that really disquieted me. It was something to the effect that there are enough blogs that feature criticism (and/or were of a personal nature) and what was needed were more blogs featuring real news. There is a value judgment embedded in the previous statement— and it is one I vehemently disagree with. While I understand that Mr. Oder is entitled to his opinion and his interests and/or ambitions are directed towards journalism, my (and many otherâ€™s) interests and/or ambitions are not. I am entitled to my opinion too. *Whoop* here it is…
I am an artist (by education) whose favorite avocation is being a jackass. Dishing out the dirty deets and duplicity about the Atlantic Yards Project may be his cup of tea but featuring festering piles of diarrhea is mine. Neither of the previous endeavors is any better than the other; they are simply different. As are our respective purposes and (in all likelihood) readerships.
I honestly donâ€™t care what the subject matter of a blog is. Just as I would critique any other work of art or letters, my only concern is whether or not it is GOOD. Itâ€™s a matter of craftsmanship, not content— and I have seen a lot of blogs (of a journalistic flavor or otherwise), that are downright awful.
The issue I am trying to get at this: what qualifies one as being “Brooklyn blogger”? Does earning the sinecure of being a “Brooklyn blogger” require writing about Brooklyn or is simply being a resident of Brooklyn who happens to blog sufficient creds? Speaking as someone who is both of the previous (mostly the latter), I think the answer is both. It is much better to err on the side of inclusionism than exclusionism. And there was (albeit unintentionally) much exclusivity to be had at this year’s the Blogfest.
Hopefully next yearâ€™s event will address the above issues. I understand that this being only the second time the Brooklyn Blogfest has been conducted it would be unreasonable to expect geographical or topical parity. Moving forward, (speaking as someone whose readership includes a number of very talented artists in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area who often have their own blogs/web sites), I would strongly recommend that more effort should be directed to welcome blogs that are outside the realm of local current events.
The boro of Kings has a lion’s share of amazingly talented and interesting people— many of whom also happen to have blogs. These people usually do not identify themselves as “bloggers”. I don’t. But does that make their contributions (or my own) to the Brooklyn blogosphere* any less significant?
I have lived in Greenpoint for some time and I have a pretty good feel for the people who live here. More importantly, I have a clear idea of what interests my ‘nabes. And Ratner-bashing and waxing philosophical about the role of bloggers (as journalists) are not among them.
*Apparently Clinton Hill is the ‘bloggiest’ neighborhood in Brooklyn. I beg to differ. Greenpointers, Williamsburgers and (last, but not least) Bushwickers unite! Anyone up for a starting a North Brooklyn blogger insurgency? I am! Let’s set aside our respective differences, build a web ring and kick some brownstoner ass!