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Late Nite FDL: What Was Your YK Experience?

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I have been telling people that my YK experience was remarkably flat.  And by that I mean that there was no division between "in" and "out" — if anyone was huddled in back rooms making deals and schmoozing for power I didn’t see it, and I certainly wasn’t a part of it.  I spoke with exactly two journalists I didn’t know before I got there (MSNBC’s Tom Curry because I wanted to ask him something, and Chris Hayes of ITT because I was seated next to him at dinner).  I talked with one, count ’em one politician because I had a question for him, too.  Other than that, I hung out with readers, other bloggers and people on our panel.  I didn’t get to meet nearly as many people as I wanted to and I keep hearing names of people who were there that I regret not having bumped into, but there are no celebs, consultants or politicians on that list.

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But I read this diary over at Kos by Kid Oakland, and I am starting to believe that everyone did not have the same experience I had, not by a long shot:

I attended Yearlykos like the vast majority of it participants…as a "regular."  I attended events, I listened to panels, I went to parties, I met people.

It occured to me, right off the bat, how much this was a media event, ie. how much this event was "about"…in myriad ways…the relationship between the netroots and the press.  Now, since we live in a "media age" and blogs represent "new media"…this was not unreasonable.  But it also means something, it had an effect.

To cite one example, when I attended the MyDD caucus I was surprised to find that the panel was largely, and fairly understandably given the high powered national press writers in the room, directed to the media.  As someone who has written diaries at MyDD, who was already familiar with the writing and thinking of the front pagers there, I realized that the event wasn’t really directed at me (a MyDD participant) or even structured to be what I would think of as a "caucus."  The caucus was pretty much a press event.  That does not mean I didn’t find it really fascinating, or didn’t appreciate getting to crack a beer afterwards with some fellow bloggers.  But it does say something about the structure of Yearlykos as a whole.

Was I just blind?  I so did not get that.  Reading Kid Oakland’s description, I feel like we were at different events:

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I think that gets to the core of something, and would add that one of the reasons for this state of affairs was the "media focus".  The event very successfully made a strong case for the "power" and "nature" of the netroots to the media.  It did not, however, in the structure of how we officially spent most of our time (ie. panels by experts and speeches by politicians) embody the kind of democracy and interaction that we in the netroots put into practice every day online.  We bloggers believe in open debate.  We believe in accesible discussion. We’re here because we know that sometimes the most insightful comment comes from the person with the fewest credentials.  That is the power of the blogs.   I sympathise with those who revel in how successfully we presented a poised and compelling face to the press…and that the press came to us and gave us our due.That emphasis, however, meant something else had to give.  We left "lateral conversation and networking," if not political canvassing and debate, outside the official structure of the event.  I would ask, what could we do differently next time?

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It’s certainly a fair question, although I have to wonder if people’s particular experience reflect what they went there looking for.  I arrived anxious to get the Plame panel over with so I could relax and enjoy the convention, and went into business mode immediately.  About mid way through the last day I went "oh wow, you know there are some attractive people here."  I really hadn’t noticed.  Unfortunately I looked at one guy, thought "he’s kind of cute," then found out who he was and went "holy shit, that’s not happening."  (Digby has taken to calling him "Satan’s temptation.")

Oh well I brought my friend Linda with me to the convention, everyone thought I was a lesbian anyway.

(All photos courtesy BobbyG, op99 and Taylor.  I’m not identifying anyone except for Christy and me — she’s the redhead, I’m the blond with the glasses — anyone who wants to "out" themselves in the comments is free to, don’t want to bust anyone’s anonymity.) 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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