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Female bloggers revving up

Published Aug 28th 2006, 3:27pm by
S.J. CONFERENCE CELEBRATES NEW ERA IN ONLINE WRITING
By Michelle Quinn
Mercury News
Local blogger Jory Des Jardins of Oakland speaks with fellow bloggers during the second BlogHer Conference.

Ladies, start your engines.

Huh?

Everyone knows that tens of thousands of crazed fans will be cheering and sweating in downtown San Jose today and Saturday for the San Jose Grand Prix, a celebration of engineering, speed and, of course, manhood.

But in the north of San Jose, 750 female bloggers are cloistered away from the din of the roaring engines. Instead, they gather today and Saturday at the BlogHer conference at the Hyatt San Jose to discuss the roar they are making online on every topic worth talking about -- politics, business, divorce, knitting, parenting.

Tempers may flare. Things may get said. Feelings may get hurt and everything will be blogged on at both ends of the city.

This weekend, San Jose is divided between two playgrounds, the testosterone fueled, gas guzzling, sound-wall-breaking one downtown. And the estrogen-laced community-building, business-savvy one that comes complete with corporate-sponsored child care.

Of course, there are a lot of female fans of auto racing. And some are bloggers. In fact, there's www.askpatty.com , a blog about cars, whose author will attend the BlogHer conference.

Blogging, like racing, can't neatly be divided into boy/girl categories. In fact, a recent study of bloggers by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 46 percent of bloggers are women.

But blogging is relatively new and, to hear those at a BlogHer lunch Thursday talk, the era when male bloggers made the most noise and got the most attention is coming to an end.

The next wave, which includes a lot of women, finds new, broader reasons to blog.

According to Pew, women more than men tend to use their online writing for social reasons, such as to break out of their isolation, help people in trouble or engage strangers on issues of the day.

The theme of this second annual conference is ``How Are Blogs Changing Your World?''

While most of the 100 top-ranked bloggers in the world are men, the world's No. 1 blogger, measured by how many bloggers link to the work, is a female Chinese pop star. The top 100 also includes Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post provides analysis and humor on the day's political news. She's planning to attend BlogHer.

The birth of BlogHer sheds some light into how women use technology differently. Last year, a group of female bloggers held a one-day conference; 300 people showed up. They created a Web page where they could meet and discuss issues. And now, the organization BlogHer.org has several conferences a year complete with corporate sponsors. The group launched an ad network recently for more than 30 parenting bloggers with advertisers such as Elexa by Trojan, Disney and Intuit.

``BlogHer the conference became BlogHer the community and then BlogHer the business,'' said Elisa Camahort, BlogHer's co-founder and a former high-tech product manager.

BlogHer, based in Palo Alto, aims to be the Yellow Pages and TV Guide for female bloggers. While any woman can submit her blog, all blogs are reviewed before added to the community.

One of them is at www.svmoms.com, a group of 40 bloggers who live in Silicon Valley and on the Peninsula. The blog features short observations about life and parenting in Silicon Valley on topics such as how strange it can be to be a young mother, the guilt of hiring nannies and what it feels like to watch other parents buy expensive designer clothes for their children.

The grand prix has Toyota, Hertz Rental Equipment and Authobahn Motors among its lead sponsors. The blogging women will not be without their own wheels to lust over.

General Motors, one of BlogHers sponsors, will have its hybrid SUVs, hydrogen fuel cell family cars and Saturn Sky available to test drive. And blog on.

Oh, and for those test driving the hydrogen cell cars, a piece of advice.

Drive south down First Street. You'll find something to post.


Contact Michelle Quinn at mquinn@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5749.

 




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