I must be the last person at the conference to blog about it. I actually considered live blogging it, but I didn't want to even think about holding my laptop in one hand and a plate of deli in the other, while balancing a drink somewhere in the middle. So the laptop remained in the car.
It's about a 3 hour drive from the heartland to our Galilean village, so after visiting with my sister and brother-in-law for 10 minutes, I hit the road. It only took me 2 hours to get home and as I told my wife, "maybe I drove a little bit faster then a could've"
It was a great conference, but somehow I think the organizers missed the boat (or at least part of it). For me, and for a number of the bloggers who I spoke to, the main reason they came was to hear people like Zavi Apfelbaum, the Director of Brand Management at the Foreign Ministry. How can our blogs help the state of Israel. The problem is that she ran out of time in the middle of her presentation and skipped through a number of the relevant points. When they called her on time, there were protests from the entire crowd. Her Q & A session was disrupted by a wack job yelling about Israel's Jewishness. Now I am pro-Jewishness in Israel. It is a main part of the content that I write here, but there is a civilized way of discussing it and a non-civilized way. Screaming "What about the Jewishness" a dozen times until they end the session is not the way, especially when she never came out against Jewishness. She just came out for a multi-faceted approach to how we would like Joe Goy to think about Israel.
I pretty much skipped the last group of panelists and went and spoke to Zavi. I explained to her what bloggers would like to do to help her and a little bit of the power of getting the message out if she had 1000 bloggers including some topics that she sends out in their normal blogs. For example, if I get a message that says: There are dinosaurs from Argentina in the MadaTech science museum in Haifa. I would be happy to write about that, I might even include differing viewpoints on creationism vs evolution and how old the world really is.
Another high point of the convention was the surprise speaker, blogger Benyamin Netanyahu. It is not updated all that often, but he explained that as an aversion to ghost writers and the lack of time to actually write himself. These are sentiments that I fully understand. Netanyahu spoke very well and answered questions, most of them political in nature. What he failed to do, was address how bloggers could unite to get a message across. I wasn't called on to ask a question and when I finally decided to ask without being called on they were just ending the session.
The first group of panelists were interesting, discussing what the purpose of their blogs was and how they became big traffic players. All of them without intent. In other words, write passionately, engage the community and quite naturally traffic that is interested in your topic will come to your site.
I saw a number of bloggers who I recognized from the online world including: Rafi G, Jameel at the Muqata, Joe Settler, Batya from Shiloh Musings. I was sitting in the same row as Lurker, the guy who doesn't have a blog but comments, and RivkA from Coffee and Chemo. I had a great discussion with Ted from IsraPundit about politics and life in general.
To sum up, it was a great convention and I would go again next year.