Last week I drove down to Santa Clara for the aforementioned blawging roundtable. (I hate the word "blawg," although sometimes it's more bother than it's worth to resist it.) I didn't know quite what to expect from the evening - I'm not sure anyone did - but it turned out to be quite interesting. There were about 40-50 people in the room, mostly bloggers, although a few were just blog readers. Most were also legal bloggers in some respect, although some were technology or political bloggers. Then again, even law blogs come in all shapes and sizes, so who can really say that one topic is necessarily mutually exclusive of the other.
And even those who were more identifiable as legal bloggers came in all shapes and sizes as well. In-house counsel, firm associates, public interest lawyers, law students, law professors... with each putting their blog to different use. For instance, for some their blogs were dedicated to focusing on a particular area of law, while for others, the blog was a chance to create some transparency for this legal world we occupy.
The evening began with everyone sitting around a large table and sharing their war stories. There were a few discussion leaders who tossed out some pre-planned discussion topics, but what was most illuminating about the exercise was how much about the blogging experience was shared. Beyond the certain concerns we all found ourselves facing as bloggers - like the possible effect on one's professional esteem or potential legal liabilities - there were also certain recurrent experiences that can only come from sitting in the captain's chair at the helm of a blog.
There is, as often has been discussed, a risk to putting yourself so out there, and attendees talked about some of the (I'm not sure "negative" is the right word, so let's go with) stranger experiences they've had. But there are also fantastic rewards, and we talked about those too. The thing about blogging is that it's kind of scary. It's a very new thing, and no one really knows how it will all play out. It also tends to be a very solitary thing. Although some people are on group blogs, even so, for the most part blogging is about you putting forward something of you extremely conspicuously. Blog posts are rarely written by consensus, so it's usually just your own neck that's been extended, and it can make you feel very vulnerable. So it was nice to discover that none of us were really quite so alone out there, that all the weird and wonderful things that happen to us as bloggers were happening to all the rest of us too.