From Wednesday through yesterday, I was in Las Vegas, mostly to attend BlogWorldExpo, billed as the first convention of its kind, and partly to just have some fun in Vegas, since I hadn't been there since 1999. (Fortunately, I got out of there without losing any money -- I won some playing blackjack the first night, then gave most of it back the second night. Oh, well.)
It was nice to finally meet, face to face, a number of SB Nation bloggers who I've emailed many, many times in the nearly three years (which is an eternity in blogtime) I've been part of this group: Adam from Lone Star Ball (and you'll get a kick out of his experience at a blackjack table at Caesar's Palace); Larry of Viva El Birdos; Brandon of Acme Packing Company, who is a good guy even though he's a Packers fan; Steve of Clips Nation; Jim from the USC blog Conquest Chronicles, and Dex from the Padres site Gaslamp Ball, who sat next to me at one of the sessions on Thursday, snapped a photo of me taking notes on my laptop, and said of me in that post: "Al's older than me, but he also looks a little more dangerous, which is why I haven't mentioned anything about 1984."
Hmmm. I only look a little more dangerous? I have to work on that. (But he was probably smart anyway to not mention 1984.)
There were also two SBN bloggers who I'd met before -- Matt from the Chicago Bulls site Blog-a-Bull, who told me he's a huge Cubs fan and originally wanted to start a Cubs blog, but since there were already so many, he figured the Bulls were the next best thing, and Our Fearless Leader Tyler Bleszinski from Athletics Nation. I'd be remiss if I didn't say here and now -- hey Blez, thanks for lunch on Friday!
In addition to the SBN folks, I was fortunate to be able to meet and hang out with ESPN.com's Rob Neyer, whose online columns and books I have enjoyed for many years (and who, we all learned, doesn't have a college degree); Matthew Cerrone, whose MetsBlog is incredibly well-researched and comprehensive (I was really impressed with how thorough and knowledgeable Matt is); Jamie Mottram, who used to run FanHouse for AOL and is now charged with starting a similar project at Yahoo (and who also, with his brother Chris, runs the very funny and well-written Mister Irrelevant blog; and Chris Ballard from SI.com.
We all shared thoughts on quite a number of topics relating to sports blogging and blogging in general (there were an estimated 1200 bloggers in attendance); you can read some of the things that were discussed here, here, and here; thanks to my SBN colleagues for blogging, and especially to Jim from Conquest Chronicles, live-blogging, the events, while I was busily taking notes.
Friday afternoon, after the sessions were over, nearly everyone in attendance squeezed into a too-small room (so small that when there weren't enough seats, so that people were standing in the back, they enlisted some convention center employees to open the movable walls to the next room over) to hear Mark Cuban deliver the "ending keynote" (that phrase is a bit of an oxymoron, isn't it? Isn't a "keynote speech" supposed to start a convention?).
Cuban was introduced as a man who has a number of different enterprises under his hat -- but also as a blogger, "one of us". I'm sure many of you have read his blog, BlogMaverick; I find it refreshing, because it indeed does do just what many bloggers do -- talk about what's going on in his own life, as well as about some of his ventures. Just because Cuban's life happens to include "Dancing With The Stars" doesn't mean he can't be a human being, too.
Cuban said that he started blogging in 2004 when he did an email interview with a Dallas Morning News reporter, and then when he saw the interview published, it turned out to be something completely different than what he had said in his email responses; he decided to post the exact email exchange to tell people what "really" happened. (If I have searched his site correctly, this is the relevant post.) About blogging, he made the following very insightful comments:
About personal blogging: sometimes something just crosses your mind, and you think, "I want to blog about that". If it’s personal it doesn’t matter, but if you’re working for someone and trying to build a brand, you have a challenge in staying true to yourself. Fight the temptation to pander to readers.
After the Q&A session a number of us crowded around him to try to get a word in before he had to go. I introduced myself and handed him a BCB card and he said, "I read your site." I asked him if I could interview him for the site; he directed me to a website where I could find an email address for him. I emailed him Friday evening and had a response within six hours (clearly, from his cellphone, I copy/paste his reply here in its entirety):
So Mark -- if you really are reading this site, I'll ask you again, if you feel you can: tell us directly. As I said in my email to you, BCB has a large number of the most passionate, knowledgeable and in-touch Cubs fans. You already know the power of blogs, since you have your own. You can email me anytime. I'll post whatever you and I discuss without editing.
Change my mind. Maybe you ARE the right guy. But I'd like to hear it from you directly.