First a big thanks to the killer blogger Polimom for her help right after the storm. The T-P wrote her up yesterday here. Our gratitude to her remains undiminished by time.
A new Katrina Refrigerator post with photos and notes is here.
Wow, got all those links in pretty well, huh?
I mentioned notebooks yesterday. At Rising Tide, laptops sprouted from table tops like centerpieces at a wedding. Their use of them was incredible. Some were blogging real time reports of what was happening on any given panel, others were tracking Ernesto, which was indeed making all of us very nervous. (The standing joke was that "Che" Ernesto Guevara wouldn't do much damage to Cuba and would probably go to Bolivia and die. Such is the hurricane fear humor here. As the rain poured down causing at least one panelist to have difficulty getting to us, the tension over Ernesto was palpable through the laughter and jokes.)
As I said, the Conference was held at the New Orleans Yacht club. There were so many interesting contrasts that my notebook is full of little weirdnesses. Outside the rain is pounding down, inside the Yacht Club bar are the Yacht Club members, having picnics and drinks, generally very cheery and most looking at us with curiousity. The bartender had to put a mop on the base of one of the windows as it was leaking and starting to look more like a hotel lobby wall fountain than a window, but no one seemed really worried. Boats still upturned and thrashed from Katrina were outside taking on yet more water, but the pristine white shorts of the Yacht Club denizens had not a spot on them as they enjoyed themselves.
Across the foyer, the bloggers, in various outfits, not one in pristine white shorts, were trading information, listening to panelists, questioning what was being said, and the windows in that room didn't require a mop.
The bloggers and the panelists were fascinating and clearly were people who think. But they break down along different lines within the group. Some of us qualify for a couple of the sub-groups.
There are the tech-Gods. These folks (Alan Gutierrez of ThinkNOLA chief among them) are passionate about the use of technology to get information out, collated and accessible. His idea to "control and consolidate" the information we're putting out makes sense and his statement that we should adopt the "publish everything view of the younger generation" also makes sense. Problem is that for some of us, although we're a bit geeky, we're not able to put the time in to learn all the tech. I was impressed by the passion of these folks and their ability to really use technology to its potential, but for me and some others it's not realistic in terms of time or energy. Thank goodness they're doing it.
There are the journalist/fact finders. These are the folks who always link to what they're talking about, have the articles at their fingertips when they're writing, their work can be totally vetted. They view themselves as reporters, and indeed, they are. (The panel on MSM vs bloggers was very interesting. Points were brought up about editors on newspapers requiring verifiable sources for a story and one panelist, while not actually saying it, seemed to view bloggers as a bit "less than"--stating that "the difference between a blogger and me is that I have a 401K.") But the fact is that these journalist/fact finder bloggers have posted things that didn't make it into the MSM for days after they'd already posted online. God bless them for their attention to detail.
There are the community activists. While most of us are community activists to one degree or another, some of the people in that room were dedicated to their neighborhood group, or one or two specific causes, all of them tied to the rebuilding of New Orleans. These are the people who are putting the information on neighborhood building permits, infrastructure, coalitions, roadblocks and council members online in a way that keeps the information current. They've made great strides through their posts in organizing people to get things done, from attending neighborhood planning meetings to gutting houses.
Then there were some bloggers like me. I read an article, may or may not have the link to it, and vent. I'll tell you where I saw it, but if you want to read it, you'll have to find it yourself unless I really have time to put the links up. One day I might just be posting my opinion or my observations of what I'm seeing around me. The next day I might be posting about how I'm feeling and the emotional rollercoaster that life in New Orleans is right now. I'll contribute what I can, but mostly, I just write.
The contributions of all the sub-groups of the NOLA bloggers combined is what makes what we do matter. The variety of opinions, presentation, and perspectives is what makes the NOLA blog community so rich.
There is only one element that I found lacking. The paucity of the black perspective. I'll write about that tomorrow.
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