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Black Folks On The Internet

This past weekend I walked into a technology geek’s dream. Everywhere I saw, seemingly tech connoisseurs toiling over ipads, macbooks, and iphones. I wasn’t even at an Apple Store. Sorry Steve Jobs. This past weekend I got a chance to attend the Blogging While Brown conference in Washington D.C. This was the first time in my life where doing something while brown didn’t involve nightsticks and jail time. Although I’ve been an active participant in the blogosphere for well over a year now, I was unaware that so many people that looked like me were not only participating as well, but also revolutionizing new media. During this two-day conference I met and incessantly tweeted about the “big ballers” in the blogosphere. I met middle aged mothers who blogged about their experiences being single parents, politicos who blogged about all the latest snafus and scandals in the Beltway (they’ll never run out of material to write about), and academics who were conducting research on the presence of Black folks on the web.

Much of the conference centered on how to make your blog suck less. Seriously! Scott Hanselman, a Principal Program Manager for Microsoft, led a conversation about the little things bloggers should do to keep their audience engaged and create more traffic. Although The Black Youth Project never did suck, and was always one of the most intriguing blogs out on the web (self promotion is as American as capitalism) I came back to Chicago with the tools to take the blog to the next level.

The panel discussion entitled “Beyond Gossip, Hip Hop, Hair, and Politics:Bloggers as Change Agents and Educators” shed light on the power that those in the blogosphere wield. Although writing posts about our newest crushes and the awful fashion choices of celebrities at red carpet events may be fun, it is important to look beyond that. We as bloggers are in unique positions to change policies and even change lives. We live in an age where almost all United States Congressmen and Senators have Facebook pages (many never check it). Even President Barack Obama has a twitter account. To ignore the power of new media would be like ignoring the vitriol on the Glenn Beck show. Both seem to be here and not ready to go yet.

While the future of blogging may not be concrete, the current impact is undeniable and inescapable.