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Alexander Residence: Cybermummy11 putting parent blogging on the map

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cybermummy11 putting parent blogging on the map

At the weekend I went to Cybermummy 11, a conference for parent bloggers.  It helped me to see the fabric of parent blogging.  To see what is happening and what is possible.  To put names to faces and to see why others blog.  To hear that the reasons are complex, creative, sometimes contradictory.  To see the 2D landscape that has been my twitter feed, my google reader, my blog roll suddenly become 3D.

It may also have brought out the closet sociologist in me. But I think that is a very good thing.  Dropping A level German for Sociology changed my life.  I think an academic perspective on parent blogging could help to validate our energies even further. Yes I am going to get high brow here.

I didn't go expecting specific guidance on how to blog, although it was there too. I was looking for a bigger picture, because nine months in and I am still pondering why I blog.  So when I popped up on giant screen, alongside my fellow Britmums vloggers, explaining my reasons in a highlight reel entitled Why do I blog , my reasons for attending were crystallised.  I sounded incredibly serious, claiming I blog because blogging  'raises the status of parents and validates the experience of parenting', but after Cybermummy11, I believe that more than ever.

So what inspiration did I gain?  I think before Cybermummy there has been a sense of unrest among parent bloggers.  The landscape is changing, the ranks of parent bloggers are growing rapidly, conventional advertising is changing and brands and PR companies are keen to work with what from Sarah Fortuna of HP described as 'the influencers'.  As a teacher/student of media culture, this shift in culture fascinates me.

There's a flipside, I was interested to hear Ellie Lee of the Centre for Parent and Culture Studies debate whether bloggers are completing 'piece work' for brands.  My sponsor Netmums champion fair recompense for blogger's work for brands, but this is not always the case. PRs and bloggers are still working out how to work in a way that is mutually beneficial.

Ellie also questioned whether we are part of a cultural shift that makes the private sphere of the family unit public.  Ellie suggested when it comes to parenting debates, parent bloggers may provide an interface between the academic and wider worlds.  (She also mentioned she would like to work with bloggers; Kirsty from Imperfect Pages and I would love to).  Broadsheet reporting of the event seemed to reflect this shift, the Independent quoted Susanna Scott: "The difference is between being part of the chatter and leading the chatter – and I think mummy bloggers are leading the chatter."
(The Independent 26/6/11)

Sarah Brown also highlighted how moving into social networking can facilitate a power shift. As a blog grows, it moves from voicing individual concerns to opening conversation and debate, from having a voice, to having power.  As the day unfolded many bloggers documented how they had used that power, to save children in developing countries, to unite communities, share issues and inspiration, to raise concerns and to tell the story of parenting in the 21st century.

On a personal note, meeting Jen from Mum in the Madhouse and Henrietta from Marketing to Milk and toasting our mums, who we each lost in the last year, was a really humbling moment.  We have supported each other on the rollercoaster of bereavement, each riding a month or two behind the other and 'waving' to each other, over twitter and our blogs.  There has been every combination of ups and downs between us.  But having someone who has been there, always at hand helps.

Such a very inspiring day.  Overwhelming yes, but I left feeling empowered and glad that I had been able experience blogging in 3D.  Thanks to the organisers for putting parent blogging on the map, the broadsheet coverage was impressive.

Thanks to my unsung heros, Helloit'sgemma, This Mid 30s Life and Kate Takes 5 for being my anchors in a sea of familiar and unfamilar faces I had nowhere near enough time to greet.  My own fault too in part, for being such an information junkie and attending four out of four sessions.  Huge thanks to Netmums for sponsoring Kate and me, and for the Netmums Bellini reception.  It was wonderful to meet so many fab bloggers in less frantic surroundings.

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At 1 July 2011 at 08:58 , Anonymous Honest Mum said...

Thank you for this brilliant post. For someone who sadly wasn't able to attend, you have encapsulated just how poignant and inspiring CyberMummy was and how important having a voice as a parent blogger is. Thank you and hope to attend next year. Vx

At 1 July 2011 at 09:09 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, they are all so different just like all of us :)

Hopefully may make it to Cybermummy12 and meet all you lovely people :)

At 1 July 2011 at 16:50 , Blogger This Mid 30s Life said...

Well said Penny. It's great reading about CyberMummy in such a positive light, it was a fantastic day.

You're absolutely right, to stop and look at the whole culture of blogging is so interesting. I admit I came away from the day wondering if I should be a bit more serious over at Mid 30s Life.

At 1 July 2011 at 17:40 , Blogger The Alexander Residence said...

Ali and Honest Mum - Glad it stuck a chord and really hope you can make it next year, i thoroughly recommend.

Mid 30s - Love you just the way you are. I think I need to lighten up sometimes too, you totally had the pampering possibilities of the day sussed. I wished I had taken a leaf out of your book ;)


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