Kibitzing About "The Blummit"

Jesse Russell from Dane101 hit up the WisOpinion Wisconsin Blog Summit II today in Milwaukee, writing up the first in a four-part series with his thoughts about it. While we weren't able to take him up on an offer to go along, he wallops a number of nails right on the head.

"If WisPolitics plans to continue this summit each year (and I hope they do or even consider doing it twice a year around the state), I hope they will reach out to Madison and other areas in Wisconsin for panelists and truly make it a Wisconsin Blog Summit."

I know Steve S and I, who attended with Opiate last year and provided some exclusive, dramatic live-blogging, have similar thoughts to those expressed by Jesse: the summit is hardcore Milwaukee-centric and peopled with a lot of bloggers (many corporate) that don't necessarily lead opinion, interact with other blogs, epitomize/aggregate/hub a regional blogosphere, or even get read. Earlier this spring, we even joked about starting a counter summit here as a sort of protest (I ultimately ran Crazylegs as my little black armband for the day).

There is a strange dearth of out-state blogs in Wisconsin, with a few exceptions, as Jesse points out (Lakeshore Laments, until recently, was a notable exception*). Greater Milwaukeeland, admittedly, is home to more blogs and seemingly more blog readers than Madison.

But Madison has its own interesting, distinct blogosphere that tends to get overlooked. It's a different animal, really - and probably loses out for being less focused on state government issues than the Milwaukee crew, which benefits from being an older, more established outgrowth of the highly engaged conservative talk radio scene in Brewtown. In both cities, the local university blogospheres (primarily Marquette and UW-Madison) are phenomena unto themselves that were conspicuously absent from an official spot at the table last year, and apparently again this year.

Talking to Opiate of the Masses, Hippie Perspective, and Miles Per Gallentine at the Herald/Cardinal softball game the other day, I think it would be healthy to have another Madison Blogger Roundup, as we did with the student crew last year.

Off-blog events, as seen with the BBA, can help to build up a regional network and keep good blogs going. I think having the event in Madison next year - or a second one this year in Madison with a different format - would be a strong step forward in making the "Blummit" a comprehensive event.

* For its size, the small town of Kiel, Wisconsin has had a disproportionate influence on the early Cheddarsphere. Graduates of little Kiel High School include: Kevin, Kurt, and Beefy at Lakeshore Laments of the Sheboygan/Manitowoc area, Logan of Among Giants at Marquette, and me at Letters in Bottles here in Madison.