Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Brief Interlude With Lisa Stone

Subtitle: "I'm Not Worthy! I'm Not Worthy!"

Seriously, I'm not. But I'm giving it my best shot. Now, when Mocha first came up with this little gem of an idea, it was cute, cocktail-partyish, and had the potential to let a few of us who already knew each other a little get some laughs and share some goofiness. And then somehow, when it came time to assign us our interviews, I get this message: "Belinda will interview Lisa." As in Lisa Stone. As in BlogHer founder. As in Surfette. As in pedigreed-professional-at-the-thing-I-merely-play-at-doing. As in probably gets spasms in her editor's-red-pencil-muscles just from reading my blog. So for that, thanks, Mocha, and I owe you one. I mean I REALLY owe you. And I WILL pay you back. But being that I am a HUGE fan of Lisa's, and that I know the truth, which is that all the rest of you were skeered, I took a deep breath and dove right in, and Lisa made it all really quite painless and delightful, which, as I've come to find out over the last few months, is rather a gift of hers.

ahem. moving on...

If you don't know Lisa, just stand still and pay attention: If there is a computer and a woman in your life, you will know of her eventually. She's a force of nature in the world of blogging, and her accomplishments in the particular niche of women and the internet are unique and unparallelled. For a great recent example of what she's capable of at a seeming moment's notice, check out this recent post, which had me just shaking my head in wonderment and admiration--all three times I read it. She's kind, gracious, eloquent, smart, accomplished and passionate, and she does not even have the good grace to be unattractive, dorky, or mean. She's a mom, and she's married to a remarkable man of compatible talents. And yet, somehow, rather than inspiring insane jealousy among her peers, she manages to maintain full-to-bursting stores of direct, indirect, and unsolicited whuffie. I proudly give you Ms. Lisa Stone.

Hi, Lisa, and welcome to Ninja Poodles! I am beyond honored to have you here, as you are someone whose work and voice I have admired since long before you ever heard of the way--I found Surfette, originally, through JenB . How did you ever stumble across me, just out of curiosity?

One day you left a comment about feeling censored and how no one can take your words away from you. I'll go find it.... here it is. What can I say? I swooned. The "ninja poodles" would have been tempting, but there's nothing like First Amendment rights to really turn my head! I've been reading you ever since. Thanks for being living proof that it's erroneous to dismiss mothers who blog as people who don't think about the world beyond the edge of their own shopping carts.

You are a journalist by education, training, and vocation, and your blog, Surfette, is very polished and professional. Do you try to incorporate that knowledge and those work habits into your personal blogging, or does it just come naturally, out of habit? Do you ever try to NOT write "like a journalist?" Are there any elements of grammar, syntax, spelling or style that just drive you crazy when you see them in other blogs, and make you want to edit?

Belinda, you mind-reader, stop that. You're right: It's hard to break 20 years of training and habit. Which is why Surfette so often sounds like I do in a newsroom. And I love writing like that on some occasions -- I think me ranting about black spots on the journalism profession like Spin Alley would be much less effective if I didn't do careful research like it I did for Pressthink. I also think it's valuable not to commit the sins of "ain't-it-awful" punditocracy and rave about the risks of Second Life rather than actually having the experience of signing on as a 15-year-old girl and then writing about it.

That said, I'm slowly starting to I'm still feeling my way around as a conversational blogger. Right now I think the writing that feels the most natural to me is the BlogHer Mommy & Family newsletter, where I just riff. I'm wrapped pretty tight, so that's been hard for me. I'm glad you asked. I'll be thinking about your question for weeks...

Who do you read every day, rain or shine?, Memeorandum, Global Voices Online, independent bloggers on every subject I can find time for..

Are there any topics that you would not feel comfortable writing about, and/or inviting comment on?

My son's biological father, to whom I was married for eight years. I may occasionally make oblique references, likely to share something about myself, but that's it.

What could be listed as one of your favorite posts of your own? Which of your posts got a strong reaction from readers? Links please?

It was really a gift when invited me to guest-post this piece. For so long I've held back from writing about motherhood because of my divorce. This post helped me realize how much I'd moved beyond the pain factor into enjoying life with my son. He's a hoot.

Asking women online whether or not they wanted a conference for women bloggers got a strong reaction: Bloghercon 2005: Is this the way to run with Halley's Comment? and Should Bloghercon be open to men?

Have you written anything controversial? Is blogging controversial?

See the previous answer. And this post raised a few eyebrows. I never thought twice about turning to blogging -- because I've left every medium I've ever reported in out of frustration that the reader/viewer/user was being patronized and mistreated. I left print for broadcast, broadcast for Internet publishing, and Internet publishing for blogging. I love them all, but blogging is the best for us readers.

You are a very open blogger, identity-wise. Do you ever feel a need to put on a cloak of internet anonymity in order to post or comment on a topic?

Never. I would never do that. This is one of the reasons I give no credit to anonymous commenters. This practice makes me belligerent. Be a woman - own your comments or kiss off, I say.

What is your vision for BlogHer over the next year/5 years/10 years/beyond? What would you like to see BlogHer accomplish/become? Of BlogHer's accomplishments to date, of what are you personally most proud?

Wow. The compliment is in the question. Thank you, Belinda.

Now I need to speak in the royal "we" -- because Elisa Camahort, Jory Des Jardins and I lead BlogHer together as completely equal partners.

We want BlogHer to stay true to its mission: To create opportunities for women to gain exposure, education, community and, with the introduction of the BlogHer Ad Network, economic empowerment. BlogHer's community is developing into a media platform that supports those goals for individual women who want to make the most of them -- via conferences, the social network and now advertising.

I'm most proud of the fact that we are delivering on our promises. After BlogHer '05, the community asked us for a two-day conference, a Web network and, later, a business model. Today we're delivering all three. Over the next year we're going to raise the standard by which we continue to do all three. As for five or ten years down the road? The pace of technological innovation, development and consumer adoption makes it foolish for me to respond. But as I've written, women are the power users of Web 2.0. I don't expect that to change. Nor do I expect the three of us will ever find better jobs than working with this community on this mission.

I think this is my favorite question: If you had a super power, what would it be?

My presence would permanently end the abuse of children. From world peace to hunger to parental neglect.

Very good, Lisa! Thank you so much for being here, and I look forward to meeting you in person one day.

Thanks B. Wish I were meeting you in a few days!

BOY, does that make two of us!

If you would like to participate in this little exercise in mutual interviewing, please join right in and play along! Whether you're going to the BlogHer 2006 Conference at the end of this week, wish you were going, or couldn't care less about it, you are welcome and wanted in our virtual pre-conference mixer. And we're supposed to tag, so I'm tagging, out of sheer potential for interestingness and with no expectations whatsoever (see how nice I am? no pressure) Erin, Dave2, Lucinda, Sheryl, Jane, BusyMom, Jess, Kevin and Dixie! The easiest instructions to follow are probably these. Or easiest of all, just click the "BlogMe" button in my sidebar, select a few of your favorite questions, and just answer them YOURSELF, on your own site. Then tag someone else.

To read La Mocha's interview of ME, take yourself HERE.


  1. Neat!

    I'd play, but I'm not going to BlogHer.

  2. I met Lisa years and years ago at a place we both worked. Well I didn't actually meet her, because it was the internet and I was a lowly message board moderator. But what always stuck with me, about her in particular, was that she didn't seem to like the status quo. She didn't really understand the need for separation between the "editors" and the "community" they were editing FOR. She was one of the few people, in my experience, who really "got it".

    Nice interview!

  3. Belinda! I am printing your kind words, turning them into a tattoo and having them permanently scripted onto my...arm. For everyday. Thank you thank you thank you (repeat).

    Someday we'll meet...BlogHer '07?

    Denise, woman, coming from an expert like you, that is high praise indeed. Thank you - I will always be your student. Anyone out there have a question about meeting, greeting and leading conversations with women online? I invite you to contact Dr. Denise, whose prescriptions are genius. Pure, heartfelt genius.

  4. I'm in awe of the force of nature that is Lisa.

  5. Girls kick ass. What can I say?

  6. Great interview of Lisa! I felt like I was there, watching it unfold before my eyes.

    She is rather fascinating, huh? Even I didn't know those things about her.

    But, uhhhh... that was the point, right?

  7. So, how do we second-stringers get the ball rolling on another round of interviews? This batch was great!

  8. This was a lot of fun to read. I love getting to know people better this way. And I took you up on your tagging.

    Here's the link for my interview.

    I hope I did that right because I suck at making links.

  9. I didn't do it right. I knew I wouldn't make that link right.

    Y'all just click on my name and go to my blog if you want to read it. I'll cry if I have to try to make that link again.

  10. Mutual interviewing in advance of the event: what a cool idea. And executed very well in this case.

    Stone is the real thing: a leader. Thanks for doing this.

  11. Truly inspirational - thank you Lisa, and you too Belinda.

  12. I read this interview, but somehow I missed that you tagged me. I will post mine soon :o)

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