Netroots Nation: Active Citizenry for All Ages

Netroots Nation is about plugged in, BS-free active citizenry for all ages, and it showed.

Back from Netroots Nation,
and as usual, both sad and happy to be getting up to spend time with
my cats instead of socializing with the fabulous and brilliant folks
of the netroots.   Really, mostly happy because the people
who come to Netroots Nation are so uniformly interesting that I don’t
get any sleep, either because I don’t want to go back to my hotel
room quite yet, or because I’m buzzing so much from what I learned
from people that I can’t sleep.   

The intelligence of the attendees
at Netroots Nation means that the performances of the politicians left
much to be desired. I’ve
already covered how Clinton mishandled an audience comment about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA
, and in addition, a speech by Valerie
Jarrett left the audience grumbling about how we can see right through
political posturing, and a fumbling of a question about abortion and
health care reform by Howard Dean reaffirmed concerns that many politicians
are way behind the curve on what issues are driving media coverage right

That said, the increasing professionalization
of Netroots Nation mostly received accolades from audience members. 
Many panels, including "Advocating for Reproductive Rights in the
Age of Obama" that featured myself and our own Jodi Jacobson, were
heavy on expert voices assembled by bloggers, and proved to be wildly
popular.  (The Netroots Nation bookstore was eerily empty during
book signings, because no one could tear themselves away from the panels.) 
As our fellow panelist Aimee
Thorne-Thompson noted
the audience for our panel skewed much younger than you usually see
for reproductive rights events.  Netroots Nation is about plugged
in, BS-free active citizenry of all ages, and it showed.   

And if the respect of the netroots
wasn’t returned by the politicians who spoke, it was returned by the
experts who came out to sit on panels, share information, and hear ideas. 
My favorite panel besides our own was "Science
Denial and Science Policy"
and just as in ours, the heavy presence of experts on the panel didn’t
mean that the panelists condescended to the audience.  Experts
knew they were talking to an audience that did their homework, and they
responded accordingly, by kicking the level of the discussion up a notch. 

Netroots Nation is back in
Las Vegas next year, and I look forward to moving the dialogue forward.
As one attendee said to me, "The bloggers have proven that a random
dude in his underwear writing from his bathroom can do a better job
than the pundits.  Now we have to figure out where we go with this