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September 2009

Meet The Milblog Panelists: Barmy Mama

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I’ve said before that milbloggers, and the milblog panelists, span the spectrum. Today, it is a pleasure to begin showcasing that spectrum by starting with Barmy Mama.

Barmy Mama's Avatar

Barmy Mama's Avatar

Now, blogging has been a bit lite of late, but having a newborn tends to do that. Now she may not do so, but I hold Rick Calvert and the folks here at Blog World responsible for the timing. As she put it to me, “Ironically, right when I opened up the confirmation email they sent me on the 10th, I went into labor and my son was born a few hours later.” Lite though her site might have been of late, it is a delight filled with humor and more.

Her bio is as follows:  Deanna is a 31-year-old, mommy of two, a former US Marine, and has been married to an Army National Guardsman for four years.

Barmy is a panelist on “They Also Serve: Spouse Bloggers” This panel looks at the oft overlooked half of the equation that makes protection by military, law enforcement, and other first responders possible. The panel begins app. 0945 hours on Thursday 15 October.

http://deltasierrahotel.net/

No, Milblogs Are Not PAO or Propaganda

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In response to something offline, I wanted to add to what I said yesterday.

While some PAO’s blog, and the Department of Defense is starting to blog and engage in social media, milblogs are not PAO operations. The milbloggers do have to register with their command, which can consist of telling their superior they are blogging to something a bit more formal in writing. That said, they do not have to get their content reviewed or approved by public affairs (PAO).

While differing commands have different policies, most do not review what a blogger posts unless someone complains or there is a problem. The most common problem is one of violating operational security (OPSEC). The problem with violating OPSEC is that it can put that command in danger, especially if it gives information that the enemy can exploit. Think of it like this: if someone blogs that a security camera and alarm still hasn’t been fixed despite how long it’s been, and the enemy reads that, then they know how to get in undetected and do bad things. At its best, OPSEC isn’t designed or intended to keep the news from getting out (and problems unreported), it’s there to keep the enemy from getting in.

Yes, some milbloggers do get in trouble for saying things about their command. It is in many ways the same as working for any company: if you go on online and scream about your boss being an idiot, and the boss sees it, your rear will be in a sling if not out the door. It’s pretty much the same for a milblogger, though there is an added consideration that such comments have the potential to undermine authority in a way that could get people hurt or killed.

That said, commands and commanders do have the right to monitor, and can order a blog shut down if they feel it necessary. While that has happened, and under circumstances that have reflected poorly on the command and the blogger in question about equally in my opinion, it is not the norm. Active duty milbloggers also have additional rules that might not apply to civilian counterparts, in that they have to write in such a way as to not violate rules of conduct and to be sure that they don’t appear to be speaking for any branch or the larger Department of Defense. The former can be hard, since much of that is subjective rather than objective, and has been used in questionable ways by various authorities on occasion. The latter is why you will see a disclaimer on all (good) milblogs that specify that they are speaking only for themselves and do NOT represent the government or any part thereof in any way, shape, or form.

Again, if you think the milblogs are in lockstep and propaganda, you really need to actually read them. There is a wide range of opinions, styles, and more. We hope you will join us, and learn more about the wide range of information and opinion available through your friendly local milblog.

In Case You Were Wondering Why…

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Here is a reason or 10 why you should end up in Vegas!

Thanks Nicole I needed that one today!

If you want to let Nicole know how cool this is, feel free to stop and tell her yourself if you are in Las Vegas at BlogWorld& New Media Expo.  Nicole is a speaker that will be moderating a panel about Twitter!  She is a true Rock Star that we are glad to have be a part of the fun this year.  I get the first dance Nicole!

What is a Milblog, and Why Should You Care?

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Aside from being asked what a blog is, the next question that comes up in talking with people — even other bloggers — is “What is a milblog?”  That’s a good question.

Milblogs are blogs about the military, or topics of interest to the military, by those associated with the military.  There are several “types” of milblog, most of which will be represented in the milblog track on Thursday at BWE.

Your classic milblog is one of two types.  The first is a blog by a serving member of the military who is deployed overseas.  Many of these were (or are) started by deployed troops to keep family and others updated on what they are doing, health, and other general information.  The second is a blog by former serving members, sharing news, information, and even discussion on events, policies, procedures, and more.  There is some interchangeability here, as deployed bloggers often morph into the second type of blog when they return home, and some who started as the latter morph into a deployed blog if they end up either going back onto active duty or otherwise find themselves overseas.

You also have Spouse Blogs, that is blogs written by the wives or husbands of those deployed.  As above, these can cover anything from what is happening on the homefront, so as to keep the deployed spouse up-to-date, or get into more discussion of policies, procedures, events and how they effect the family.  Some are not limited to that, but get into discussions of foreign policy, COIN, and other topics that are of interest to the people doing the milblog.

Finally, you have what can be described as support blogs.  These can be by individuals who support a particular unit; an individual who is doing something on a larger basis, such as teddy bears for the troops (real effort, BTW); non-profits who work to get mail or other support to the troops; or, efforts by companies and others to do things for the troops and their families.

Now comes the fun question:  Why should you care about milblogs?

If you truly want to know what is going on, both in a very localized sense or in broader terms in Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, your best source of information is the milblogs.  The number of reporters dedicated to covering operations overseas has dropped dramatically in the last few years, and was not high to start with.  Some of the coverage provided by stringers is, frankly, poor to fraudulent.  Some of the coverage provided by general assignment reporters, often the case as newspapers and other traditional outlets eliminate specialty reporters (science, medical, and others, not just military), suffers from a lack of knowledge about the subject area.  Imagine someone knowing nothing of sports having to cover local football…  Some milblogs not only compile stories/links from other milblogs, they also get reports from troops in the field and even send their own reporters to embed with operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere.

Secondly, the military is not a monolith.  It is composed of individuals who have differing ideas, thoughts, and even personal goals.  The milblogs host a variety of discussions on topics ranging from who makes the best guitar to matters of military policy, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  These discussions are often freewheeling and almost always fun.

Third, when it comes to foreign policy and the conduct of the war, you will not find a better place for knowledgeable discussion of Counter-Insurgency (COIN), military operations, Rules of Engagement (ROE), and other topics crucial to both war and peace.

Fourth, if you want to know the real concerns of military families, of veterans, and others, then you need to check the milblogs.  Again, you will find a diversity of opinions, and ideas for fixing various problems, then you need to read the milblogs.  These are not academic discussions; rather, they are discussions by people living the issues and dealing with them 24/7.

Finally, if you truly do support the troops and want to help them out, the miblogs provide links to things that really do directly help the troops, their families, and our veterans.  From PTSD (and excellent discussions on same) to VA benefits, the milblogs provide a wealth of information, as well as opinion commentary on same.

This year, the milblog track will run all day Thursday 15 October.  We hope you will join us, and we may even have a surprise or two.  Keep in mind that the milbloggers are not all bloodthirsty savages what couldn’t get a real job for being so dumb (well, there is that Wolf character, but he’s the exception).  You might be surprised at what you find, from degrees to hobbies.  Be sure to check out the Army Milblog Lounge in the exhibit hall as well, where you can safely interact with milbloggers in a relaxed public setting if scared to talk with us in sessions.  :)

Come meet us, and join in.  We even invite you to send in suggestions on what panels you might like to see at next year’s milblog track.

We look forward to meeting you.

Are There Any Original Ideas in Blogging Anymore?

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blog

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Demand Studios Creators Conference in Santa Monica. While there, I was speaking with another writer who was sharing an idea she had for a blog. It was an amazing idea. I won’t give it away here, but in retrospect, the reason this idea tickled me so much was because of its originality. I have never seen or heard of her idea anywhere. I think she’ll do well.

When I started my blog four and a half years ago, I was the only freelance writer listing gigs from around the web. Now these types of blogs are a dime a dozen. Every day more blogs about blogging, social media, writing, parenting, green living, working at home, saving money, making money online,  and so many other popular topics crop up, but not many of them are showing me anything new.

It got me wondering if there are any new ideas. Maybe you can help…

When was the last great original idea you saw for a blog? Can you think of any topics that haven’t yet been discovered?

Want To Attend the Milblog Track for Free?

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I love a good challenge. It gets things flowing, from endorphins onward.

Rick Calvert, founder and head of Blog World and New Media Expo, has issued a challenge. It seems Rick is convinced we can get 200 people to the milblog track on 15 October, quite a good number of people. So, he has challenged me to make it happen. So, here’s the deal:

1. If you are currently serving in the Armed Forces, or are a veteran of same (discharged or retired) and want to attend, drop me a line at blake at blakepowers dot n with BWE09 Free Registration in the subject line and a short note introducing yourself within, and you will get a code that gives you a free registration for the milblog track on 15 October, and access to the exhibit hall (and the Milblog Lounge) on the 16th & 17th.

2. If you are a military spouse, spouse blogger, military supporter, or reader of the milblogs, the same applies.

3. If you have a blog or other outlets of your own (Twitter, Facebook, newsgroups, e-mail groups, etc.), please spread the word.

4. If you happen to have contacts in blogging or old media in California, Nevada, or Arizona, please reach out to them as well, as we would very much like to be sure that we reach all the different bases in those regions.

I will also note that if you are interested in attending, there are some excellent deals on rooms and such through the Blog World site once you are registered.

While the registration only covers the milblog track and exhibit hall, if you want to attend parties, other sessions, etc., you can contact BWE after you register and see about the costs of upgrades. Also, a reminder to those already speaking and attending: if your spouse, SO, or other is coming with you and you want them to get in, be sure they register with one of the free codes so they can be badged.

Keep an eye on the grid at Blog World, as we are updating as needed and are still working on trying to make a surprise or two happen.

LW

It Profits To Be A Non-Profit At BlogWorld!

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****Update***  You Only Need A Weekend Pass To Attend The Non Profit Track***

Let’s face it, money is tight.  If you are a large corporation or a hobbyist, an employee or an employer, you know of what I speak.  This is not more prevelant that in the non-profit world.  They have budgets that would make most of us cringe, yet they seem to continue on carrying the torch for their causes.  They are passionate to keep up their good deeds and find ways to make their lack of money stretch to meet their needs.  The folks at eBay and PayPal, in conjunction with BlogWorld & New Media Expo are easing the pain of budgetary constraints a little.  paypal_logo

logoEbay_x45 They are allowing those in a non-profit organization to attend our event at half off the regular price.  That is right, 50% right off the top of the ticket price to go to Blog World!  In order to qualify you can apply by sending an email to blogworld@kompolt.com and applying for a special code that can be used when you register.  This allows you to get whatever package you choose at half price. Obviously you have to be a non-profit to qualify.

We understand what the non-profits have to go through to get to experience the same benefits as their “for profit” brethren, we and Ebay and Paypal want to help level the playing field a little.  Get over and apply for your special code to get 50% off your ticket.  I’ll make sure it is worth your time and effort!  Thank you eBay and Paypal for making this possible!

Get A Taste of Blog World Expo

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I am going to be talking tomorrow with some of the speakers that will be speaking at BlogWorld & New Media Expo in October.  I have watched as our schedule came together and have many people to thank for that, but none more than the speakers that will be providing their time, their efforts and their expertise to all of the attendees that will be coming to the event, and even those that will get a chance to perhaps see it through other means.  The speakers make the content we provide in the conference possible.  The guests will each provide some glimpses into what they will be talking about and what we can expect October will bring.

Join us on Blog World Expo Radio at 12:00 p.m. PST as I am joined by my special guests, Mur Lafferty, Lewis Howes, Patrick O’Keefe, and Ben Ilfeld. This will give us a chance to get a small taste of what we can expect in Las Vegas.

Chad Vader Breaks The Internet and Turns To Blog World Expo For Help

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If you have not seen this video of Chad Vader now is a good time to check it out.  We have had quite a chuckle here watching and sending it out via Twitter.  Our special thanks to Matt Sloan and Aaron Yonda for their hard work in putting it together and allowing us to have a bit of fun.  You can see their session on YouTube Success on Friday, October 16, 2009 at 4:30 p.m.   If you have not yet registered to be a part of the event, I will send Chad to your house and break your Internet!

Thanks also to our other speakers, Chris Brogan, Cali Lewis and Guy Kawasaki for letting us poke some fun.

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