Just back from Paris, where there was much business and pleasure to attend to. On Sunday night, I headed to American expat Jim Haynes‘s atelier for his weekly dinner party, which - much like the blogosphere - brings together people from all over the world, of varying professional backgrounds and personal experiences. Jim usually invites up to 50 people, but this week there were at least 80, each of whom brought along €20 in an envelope with their name on it; this covers the cost of the food (delicious) and drink (alcoholic, non, and plentiful), with profits going to finance Jim’s small press and help various causes and friends he deems worthy. I took superstar French blogger Clotilde Dusoulier - whose mention in French Elle‘s article on blogging I got to see for myself upon arrival - along for the night.
We talked to a curious mix of people, which is after all the point of Jim’s parties - and the reason I was so excited to be invited (thanks to a connection from another blogger, syndicated advice columnist Amy Alkon, a mutual friend of my journalist friend Cathy Seipp, who is also a blogger.). What struck me was that, no matter their age or occupation or level of technical awareness, every single American I talked to knew exactly what blogs are. I knew that the awareness of blogs in the US is much, much higher than in Britain, but I sort of expected at least one Yank to give me the blank stare that I usually get from Brits when I mention blogging. Instead, the response was invariably, “Of course I know what blogs are!”
What was a bit disappointing, though, was that even these people seemed only to be aware of two kinds of blogs: political blogs and ‘kitty’ blogs (aka personal diary blogs). They seemed truly amazed to hear that there was an entire blogosphere out there, with blogs catering for an innumerable amount of topics. It was certainly news to them that, as Frank Kelcz put it at our networking day earlier this month, the blogosphere allows for every imaginable specialist publication in the world to exist and thrive if the market for it is there or can be created.
One of these people, a lovely American mathematics fellow at an institute in Paris, wondered if there might even be blogs about math. Google says: ”Sure there are.”
It was a fun night, with a few more conversations that - while unrelated to blogging - made me think of that which occupies me no matter what country I am in. More on those soon, but in the meantime, I loved this sign that Jim has hanging in the sitting room of his atelier - and it is a sentiment with which I can get on board: