Blogging out loud is just as fun as doing it alone in your PJs

So last night I went to Blog Out Loud Ottawa (aka BOLO) at Irene’s Pub on Bank Street. If you haven’t heard of it (which means you haven’t been reading my blog or my tweets, so really - why start now - ? ;) ...if you haven’t heard of it, you should really check it out and plan on going next year.

What is BOLO?
It’s a gathering of local bloggers who come together to each read a post from the previous year, out loud, on stage, in front of a room full of their peers. There were definitely more bloggers than readers in attendance last night, which is a testimony to organizer Lynn’s ability to spread the word and throw a great party.

Why blog out loud?
@scilib (who wasn’t in attendance) commented “I don't think I could read something I'd blogged out loud - blogging is different than presenting”. Which brings up an interesting point: why blog out loud? I follow a large number of the bloggers who read last night and I will fess up that often when I am reading their posts, I’m in a hurry. I don’t give their posts the proper sit-down, hot coffee, clear head time they likely deserve. I scan them quickly, catch what I can and move on. Glimpse into their life fulfilled for today or this week, and on to the next business on my plate... So firstly, blogging out loud affords these posts the time they deserve.

Secondly, there’s something about hearing someone read their own post, in their own voice. Placing the intonation just where it’s supposed to be. Reading phrases as they were meant to be read. Pausing for laughter from the audience and then delivering the REAL punch line. There’s something about hearing a slight a crack in their voice, from nerves... or emotions... Or the loud, punchy tones of someone swearing their way through a particularly intense experience. I find it brought me closer to these readers, helped me better understand a bit about their writing style, their personalities.

Third, there’s the sense of community. Many of us had connected online previously, either by commenting on each other’s blogs or responding to tweets. We “sort of knew each other” just by virtue of having shared some cyberspace. My time at BOLO was divided between live tweeting the event (see the #BOLO thread for more) and chatting with people who I’d previously only known by their avatar. Putting faces to names immediately made these fellow bloggers — in a word — real. By no means are we all now BFFs after hearing each other read a single post from our sites. But where there was once a sense of familiarity, an “I know you a bit because I stalk you online read your blog/tweets”... where there was once a thin thread of acquaintance, now that we’ve come together in real life and heard each other tell stories, there’s a slight increase in closeness. Thought we’ve chatted together from behind our screens, we might have been to shy or tongue-tied to say hello in person. Bur sharing the same space for a few short hours (too short!) has definitely brought us closer.

And maybe tomorrow, we’ll comment on each other’s posts with more relish. Maybe we won’t just retweet, but will comment back. My follower count jumped up in the days prior to BOLO and have continued to go up since. I’d like to think that my community just got a little bigger, both online and in real life. Last year, I didn't go to BOLO because I didn't understand it, felt intimidated by the blogger power that would be in the room, since I was still a relative n00b to the Ottawa blogosphere. I'm so happy to have attended this year and heard or met all of these wonderful writers, photographers, people who live in my own backyard and visit me on my screen every day. I'm a BOLO-er for life, now. :)

Want to know more?
You can try here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or read through all of last night’s tweets using the #BOLO hash tag or see Milan's pics. Note: Bolo means cake in Portugese, so there are lots of other posts intermingled with our feed.

Shout Outs
I’d like to give (another) special thanks to everyone who helped organize, who read, who came, and who lurked online. I hope Lynn can find the energy and the assistance (pick me!) to pull this together again next year.