UPDATED: Saturday, the Howlin’ Wolf was full of tables, the better to support laptops operated by the bloggers present for Rising Tide 5, the bloggers’ conference focused on New Orleans’ recovery (live blogged here and here). The strength of the conference was the dedication and the seriousness of purpose of the attendees. The woman who blogs Watching Treme was active on Twitter during the Treme Panel while taking copious notes on her steno pad.
On the other side, it might be time to rethink the event a bit. I gather the original impulse was to give bloggers the ability to share information about the recovery by bringing together people who could talk authoritatively about what was really happening in New Orleans. On Saturday, there was less information from unofficial perspectives and little news, particularly in the Politics Panel and the Treme Panel – ironically, both of which were well-received in the room. It wasn’t that they weren’t entertaining and that there wasn’t good information, but there was little in the way of a call to action in either. Far better was the Environmental Panel, which advocated for green initiatives and talked about what people can do on their own.
The Politics Panel suggested a possible recalibration of Rising Tide’s focus. The panelists talked about the prospects of Joseph Cao, David Vitter and Bobby Jindal’s re-election probabilities as well as the weakness of the Democratic Party in Louisiana. As lively as the conversation between Stephanie Grace, Jason Berry, Jacques Morial, Clancy DuBos, Jeff Crouere and moderator Peter Athas was, I’d rather have had a discussion of the role bloggers can play in advancing progressive politics in Louisiana. Rather than go behind the scenes of Treme, I’d rather have heard bloggers talk about the meaning and significance of the show and representations of New Orleans in popular media. In short, Rising Tide would be stronger if it was more oriented toward the practice of blogging and the role bloggers can play in shaping conversations in our culture instead of casting them in the role of information conduit.
… and to the blogger who asked Eric Overmyer if Antoine Batiste could read sheet music in Treme, I had the same question. Overmyer seemed surprised when asked that question, but I too wondered if his unease when he started to play with the all-star R&B revue was because he couldn’t read music, and that he was playing from memory and experience rather than from the charts.
Update August 30, 1:20 p.m.
I added the second live blog link.