Well, AW1 Tim and his daughter have returned safely from our latest adventure. The 2010 Milblog Conference was a decided success, and continues to expand and develop recognition of the impact of Milblogs on the social-media environment, the media in general, and the military community in particular.
MilBlogs are more than just journals and news sites. They have become a modern calling tree, something similar to what the old (and still around) ham radio networks were. MilBlogs have become a number of things, but to my mind, they have been the conduit through which soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, both active and veterans, have been able to become a true extended family. Although it is still very much a work in progress, the seeds first planted have born fruit through any number of events. From showing a young, grieving widow that her loss and her words have had an impact far beyond what she could ever have imagined, to getting the word out for support for Team Rubicon to such an extent that it is demonstrable that Haitians are alive today that would not have survived had they been forced to endure the wait for typical NGO assistance.
The Military and DoD have also seen the impact that MilBlogs can have on troop morale, PR situations, and even in supporting and sometimes changing TRADOC, and various other missions, from procurement to training to supply to accessing and developing new media, to combating terrorism. MilBlogging is a tool, and how this form of social media is used, supported, and developed remains to be seen, but to date, it has had a great and positive impact in all parts of our military and national environment.
AW1 Tim attended the 2007 event, and took the opportunity to attend the 2010 conference. The opening speaker for this year was General Petraeus, who, due to time constraints taped his remarks. Still, he was quite supportive and candid in his remarks, and it was a pleasure to see his presentation. Other speakers included Vice Admiral Harvey, commander US Fleet Forces, who also maintains a blog. You can see a list of speakers here
AW1 Tim took the opportunity to bring his daughter along so as to see the sites on Friday, before the conference began. She is home schooled, so this was a great field trip for both of us! We departed from Maine on the Concord Trailways bus, which, if you ever travel in Maine, is a wonderful coach service. Well-maintained, comfortable, and with lots of amenities you wouldn’t expect: free movies, bottled water, coffee, snacks, newspapers, and WiFi.
We arrived at Boston’s South Station, And caught the 10pm Amtrak to Washington DC, arriving about 7am. After navigating through Union Station we located the Metro station, bought our passes, and headed over to the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel, the site of the conference. I’ve stayed at a number of hotels, but this one is very nice for the money. It is a bit pricey for food and drink, but it’s comfortable, friendly, clean, and easy to access.
After dropping our bags, we took the Metro back to Washington, disembarking at the Smithsonian Stop on the Orange line. The Metro proved to be an inexpensive and easy way to travel about. I highly recommend it. It took us about 5 minutes to figure out how to buy fare cards and where we needed to go and on which lines. After that it was a breeze.
We first went to the Natural History Museum and toured the Dinosaur and Mammal areas. After that, we stopped on the mall for ice cream and a short rest, then went to the Air & Space Museum. The young’n loves this, and toured through a DC-3 and a 747, plus lots of other cool displays. I took pics of her in front of the Washington Monument, the Capital Building and the old Smithsonian Castle. Then it was back to the hotel for to freshen up before the Friday evening panel and cocktail party.
Saturday was an eventful day, with many fine discussions, and the opportunity to meet other bloggers, and commenters, and chat with old friends and talk to the various sponsors. Saturday night’s dinner and awards presentation was also very nice, with some good food and fine speeches.
Afterward, it was nap for a bit, then a 1am cab ride to Union Station for to catch the 3am Amtrak back to Boston, and the noon Concord Trailways bus back home to Maine.
It was an exhausting, whirlwind tour, but one that I heartily recommend to any who think about going. I’ll have some pics up later, and hopefully some more over to my facebook page.
Tomorrow, it’s back to ASW and all things Navy!