This weekend, I was able to make it to the 6th Annual Military Blogger Conference in Washington, D.C. Like the BlogWorld New Media Expo I attended in October, this was a chance for new/social media folks to get together, talk about the issues that drive us, see what's going on in the world of social media, and (of course) do some networking/hanging-out. This being my first time at MilBlogCon, I didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be a great, interesting, emotional experience. I'm going to give some highlights over the course of a few brief posts, but I'm hoping to be able to incorporate some of these themes into my writing over the next couple months.
The agenda for the conference included a Q&A (and book signing) with former SECDEF Donald Rumsfeld, a Q&A with LTG William Caldwell (Commander of NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, and what I like to call “the first uniformed new-media rock star”) – live via video from Afghanistan(!), as well as panel discussions covering social media in the military, Gold Star Families' use of social media, and “movies and the military.” Each of these discussions was top notch, and I feel really fortunate to have been a part of the event.
Ok, so I suckered you into ready this by teasing my “fight” with the SECDEF. The Q&A with Secretary Rumsfeld was really quite good. As he pointed out, at age 78 he's been around for about a third of the nation's history and he's worked for six different presidents. I don't care who you are, that's pretty impressive! He was asked some great questions by those in attendance (and I'll add a short summary of his comments in another post), but mine was the only one he didn't answer. Quite frankly, I'm not sure why. Here's my question, you tell me if I was out of line – “History is likely to describe your relationship with President Bush as one of utmost unity and cohesion; what issues did you most disagree about, how did you resolve those differences, and how do those issues reflect your personal philosophy about the role of the Secretary [of Defense]?”
After telling me to read his book, he went on to describe how well researched it was and how the source material (available at www.rumsfeld.com) – memos between the Pentagon and the White House – make the decision-making process clear. His answer was a let-down. That said, he is a charming, engaging speaker. And I'm reading his book (signed “To Ben – thanks for your service!”), which is as readable as he is charming. Expect a book review here soon.