Armed Forces - This was not just a gathering of Public Affairs Officers (PAOs)-though we did love seeing our peeps, but the boots on the ground and the family members and civilians supporting them.
Beyond Milblogging - The title of one of the panels, but representative of the entire conference. All of us consume media differently and through a variety of channels. The screening of the film At War is an example of going beyond blogging into video backpack journalism.
Citizen Journalism - is the concept of members of the public "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information," according to the seminal 2003 report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information.
Enable - The true depiction of military life does not come from A-list blog community but culmination of stories from all those writing and talking about military community, from small and local to large and global. We need to pass information to others in community to ensure the stories are told.
Families - The inspiration for many military blogs. This connection to and from the homefront is paramount to the care of our military.
Garage band style - Take a peek at how SOG Media is making credible citizen storytelling possible.
Heritage - Progress of social media policies, tools and audience does not negate the need to go "back to our roots" (title of one of the panels), but reinforces the need to be true to our community needs.
Interface between the military family and mainstream media - this is the social media communities.
Just - Why rule with a heavy hand? Content will be controlled and managed by the citizens for accuracy and security risk.
Knowledge - The passing of the torch from the "Blog Fathers" to those up and coming and those not familiar with the military.
Leaders - The conference attendees and those engaging with the event and participants on the backchannels are the pioneers of milblogging blazing new trails for us to share our stories.
Music - Kim Cameron and the Side FX Band performed music for conference attendees. Check out her "My Hero" military tribute song video. "My Hero" is available for download at itunes/amazon.Discounted4military.
Networking - Though Lauren has been monitoring the online military community for five years, it is essential for AAFES to further engagement on the turf of the customers served or AAFES will always remain on the outside looking in.
Observation - Leah and I noticed how we speak about our agency is not how others speak about us...more familiarly know as BX/PX by our customers, not AAFES (pronounced, by us as, Afis).
Quirky - The military has a unique lingo not easily understandable for those not living the military life. Spell out those acronyms!
Relationships - The online military community, similar to offline community, is tight knit. It truly is a small world. Respecting each other and OpSec ensures our future to communicate the realism of the military lifestyle.
Stories - All of us have stories to tell, we need to enable each other to tell the real stories and encourage people not to rely solely on mainstream media for OEF/OIF and military truths.
Twiquery - Word coined by CJ Grisham to relay question asked by Twitter follower during conference.
Unfiltered - MG Oates maintains his own blog to keep soldiers informed, get opinions before decisions are made and to obtain unfiltered response and access to him.
Veterans - This year, much more than past years, the conversations included discussions (sometimes HOT) of the treatment and communication with those who have bravely served our country.
War - Make no mistake about it...while the situations in OEF/OIF are improving, we are still at war.
Xenagogue - This conference is a must attend for any of those wanting a guide into the online military community.
Yerk - The binds between us may be amidst a web of tweets, posts, vlogs and pics, but are as true and durable as the physical binds of our military brethren.
Zealous - Rebekah Sanderlin says it nicely, "Many of these blogger get no money for what they do, yet are producing top notch investigative work simply because they love doing it."
In addition to the ABCs, we have the 1, 2, 3s! We asked some conference participants to describe this year's event in three words. Of course, some found it hard to condense the experience to three words... Boston Maggie! Greyhawk posted his three words: Best. Conference. Ever.
Thank you to participants (in order as they appear in montage): Leah Miller, JP Borda, CJ Grisham, Troy Steward/Bouhammer, Boston Maggie, Beth Wilson, NWNavyNews, Matt Burden, Steven Field, CPT. Broshear, Rebekah Sanderlin, Alan Black, Lindy Kyzer.
Lauren Vargas is the Community Relations Manager for Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES)
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