Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Diabetes Blogger Summit

Two days ago, I was flown to Indianapolis for a meeting with nearly 30 other diabetes bloggers and online community leaders-- many of them close friends.

The vast majority I'd never met in the flesh.

Throughout the evening and one-day event I was struck by the passion, the intense commitment of these bloggers to making life better for everyone living with diabetes.

(When I wasn't fighting back tears, I was wishing my son could have been there with me.)

We were brought together by Roche Diagnostics, a pharmaceutical company and the leading manufacturer of glucose meters and test strips in the world.

What was the goal, you may ask?

Well... I'm still not entirely sure.

The meeting was called a "Social Media Summit" -- and the agenda included discussions about:

  • What brought us to the social media space and what we hoped to gain from the summit;
  • Conflicts with and blogger concerns about corporations in social media;
  • And finally-- how bloggers and corporations can work together to both reach out and expand the diabetes online community.
Not on the agenda (but occurring, nonetheless) were heated discussions about the cost of test strips, and the need for Roche (and other pharmaceutical companies) to offer assistance to the uninsured-- points argued passionately by Chris Thomas of Diabetic Rockstar, Scott King of Diabetes Health, and Fran Carpentier, former senior editor, now diabetes blogger for PARADE.

While I had mixed emotions about coming to this event-- on the one hand I really wanted to meet everyone who came; on the other, I was more than a little wary of our hosts -- I must admit that seeing some of the human faces behind the test strips, meters and lancing devices was a good thing. Some of these people are living with diabetes themselves or have a family member with the disease. (One high-level manager I met was both a longtime type 1 diabetic and a pediatric endocrinologist.)

So yes, there are some people within Roche who truly "get it."

Further, in putting together this event, the company did indeed give us all an opportunity to make our voices heard in a powerful way.

That said, I'm still not exactly sure what Roche expected/really got from the Summit.

(Regardless, I'm certain it was more than they bargained for.)

My hope is that this event will at the very least serve as a conduit for further dialogue between the diabetes online community and the folks behind the products keeping us -- or those we love -- alive.

For some more detailed and very cool recaps of the summit, please visit the websites linked below.

(Thanks to Manny Hernandez of TuDiabetes for the photo legend)
In the photo above:

1) Riva Greenberg

2) Ginger Vieira

3) Kelly Kunik

4) Fran Carpentier

5) Calpumper

6) Kitty Castellini

7) Sandra Miller

8) Christel Marchand

9) David Edelman

10) Brandy Barnes

11) Bennet Dunlap

12) Lee Ann Thill

13) Allison Blass

14) Gina Capone

15) Jeff Hitchcock

16) Kerri Morrone

17) Manny Hernandez

18) Chris Bishop

19) Amy Tenderich

20) Kelly Close

21) Christopher Thomas

22) Scott King

23) Bernard Farrell

24) Scott Strumello

25) George Simmons

26) Scott Johnson

27) William Lee Dubois

28) David Mendosa

29) Charlie Cherry

A quick update on the kids:
My little girl is sick (she started throwing up yesterday), and we're scrambling to get my boy packed and ready for diabetes camp (he leaves tomorrow).

And... Joseph pitched two shutout innings this morning in his first appearance on the hill in an All-Star Tournament. (Yee-haaaa!)