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Meet Kat Molesworth and Kat Goldin of Blog­tac­u­lar, who are turn­ing the on­line boom into old- fash­ioned face- to- face friend­ship

Mollie Makes - - Contents - Words: LOT­TIE STOREY Il­lus­tra­tion: CLARE OWEN

Turn on­line con­nec­tions into IRL ones

Many of us now live in a vir­tual world, nose to the grind- screen, chat­ting to people we know in­ti­mately but have never met faceto- face. Gone are the days of hid­ing your in­ter­net ad­dic­tion; what was once a dirty lit­tle dig­i­tal se­cret – the pre­serve of on­line dat­ing and ‘ spe­cial in­ter­est’ fo­rums – is now main­stream and a reg­u­lar part of our ev­ery­day lives.

So, what hap­pens when vir­tual friends meet in per­son? Take Kat Molesworth. De­scrib­ing her­self as “a mod­ern girl about the in­ter­nets,” Kat hit the dou­ble jack­pot by meet­ing both her fu­ture hus­band and her bezzie/ busi­ness part­ner, Kat Goldin, via screen. To­gether, Kat M and Kat G are the brains be­hind Blog­tac­u­lar, a new UK blog­ging con­fer­ence tak­ing place in May 2014.

“Kat and I met in an on­line blog­ger fo­rum – it’s hard not to no­tice some­one with whom you share a name,” re­calls Kat M. “We’d joined look­ing for con­nec­tions with other UK blog­gers in the days when it was hard to find people. Iron­i­cally, the fo­rum was a hot­bed for spats and power strug­gles rather than the col­lab­o­ra­tive space we were seek­ing.” A few years af­ter ‘ meet­ing’ on­line Kat G, who lives in Scot­land, came down to the South Coast for a wed­ding: “It was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to meet and we spent a day to­gether feed­ing our new­borns, mar­shalling our tod­dlers and talk­ing like old friends. We clicked from that first meet­ing and have been friends and col­lab­o­ra­tors ever since,” she adds.

Blog- tas­tic bud­dies

And now these pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences have paved the way for Blog­tac­u­lar, with its po­ten­tial to un­leash a tidal wave of new con­nec­tions. The event builds on the suc­cess of US- based blog­ging con­fer­ences such as Alt Sum­mit ( www.al­ti­tudesum­mit.com), which started in 2010 for people from across the blog­ging and cre­ative on­line worlds to meet in per­son. Since then, smaller spin– off events have sprung up all across the na­tion, prov­ing there’s a huge de­sire for forg­ing face- to- face con­tact with sup­port­ive, gen­er­ous and like- minded con­tem­po­raries.

“One of the pri­mary aims of Blog­tac­u­lar is to cre­ate a place for blog­gers to come to­gether,” says Kat G. “There’s some­thing pow­er­ful about spend­ing time to­gether and let­ting the con­ver­sa­tion flow. We see Blog­tac­u­lar as a spring­board for cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tions and firm­ing friend­ships, as well as a place to learn. Given my in­cred­i­bly for­tu­nate first ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve made it a pol­icy to say yes to tak­ing on­line friend­ships off­line. With on­line friend­ships you give time to the people who re­ally feed your soul, which means that the con­nec­tion is far stronger than many off­line friend­ships.” And she’s to­tally right. When you’ve talked for hours on­line, meet­ing up face- to- face means there’s no need for small talk; you can pass on the for­mal­i­ties and go straight to a good old chin­wag.

Mak­ing friends

And those con­nec­tions are fur­ther fu­elled when there’s a strong, shared love of craft in­volved. Last year’s Folksy Sum­mer School ( http:// sum­mer­school. folksy. com) and Etsy’s on­go­ing seller fairs and city-spe­cific events have fu­elled the meet­ing of minds ( and makes). Backed by big names and bring­ing face- to- face events back into the mix, they gather dis­parate sell­ers to­gether to con­nect in per­son, en­sur­ing on­line friends are as rel­e­vant and nec­es­sary as those met in a more tra­di­tional fash­ion.

“Com­mu­ni­ties are stronger when they have the op­por­tu­nity to grow and learn. With Blog­tac­u­lar, we want to be a cat­a­lyst for the com­mu­nity join­ing forces and be­com­ing stronger than be­fore,” ex­plains Kat M. “Long term, we want Blog­tac­u­lar to show­case Euro­pean blog­gers on the world stage; there are some in­cred­i­bly tal­ented blog­gers here and we want to be part of their story.”

Re­vers­ing the on­line boom and cast­ing off so­cial stigma, crafters near and far are reap­ing the ben­e­fits of this new phe­nom­e­non. And the last word? As Kat M says: “What drives us to con­nect on­line is the need to find people who share our val­ues. The in­ter­net has given us the whole world to search to find our kin­dred spir­its; once you’ve found them, why wouldn’t you want to meet them?” Find out more at www.blog­tac­u­lar.com

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