If you've ever fielded frantic technical support calls from your mom (everything from operating the DVD player to sending e-mail), you're bound to think all mothers are technologically inept. They're not. And Beth Blecherman, mother of three boys, wants to prove it.
When she answers her BlackBerry Curve, an overwhelming din crashes through my handset. Blecherman's trying to corral her twin 5-year-olds and a 9-year-old into a corner of Nordstrom on a shoe-buying expedition.
She says not to worry; this is how the 44-year-old technophile rolls. She plunges into an ode to Bluetooth hands-free headsets and speaker phones. She's trying to figure out which is the best — it's between the Aliph Jawbone and the Motorola Motopure H12 — so she can include it in her Mother's Day shopping guide. She wants to make sure her reviews are practical, and, well, on July 1 California happens to be prohibiting the use of cellphone handsets while driving. Tech mamas need to be prepared.
So goes life for mommy geeks.
Blecherman is one of the founding members of the Silicon Valley Moms Group, a collective of mom bloggers who divulge the various travails of modern parenting. Blecherman considers that her full-time, although unpaid, job. These moms started blogging for the fun of it, but run their network like a business — the site has expanded to four other cities (with more planned) and has a blog dedicated to mothers over 50.
It's a way to create a community for moms to connect with one another, says Blecherman, noting, "Being a mom is very isolating." A year after the Moms Group launched, Blecherman kick-started her own blog, Techmamas, as a hobby after some prodding by her fellow bloggers.
"I have a special niche, and not all moms want to hear me ranting about the newest Bluetooth device or Facebook," she says, explaining why she writes about gadgets outside of the Moms Blog. "But there's a huge group of moms who are using Facebook, Twitter and Bluetooth."
She wants to stir up conversation about technology and parenting. Plus, she says, mothers are often the ones making technology purchases for the home — even if dads are the ones typically geeking out about gadgets.
Blecherman is no techno-noob. With a background in business and computer science, she started out as a programmer and eventually graduated to system product management within accounting firm Deloitte, where she had the fun task of making sure all its databases were Y2K compliant.
"I went through the transition from punch cards to mainframes," she says. "I was around when the Web started getting hot and when people used to have to pay for software." She retired to raise her kids.
"I remember my first laptop being the most exciting thing," she says. "I thought I was so cool going on business trips with Deloitte. I can't imagine life without it." Now she's obsessed with her smart phone, TiVo and wireless (she's the household tech support). Her "go-bag" for conferences includes a point-and-shoot camera, USB hub, card reader, a microphone and a Web cam.
Techmama reviews about one product a week, but Blecherman tries to post daily about a wide-range of technology-related matters. Right now, she's fixated on social media. Moms, she says, are getting online, joining social networks and even, say, Twittering. Blecherman's used Facebook to break out of the stay-at-home mom isolation — on a trip to New York City she met up with 20 or so networked friends for a night of karaoke.
"Moms are out there using this technology," says Blecherman. "I want to change the way that the media thinks of moms; we're savvy."
Moms are using technology to make friends, expand contacts and bond with their kids. "We're not driving around in our minivans all day," she says.
What does Blecherman hope to get for Mother’s Day? Breakfast in bed and a day with her family.