So far today I’ve watched Hillary Clinton take unscripted questions in a small room, seen Barack Obama wow a separate crowd of inquisitors, had Mike Gravel smartly answer something I asked him about eminent domain and was among a crowd of about 1,500 who witnessed an entertaining debate among the Democratic contenders (minus Joe Biden).

But, by far the most interesting and worthwhile thing I saw today at the Yearly Kos Convention, the largest gathering of political bloggers to date taking place this weekend in Chicago, was a panel on blogging while female organized and moderated by The American Prospect‘s Garance Franke-Ruta. Featuring Jessica Valenti, Amanda Marcotte and Gina Cooper, the panel asked what happened to the long-lost idea that gender was of no consequence on the Internet–that voice and content were all that mattered. The ensuing conversation cut to the heart of critical issues facing users (and abusers) of the Internet, especially, but not only, women. It was also funny, entertaining, inspiring and, most importantly, intent on continuing to build on the strong foundation these pioneers have laid for the coming generation of female political bloggers.

There was relief that the debate has moved beyond the silly question, “Where are the women bloggers?” The answer is that they’ve been around as long as blogs, it just took their male counterparts a little while to recognize and start linking to them. And, now, as Cooper, the lead organizer for the convention explained, women are well-represented in leadership positions at Yearly Kos as well as at many A-List blogs.

So the issue currently is how to best band together to thwart the obstacles to the continued deployment of the promise of the medium for empowerment. The detailing of countless efforts by unnamed cyber-idiots to try to silence these voices was sobering–Valenti even made the point that online harassment, in important respects, can be more threatening than the off-line variety as you can’t gauge its seriousness–but their stories of push-back were transcendent.

I wish I had more time to recount all the many insights of the panel but the Teamsters are hosting a BBQ and I’m late. (Parties are paramount here at Yearly Kos, as at most political conventions!) Those of you well-versed with the liberal blogosphere will be familiar with the online exploits of the panelists. But many Nation readers probably don’t regularly read Marcotte on Pandagon, Valenti on Feministing, Cooper at her eponymous blog as well as at Daily Kos and Franke-Ruta at Tapped and Check them out if you don’t already. Their sites are a great place to steer anyone still inexplicably wondering about the supposed dearth of females in the blogosphere.