"I'm trying to retrain and recondition myself when I get asked question to actually answer it -- to not say what I've been trained to say, to not say what's careful and cautious," said the former U.S. senator from North Carolina
One recurring theme mixed the two areas. Several in the audience stressed the importance of authenticity in politics, and the potential for blogs and other technology to give Americans a more accurate view of campaigns and the legislative process by getting closer to what's really going on.
Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, are already blogging, offering digital videos and using text messages as part of the anti-poverty initiatives they're now leading. Other politicians and campaigns also have embraced blogs, following Howard Dean's early success with that strategy in the 2004 presidential primaries.
But one Gnomedex attendee pointed out that the human voice so fundamental to blogs contrasts with the practiced messages delivered by many politicians.
Edwards agreed, and acknowledged his own shortcomings in that regard, saying that he can often sense when he is slipping into that mode.
"The problem is that we're so trained and so conditioned over a long period of time that being normal and real and authentic requires you to shed that conditioning," Edwards said of politicians. "It is not an easy thing to do."