At the turn of seasons we plunge ourselves into some pretty big activities and pastimes. Yet, many are still very tentative about online social conversations. May I suggest whether you are thinking about social media for business or personally, you have some fun for, at best, just a little money: attend a Podcamp.
A PodCamp, according to the PodCamp wiki is a “community unconference for new media enthusiasts and professionals including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, social networkers, and anyone curious about new media.” An unconference has the basic premise that everyone has some knowledge to add to the conversation, or as the New Hampshire Podcamp web site puts it: “… the attendees themselves present the sessions, workshops, and panel discussions.”
Think of it as facilitated community learning that really works.
For example, during a social media analytics session I “led” at Podcamp Boston last year, I had 45-minutes to speak. In this format, that means no more than 12-17 minutes to share my slides and ideas. The rest of the time was to facilitate conversation among the attendees on the topic. The results were some pretty amazing conversations and education. We solved some real business challenges and concerns of people in the room. This is why I love facilitating at and just attending these events: big gains, little time – and it is fun.
If you have ever felt the best part of a conference is talking with the people in the halls between sessions, Podcamp is definitely for you. Those meetings in the halls become the sessions, although mostly planned. Ad hoc sessions are generally scheduled during the day and there are–if the location supports it–rooms allotted.
There is a misconception of PodCamp being just a podcasting event. Not true, according to the wiki, to which I can attest: “PodCamp isn’t just about podcasting! If you’re interested in blogging, social media, social networking, podcasting, video on the net, if you’re a podsafe musician (or want to be), or just someone curious about new media, then please join us — and bring a friend or colleague.”
In fact, if you are just trying to figure out how to use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or anything else online, you need to have some fun at a Podcamp. You will meet some amazing people who are willing to answer the questions you’ve been keeping bottled up. You will get the big picture of emerging media and some knowledge you can immediately put to use. You will be with people of all ages, vocations and interests who find out very quickly that people are very willing to help others. Therein lies the magic of Podcamp.
According to the Boston Podcamp site, “Podcamp Boston was co-founded by Christopher Penn and Chris Brogan in 2006. These two guys wanted to learn more and share what they knew about podcasting without traveling over to the west coast to do it, so they came up with the idea to host an unconference in Boston, MA.” These events now exist all over the world. All types of businesses send people to attend: Business to business, to customer, and to government. In fact, every person and every business will learn and have a good time.
According to the Podcamp License, there are six rules that must be met to call it a Podcamp:
1. All attendees must be treated equally. Everyone is a rockstar.
2. All content created must be released under a Creative Commons license (which means you can reuse it, if you stay within the license terms).
3. All attendees must be allowed to participate.
4. All sessions must obey the Law of 2 Feet – if you’re not getting what you want out of the session, you can and should walk out and do something else. (And people do, and its expected).
5. The event must be new-media focused—blogging, podcasting, video on the net.
6. The financials of a PodCamp must be fully disclosed in an open ledger, except for any donor/sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous.
You can find the Podcamp nearest you on their wiki.
Go out and have a good time. If you’ve been to a Podcamp, please share you experiences in the comments section.