Posts Tagged ‘PodCamp WesternMass’

Open letter to PodCamp organizers

August 23, 2010

Podcamp Western Mass 2010It can be intimidating to try to hold a PodCamp, BarCamp, REBarCamp, BarCampBank, or any type of event for that matter. Just in case anyone who is thinking about holding a Camp is feeling intimidated by the prospect, or disheartened that the process might not be as smooth, let me offer a few words of encouragement, from someone who has attended REBarCamps, FacebookDevCamp, and has attended and organized both a BarCampBank and two PodCamps.

First of all, this is an important truism of Camps:

The right people always show up.

There are so many people out there who NEED to have their first PodCamp experience. They will have their eyes opened to the fact that all this stuff happening on their laptop/smart phone represents REAL LIVING PEOPLE. They are not alone in the world. There are others who are going through the exact same experiences, who are ready, willing, and able to learn from others who are similar to them that live RIGHT in YOUR area.

Don’t get hung up about attendance numbers. There is no right number. I’ve been to camps of all shapes and sizes, from 15 to 750. And let me tell you, I LOVE camps that are 35-60 people. There is an intimacy shared that you lose when it gets as large as 100 or 150 or more. I love the big ones too, but there is NOTHING wrong with small and intimate. This is a non-profit endeavor, right? No one has a profit motive to try to put on a huge PodCamp. Throw away the idea of a traditional conference with thousands of attendees, a huge stage, and breakouts only as time-filler. To me, the ideal model of PodCamp is to have ONLY breakouts; 4, 8, 12 or however many of them simultaneously, some as small as a conversation between two people, others with 12 people, others with 20, others 40, in an urban brick building converted into classroom spaces all around a central gathering space.

Another thing to keep in mind: the people who want to, and need to, learn from the PodCamp experience…. you don’t know who they are yet. They will come from being friends of attendees who hear about what an amazing thing PodCamp is. They will come from friends of current local social events who are beyond stoked about the prospect of your Camp. You can’t get that until you have Camp #1. Let the thing grow organically. That’s what happened for the original BarCamp and the first PodCamp Boston. What you want is a small, highly charged, well connected core of people, who blog, podcast, tweet, fb, and videocast their experience with your first Camp… what it meant to them, what they got out of it.

Have a maximum attendance cap. It can be 100 people. Keeping it limited like that accomplishes many positive things at once.

Don’t care if only 50-60 people show up to the first one. About 35 people pre-registered for PodCamp WesternMass 1, but we had about 50-55 people total show up. Attendees brought friends with them; there will always be people who show up at the door with admission in hand. The following year, when we did PCWM for the 2nd time, word had spread about what a great event it was, and we nearly doubled attendance.

You have to create the first one. Since so many don’t know what a PodCamp or other Camp is (but awesome people DO know what it is), they aren’t going to get excited about it ahead of time. But adventurous people WILL check it out and attend.

Trust it. Do it. The right thing will happen.

PodCamp WesternMass 2 photo by vievetrick

Video homage to PodCamp

January 18, 2010

PodCamp WesternMass 2 is only a few weeks away, so I thought it’d be a great time to create a video homage to our first one last year that I helped organize.

This morning, co-organizer Jaclyn Stevenson came across a Boston Globe article about Steve Garfield’s new book. At the end of the article he mentions he’s coming to PodCamp WesternMass! We’re very excited to have him, and Amherst native and NY Times best-selling author John Elder Robinson who led one of the more fascinating sessions last year is also returning.

Register your spot at PodCamp WesternMass 2 today!

I’m going to PodCamp WesternMass!

January 15, 2010

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience yesterday, getting to present Twitter: Where’s the ROI? at Online Impact at STCC’s Technology Park yesterday. It was an excellent event, and a huge thank you to John Garvey, Dave Sweeney, and Gordon Snyder for putting on the event and inviting me.

It was also great to reconnect with so many great folks who attended the inaugural PodCamp WesternMass, people like Christine Pilch, Jason Turcotte, Kelly Galanis, and Tom Galanis.

So I’m excited to announce that PodCamp WesternMass is happening again this year at Westfield State College on Saturday, February 6, 2010! It was so fantastic last year. We had about 60 people show up, and I hope even more attend this year. For those of you thinking about coming, check out the blogs, photos, and videos that came out of last year’s event. Here are a couple to give you a flavor for why people get excited about this special event:

Jaclyn Stevenson: We Came. We Saw. We Blogged About It.

Shawn Toohey: PodCamp WesternMass 2009

You can read all of them on the PodCamp WM’s wiki page.

Reserve your spot by registering on Eventbrite!

Then mark down that you are coming on both the Facebook event page and LinkedIn event page, and let all your friends and colleagues know about it! I can’t wait!

If you are going to PodCamp WesternMass, please post a blog about your past experience, or what you are looking forward to about attending this year. Use the social media tools to spread the word!

Confessions of a reformed wallflower

April 8, 2009

When I was a kid, I was painfully shy. Those of you who have met me in person would probably not believe it, but it’s true.

When I met William Azaroff of Vancouver in Manchester, NH a couple of weeks ago to tour America’s CU Museum, and then later that same night went out for dinner and drinks with Matt Davis of North Carolina and Ron Shevlin in North Reading, MA, we discussed that one of the criticisms leveled at us “social media” types who attended and presented at the 2008 Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis was that we didn’t mingle with others. I hadn’t consciously realized that, but looking back, it was true. And I am sad about that.

And though there is no excuse for that, there is a reason for it, and l will explain and tie paragraph one to paragraph two. It’s human nature to greet friends warmly, and not to walk up to strangers to introduce yourself. I try to greet people at most opportunities, and say hi to those I pass in a hallway. When given a choice between giving a handshake or a hug to an old friend, and introducing yourself to a stranger, it’s human nature to greet a friend first, because that’s much easier.

And that’s the amazing thing about social media and social networking. Sometimes you give an especially hearty greeting to someone you are meeting in person for the first time if you have already gotten to know that person online. Because, as Ron Shevlin has pointed out, you can get to know, online, a person who lives 3,000 miles away better than your colleague down the hallway who isn’t online in any meaningful way. When you get together, you already “know” that person. Especially given the conversational nature of twitter, you probably know more than you ever wanted to know about them on a personal basis. When you meet, you don’t need to use small talk to find common interests, you just naturally pick up the conversation that you’ve already been having online, and will continue online later.

I remember my first PodCamp Boston experience; it was the second of the PodCamps that they have held. I missed the first day entirely, but arrived in time to catch the tail end of the official evening party. I met a couple of folks who I had connected with online previously, but felt very much the outsider. It seemed like everyone else already knew each other. Undaunted, I continued to meet people throughout the second day and learn more about what this social media thing was all about.

And so I write this blog post to encourage everyone who is a.) relatively new to social media, b.) naturally shy, or c.) both, to put aside that shyness and to do your best to overcome that feeling of being a social media “outsider” when you come upon a group of social media people hanging out with each other, such as that which occurred just two weekends ago at PodCamp WesternMass. Bear in mind that most people involved in the online social world are exactly that: fairly social. Please understand that although it’s human nature to hang out with friends that you already know, most of us involved in the field really WANT to meet new people. Sometimes we just need a nudge of encouragement.

Remember that everyone in the world of social media was an outsider at first. If you introduce yourself, the folks worth talking to will be more than glad to have met you.

Seven Thoughts from PodCamp

April 3, 2009

PCWM_10SurveySays

Seven: Everyone has a story. Every camper brings their own story to the table, and experiences the camp in their own unique way, with their own perspectives, goals and ambitions.

Six: Enable others to connect with each other. It turns out that AuctionWally enjoys Voodoo Steve’s indie podcast. How cool is that? And many folks were not familiar with Amherst native John Robison before the camp. But everyone in his session came away with newfound knowledge and respect.

PodCamp WesternMassFive: Help others build their networks. It’s not about the size of your own network, it’s about how many connections you can make for others. That’s why I put the ‘Follow Me on Twitter” poster sheets up on the wall; to enable campers to continue the conversations.

PCWM_04RebelThinkingFour: The spirit of PodCamp can be found in the little things. One of my favorite photos is this one of laptop bags lined up against the wall.

Three: The spirit of PodCamp can be found in the spaces. Yes, the sessions are usually excellent. But I learned from BarCampBank SF how great it is to allow ample time between sessions and leave a huge long lunch break. This is what really allows campers to connect with each other, and many times it’s these break conversations where new things are shared and learned.

Podcamp Western Mass 2009Two: The buzz spread more AFTERwards. For an inaugural event word spreads more AFTER the event. WesternMass has never had any sort of ‘camp’ event before as far as I know. So even though many invites went out, many did not see the value in re-arranging their schedules in order to attend. But now that we have 14 GLOWING blog reviews of the camp, interest is piqued in a wider audience. So we’ll hold version two in about six months. If you are considering trying to get any type of new event off the ground, make sure it is WELL RECORDED online the first time out.

One: Seeing the camp through others’ eyes. This is actually one of my greatest joys of PodCamp. Being a ‘camp veteran, I take the open discussion and flexible format for granted. But since so many bloggers, photographers, and videographers attended, I get to experience the joy and wonderment of their first camp experience through their lens.

Podcamp Western Mass 2009

PodCamp WesternMass: A smashing success

April 3, 2009

PCWM_11Feet

Last Saturday, March 28, 2009, we held the first PodCamp in Western Massachusetts. I wasn’t familiar with any “camp” event before Robbie Wright invited me to the first BarCampBank in North America, BarCampBank Seattle in the summer of 2007. I didn’t attend, but after reading the glowing, superlative-laden blog reviews of it, I wished I had rearranged my schedule after all. And thus began my quest of ‘camp‘ discovery. I subsequently attended FacebookCamp Toronto 2, shortly followed by PodCampBoston 2. Even before attending this event, I thought that we were getting to the point where we could hold a PodCamp in the western half of Massachusetts, and convened an exploratory planning meeting with co-conspirators, nationally recognized social media maven Tish Grier, and well-connected writer, reporter, and traveler Jaclyn Stevenson on October 16, 2007. Life, and other ‘camps intervened over the following months, and it wouldn’t be for another year that we held another organizational meeting for PodCamp WesternMass. Finally, we just had to pick a date and make it happen. And boy, did it happen.

PCWM_08MorrisTish and Jaclyn were in their element, getting the word about the camp out to everyone in their networks. A terrific surprise to me was that Jaclyn put the press release out on Pitch Engine, a fully web 2.0, social-media-compatible press release site, and this garnered attention from many in the region.

The day arrived, and it was all wonderful, start to finish. I facilitated getting the sessions onto the grid, and finding the right attendees to lead some of the sessions requested. We basically had two tracks going throughout the day, a beginner’s track for newbies, and a more advanced track for those already involved in social media.

PodCampI was gratified that several video bloggers recorded the day, including Voodoo Stevie who even live-streamed some of it. And many pictures were taken by me, Jaclyn, Shawn Toohey, and Stephen Sherlock. At last count, we have 13 blog entries, 6 pages of video, including two montages set to music, 140 photos, and too many tweets to count.

A huge congratulations to Tish Grier and Jaclyn Stevenson for a smashing PodCamp success! May there be many more!


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