Whitney Hoffman and I spoke Sunday evening about the debate over the fee for the upcoming PodCamp Boston. It seems that many people are quite upset about the fee and have used the argument that communities shouldn’t charge its members to participate in events. That’s when we started to talk about physical communities and financial support they request. Immediately, several communities came to mind including my own neighbourhood which asks households to contribute $5 to sustain the activities group (the fee is requested whether you participate in neighbourhood activities or not).
Perhaps the most significant — and oldest — community to expect members to contribute is the church. Here’s an organization that does a collection from its congregation each week. To be fair, synagogues have fundraising drives to sustain community activities. It’s worth noting that these are communities that people are born into, not specifically adopted the way the social media community is. Many would argue that these are communities that will play the guilt card.
Bob Goyetche said this past fall that social media is a hobby and in order to participate you need some money to buy at least the most basic of technology making us a community of disposable incomes of some degree or another. Whitney supports this statement by offering demographic data that shows an overwhelming majority of PodCamp (that’s free PodCamp) attendees are professionals in their 30′s. An increasing number travel great distances, stay in hotels and eat out to attend the events.
Smaller PodCamps like PodCamp Ottawa can be organized in a few days and run at absolutely no charge. And because they are locally focused, it allows people in a geographic region to connect and form their own community without having to travel and stay in hotels.
PodCamp is a proven model. An event fee equivalent to a few Starbucks coffees won’t change the content or delivery. It will sustain it.