I have been participating in a dialog on Chris Brogan’s site (Thoughts for Future PodCamps). As part of the conversation, Joel Mark Witt says of PodCamp Ottawa, “I think it is important not to have Podcamps become glorified
‘teetups’ ‘tweetups’. Not saying that yours did – just worried that they will become too informal“.
Joel’s point is very well taken and I thought I’d use this opportunity to explain a bit about PodCamp Ottawa and Zero to Podcasting since they have both attracted the attention of the PodCamp community. That thought process has led me to build on thoughts of others (Chris Brogan, Chris Penn, Whitney Hoffman, Sara Streeter, Tommy Vallier, Bob Goyetche, Andrea Ross, etc…) to share my own thoughts on the future of PodCamp.
Aside from having scheduled specific discussion topics for the day, PodCamp Ottawa was admittedly informal (we sat and lay on pillows on the carpet and did away with computers and projectors). In many respects that was the beauty of the event. The environment facilitated an open discussion where everyone (three-year veterans and those who have never spoken into a microphone) felt welcome and valued. The resulting discussion left everyone in the room thinking very differently about new and social media. There was a bi-directional mentorship that advanced the newcomers and re-energized and re-focused the veterans.
As a result of the impact of the PodCamp Ottawa discussions, several of the participants conceived and mapped out Zero to Podcasting. It was a seed-to-forest workshop that aimed at striking a balance between sitting on the carpet and sitting in a lecture hall. While we did well, I think there is a lot that we could have done better while still respecting the web streaming equipment that cut the room in half (not all conferences will have this problem).
We have received a lot of feedback on the Z2P workshop. The feedback that struck me the most was told to me by several people: where most sessions and workshops explain what to do, Z2P explained and actually demonstrated how to do things and why to do them. The discussion resulted in the exploration of options and the facilitators tracked the key points and relevant URLs on a virtual whiteboard that will be organized and made available for the community in the coming days (follow the Canadian Podcast Buffet and the CPB Wiki).
This feedback has made me realize that as conference participants (speakers/facilitators and audience) we need to look beyond ‘the event itself’ and start thinking about the goals and approaches of the individual sessions.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that the future strength of PodCamp is in three verticals… vertically-focused events, structured vertical tracks, and embedded mentorship programs that build on the strengths of (and levels) both ends of vertical relationships.