For the next several days, I’ll be writing about what went on at PodCamp Toronto over the weekend.
David, Erica and I attended on behalf of Voices.com and split up, taking in as much as possible from the five track unconference over the course of two days.
This first article is meant to introduce you to the concept of PodCamp, its significance and what it is meant to achieve.
The first PodCamp was held on September 8-10, 2006 in Boston, Massachusetts, founded by Chris Brogan and Christopher Penn. The idea was to have a free, “unconference” where like minded people with a love for podcasting and New Media could engage, share and learn, mentoring freely and spreading awareness for podcasting in general.
Typically, PodCamps attract the technically inclined and are held in a geeked-out environment filled with people carrying microphones and mobile recording devices. Participants are provided with access to wireless Internet (an absolute must!) and plenty of places to carry on private chats outside of presentations already in progress.
At any given time, the majority of people in attendance could be posting messages on Twitter, surfing the net, adding friends they’ve just met to Facebook, blogging about the event or using an instant messenger to communicate with other attendees and document what’s going on.
“The Law of Two Feet” is an interesting component of unconferences. The entire purpose of attending an unconference is to learn and get what you want out of the experience, so if you aren’t learning anything new in one room you can just pick up and go to another room. To illustrate, it isn’t an entirely odd thing to see people get up and leave a session in favour of joining another session, or alternatively, starting their own animated discussions elsewhere on the spur of the moment.
Usually, you meet the most interesting people when you are in the halls and can talk amongst yourselves on a more casual level, however, note that the presentations are pretty casual too.
PodCamps are meant to send you home with a head full of information, a wider network of friends and a greater understanding of where the technology is going as well as how you can leverage that knowledge to attain even greater success.
What differentiates an unconference from a conference?
A number of things, such as:
à¹ Usually you don’t pay to attend an unconference
à¹ You aren’t expected to attend everything on the schedule
à¹ The schedule may be subject to change if impromptu additions are made
à¹ The Law of Two Feet may apply at any time
à¹ There’s a more grassroots feel to the event, perhaps even an “underground” feel
à¹ Unconferences are generally held on a smaller scale
à¹ People can sign up to do a presentation and are not necessarily formally invited to speak
à¹ Speakers are not compensated financially (from what I know)
à¹ You can jump into conversations and presentations with your thoughts
à¹ In the case of PodCamp, all sessions are recorded, and in the case of PodCamp Toronto, sessions are streamed for audiences online
à¹ Unconferences are extremely casual and may yield a more intimate experience for attendees
What’s Coming Up?
PodCamps, though centered around podcasting, have evolved to include sessions about blogging, social media, search engines and interacting with traditional media. Over the next week or so, you’ll get an insider’s look at PodCamp Toronto ’09 via the VOX Daily blog.
Before I sign-off, I’d like to thank everyone who helped to make PodCamp Toronto 2009 such a fabulous success, especially the organizing team, including Jay Moonah, Eden Spodek, Connie Crosby, Dave Fleet, Rob Lee, Sean McGaughey and Tommy Vallier.
A big thank you goes out to the wonderful PodCamp volunteers, one of which included our friend, Brad Buset. Nice work!
Stay tuned for articles covering numerous sessions that will help you and your business.
Bye for now!
Proud Sponsor of PodCamp Toronto 2009