Here I am a week later and I am just getting around to writing up my thoughts about PodCamp SoCal which took place the day before the Podcast and New Media Expo. ORGANIZER, Jason Tucker noticed that no on had really written anything, so I thought I would take a few minutes to put some words to screen.
I really enjoyed facilitating the question and answer at the beginning of PodCamp SoCal. Many thanks to Jason for going with the flow and letting it happen. I realize now that this should have been an agenda item and not an afterthought when some presenters were delayed (or didn’t show up). I have heard several comments from attendees that they thought that this “sharing time” was very effective and one of the more useful parts of the day. I must say that I agree and this is something I do in all the presentations and classes I give.
A couple of really good sessions jump to mind from the day. The first was Roxanne Darling from Beach Walks with Rox. She gave some great “real world experience” insight into podcasting and her process. Another was Joel Mark Witt’s “Podcasting from inside the organization: what we’ve learned at MarylandZoo.TV” Both of these had great information, but also exhibited a passion for creating their work — an important part of any podcast. Finally, Ewan Spence’s clear demonstration of the problem with the first 10 seconds or most podcasts sent me back to the woodshed to work on all my show openings. He played the first 10 seconds of 10-15 podcasts and showed just how little information is conveyed to the listener. He is right, we can all do better in helping our listeners.
I spent the entire day at PodCamp and enjoyed myself, but I think there were a few issues that could be remedied in future incarnations.
First. it isn’t a BarCamp/PodCamp experience for me unless there are multiple tracks. Every sessions isn’t for every person and it is important that all the attendees be given a chance to exercise 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” as laid out on the PodCamp Wiki.
There were times when I could have been more productive working with a small group on another topic instead of listening to the session that was planned. I think having alternative tracks is a critical part of an “Camp” experience, maybe the most important parts.
A related issue was the way scheduling was handled. While I understand that that space available limited how many people could present at one time, I think pre-scheduling the event takes some of the life out of PodCamp. It starts to turn into a standard conference where one group, or one person has to make decisions about who gets to present and when. I think this goes against the spirit of PodCamp where “All attendees must be allowed to participate. (subject to limitations of physical space, of course)” It seems obvious that space was a limitation, but we could have, perhaps, broken up into the four corners of the large room and carried on four sessions at the same time without too much trouble. This would have allowed the attendees to create their own experience, rather than relying on others to set the agenda.
I am starting to see this pre-scheduling in a lot of “Camp” events and I think organizers need to look long and hard about how it effects the overall experience. After the close of PodCamp I met several attendees who were confused. PodCamp SoCal did not match the descriptions they had heard of a “Camp” experience and they seemed somewhat disappointed in that regard.
PodCamp SoCal was a nice introduction to the “week of podcasting” and it should become a regular part of the conference scene in every major city. PodCamp helps to bring together experience, passion and a willingness/eagerness to learn that almost guarantees a great and productive time.