When Podcamp started back in 2006, digital and social media were just getting started. To give you a benchmark, many of the folks who attended the first Podcamp all joined Twitter on the same day, after getting an email from Chris Brogan. To give you an idea, Chris Brogan’s Twitter number is 10202, Julien Smith’s is 10203. Mine is 10223. This means we’ve been on Twitter since there were only a little over 10,000 people using the service- recent accounts are getting Twitter numbers in the low 400 million range. It’s grown as a community, to say the least.
Likewise, Podcamp has grown over time, right alongside social media and digital. Events have been held on every continent except Antartica. It’s grown from covering podcasting, to include blogging, social media, search engine optimization and digital marketing, alongside the growth of these industries, all with a content-creation bent. It’s been a natural growth- if you are creating great content for the web, the next thing you have to do is let people know about it. As a result, podcasters early on learned the power of search engines, marketing their own projects, and learning how to do things online with a shoestring budget. This resourcefulness accompanied by a strong sense of community has helped make Podcamp a popular grassroots conference that you can bring to your own community.
That being said, putting on Podcamps takes a lot of work. Our organizers are all unpaid, and for their volunteer efforts, they usually garner a few snacks, a maybe twice yearly get-together where I buy them dinner/lunch, and a hearty handshake. While the opportunity to make a difference in your community is priceless, no one organizing the events is going home with a bagful of galleons, but it does offer up a lot of opportunities to showcase your ninja-like web skills.
As digital content creation and digital marketing have taken off, lots of conferences have been come into being, but few of them are as community-centric as Podcamp. Our speakers are unpaid volunteers, coming together to share ideas and pick up new ones to help take their own projects to the next level. You’ll always find someone at Podcamp who has a new way of producing better content, and perhaps a system they’ve found helpful, saving you countless hours trying to figure this stuff out on your own. And the beauty of it is that you have lots to share and teach as well, and that’s what we depend on- every attendee being an integral part of the process, not just passive observer.
This year, we’ve decided to combine efforts and put on one larger, East Coast Podcamp we’re calling Podcamp East. There will be a focus on Entrepreneurship- how do you take your passion, your projects- and take them to the next level? By hosting Podcamp in Delaware, home of the corporation, we want to help people flesh out their business or non-profit ideas and even consider trying their own start-up if they want. By understanding how to leverage the digital space, whether you’re a beginner or more experienced professional, you’ll be able to help better promote your efforts, online and offline. By learning how to create better content, you’ll be able to attract and grow a larger audience.
But most importantly, you’ll be able to meet and learn from others on a similar path. The new friendships and contacts you’ll make at Podcamp can change your life. The folks who got together at the first Podcamp Boston include a host of folks who are now published authors, respected bloggers, public speakers, innovators, and disruptors. These folks have changed the way we communicate with each other, create, and folks like Bre Pettis and his MakerBot may change the way we manufacture products in the future.
We invite you to come be a part of the adventure that is Podcamp.
The general Podcamp Rules include the following:
- All attendees must be treated equally. Everyone is a rockstar. Everyone has something to contribute, so please- put in your two cents, share and learn. You’ll get the most out of Podcamp by becoming an active participant.
- All content created must be released under a Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ This means if pictures are tken of you at Podcamp, they will likely end up on the internet. So may your presentation, etc. We encourage presenters to share their content through their blog, slideshare and more, using a Creative Commons license. If you’re not willing to share it, don’t present it at Podcamp.
- All attendees must be allowed to participate. (subject to limitations of physical space, of course) This means, in practice, that anyone signing up to attend can speak, and we will hold at least one room open all day for day-of impromptu sessions as well as all pre-planned sessions. Unlike Barcamp that creates its program of sessions onsite, the morning of the conference, we’ve found planning sessions ahead allows people to know what to expect and generally leads to higher quality sessions. That said, impromptu sessions, when a speaker cancels at the last minute, or you decide you need someone to teach you all about Final Cut, can sometimes be the most valuable experience you have. The key is to be flexible, and if you don;t find a session you need, propose your own or go create your own on the spot.
- All sessions must obey 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. You are in charge of your own learning. We provide the paint, canvas and brushes- the rest is up to you.
A word about charging…
Lastly, many Podcamps have been held that have been free of charge to participants. We found this often led to many more people signing up than showing up, and this causes a big headache for organizers who are trying to provide everything from snacks to swag for attendees. As a result, we hit upon a compromise a few years ago, and began to charge a small fee, like a doctor’s office co-pay, to encourage people who sign up to actually attend the event. What we have done, as a compromise, and to make sure that Podcamp continues to be a community-centric event, is donate the funds from ticket sales to a local non-profit group. We’ll be doing the same this year for Podcamp East, and will announce the non-profit beneficiary shortly. While not everyone agrees with this, we feel Podcamp still delivers far more value than the $20 cost for a weekend of cutting edge classes on digital media, and that a community focus is still important. We’re more than happy to hear your opinions on the matter- and feel free to comment here, of course- but so far, the pros have outweighed the cons.