Yesterday Carol and I headed to Toronto for our first PodCamp. Now, I freely admit I know little about podcasting, but that’s okay since, since its inception, PodCamp has expanded in scope to cover all manner of social media and its assorted uses. That I know something about.
Having never been to one before, my inclination was to get acclimatized, meet folks, and learn as much as possible, rather than signing up to present this time. (Plus, Ilya was doing a presentation, so the company was represented.)
Met plenty of folks I’d only known online prior, which was cool, and saw a bunch more names I recognized, but didn’t get a chance to say hello to. Attendance yesterday was 507, I am told, which is more than double last year’s numbers. There were times and places it was quite crowded (we were at the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson), but not nearly as bad as we were told to expect, given signups were over 800 people.
Carol and I headed back to Waterloo in the afternoon, so didn’t stick around for any of the dinners or the Molson-sponsored party, but given how tired and headache-y I was early last evening, I think it was for the best. Plus, I’d seen quite a few of those folks just a few days prior at Third Tuesday when Carol presented.
I get the impression there will be fewer people at PodCamp today, including a lack of us Waterloo folk, since the weather is fairly crappy, and the round-trip drive would take us as long as the amount of time we’d be in Toronto. (It’s only a half-day today.)
It was really interesting to see the differences in the “culture” of the various presentations. Some speakers had PowerPoints, some just walked around with a microphone. Some were very “academic” (e.g. presenter did all the talking; audience did all the listening), and sometimes things were much more interactive. Sometimes the audience would be furiously scribbling notes from beginning to end, and sometimes there was more laughter and the faces were upturned the entire time. I suspect plenty was learned in both scenarios, just in different ways.
We social media types get accused of existing in an echo chamber, and rightly so, to be frank. Usage of many of these sites, applications, and tools still isn’t fully mainstream, and the ranks of those who work with, teach about, and apply them to client work is an even smaller microcosm.
And there was some of that in evidence at PodCamp, too. I heard that a number of the sessions were very 101 level, starter “how to” stuff. Which, obviously, is a bit basic for those who work with social media professionally. You’d hope that they’d already know what the tools are, how to wield them, and how to measure their use. However, maybe more of the audience was folks much newer to social media, and that’s exactly what they signed up for.
I also noticed a dearth of concrete case study-type presentations. (Although Ilya’s was exactly that. Including algorithms!) Perhaps adoption of these tools, particularly at a corporate level, is too new. Or perhaps work that has been or is being done for clients is still ongoing or not for public disclosure.
However, even for those fairly new to social media, I’d think real world choices, use cases, results, and measurements would be among the most useful information they could absorb, for content producers, agency people, corporate citizens, non-profits, startups, you name it. Perhaps as these unconferences grow and age and social media usage becomes just another part of doing business, we’ll see more of those real-world examples and less introductory material.
All in all, glad to have another new experience under my belt, and with Third Tuesday having just passed and StartupCamp Waterloo this Wednesday, it continues to amuse me how much my professional and social spheres have changed in the past year.