Those of you who follow me on Twitter could probably guess that yesterday was the first Podcamp Ohio “Unconference”. I haven’t actually been to a podcamp before, but I’ve certainly heard plenty about them from following tech folks online, so I was looking forward to the chance to attend one locally.
At first, I think there was a period of “getting used” to the Podcamp ethos. Maybe it’s Midwestern politeness, but I got the impression that people were generally reluctant to interrupt a presenter to share their own ideas, or throw in a comment. As the day wore on though, I saw some more examples of being getting up from one session to attend another, and more interaction. Of course, that could be just an impression I got from the sessions I was in. Following along on Twitter, I can tell that some of the other sessions may have been different.
I do like the idea of podcamp, and being able to be more interactive than you normally can be at traditional conferences, where the speakers speak, and then answer questions. On the other hand, that makes it a bit difficult to determine what a session is really going to cover. You can go to a session that promises to be a sharing of tools that are used to do audio or video, or even blogging, and wind up spending the whole session talking about hosting options and code editors. Meh! Of course, on the third hand, you can feel free to get up and leave a session like that and hit another one. (I didn’t leave in this case, for reasons that will become clear later..)
Some general thoughts abut the day:
Summize was a great tool to track the Twitter conversations going on from the different sessions. I got to read some various ideas without having to be in every session and found a bunch of new local folks to follow.
The portable power strip I picked up at Fry’s a few weeks ago came in handy, as the session rooms had one or two outlets each. I got to share an outlet with someone in the afternoon as the Macbook was running low on juice. (The downside, you can’t really leave a session when you’re powering up, let alone sharing power.)
I spent more time using Evernote yesterday than I have since I first got it, and learned something I didn’t know about it before. (More in another post) Given the interactive nature of Podcamp, I did not attempt to keep notes on the blog the way I did at ABA Techshow opting, instead, to jott random things down in Evernote to think more about later. Some of which will become blog post fodder during the week, as I let my thoughts ferment a bit.
The 2-hour lunch was a great idea. I got a chance to chat with someone new in line for the taco/burrito bar, sit and catch up a bit with someone I’ve known for awhile, and then also get to spend some time with a group of folks I’ve been following on Twitter, yet hadn’t met in real life. All that without having to skip out on any sessions.
On the other hand, there were a handful of folks I wanted to meet up with, who I know were there but we never seemed to be in the same room at the same time. Since I had to run before even the last “closing” session due to other plans in the evening, and obviously couldn’t hang around for the after-party, I didn’t get the chance to say hello to them. Perhaps next year? 🙂
Of course, that also bring up the point that maybe the date could have been better. This weekend is a busy one around town, with Comfest, (where I was headed last night) the Pride festival/parade, and various other events scheduled. I’m not sure how much that interfered with others plans to be at Podcamp, but I’m sure it did hurt attendance, even if just a little. That being said, you do need to do something like this in a warm weather month, you don’t want folks unable to come from around the state because of snow and ice, either. Still, the event was well attended, and definitely was a good time. I’m already looking forward to doing it again, and thinking about what kinds of things I’d like to see sessions covering, even if I have to moderate it myself!