Archive - Mar 19, 2010
Last night a dozen or so social media enthusiasts gathered in Rocky Hill to share ideas about organizing an unconference about social media in Connecticut. Many of the participants had been to various Podcamps and some had been to other forms of unconferences. Just about everyone already knew each other from CT Tweet Crawls and other social media gatherings. We discussed several issues; should this be a ‘PodCamp’, which is a well known brand trademarked by the PodCamp Foundation? Should it be a Social Media Camp, or some other form of BarCamp? How strictly should it follow the ‘unconference’ format? What, in the end, are we trying to get out of this?
One of the issues is that many of the people already heavily involved in social media have been to PodCamps, BarCamps or related events. There are PodCamps in Boston, Western Mass., New York City and beyond. What would make PodCamp Connecticut special?
Suzi Craig came up with a great suggestion, focusing on, “Work, Live, Play, Connecticut”. How does social media affect our lives here in Connecticut?
For the news industry, the affect is profound. People are now getting their news online. They are sharing information, both that they have gathered, and pointers to interesting stories they have found via social media. The news industry is still struggling with how best to respond to the affects of social media.
Yet other companies need to think about this as well. Word of mouth has always been the best advertising, and now word of mouth is taking place online. How do businesses effectively join in on the conversation in a way that it helps their business?
This leads us nicely to the ‘Play’ aspect of Suzi’s suggestion. People use social media to decide what bar, restaurant, or events to go to. They organize Tweetcrawls to gather with friends at preselected venues. Wise businesses will try to get on the Tweetcrawler’s radar and become a desired destination. People planning other events are wise to try and use social media in a similar manner to draw people to their events.
Another profession, very closely tied to where we live that has always relied on personal networks is realtors. More and more realtors are recognizing the power of social media as a tool to grow their personal networks.
The goal of PodCamp Connecticut is to draw together around three hundred people from all walks of life to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences of social media and how it affects where we work, play and live.
This then comes to the format. I often comment about being an unconference purist. Every session should be a discussion with a facilitator and note taker, but no presentations. A good unconference starts off with a brief discussion setting the framework for the day and doing very quick introductions. I like the style of each person saying their name, where they’re from and three words about themselves, very quickly and moving on. This can work with very large crowds and be very revealing.
Then, people write ideas for sessions they would like to attend on sheets of paper. The sheets get sorted, duplicates combined and the most popular put on a board to list when and where the topic will be discussed. People go to a session and talk about what they are interested in. If they aren’t interested, they exercise the rule of two feet, walk out, and find a session that fits them better.
This is one of the reasons why presentations generally don’t work well at unconferences. The items to be discussed need to be what everyone in the room is looking for, and not some preconceived idea that a presenter has. Too often, I’ve seen people set on doing presentations be disappointed because people don’t want to listen to their presentations. They either interrupt and pull the session back to a discussion that doesn’t follow the presentation, or they simply walk out.
Yet this approach of unconferences is new to many people, and some people find the idea challenging to start with. However, when they think about so many conferences where they’ve sat and listened to a panel talk for forty-five minutes, with the only real value coming with the statements from the audience, converted Jeopardy-style, to questions for the Q&A during the last ten minutes, they often quickly realize the value of the unconference.
Will this group of social media enthusiasts be able to pull off a successful unconference about social media in Connecticut? If there is any group of people that can pull it off, this group seems well positioned. In addition, experienced campers from other PodCamps and BarCamps in the surrounding area are offering to help out. Given the interest in Tweet Crawls and other social media gatherings here in Connecticut, it seems like a great crowd can be gathered. I sure hope so. I’m looking forward to it.
One of the first questions I came up against when I started working with the Nokia N900 was, “Can it run Java?” According to the Java page on the Maemo Wiki, the answer was, “It’s not supported, but here are a few things you can try.” So, I poked around and made a little progress.