Podcamp Boston 2 has come and gone and it was a good experience
It was also an imperfect conference.
My greatest and most satisfying take away was that Podcamps continue to be an amazing place to meet, network and become friends with some very talented people and at least “get to know”/be introduced to some others. For that single reason (although there are others) everyone should attend a Podcamp in their area. It’s a great experience.
Just one quick example. Through a Sunday session and later in a hallway meeting and at lunch, I met Adam Weiss . (That’s a picture from the meeting and I really did enjoy it much more than the photo would indicate…another reason I should stay behind a microphone). He’s one of the sharpest audio talents I have yet to meet in Podcasting. He’s also one of the most generous with his insights. There were many meetings like this (and some prospective client meetings too) that were simply invaluable.
The educational sessions were hit and miss. When they hit, it was out of the park. Let me explain.
As with anything as informal as an “unconference” there are going to program issues. It’s going to happen and organizers really can’t do too much about it except learn from it (and make no mistake, the Podcamp Boston committee are sharp people, they know how to adjust and I am sure they will).
There were a few challenges in this Podcamp edition:
1. Program content is determined primarily through attendees volunteering to make a presentation (as it is with ALL Podcamps). Organizers can try and determine the value of the presentation and the presenter’s professionalism but it’s a crap shoot. Part of the problem was lousy session titles, one can’t really figure out what the session is about from a vague title. Sometimes, the presentations offered little value, in my opinion, and sometimes they were really great. But the omissions stood out and felt like time lost.
2. Those in attendance were (as might be expected) at various stages of their blogging and podcasting life so programming had to strike a delicate content balance between rank amateur and professional. The format through which the sessions were laid out was great. Programming was broken down by segments and that was good. But for me there wasn’t as much “meat” as I had hoped for. In Toronto (the first of my Podcamp experiences) I felt there was more valuable content in the presentations but that could be a factor of where I was in my blogging and podcasting life. For others, the content may have struck an amazing chord.
3. Initial attendance numbers (not final to be sure) seemed higher then the first Podcamp Boston, according to those on the committee that I spoke to but many people who committed to coming didn’t show up, including some presenters (1,200 was a number thrown about prior to the event). The organizers noted this in their wrap up meeting and will offer up the option to other Podcamp organizers (the Boston crew owns the Podcamp brand) to charge a small attendance fee. It’s thought such a fee will ensure a higher attendance if people have “something” to lose by not showing up. I think they may be right.
A project like this is an enormous task and my comments are not meant in anyway to take away from the great efforts of the Podcamp Boston 2 team. But following their sophomore effort, I think they can really learn some valuable programming lessons they will help Podcamp Boston 3 ensure a fuller experience for all attendees.