Sunday, April 15, 2012

Podcamp Nashville 2012 was a BLAST!

Well it was a hoot. Woot. I was so glad that my dear colleague Mike Terry made the jump into geekland with me and attended this annual free "unconference" down at Tequila Cowboy, a Lower Broadway Nashville bar that was formerly called Cadillac Ranch.

This seems a perfect venue for the event, and I'm putting Podcamp 2013 on my to-do list for next year. It was very very very very much the learning experience. I'm going to jot down a few observations here, but a quick scan of the sessions descriptions should whet your own appetite for next year. I would estimate the venue could handle roughly double the numbers attending yesterday and next year, your presence should count toward that total!

I was there right after the doors opened at 8am and quickly moved through the sidewalk registration table, strolled inside, picked up my lanyard and name tag and my little obligatory conference canvas bag (how many canvases had to die to create those, I wonder?). Inside were a program, a mini-Frisbee from magazines.com, a highlighter from metalmarketer.com, and a single flyer from ampadvocate marketing & printing. Yes, the main theme of this social media conference was, and will be forevermore, Marketing. The "M" word dominated most conversations, and I even twisted my own social media "wikiprezi" (I'll explain in a bit) to speak to that interest, though it was to become clear that the overriding theme behind both of my presentations was not-so-subtly the "E" word: Education.

Which brings me to a thought: maybe this fabulous event could be bolstered by the addition of Strands next year, eh? Education/Training being one of them, Marketing another, Social-social media another, Entrepreneurship another, and on and on to a total of 5 or 6. Fill in the blanks. Broadening the scope a bit might cross-pollinate both the audience and the presentation schedule toward enlarging the event? Just a thought.

I was gonna get all review-y in this post but I'm sensing it's long enough for today. Still, here are a few of my personal highlights.

Author Jeff Goins shared a very competent and zen-like overview of work attitude called "How to Fall Back in Love with your Craft & Create Your Best Work Yet." This epic title overlaid his message with zeitgeist delivered in the darkened tequila bar with the backdrop of one slide, two lovers on a sidewalk gazing into one another's eyes with the message, "Love is Something." I say that because I'm not sure I remember what the Something really said. Obviously not all that memorable? I was impressed with his cool, heartfelt, conversational delivery style, but on the theme of creative expression I've seen Whitney Ferre, former Nashvillian and author of Creatively Fit, and my vote goes to her--Whitney, you'd better get down here for Podcamp 2013, though I'm sure it's hard for you to leave your Northwest paradise for us lowly city-dwellers.

I peeled off from the last minutes of Jeff's session to hit the session I registered for, Dave Delaney's SNIRL "Social Networking In Real Life." Since I was very late to the only 35 minute session, I have no idea what SNIRL means, but I'll note that his Tequila Lounge (I think the largest venue room) presentation was being finished in comfortable, bullet-point-backed style to a packed room, maybe a hundred or so? Dave's the author of http://www.davemadethat.com and I had met him at last year's Podcamp and all I've got to say is what a nice, genuine, real guy. His session served as a sort of a plea for folks to get out of their shells (a valid and valuable bit of advice to this crowd--all of us probably overcompensating for natively introvert personalities with all this social media fol-de-rol.) and talk to strangers at the unconference. Dave's the guy. I was honored and flatttered that he attended not only my scheduled session but the impromptu one Mike and I put up during the "Impromptu Sessions" 10:30 block.

I flitted from Memphisean (?) Dave Barger's enticingly entitled "NeuroMarketing: Consciously Grabbing your Subconscious" to Ross Jones's" predictably packed "How I Got Google to Pay Me $150,000" and enjoyed what I caught of both of those. I was anticipating the next session, though, so my focus was on that.

The third block of presentations had been left unscheduled and a cork board with 4x5 cards in the main bar set up for "Impromptu Sessions" with the understanding that anyone with a passion for something could sign up and present. I was, true to form, the first signup. Mike hadn't arrived but I had called him for buy-in before scrawling on the note: "MNPS Virtual School: High School? Online? Really?" When he arrived he added the by-line "Yes. This DOES exist!" and we were scheduled.

We'd had a very successful open house (which we offer monthly) at our school this past Thursday, and I suggested we just run from there. I'd scoped out the room earlier and reported a problem--the projector, out in the little room (capacity maybe 60) off the stage (drums set still on there, lol) had a VGA cable of about 3 feet in length. That meant that the presenter could not be onstage where 4 microphones on stands were mounted on tables and still run his/her presentation. That hadn't gotten fixed by the time we were on, so Mike set up his laptop and stood by the projector while I stood on stage. We displayed the http://vlearn.mnps.org website, talked about our passion for the project we dedicate all our waking hours to, shared how the course actually works, discussed challenges and successes, and all in all had a wonderful discussion with the 25 or so folks in attendance. This was a first step in what I know will be a long process, and it was well-taken, I opine. I tweeted at some point that Mike is our secret weapon and I mean it. He openly admits that "I will talk about this topic anytime," and that attitude will be absolutely valuable as we strive to overcome a fog of misinformation and flat-out obliviousness about the building of online learning options that work for our nearly 80,000 students here in Middle Tennessee. We're actually doing it. Stay tuned.

I chilled for the next block, adding some things to my wikiprezi and frantically attempting to will Second Life's Vivox voice issues (documented online that morning) to rectify themselves. I texted all 6 inworld panelists to work up notecards they could pop into text chat in case we had to fall back on that.

Lunch was a smallish chicken salad croissant, a bag of chips, a dollop of yogurt with a tablespoon of fruit, and a quarter coin sized cake-ish. Sustenance. I ate it thankfully, knowing my 15 dollars would help support the conference and also get me two drinks later.

I spent some minutes in a session called "The Singularity: Why the Future is Closer Than You Think" but it was kinda like three guys talking about change and I never really got the point, excepting change is faster today and good things are coming but might be brought about by very bad things. I would've loved to hear more about the concept's primary advocate, Ray Kurzweil. He's a wild genius, likely delusional but inarguably fascinating.

At the end of that session, I went back out and hit a recharge station to check on voice in SL and preload my wiki pages for fast display. I'm not sure where this concept came from, but weeks ago when I began looking for content for my session, I had decided to grab a few concepts in virtual worlds that might appeal to the marketing nature of the conference and I populate a wiki with them. Just a couple days ago I felt I had the content, but I intuited that me leafing through wiki pages was going to be a yawner for the audience. So I hit on the idea of a Prezi to use for driving the experience. It really really worked. I had logged into SL, checked voice and found it working, and discovered that two (and only two) of my six scheduled Panelists had arrived at ISTE SIGVE and were ready to go. That was really fine, actually, since we never would have had time for any in-depth share from all six, and I know that the ones who didn't show either 1) screwed up the time--a consistent problem when you're working across time zones; 2) had intervening family/IRL (In Real Life) issues; or 3) just plain forgot. I still love them all and as I shared with my audience, the attendees can learn about all of them from checking out the wiki in depth on their own time ticket. I made sure to populate that with all kinds of resources. 35 minutes? Are you kidding? All good.

The two avatar/friends who did show up for the Panel each did beautiful, brief, and effective descriptions of their own work in Virtual Worlds. Spiff Whitfield/Andy Wheelock, my best bud in ISTE SIGVE, shared his fun and engaging Virtual Pioneers and his impressive work with the ReactionGrid Opesimulator build of Anne Frank's house for students and more at Islands of Enlightenment, as well as a couple new projects that have his attention, and Pecos Kidd; came in to sub for Gentle Heron, describing their invaluable contribution in the creation and ongoing service that Virtual Ability, Inc. brings to those of disability, enabling hundreds of community members to speak, dance, and even fly no matter what physical conditions life has dealt them. Nice, nice, nice work.

I'm done here, since after my "Virtual Worlds: What's in Them for YOU?" session I caught just about half of the packed (again, predicably) "Are You Pinsane? Pinning for Purpose & Profit on Pinterest" (who knew that the demographic shows only 13% male pinners?) panel, led by the enjoyably personable Janet Wallace and hurried home to be with my own family IRL. I want to thank the sponsors and the facilitators and the attendees of Podcamp Nashville 2012 and leave you with my fairly cool new concept, the "wikiprezi!" Peace.








1 comment:

Ross Jones said...

Hi Scott,
Enjoyed your podcamp write up & thanks for the props on my presentation! Our next Nashville SEO & Internet Marketing Group Meetup gets into more detail on the topic of Google AdSense. We meet the last Thursday night of every month. Hope you can make it to the next meeting.
Would you mind changing the link from my personal site to my main site? It's 2thetopdesign Dot Com.
Thanks, Ross