I and about 400 other folks attended PodCamp Nashville this past Saturday. Perhaps the idea of a free, volunteer run conference kind of gave me some low expectations (I’d never been to a bar-style, un-conference before). But it was without need as the conference was time well spent.
I attended seven different sessions during the day:
- "From Prep to Post: The PodCasting Process" by Justin Davis (of the Davis on Draft podcast, produced here in lovely Franklin, TN). — This was a very well received presentation on the basic process of creating and distributing a podcast. Justin did an excellent job of describing good podcast practices and demonstrating the very low barrier to entry for creating a show of one’s own: From using inexpensive hardware, to open-source editing tools like Audacity, to free hosting & feed tools like FeedBurner. This was generally a very high-level view of the process, with a few practical tips thrown in to demonstrate just how simple this can be to get started.
- "Twitter Groups: The Real Conversation" by Paul Nicholson — This was really the background for and demo of a technology – ReTweetBot – for grouping related tweets to build more practicality into Twitter. Definitely something Twitter needs and this is a pretty good solution, though still not perfect (or very tested). However, the @pcnChat group seemed to work well throughout the day. Indeed, it seems to work better than tagging (which is not the same as grouping, regardless of the site).
- "Building Online Communities" by John Morgan — John presented excellent tips on how to begin and grow relationships with customers/clients/users. As someone who is trying to build up a community for Structural Engineers online, there was a lot of invaluable advice here. One of the biggest take-aways I have from this session is that I need to ask my community what they want from me1 Lots of great ideas to be put into practice over at the BE Communities site.
- "Buisness PodCasting & Blogging: There IS a Secret Sauce" by Jerad Degnan — Another great presentation for mining ideas to put into practice over at BE Communities. My favorite: get people to answer the question "What makes you successful?" People love answering that and they also love hearing what others have to say in response.
- "Slice of the Cake: The Secret to PodCast Listener Loyalty" by Dave Delaney — Dave and his wife ran a very successful podcast on parenting and he shared some ideas on how to partner with related goods and services to generate contests, etc. The most important parts seemed to be choosing something that would have relevance to the audience and to keep the process simple. It was also fun to see he had partnered with Rockabye Baby music, something we’re big fans of here at the Franklin Branch Office.
- "WordPress & PodCasting: Like Digital PB & J" by Mitch Canter — This presentation would have been best placed immediately following Justin’s session on how to create PodCasts. One of Justin’s strong recommendations was to have a website for your podcast and Mitch’s presentation was on how to do just that. This was done at a more on-the-ground level and Mitch really walked the audience through the process of setting up a WordPress blog (using a full WP install and not WordPress.com — something I very glad he spent time differentiating). He also hit on how to make the most out of WP plug-ins geared specifically for hosting podcast content. My only complaint was that some complex concepts (like plug-ins) could have used a bit more expanding and much time was spent on walking through a WP install. However, given the wide audience that he presented to in 20 minutes, Mitch managed to cover a lot. I was very glad to see WP getting a little love at this PodCamp and hope to see even more next year2.
- "Why I Love Guinness: A Introduction to Social Networks" by Dave Delaney — Having lived in Galway, Ireland, Dave is a big fan of pubs and stouts. Here, he makes comparisons of old-world pubs to some of the most popular social networks. He also includes some rather amazing stats on the rapid growth of these sites. I do wish he’d spent a bit more time of some of the different types of users and how to engage them, but it was also an intro session.
Unfortunately, due to a lot of small things going on, I wasn’t able to help out but I would certainly like to volunteer some for next year. I’d even like to present on screencasting, as that was no where represented though I do think it is a popular form of online video. Further, I’m generally excited to see such a large tech community here in the Nashville area. This means not only PodCamps, but BarCamps (this past year was the third BarCamp Nashville). Maybe even a WordCamp, as WordPress seemed to be a popular subject.
Hey! Maybe I should try and find a MadCap users group here in Central Tennessee. Or even start one if it doesn’t yet exist! The possibilities are wide open and that was the best thing about this past weekend: learning that there are so many people right here around me who are interested in and even creating new media. People who have a lot of the same geeky interests as me.