Not enough podcasting at podcamp?

IMG00159, by Bob Goyetche.
This was my third time at Podcamp Toronto, and I want to congratulate the organizers and volunteers on putting on a great event! I have an intimate appreciation of what it takes to put an event like this together, and you guys did an amazing job all around.

There were so many things right about this event, the sessions, the perfect facilities, the free coffee!, the great support organization. I almost feel guilty saying the following…

An interesting thing happened to me Saturday. It was towards the end of the day, just before the Audacity audio editing session Sean McGauhey and I were doing, someone came up to me and asked ”

‘Will this session have anything to do with podcasting?”

“wha…?” came my carefully-formulated reply.

“It’s just that it seems it’s all about measurement and metrics and stuff, but I’m trying to find out how to podcast “

It was at this moment I started wondering if the Podcamp model had jumped the shark.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great event and everything, and I still plan to attend more. This person’s question made me back up and think that perhaps we’re missing the boat here, so wrapped up in SEO and twitter and whatever that we forgot the name of the event.

Of course it’s not the organizer’s faults. With the unconference model, sessions offered are simply what people have volunteered to present. I think the time has come to modify the podcamp model, and have sessions adhere to a criteria before being approved. There are “veterans” in this space that could help formulate sessions or tracks to help those who are just starting out.

It’s wonderful to get that additional information on podcasting’s related activities  (promotion, business development, measurement, whatever), but we need to make sure no one is asking questions like those above, or we’ve missed our attempt to reach out and grow the community.

I spent much of my time in the hallway conversations, only attending a few sessions, so I’m not sure if others felt as this person did, it would sure be a shame if people came to a podcasting event, and struggled to find podcasting content..

If we don’t nudge things over and make Podcamp about podcasting, where will new podcasters find the information they seek?

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  1. Mark says:

    This hadn’t occurred to me, probably because I spent most of my time in sessions very closely connected to podcasting and production. I guess I’m naturally drawn to those sessions and only drop in on the monitoring, marketing and monetizing sessions to gauge where the conversation is.

  2. Kennedy says:

    Nail hit on head, Bob. While I enjoyed the Podcamp Toronto sessions I attended, they were very clearly geared towards people who are already doing this sort of thing, and have for a while. Luckily, though, the web is filled with resources for beginners. It’s how I learned … but some might argue I could use some professional help. Wait, some have.

  3. katherine says:

    I think I’m sort of perversely grateful to hear that someone is actually *asking* that question (is there podcasting here).

    I’d sort of assumed that with so much more emphasis on PR/Marketing/Money that no one really was interested any more, or at least, not interested in the technical basics or on thoughts about creativity/motivation/content creation/planning.

    Maybe I should stop making assumptions.

  4. LEMills says:

    Amen again, my friend.
    At risk of metaphorically beating a seriously dead horse, let me say just once more that the PodCamp-modeled-on-BarCamp method should rely more strongly on attendees listing sessions they’d like to see (as well as “speakers” listing things they’d like to talk about).

    Maybe a future PodCamp should experiment with room assignments for tracks and leave it at that: sit in one spot (or check the whiteboard for the shifting schedule) and learn what you want about starting a podcast, or making videos, or using social networks.

    The spontaneous alignment of people who have questions with people who have answers is all but lost outside the Mentor Room, and we all need to become better mentors *and* listeners.

    Are we waiting for RSS to become easier, perhaps?

  5. That concerned me, too, Bob. That is why I was requesting podcast specific sessions in the “Sessions Wanted” area (which you kindly picked up on) and helped organize a podcast-specific session. I still need/want to learn a lot of the technical side of podcasting. But, it is dependent on the community, not just me.

    Another criticism I heard was that there were too many PR sessions. I managed to have a great learning weekend without attending any PR sessions. But, they did seem very popular so perhaps there was a need for those sessions.

    It seemed to me the first year of Podcamp Toronto was almost exclusively about podcasting. As a blogger, I wondered if I should even be there (but when I got there, was made to feel very welcome). In the second year, it branched out to other forms of new media. In year three, all the business people (especially the PR) flocked to the event to learn from the rest of us.

    I don’t see this necessarily as a bad thing, but it does present a problem for those who were not around the first years to learn from the beginning. This is precisely what the Zero to Podcasting sessions you ran last year were presumably meant to remedy. It is too bad we (and I include myself in that) didn’t continue on with that this year.

    That being said, how much are the other podcamps now primarily about podcasting? I don’t think it is just us.


  6. Eden Spodek says:

    Bob, Thanks for raising this issue and offering a solution on twitter. I enjoy the content production side of podcasting but I’ll admit I suck at the technical side – either that or it’s because I’m resisting the investment in a proper digital recorder – perhaps a bit of both. 😉

    If it weren’t for PodCamps, I’m not sure where else I could meet with other podcasters to improve my podcasting knowledge and skills. I also enjoy other aspects of social media – that’s why I like PodCamp – it’s a forum where a variety of sessions can co-exist.

    Even a simple discussion of this post on twitter encouraged some podcasters to step up and offer sessions for PodCamp Toronto 2010. I think we’re off to a great start.


  7. Bob,

    I think that the community is changing, the space is evolving, and currently there is growing interest in B2B and how social media and the tubes can help grow businesses. I am sure that if we looked at tv/radio we can see many parallels of how as a broadcast media space matures people look for ways to use it to their business advantage.

    While there is nothing wrong with this evolution, the current PR / marketing / SEO / monetization vibe feels like a far cry from the original podcamp Boston. I feel that the original podcamp credo was more about pushing your passion out to the world and building listenership than it was about how to make a profit. I wonder if people would make a fireeagle at a current podcamp to get on ZeFranks Podcast now without some angle to get their brand displayed in the clip.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy for people who find a way to use “social media” as a part of how they brand/market themselves, heck I enable many to do this. But I feel the rush to work on business models and branding takes away from the some of the discussion on basic skills, content creation, as well as a discussion about “The Conversation” that is web 2.0.

    Having said all that, let me join in the chorus of others who have commented that it would be in the best interest to seed/track some of the session rooms to re-enforce some of the topics that we, as a community, feel are not getting enough attention. While the “un-conference” is all about two feet, I think there is nothing wrong with offering up some potential shoes to navigate the many different types of paths within social media and podcasting.

  8. John Wall says:

    I think this is a natural progression because noobs only make up a portion of the total attendees and for the vets there’s been no real changes in podcasting since iTunes opened up.

  9. Keith Burtis says:

    I think we as presenters and speakers forget to ask how many folks are new to the podcamp thing. I did 2 panels and 1 session this weekend. At the beginning of both I asked how many people were new to social media, podcasting and such. The raise of hands was usually in the 50-80% range. We talk about how we are in the “fishbowl” but we forget that the fishbowl is rapidly expanding. A few years ago we were all learning. Now we have a mix of both veterans and newbies. The podcamp model will have to adapt.

  10. Hi Bob,

    This is something that I’ve noticed at the podcamps I’ve attended and even our first PodCampEDU was lacking in podcasting basics. We added a hands on get friendly with the hardware session that was very well received.

    I Linda’s idea of designated rooms for more How To kinda sessions…akin to the session that you and Mark did (at some podcamp) where you spent the whole 2 days working from idea to publishing…I think there should be something like that available for the rookies.

    John Wall’s comment kinda scares me. If we ignore the new podcasters, podcasting will die out as we fall off the wagon. It is our responsibility to take care of the new and rookie podcasters lest the fall prey to the SMDB’s who care less and would be happy to have then ghost podcast for them.


    Excellent point to rise as we start getting into more and more of the podcamp season.

  11. The first session I went was PODCASTING TOOLS 101. There was also the business card for
    I enjoyed most sessions. I walked out on one and “attended” a “hallway” session.
    podcastfaq is nice but many noobs would want a person to help them out over reading at podcastfaq.

    Many “experts” on most fields (not just podcasting) get a “stuck up attitude”. All “experts” were noobs once. Not everyone can or knows how to fish around the web for information.

  12. Dean K Owen says:

    Although I didn’t attend this podcamp, I understand where this question comes from – I get it often. We can’t forget that there are many folks who are now, where we were 2 or 3 or 4 years ago. A lot of what we have forgotten about and moved on from is new to them. As ‘experts’ we have two choices – ignore the ‘noobs’ and go back to the echo chamber OR take the time to answer their questions and help get them podcasting. Not every expert has the time or the personality to help newcomers (I’ve seen this in lots of social groups)but if you like to help others and evangelize podcasting – good for you!

  13. Bob says:

    Another idea could be to have the “Basic 5” sessions or something, that get new people up and running in podcasting – these 5 could carry from event to event, and even be canned slides anyone can deliver.

    Of course we need to keep the more experienced topics/speakers – but let’s not forget the people new to the scene…

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