We need camps for creators

I missed Podcamp Montreal.

Actually, let me rephrase that, I missed seeing my friends at Podcamp Montreal. I didn’t miss Podcamp. After the 8 or so I’ve been to, I don’t think I’ll actually ever miss a Podcamp.

It’s a wonderful event, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not for me anymore.

Because it’s no longer about Podcasting? – there’s more to it than that.

I’m not bothered that there isn’t much podcasting talk at podcamps. Podcamp has evolved as an event. This evolution has taken it towards other topics like social media. At one point, I thought imposing podcasting-type topics might be a way to keep it on track. I now think that’s a futile position. Podcamp is has become a recognized social media event, and is the place to be if you want to learn/connect with these topics.

The thing is, the direction these topics have gone, there just happens to be a great percentage of sessions on things that don’t interest me. (and I’m not pretending to speak for anyone else here)..

Looking over the last few podcamps, here are some session topics I never need to see again :

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Marketing
  • Building Audience
  • Press Releases
  • Analytics
  • Public Relations
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • social freaking media
  • etc… etc..

Are these topics bad? Of course not. I just honestly have no desire to spend any time on them. I don’t believe that you need to be versed in ANY of these topics to be a media creator. You DO, however, need to be AMAZING at several of these if you want to build a business.

I don’t want to build a business from this.

Now I have several friends who either make a living or tell people they do with the topics above, and more power to them. I also know a few oncologists, but have no desire to know more about how they earn their living.

I just want to be super-clear, I think Podcamp is GREAT (I do!), but it has evolved away from my interests, despite the fact I’m thankful it’s there so I can see my friends.

So this Sunday, just to stir things up (cause I tend to do that), I tweeted “What if we leave PodCamp to marketers, and start #creatorcamp .. #justsaying” .

The reaction was surprising. I fully expected nothing to come of it, like many of my tweets (!),  but direct messages and my inbox told me I may have hit on something, or at least I’m not alone in feeling the way I do.

So a half joking tweet gets traction. Where can we go with this? Is there somewhere to go? Are there bears there? Won’t someone think about the children?

Valerie mentioned that PAB is kinda like a creator’s camp, but PAB is more about ideas and thoughts than creation. I think there may be room for an event  where discussing the creation of media (not the selling, recognition or  monetizing)  is the goal. I imagine an event where you could learn the basics of audio/video/knitting /photography/woodworking /sculpture/graphics/ etc.. What a treat that would be. Now to be honest, I have no desire to start sculpting, but I’m convinced I would find a session on sculpting more interesting than analyzing web page traffic. That’s how I roll.

The nice thing about doing this in a camp-ish way would be that it would only need 1 organizing principle. Something like :

Your session MUST be about creating something. *

* and by CREATING, we don’t mean revenue, audience, market share, connections, twitter-followers.

At bitnorth this year, I gave a quick talk about organizing conferences, and some of the lessons I’ve learned from co-organizing PAB (and several podcamps!!) and as I was reviewing my notes, the one piece of advice that really stood out was :

“Create an event YOU would like to attend.”

I’d love to attend an event dealing specifically with creation, would you?

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36 Comments

  1. I, for one, would sign up. I love that idea. Creating certainly seems to be the first thing to fall off the agenda, and yet, that’s what we all gather around.

    If there were at least some creator tracks or a thread or whatever, I think that’d be better.

  2. As I’m shoulder-deep in planning PodCamp Philly #4 right now – I completely agree with you. I often fear that Podcamps are turning into a mini-business expo rather than a grassroots, community-driven learning opportunity that it was created to be. Evolution is fine, nothing wrong with that, but not everyone is ‘into’ social media or trying to squeeze a nickle out of their podcast. Besides, I think that businesses could learn a lot from experiencing the joy of content creation and community building when it’s not connected to ROI.

  3. Scarborough Dude says:

    I think one thing is very clear: there are a lot of us who love getting together & socializing in real life, but like having the excuse of a(n) (un)conference or something similar to justify the travel, expense, time away from family, etc. It seems quite clear, at least in my view, that monetizers and marketers have hijacked podcamps, and those of us who like to create content for the fun and love of it feel we have been relegated to the sidelines and no longer have relevance to the larger community who seem to want to cash in on this social media wave.

    It is no surprise that your timely tweet caught our interest; there is a hunger for the purists (?) amongst us to regain our place and have our voices heard. This need is being expressed in different ways, such as our SOAPnet (Southern Ontario Amateur Podcasters) plans for an open mic podcaster night, and others (those boys in Windsor) calling for content events including music, spoken word, art, etc. The desire and interst is there, so if you (Bob?) build it we/they will come. Count me in!

  4. Linda Mills says:

    I’m with you 100% on the creation-camp idea; I’d like to add some “art of appreciation” to it, too. What are people listening to for pleasure? What are they reading for their souls? What amuses and inspires them and makes them think?

    On Saturday afternoon, PodCamp Montreal brought back the passion of user-generated content, with Bettina Forget’s session on her art blog (http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/9501234)and Chris “Zeke” Hand’s presentation on niche podcasting (http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/9502282). Thank heavens for those two, restoring my faith in the creativity of the species.

    Let’s bring power back to the producers. I’m on board.

  5. John Meadows says:

    I would be there in a second! With all due respect to my marketer friends, I am sick to death of marketing!

    I also missed seeing a number of people at PCMTL, but as you, I didn’t miss Podcamp; I was too busy having fun with creativity.

  6. Michel D. says:

    As I said to you in private, count me in.

  7. Picard102 says:

    Firstly, I agree. PodCamps, beyond parties and friends, has lost it’s apeal for people interested in things other then marketing and ROI.

    That said I think we have ourselves to blame. Getting creators to participate by hosting sessions isn’t something to just hope happens magicly, which seems to be the method as of late. It needs to be promoted and ephasized at the orginizer level.

    Rather then abandon it, why not take it back? Marketers have a 100 other confrences durring the year that I’m happy to let them have.

  8. Calgary has been looking for something to bring our community together. We have the monthly meet ups but they are more social then action focused. podCALGARY was birthed by a group of amateurs who created content, and consumed the content of other amateurs.

    We (mostly me) have resisted the idea of an “un conference” because I did not see anything that could be of benefit to the community. However, the idea of a “creator camp” where the sessions are about creation would really benefit this community. Thanx for planting this seed Bob. Now as long as no one brings up the M word this could work.

  9. We make PodCamp Nh more than 1/2 about creative (film, music, improv, more) each year, but even so – I think a creative camp would be fun. Especially if we can create a different word for it that doesn’t involve camp. Everything’s a camp these days…

  10. Bob says:

    Thanks for the great comments, I’m happy to see discussion around this idea! Please don’t let me stop you!

    A few thoughts —

    “taking podcamp back” was among my early feelings, but there is no doubt to me that it’s a successful event. Why break it? It’s great at what it does. Take it back to get to use a name? The name doesn’t matter.

    It’s so hard to get any event done that I’d rather push forward and build something new that spend effort trying to change a community (which I don’t think really can be done anyway)… There’s nothing that says we couldn’t pick and choose what we like of the Podcamp Model – after all, it’s based on the whatever-camp model, which isn’t unique to Podcamp.

    I think a dedicated creation track (which has been done several times, like when we did “Zero to Podcasting” at Podcamp Toronto) while interesting, isn’t optimal, because it divides the attendees into groups. If they’re going to be separate anyway, why bother trying to do it in the same event?

    I’ve no problem not calling it a camp. In the end, I don’t think I care what it’s called – it’s about the content/context.

  11. Eden Spodek says:

    Maybe I’m too close to this and I wear all three of the main hats mentioned – online content creator, podcamp organizer/enthusiast and the dreaded digital communications strategist working at a PR agency but I really think podcamps are what you make them.

    Looking back at the schedule for PodCamp Toronto 2010, there seemed to be a balance of sessions ranging from how to take digital photos to how to monitize your podcast (not really but you get the idea).

    Many of us have made great friends in the community who wear one or more of these hats, so we really need to be divided?

    Content creation is critical regardless of whether your a hobbyist or do it for a living. Many of us would welcome a “contentcamp” (geez, I wish I had time to creat more). Wouldn’t it be great to see more contentcamp sessions at podcamp? With all the tweets and other quick social media hits nowadays, there seems to be a growing hunger for meatier online content again.

  12. Eden Spodek says:

    For those of you who don’t know my sense of humour, the reference to me being a “dreaded digital communications strategist working at a PR agency” was meant tongue and cheek. ;D

  13. Rob Lee says:

    Let’s call it “The Big Bang”… Oh, wait. That might attract mistaken porno fans… 🙂

  14. Rob Blatt says:

    Consider me a friend in NYC who is willing to help put this on in NYC.

  15. Alistair says:

    I hear ya, Bob.

    As I think I’ve mentioned, Bitnorth was kind of a reaction to all the conferences I coordinate in my “day job.” If I’m going to create a conference I’d like to attend, then:
    – It will be full of people who are both smart and good to drink with. This is an important test.
    – I will be surprised by the content. That was the main reason for the Short Bit stuff; I have no idea what will happen, and neither does anyone else.
    – People will discuss something they care about a lot, because this will make the content awesome and the after-presentation chatter even better.

    I think there’s a backlash going on in conferences; we’ve all realized that talking about how to talk is like describing dancing: it’s not much fun unless you’re actually doing it, and kind of hard to understand. But building something, the act of creation — well, there’s the rub. Those who can, do; those who can’t, comment. Or Like. Or Share. Or Tweet. Or Upboat.

    A conference for those who make the news, rather than those who report it, sounds wonderful. The question is: how do you make those people take time away from creating to share?

    A.

  16. Dave Delaney says:

    I love the idea Bob, but I think what you’re after is a conference that is about your true passion, podcasting. I know of one you should check out. 😉

    I agree that PodCamp (and BarCamp, at least in Nashville) have evolved from podcasting to much about marketing. It’s what the people have chosen.

    As a marketing professional, I like the enthusiasm around the topic. As a marketing professional, I’m sick of it too.

    I don’t think we need any more camps. I think we need more casual meet ups. Let the camps and the conferences be the places where so many like-minded people connect in person. That’s always such a highlight for me.

    Let’s leave it to the professionals and those most passionate about podcasting to be at PAB next June.

    It’s time more podcasters cross more borders to attend PAB. I truly hope to be there too.

    Cheers!

  17. Whit says:

    I have always looked at Podcamp as being about learning and sharing with a bit of creating an atmosphere to help people get over stage fright. I almost always run Battledecks or other sessions that are all about the fun and creativity on the fly- maybe we need more of that. I’m reminded of the session ERic Skiff did at Podcamp Philly one where we did faux startups including one called ” Amish Chris Brogan”- focused on people interactions over tech toys- maybe that’s the direction we need to go- more analog creation and interaction, less toy focus

  18. Todd says:

    The thing that excites me about the phrase “creator camp” is the potential even to step out of the box of online versus offline content creation or even the definition of content itself (does a cook create content? How about a guerilla gardener?). There are so many who create or do things with passion whom we could learn from. And like Bob, I feel that there are a number of sessions that maybe we don’t need to see again. What about some new sessions that look beyond online content creation like:

    – An architect talks about how they engage their ‘audience’
    – A graffiti artist talks about giving/receiving feedback
    – Public Space activists talk about collaboration
    – Improv artists talk about storytelling
    – A teacher talks about how he is able to get his “audience” to get behind working together to raise money for Haiti relief
    – Subway musician talks about interaction with a transient audience

    The list could go on and on and the possibility of opening up things for creative cross-pollination is pretty exciting

  19. Bob says:

    @dave – It’s not about podcasting. It’s about creation.

    “it’s what the people have chosen” – I tend to disagree. This may be generalizing, but I believe that marketers, by the nature of their craft will look for opportunities for themselves or their product to be seen. I’ve seen it so often, a marketer looks at an open speaking slot as an opportunity to market. It’s what they do.

    The creative types tend to be more reserved, and are often fighting their very nature to attempt to present. As such, they are no match for types who are “out there” all the time as part of their jobs.

    I just wonder if limiting the sessions to creators doesn’t level the playing field a bit.

  20. Krash Coarse says:

    So many things I agree with here…

    I lost interest in creating because I was beleaguered by marketers and people marketing themselves trying to control my creation.

    I love seeing my friends in this creative community we’ve built, but frankly shudder at the marketspeak I’ll be subjected to in order to see them at a (un-)conference.

    PAB is the exception to this.
    The content is interesting, it’s well organized, and very little sponsorship money goes toward infecting my brain with a desire to buy stuff.

    Do we really need another C.A.M.P. ? (Camp for the Association of Media Producers)
    Can we just have more than one PAB each year?
    Or a bunch of little local ones?
    People are lazy/busy (I count myself as both): they want to have activities organized and spoon-fed to them, then complain about the price. 🙂
    Is there somebody out there who can put on this yoke and carry it well? Bob and Mark (et al) have done a great job of PAB, but it doesn’t feed their families. Are we willing to pay reasonably for such good entertainment?

    OK, my thoughts are aired. 🙂
    Suffice to say that I love the idea, but many factors enter in to the equation of whether or not I want to (or can) attend. Sure if it was free, conveniently timed, local and had cool content… I’d be there!

  21. Krash Coarse says:

    Maybe we could have P.O.L.E. meetups (Podcasters Of Local Extraction)….

    Hmmm… Perhaps that doesn’t project the right idea…
    😀

  22. Julien says:

    bob, I think you should roll with this one. I rt’ed the original comment on Sunday and really agreed with it after seeing every session be run by marketers that day (seriously). and there is a place for these events, so it’s all good, but for those of us creating interesting stuff and looking to keep it fresh, I’d welcome new perspectives.

    how can we find a way to make this happen? I’d love to take this to the next level with whoever is interested.

  23. Dave Delaney says:

    @bob Thanks, it was late when I left the comment. If it’s creation that you want, then I think you should go for it.

    However, I would avoid “camp”. I would create a new (un)conference, smaller scale is fine, but avoid the word. This way people don’t expect that they will be able to speak about anything they want.

    You and the other organizers should curate the submissions for sessions. Then you can truly be sure the event stays focused on content creation, not content promotion and marketing.

    Or, create the camp, but make it blatantly clear that: Your session MUST be about creating something, like you mentioned in your post.

    I suppose the Law of Two Feet will help enforce this too.

    So when and where? I’m excited!

  24. […] next product or service. I learned this is not something foreign to recent PodCamps after reading Bob Goyetche’s article on the desire for camps for […]

  25. Mark Blevis says:

    Of course you know me well enough to know the concept of creatorcamp is one that I’d be very excited about. And, you’d be right. That’s something of the direction we’ve been taking PAB which is why it’s been a bit frustrating so many people focus on the P in the name rather than the amazing sessions about and relating to creation (albeit strictly content and community rather than music, stained glass, paper airplanes).

    So, is this idea worth pursuing? Absolutely. (Did you register the domain name, yet?) Would I go? Participate? Love every minute of it? Absolutely. The possibilities for an event like this are limitless. Count me in.

    @Eden… “Content creation is critical regardless of whether your a hobbyist or do it for a living.” The problem is that too few actually focus on the creation and more on the desired result. They think too much about the product and not the process.

  26. Mark Blevis says:

    That was a good idea I had. 😉

  27. LEMills says:

    Me, again…
    In the middle of all of this, I completely forgot to mention two programs that are doing “creationcamp” already: RefreshPhilly (http://www.refreshphilly.org/) and the Ignite sessions (http://ignitephilly.org).

    Granted, each is a national program with a local focus, but I’d call them the most exciting and creative events in Philadelphia (and I’ve seen quite a few).

    Check them out. They’re onto something. Neither, please note, are camp.

    I’m still in.

  28. Sage Tyrtle says:

    I can’t tell you how much I love this idea. I would LOVE to present at a camp like this.

  29. Big fan of the idea! We talked about it briefly on the last CastRoller Podcast http://blog.castroller.com/2010/09/castroller-podcast-36-ipods-everywhere/

  30. Eric S. says:

    This sounds like a fantastic idea. Marketing and social media is fun to talk about but I can get that at a variety of different places. Having talks about the nuts and bolts of content creation is much more appealing.

  31. Marko says:

    I think it’s a great idea Bob!

  32. evablue says:

    i’m in!

    i heart bitnorth. wouldn’t change the way they do it because every year is a little different, i learn something new and meet great people. the shorts are short but that leaves other times to chat and expound with people in smaller groups later. creates conversation.

    creation camp sounds awesome. let’s make it! 🙂

  33. Mark says:

    Still love the idea. BTW, word on the street is your original idea was Creationist Camp. I like this new and improved idea better.

  34. I dig it, and I agree. Yes, I make a living from the broad brush of “social media,” but I’m a content creator at heart, and I absolutely miss that hands-on DIY ethos from the PodCamps of yore.

    If you’re rounding up a mailing list for this venture, put me on it.

  35. Tim Jahn says:

    This is an EXCELLENT idea, and I’ve actually been working on starting something along these lines in Chicago with some folks.

    This is hugely needed. Let’s do it!

  36. Ennev says:

    Sound good to me. I would really enjoy something on Video/Audio/Photography etc.

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