5 Ways PodCamp Nashville 2011 Rocked… and How YOU Can Help Rock the Next One

If you’re in Nashville and you missed PodCamp Nashville 2011 on Saturday, you missed a lot. It was the fourth year for the digital-media-themed un-conference and the largest yet.

#1: A full day’s schedule of fantastic talks from great thinkers in town.

I didn’t make it to very many sessions, but the ones I did see were outstanding.

#2: A full slot of only impromptu sessions.

Historically, the Nashville un-conferences (meaning BarCamp and PodCamp) have had a room open throughout the day for impromptu speaking sessions. This was done to keep with the spirit of BarCamp and other un-conferences which are as unscheduled as possible. But the room has rarely been well utilized, and one of the suspected reasons was that people may not have really understood what they were for. So rather than run an empty room from the beginning to the end of the day (i.e. a vertical section of the session grid), the organizers decided to experiment by running a horizontal section of the grid impromptu-only. It worked beautifully, as four day-of event sessions packed the rooms. Next time, there may even be a second horizontal; who knows? But I salute the organizers for having the guts to experiment with options.

#3: On-the-spot broadcasting.

A crew of local podcasters set up a live broadcast area on the main stage and conducted interviews throughout the day. I jumped in during a lull and chatted with Lucas Hendrickson about the event and some of the sessions… at least until we were video-bombed by Justin Seiter and Knight Stivender. Watch them sneak up on us from behind right around 15:17:

Oh, and watch us cringe as Justin Davis knocks his camera over around minute 16. Yowch.

#4: The brief spike in blogging activity in Nashville following the event.

Having fired each other up, a bunch of us are blowing the dust off of our blogs and creating some fresh goodness. Let’s hope we can all sustain some of that enthusiasm.

Speaking of the blog responses, if you did miss the event, Thomas Scott, of fellow CoLab Nashville company Brand Journalists, wrote up a great recap of many PodCamp Nashville sessions with a very nice mention of my own session on blogging through a personal transition to arrive at a better place:

Fellow colab coworker and SEO expert @kateo gave one of the more thought provoking sessions at the end of the day titled ‘Cathartic Content: how a blog can help you grow.” Her point: sometimes, just the act of expressing yourself via a blog helps you define your story. It helps you get in the habit of producing work and helps you sort out issues and focus on what is important. For her it lead to the foundation of her company MetaMarketer.

By the way, the slides from my talk are up at my SlideShare account (and embedded below). They probably aren’t all that meaningful to review without having my narrative to go with them, but there are still a few visual takeaways that should be good without the audio:

#5: An amazing crew of hard-working volunteers.

Seriously, I’ve been involved in helping organize the last several of these un-conferences, and I know how much time and effort it takes… but also how much fun it is to see it come together. This year’s crew was truly outstanding. And this is where you come in. Even if you didn’t make it out this time, if you want to be part of this exhilarating experience, stay tuned for when the call starts going out sometime in late summer for volunteers to help plan BarCamp Nashville 2011, which will likely take place sometime in October. If you follow the @barcampnash account on Twitter or “like” the BarCamp Nashville page on Facebook, you should be in the loop. Because remember, this is a community-run event. If you have organizing skills or are interested in learning about putting on an event at this scale, join the planning crew. You’ll learn a ton, meet wicked smart people, and feel the satisfaction of being part of something that’s shaping the future of Nashville.

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  1. Posted March 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Podcamp ’11 was awesome! My first ‘camp’ was Barcamp last year and definitely want to be involved for the next one, same for next year’s Podcamp. I don’t see how these unconferences can get any better but I know they will.

  2. Kate O'Neill
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comment, Kasey – I’m glad you enjoyed your un-conferences! And I noticed on Twitter that you had a write-up about PCN11 too but were too classy to link to it here :) so I hope you don’t mind if I do in case folks reading this would like to see more: http://openkase.blogspot.com/2011/03/notes-from-podcamp-11.html

  3. Posted March 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    My first experience at an unconference – super helpful and informative. Your session was insightful and inspiring, thanks Kate.

  4. Posted March 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Why that was incredibly kind of you! Thanks. I wish I had caught your session. If you get the audio uploaded let me know and I will definitely take the time to watch it.


  5. Posted March 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink


    I love what you’ve pointed out in #4. I think so many of us forget how important it is to sustain this media and engage our audiences. I certainly hope to see a surge in my RSS feeds for Nashville blogs. Thanks for your wonderful recap of the event!


  6. Kate O'Neill
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Rob, very nice to meet you yesterday! Glad you got a lot out of the day.

  7. Posted March 27, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Kate! I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for everything YOU did to make #pcn11 so fabulous. Can I add to your list?

    6. Continued diversity among “campers”. I don’t know if anyone’s keeping data on this, but anecdotally it seems the mix of attendees has expanded into a wider range of occupations, geography, age, gender and personal passion. It’s particularly sweet to see more music people involved.

    7. Big Bang and Arrington: The “official” after-party at Big Bang Saturday and the tweetup at Arrington Sunday gave new friends as well as long-time colleagues a chance to continue the conversation and networking. Who can we thank for these? Dave Delaney and John Ellis?

    8. The “blog tour” preceding PodCamp was pretty awesome. Great publicity for the event. Also, I hope it’s not too obnoxious for me to add that Tennessean reporter Jessica Bliss did a fabulous job with her article the Sunday prior.

    (P.S. You and Lucas were very kind in your live stream. I hope Justin and I didn’t mess things up too much!)

  8. Kate O'Neill
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Jessica’s article was indeed great, thanks for linking to it.

    I’m hopeful that you and Justin were serious when you said on Twitter yesterday that this video-bombing of yours would be your new behavior every time you see a camera. A new Nashville tradition is born!

  9. B. Matthew Crecraft
    Posted March 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    This was my third Pod/Barcamp to attend and first one to volunteer at. It is a completely different experience volunteering than it is just attending. I did get to attend a few sessions during the day, including yours, and had a blast the whole time! I highly recommend anyone and everyone to participate and volunteer as it helps to make a better experience for everyone involved. Looking forward to BarCamp in the fall!

  10. Posted March 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Great wrap up Kate. Thanks so much for everything that you do for this community. You rule!

  11. Posted March 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Don’t worry Kate, interrupting the hard work of others is never a problem. It takes zero preparation and I’m always dressed to make others feel inferior. It’s usually only a matter of time before the camera finds me – even if I have to go to it first. ;)

  12. Posted March 28, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Couldn’t agree more. I felt like this PodCamp focused a lot more on great content gathering during the day, and the idea of the live PodCast was great! The impromptu sessions were amazing, and I saw so many new faces. It was really refreshing to meet a lot of new people and see the tech community come together. Thanks for the great follow-up. Now I need to write a blog post;)