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.