I attended PodCamp Nashville 2011 over the weekend and I’ve given myself a few days to let the experience percolate. It was my third podcamp and it was a good experience as each BarCamp and PodCamp I’ve attended has been. But it wasn’t great.
I expected good things out of a number of presentations that, from my seat anyway, didn’t deliver. But a few sessions I expected to be basic were fun and entertaining. So, all in all, a mixed bag. If you’ve ever been to a conference (unconference or otherwise), this isn’t a surprise.
Conferences are hit-and-miss. It’s really really really hard to throw a perfect game in the conference world. Webstock 11 blew the doors off the internet this month by throwing one such conference in New Zealand.
I’m not saying I expect that of PodCamp or BarCamp; doing that in Nashville would be tough, especially if we’re committed to pulling local talent instead of bringing in speakers of Webstock caliber. I’m not sure we could do it.
So here’s the thing: Let’s do it.
There is always talk in the Tech-Inspired community (by myself included) of being entrepreneurial, following our passion, raising our game, and finding new opportunities. We’re smart people who care about our community and about what we do. Nashville is a world-class city and home to world-class businesses. Why we don’t have any nationally-recognized technology conferences? Even within a niche?
We have several *Camp events under our belt and Next BIG Nashville experience. It’s time to take our game to the next level. BarCamp and PodCamp are great, but at the national level, they’re still Single-A ball. We need them, but we don’t have anywhere for our local AA and AAA players go when they’re ready to graduate from the *Camps, and we don’t have a path to Majors for the folks already playing at that level. The best tech people in Nashville have to leave to get any serious recognition or opportunity. That’s not good for them and not good for Nashville.
A conference is just one step toward changing that, but it’s a step.