Conferences: Doing vs Talking

Eric Rice puts his finger on something that bothers me as well. Since 2004 I’ve been to a number of bloggy/podcasty/new media type conferences. I went to Bloggercon 2004, 2 of the 3 ConvergeSouths, 2 of the 3 Podcast/New Media Expos, and Orycon (a science fiction convention at which I also impaneled on blogging.) I might would have gone to PodcasterCon in Raleigh, DragonCons and/or Balticons to be part of their podcasting tracks if circumstances had been slightly difference.

What do all of these things have in common? They are all mostly or completely talking and little or no doing. This is why I have a vision in my head if/when we do something in Myrtle Beach to make the predominant focus on doing. Like Eric says of the Blogs and Dogs conference in Canada, if you came without a blog you left with one and a plan to use it. That’s what I want in Myrtle Beach. We don’t need any more impassioned but useless discussions about whether bloggers are journalists. Asked and answered and answered and answered and irrelevant even if not answered.

However, what I want to do is something more structured than the Podcamp/Foo Camp style. I’d like to be able to give the newbies some idea what to expect before they leave the house rather than being completely loose and self-organized. I’m not sure if it would be better to have a series of breakout rooms devoted to each topic or one ginormous room with a series of areas segregated around topics, ala a comic convention dealers room. Either way, I’d like to have one area devoted for topics like:

  • Beginning podcasting, $0 in equipment. Bring your laptop if you got it.
  • Beginning podcasting, willing to spend a little in equipment.
  • Advanced podcasting – your path to world domination
  • Beginning blogging – don’t leave the session without your own blog
  • Blogging for politicians, incumbents and candidates alike
  • Blogging/podcasting for churches and community organizations
  • Beginning social networking
  • Advanced topics in social networking – teenager led, ideally
  • Publishing your own mini-comics
  • How to promote your band online and off
  • Making films/videoblogs on no budget
  • Editing video on Windows
  • Editing video on the Mac
  • Editing video on Linux
  • Using free animation programs
  • Creating and publishing your family oral history online
  • Keeping in touch with the grandkids online

Etc, etc, etc. These are the kinds of things I’m thinking about. In every case, I’d like people that attend a session to have the ability to put their hands on something and apply the lessons right there. There should be a few kiosk computers that anyone can use to get things done, and nerds willing to pair up with newbies to walk them through what they need help with. This is where my thoughts are now. Before Thanksgiving I need to start getting the framework together of people to help with the conference, find out about space and generally make a go/no go decision about the whole deal. Fun times!

5 Replies to “Conferences: Doing vs Talking”

  1. Don’t forget to specifically mention and attempt to invite the Facebook/MySpace crowd. He lost out on those folks early on in Greensboro and now we have a divide. Bloggers are perceived as geeks on the Internet and MySpace/Facebook is fun. It’s all the same thing.

  2. Good mental mashup of the Low-end Theory… The tools are so cheap or free and the hosting space the same. I read this post by Eric earlier and recall from a Tweet of his one of my other social network friends Len Edgerly and he became acquainted at the B&D conference. Len is doing real well in the citizen media space and host a really nice video blog and has passion for introducing new media tools to the arts community. So mad props boys… we’re all on the right track here. Circle jerking can only go so far…

  3. Dave
    I showed my niece how to upload a video using blip.tv and post it on my blogger site. It took me about 8 minutes. Her eyes widened and she was hooked….people need to be able to see that THEY can do it.

  4. For more PodCamps than I care to count, and for at least one PNME, too, I’ve been trying to get folks to go outside the “comfort zone” of a gathering to show others something about podcasts — anything about podcasts — by sitting on the sidewalk outside or by asking the security guards or the food-service workers or the front-desk clerks what their hobbies are (and finding a podcast or a blog about it).

    In Philadelphia, Mark Blevis and I actually found some people willing to talk at his mic and tell us what they knew about podcasts.

    Amazingly enough, we didn’t die, and we weren’t arrested. What was even more of a bonus was that the people were interested and interesting.

    All you need is a laptop, some wifi, and a bit of friendly enthusiasm. Go get ’em!
    -L.

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