Regional compatriot Ed Cone has an interesting post from a few days ago, republishing his column from the Greensboro News and Record. In it, he ponders blogging a decade in. It’s too late to be the avant garde and too early to be the new mainstream. The interesting thing is that the restless malaise he describes is very much how I feel about podcasting and my role in it. I continue to struggle to identify where my place is and how I feel about it as time goes on. This is very much worth a read.
Last weekend I power drove to Greensboro NC to attend Converge South. I’ve been to three of the four they have put on and always had a good time. I was also a co-organizer of the Saturday event to fill the space when BlogHer cancelled, which was a tad stressful but also fun. Things really started Thursday with the photowalks and then dinners Thursday night but I didn’t arrive until lunch Friday so in a lot of ways things were winding down by the time I showed up. I chatted with friends, was introduced to a few people like Chris Rabb that I had not previously met and went in to sessions.
When the sessions started back up I attended Ruby Sinreich’s on hyperlocal blogging, hoping to get some mojo to bring to the Grand Strand Bloggers site. It was valuable and I did learn some things I needed to know. After that I went to Tom Lassiter’s web video session. Since I have a proper video camera now I was hoping to get some wisdom on how to use the damn thing. It was OK but Tom has a laid back low energy approach that didn’t match what I needed at that moment. I got up at 5 AM to get ready, I needed a boost.
After that was the unified session in the auditorium that Ed Cone led on “People-powered Media in the Election” with Robert Scoble, Anil Dash, Mathew Gross, and Pam Spaulding. This is the kind of thing Converge can be heavy on, and while I wouldn’t say it is useless to me at this point I don’t know what more that subject can bring to my table. And with that, the day was wrapped up.
After catching a ride with Don Lewis back to the hotel, I met up with my wife and hung out for a little bit before driving over to the Hoggards for the BBQ. In many ways, I think this event is in fact the conference and all the sessions are a formality to get us here. I talked to lots of people and had a great time as always. I met back up with Wayne Sutton, who I met last year when we were both shlepping our stuff to the same parking lot at the same time. In that year he has really stepped up his game and is doing a huge amount of interesting work. I passed out CREATE South fliers and just generally had me a big ol’ time.
After I went back to the hotel and went to bed. At 3:30 AM I woke up from a dream in which I was organizing something and everything about it was turning out to be a disaster. I felt like I was having a panic attack and couldn’t get back to sleep for a solid hour after that. After getting up and ready and checking out from the hotel I dropped my wife at Guilford College and went back to NC A&T. I got there just in time to catch the beginning of the opening session of IBC08. I sat in the front row with Wayne who was also doing a live stream of the session. Somewhere on Twitter I saw someone note with some irony that of all the various sessions and PodCamps and BarCamps happening around on Saturday, we were the only one with any sort of live stream. That settles it, Wayne does indeed rock.
I ended up skipping much of the morning to set up lunch. My original plan was to let everyone do it on their own but there just weren’t that many places around that area. I didn’t want people to have to scatter to the winds at all kinds of different schedules. Mur Lafferty was coming to give a talk at 1 PM and she didn’t have a long time she could stay past that so I made the executive decision to bring food in. I called the Hoggards about leftover food and they were willing to let us have whatever there was, but it wasn’t enough to feed the crew so I ended up order from Elizabeth’s Pizza. It was really good, and I thought everything had gone perfectly until I found out that the Hoggards never got their stuff back as the person deputized to take it and who said they would just flaked. Looks like I have to make this right.
In the afternoon, Mur gave her talk about specifics of creating community and how she does it for her podcasts and books. There was a lot of detail, which is what I was looking for. My goal was to have lots of specifics, lots of detail and as much ability to do it hands on as possible. After that, we had Jared Smith give a really detailed explanation of how he does his Charleston inclement weather casts. In fact, there is video recorded of that session. The audience loved it, and we came up with slogans for his cast. My entry was “Devastation was never so much fun” but the winner was “Jared Smith – Your Disaster Advantage!” After that Robert Scoble did a presentation on how he does his live streaming. Again, there was a focus on detail and specifics and here is the demonstration video Robert shot. It includes me being filmed for a really uncomfortably long time, but on the upside that’s a lot of face time for both me and J. R. “Bob” Dobbs.
After Robert’s session, I did a mini-tutorial on the side of the auditorium about how I do two channel recording of Skype interviews. Rather than do a big presentation, I stood with 6 or 8 people and demonstrated with my mixer, laptop and Marantz how I make this happen. Janet Edens did a session on tying together bits of social media that was a great thematic wrapup for all the things that had lead into it. I would like to say I arranged it that way, but it was more dumb luck than anything. After that, we finished with Don Lewis’ green screen session. He talked about the issues involved in setting up and lighting for such work. Vera Hannaford volunteered to take some video in front of the screen of her talking and dancing, which Don then composited over some footage of NC A&T campus that Dan Conover had previously shot. While Don did that, several of us took footage of ourselves in front of the green screen for future fiddling. I myself did a spontaneous mini-rant for the Church of the Subgenius as my alter-ego “The Wrong Reverend Stig Mathers.”
After that, it was break down time. I had to go back to Guilford College and get my wife so I had to delegate a lot of the break down and clean up of the space. I found a ride back to the hotel for Scoble, volunteers to help Don break down all his stuff, and one to return the stuff to the Hoggards. Sadly, the last part that didn’t happen. Meatloaf song “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad,” but I’m not so sure. From there, it was driving back to Conway. Driving through Rockingham and Bennetsville in the dark is kind of barren and a boring, but we made it back just fine.
Thanks to everyone who showed up at IBC 08, to Kelby Carr for organizing her half of it, to Sue Polinsky for acting as liaison with NC A&T to get the space, to A&T and particularly the facilities guys for letting us have the space and sitting there all day. Thanks to all the presenters and the supporters from a distance, to Wayne for streaming. I’d like to say “let’s do it again” but I don’t really mean that. The next conference that chooses to cancel on short notice is on its own. However, if you like anything about what we did here, then you are in the market for the next CREATE South. It will be April 2009, so come to Myrtle Beach and pass a good time with us.
This year’s ConvergeSouth in Greensboro NC was to be a hybrid conference, with CS on Thursday and Friday (October 16 & 17,) with the BlogHer Roadshow on Saturday (October 18.) Well, last week BlogHer cancelled all four of the southern stops on that tour, leaving a hole and leaving those who made non-refundable travel arrangements holding the bag. It turns out Kelby Carr and I had a similar idea at the same time – if the space at NC A&T was being held for BlogHer and we could keep it, we could put in grassroots programming and fill that void. Lo and behold, it is now all official.
Sue Polinsky kindly acted as our negotiator with the college to (re)arrange the space, and Kelby and I split the day between us. Kelby is organizing the morning sessions, which are similar to and for a similar constituency as the original BlogHer sessions. I’m putting together hands-on workshops for the afternoon, not unlike what we did for CREATE South (and what we just started putting together for next year.) The goal of the afternoon is to get people together in the same room with some to teach, some to learn and everyone to walk out more knowledgeable and equipped to execute on their visions.
I personally want to learn how to do green screen video compositing, and have made sure we have a kind volunteer to help us with that – Charleston’s Don Lewis. Jared Smith will be presenting on how he does weather broadcasts over the internet. I’m going to show people how to record interviews via Skype. On top of that, there will be plenty of time and volunteers to walk people through specific tasks they need help with? Need basic help in setting up a blog? We can do that. Interested in doing a podcast but not sure where to begin? Check, we’ll make that happen for you.
I’m stealing from myself in using the Uplifter motto – “Bring What You Have; Teach What You Know; Learn What You Need.” If you were planning on coming to BlogHer or even if you weren’t, we’d love to have you come on Saturday. Let us teach you, teach us something, participate and share and socialize. I promise it will be a good time or triple your money back.
Thanks again to Sue, to Kelby for being a co-conspirator, to Ed for helping publicize (and for keynoting CREATE South!), to everyone willing to present and mentor and attend. If you need more information, want to volunteer or request specific programming for the afternoon, please drop me an email. Let’s do it live!
Update: Some details about presentations are now posted. Come join us!
After his trip to CREATE South, Ed Cone and his wife came back the very next weekend. What’s interesting about that post is the place they had lunch is in downtown Conway, walking distance from my house. This little joint is across the parking lot from the hardware store I shop, around the block is the restaurant at which we had our anniversary dinner and the theater we go to see the community plays. I really enjoy my little town and I get a kick out of seeing Ed enjoy it too.