Several years ago, I came home from the BloggerCon in Palo Alto and mused on this blog about holding a blog conference in the Myrtle Beach area. I got a lot of interest, enough so that it wigged me out a little because it meant that I’d have to really do it right. At the time, I was new to the area and didn’t really know many people here so that added to the daunting nature of such an undertaking.
Fast forward to today, where I am freshly home from my second ConvergeSouth of the last three years. A big topic of conversation amongst myself and the rest of the South Carolina contingent was holding a conference around here. Even though most of the other people were from the Charleston area they agreed that holding it up here probably makes good sense because of the lower costs. At the same time, I now feel like I have a support group with the Grand Strand Bloggers. Over there I made a post asking my Grand Strand compatriots if they would like to be involved. Over here, I’m asking another question – would you be willing to come to such an event? Assume that it is being held approximately April-ish with free or very cheap attendance.
We talked a lot about how we would want it to differ from ConvergeSouth. Ed Cone told me that he is tired of the unconference model because it is so talk heavy. He also said that the Tom Lassiter session was his favorite of all three ConvergeSouth iterations so far. I thought it was OK — although it was specific and had props for demonstration, it was still talk. No one in the room shot any video or edited any video. I would like something even more hands on, where everyone in the room can provide their input but you actually do shoot and edit the video. Instead of talking about podcasting, let someone record, edit, and post short bits of audio. Have a room for “introduction to blogging” where there is a list of free services. If someone wants to start a blog, sit with them and create the account while you sit. That’s my vision of such an event. Consider it a mix of your standard conference, a Foo Camp, a Linux install day, Maker Faire, and a comic convention dealers room.
Three years ago I decided that I didn’t want to hold a BloggerCon(tm) or call it an unconference(tm) because I didn’t want Dave Winer busting my chops for doing it all wrong. I like Dave, but doing something like this will be hard enough without that kind of pressure. Dave’s vision of the unconference was for an antidote to the standard tech conference presentation with one person annointed as the holder of knowledge in the room. I’m looking for an antidote to “all talk, no action” thing that happens even in the unconference. If we could have an event with about 25% talk and 75% action, that would be great. A straight FooCamp style is probably too loose for the general non-geeky public, so finding the sweet spot will be the real trick.
I note that a similar thought process is happening in the Charlotte area. None of us has gotten beyond throwing out the question and measuring the temperature in our area, but I’d ask the Charlotte people to look at May since April is pretty much when we’d need to do it here. May is too late with Bike Week in Myrtle Beach and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston. April has plenty of reasonably priced hotel rooms and nice weather when parts of the country still have snow on the ground.
So, you folks out there in the general blogosphere, would you be willing to come to Myrtle Beach, SC in April of 2008 for a hands-on conference about new media, computing, social networking, DIY technology and art? Leave me a comment if you are.