What makes small PodCamps unique?

Since going to PodCamp Western Mass 2 this past weekend, I’ve been thinking about what made this un-conference different from the others I’ve been to, the first and third in Boston. It was different; maybe because of the size changed the dynamic? Note that I said the small PodCamp was unique, not more or less useful.

Doing a little research, I found that PCWM might be the smallest such event taking place. With roughly 100 attendees to the Western Mass PodCamp 2 (twice as many as the first), it offered an opportunity to meet a lot of people, especially when the sessions began with a round of introductions; those intros gave me a chance to meet people who interested me.

I’d like to make two arguments, though I could be persuaded otherwise, and I’ll leave this open for discussion.

Small PodCamps should strive to be more unique, and not try to be like the big boys. We need more small PodCamps being more unique than their big brothers. Being small is an opportunity, not a liability; there’s a chance to be experimental. For example, at the risk of being labeled a heritic, how about less social media being practiced at a social media conference? Kind of crazy, I know, but that follows into my second argument.

At a 7 hour conference of 100 people, with a chance to sit in on 4 different sessions, how many different people could you connect with: 35? 50? More? And at a small event like PCWM, many of those connections could be sustained easier than in a large metro area like Boston, Berlin, New York, or Toronto. In fact, many of the PCWM people go to regular Western Mass Tweet-Ups, so they’re staying connected, in real life, throughout the year.

What would happen if people concentrated on talking instead of tapping? During lunch at PCWM the fellows from the NomX3 video podcast were creating content in front of the room. Honestly, it was kind of a drag. I was trying to have a conversation with the people at my table, only to be interrupted a few times by these guys talking to the whole room. Less social media, more real life connection at a conference, please (I think the kids call it IRL).

We should all give a shout out to the organizers of PodCamp Western Mass, in the above photo, who can be found at their Twitter accounts:

Photo courtesy of @PatBrough

3 thoughts on “What makes small PodCamps unique?

  1. HAve to say I was a little bummed I could not here those guys during lunch and I hope to view what they had tapped sometime soon. I also was one doing a lot of typing and picture taking during the event. I think next time I will do more note taking for sure and limit my typing. I will always be snapping pictures, thats just me :-) . I would be interested as this was a first for me in seeing what a BIG one is like. Look forward to seeing and tweeting with you in the future.

    @patbrough

  2. Well said, Bill. I agree that smaller means you have a better chance of making real connections with other attendees. And the presenters!

    But smaller also means you have a better opportunity to shape the direction of a session — through a give and take — that provides real value to everyone there.

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