Yesterday I made the trek to Boston for PodCamp Boston 3 for a first day of gettin’ social with people and the media that they’re creating.
Unlike past conferences where I learned to be comfortable by myself, this time around I was comfortable approaching people and saying “hi”. PodCamp Boston 3 is the first real-world test of my insight about personas vs core identity and allowing myself to be. At conferences like SXSWi, I’d tried to figure out where I fit into the social picture, and tried to come up with a way to describe myself accordingly: “I’m a designer that specializes in personal productivity and information graphic design.” This time, I have the benefit of knowing what I fundamentally am driven to do–my passion, in other words. Which is, as anyone who has struggled to get through my lengthy articles will tell you, is writing stuff down. For the past year I’ve been chasing myself down a different path, trying to figure out how to describe the sum of my skills and interests in some snappy way that could be readily dropped casually into a creative business conversation and explode into intrigue followed by deep understanding. This week, I realized that it was not the sum, but the core that was important. And that is writing about what catches my eye. In the process of writing, I relate what I see with what I find interesting, and along the way I synthesize a few nuggets of insight that people find useful. It’s very tempting to call that something snazzy, for the purposes of monetization, but at PodCamp I’m just telling people that I’m a writer/designer that writes about whatever catches my eye, and that I am best known for designing tools for personal productivity. And then things go from there.
One nice thing about PodCamp is that everyone is friendly, and generally willing to sit and talk. The pace is much less hurried than SXSW, with plenty of time and space to collide with someone and have a 15 minute conversation. Yesterday we rustled up a posse of random people to have sushi at Uni down the street, and it was a fine time despite getting back to the conference later than expected. Some people don’t feel like chatting, and so you can smile and just move on. One of the other insights I had this week is that I am indeed innately curious about people, and that this curiosity had been blocked by a sense of wanting to know how I “fit in” before I spoke. Now that I’ve identified this mental barrier and rerouted my expectations, it’s a lot easier to just sit and listen, and interject as curiosity raises its fluffy tail and starts to wag. Personally, I’m finding it rather remarkable a change in myself. Day 2, which is about to start for me in an hour when I get ready to drive into Boston, will provide a second day of data. I’m such a nerd.
I wandered in and out of the various panels. The one that I started with was NeoVictorian, Nobitic, and Narrative by the rather fascinating Mark Bernstein, the chief scientist for a company called Eastgate with a hypertext note product called Tinderbox. The presentation, established Bernstein in his opening remarks, was to be a kind of “sermon” that took a tour through topics of…actually, I don’t remember specifically what it was about without my notes—and I didn’t take any other than a few pictures of interesting slides. What I remembered was that there was a lot of audience participation, and that the word “Nobitic” was very very important to what I’m trying to do. Since it is a made-up word, I’ll have to find my notes on this later.
I caught a bit of the Using a live podcast to allow your readers to “become part of the conversation” by Nikki Starr, who works for Blog Talk Radio. This is apparently a service that allows bloggers to create live podcasts, take calls from readers, and archive the material online. It’s a co-ownership arrangement with regards to the recorded performance, and it sounds pretty cool. Nikki mentioned that The Fly Lady, one of the giants of the domestic productivity scene on the net, uses the service to reach out to her 500,000 loyal followers.
I missed the next panel block due to the late-running lunch, and afterwards popped into Solo Podcasting by Greg Demetrick. My real agenda was to take a nap, and I successfully dozed off for a few minutes, but I kept waking up because Greg kept talking about interesting things. It was an excellent presentation on both the gear and philosophy that drives a successful podcast. I’ll have to check out what else this guy has written.
I only caught a little bit of Down and Dirty (and free!) ways to put your Mac to Work by Jeff Berg, a highly-knowledgable Mac consultant that I liked immediately for his personable yet direct demeanor. At that point it as time to head home, but Sunday will be a full day for me and I’m looking forward to several sessions. This time I’m leaving all the fancy camera stuff at home and packing much lighter. My ideal note-taking setup for a conference like this would be a digital audio recorder that could take periodic stills: a slideshow recorder as opposed to a video recorder :-) I wonder if such a thing exists? It would be more memory-efficient, certainly.
Ok, time to shower. See youse at Podcamp Boston!