Podcamp Toronto 2010 – My Recap

Going to Podcamp Toronto has been one of the best things I’ve done in quite a few years.     Yes, better than Computers in Libraries.    Better than OLA Superconference or really any library conference I’ve gone to.   And yes, as Phil Swinney mentioned, it was better than Podcamp Halifax as well.

Podcamp Toronto is better than most library conferences because:

  • A lot of what podcasters and social media artists do relates very well to librarianship.
  • As a librarian, I felt I had a unique perspective to share in the discussions about social media marketing and podcasting.
  • Unlike librarians, social media marketers want to connect to as many people as they possibly can – not just their friends and colleagues.   The #PCTO2010 crowd was very friendly and supportive.   They wanted to help newbies learn and share tips with their colleagues.
  • Podcasters and Marketers are very curious about librarians.   They know we are very crappy marketers of extremely valuable and useful services.

Podcamp Toronto was better than Podcamp Halifax for a few common sense reasons:

  • They were much better at filming / streaming etc. of the presentations – (because they are bigger).
  • They were better at securing sponsorship (at the Saturday party, an elephant could have got very drunk without paying so much as a cent).
  • There were just that many more connections, more excellent presenters, more diverse questions etc.
  • No one had to justify their social media presence.   It was a given that social media is important and valuable and Podcampers were going to reap the benefits of their diving in to this space early.
  • There were more podcaster presentations.  The one I went to by John Meadows about editing interview content was fantastic.  (I’m not really a podcaster, but he made me want to become one).

Podcamp Halifax was Better at:

  • I like that we have a keynote – it goes a little against the ‘everyone’s a rockstar’ idea, but it does offer a little break between the sessions that everyone can comment on.
  • Many of the things the organizers were worried about (markers, water, printing capabilities, computers etc) were things I didn’t even bat an eyelash about because the library already had it all.
  • We were more newbie-friendly.
  • Our battledecks session rocked the socks off everyone.   (That said, the #PCTO2010 battledecks session, was great as an opportunity for a newbie presenter to develop their skills).

There were some similarities as well:

  • It is harder at a Podcamp to get a conversation going in sessions than it is at other unconferences I’ve experienced.   I think this partly has to do with the fact that the ‘marketplace’ is set before the event.   When you put more time into establishing the marketplace and explaining such things as the law of two feet, I think it opens the door more to true unconference ‘OMG-the-audience-just-overtook-my-presentation’ effects.
  • The average caliber of presentations was about the same.    Toronto had more outliers (both bad and good), but in general, there was at least one good presentation for everyone.
  • This was a great place to meet all those podcasters that you’ve never met and wish you had.

I also have some suggestions for both Podcamps:

  • Arrange rooms for circulation.    Make sure that people can get in and out of rooms reasonably easily without disturbing others.   (I got caught in a room that I wanted to leave really fast, but couldn’t because of the way the room was set up).
  • There’s got to be a way to enable impromptu sessions.  I haven’t figured it out myself, but it would be so helpful.
  • It’d be nice if there was a way for everyone to get beyond promoting their business/brand at Podcamp.   I realize that it’s all part of the game, but it can’t be just a dream.
  • I’d like to get more people ‘from away’ to Podcamp Halifax.   We had a good mix in the first one and that made for some really great learning for the more experienced podcampers.   This year seemed a little more like a ‘newbies learn from experienced folks’ camp.
  • Schedule by Plain Old Wiki would have worked better for me as a potential presenter.
  • After PCTO2010, I’m not convinced a two-day podcamp is better.   Many many fewer people there on Sunday than there were on Saturday.   A lot of great presentations were missed by the people who partied just a bit too hard the night before.

In general, I feel really refreshed.   I think I’ve learned a heck of alot about social media, podcasting and making Podcamp Halifax better.   I met a whole bunch of great people.   I have a nice stack of business cards so I can keep in touch and I paid alot less than if I went to a traditional conference.

Librarians, get thee to a podcamp!

2 thoughts on “Podcamp Toronto 2010 – My Recap

  1. I’m so glad you could join us, Ryan!

    I agree, scheduling by wiki works much better. Last year we were still using the wiki and we did have spontaneous sessions pop up, especially on the Sunday. Part of that was because people could just throw a session onto the wiki and it was so. Some ran last year that I didn’t even hear about until a week later. Which I think is kind of cool. I usually like to throw in a general “campfire” session where everyone sits around and talks about what’s next. Alas, I was too booked up with organizing duties this year. I do think people are still too focussed on being talking heads at the front of the room.

    One idea I have been mulling over–perhaps we do a few smaller true unconference sessions during the year with a limited number of people so that we can infect the community with a little more of the unconference culture. My dream is to take advantage of the smaller crowd on the Sunday and “unconference” at least part of it, even if the rest becomes something else as we grow bigger.

    I agree, Librarians could greatly benefit from an event like this. It is a way of getting a broader understanding of some of the areas we are concerned with, connecting with people in a low-pressure way without having to sell our services, and hearing about existing gaps and opportunities we might fill. I do think it is a shame that we (as an industry) don’t take advantage of the weekend the way the Communications, Public Relations and Marketing industries have.

    Cheers,
    Connie

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  2. From the Librarian’s POV, Ryan, something that I really like about what you do with PodCampHfx is demonstrate that there is a place for librarians and librarianship outside of the regular round of LIS conferences. Frankly, I think more librarians should attend conferences that are not themed exclusively for their profession so that new ideas and new people can constantly invigorate what we do.

    And of course, this could be said for any profession.

    (In the mean time, kudos for drawing the comparison between the two PodCamps and thinking about what you can take back to Halifax and even better show!)

    -ms

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