I've been to the last 3 Boston PodCamps and they are evolving just as the Internet itself is evolving. What was a very grassroots, "hey, I do a podcast on this topic..." and "here's how you do a podcast" set of sessions has changed.
I do miss some of the types of sessions I encountered at my first PodCamp. It had a campy, homey, feel to it and I met a lot of everyday people who had something to say and used the Internet, specifically podcasting, to say it. And they were thrilled to help others learn the process too.
However, I am truly amazed and impressed with the change in PodCamp. I do wish it had more of the original elements along with the new elements. That would make it just right. I suspect it might draw more people too.
First, PodCamp sessions have evolved into much more technically-driven content. There still are sessions on "How Do I Turn My Dining Room into a Recording Studio?" and those very necessary basic how-to's. We need those as new people are getting into the process all the time.
The change is that there are many more sessions on ROI (return on investment) for the corporation (or non-profit), measuring the impact of social media, how to use podcasting for employee training or (B2B) business-to-business marketing, etc.
Two sessions I attended yesterday afternoon were very powerful not just because of the content, but because the presenters were less than half my age. At last year's PodCamp, we had several high school students presenting. This year, while a bit older (college age), again, young people are leading us into our future with technology. I wonder if our schools even know how to tap into the talent of some of the young people in it.
We have some very bright young minds who are grappling with the Digital Humanities -- the intersection of philosophy (yes, Plato and Socrates) and technology; looking at both the study of technology and the technology of study, among other things; -- and how social technology has changed and is changing web culture -- with an impact beyond the web, of course, which changes or influences social culture.
PodCamp Boston 4 has much more of a technical flavor to it this year. It's more about capturing and managing data than podcasting for fun. That doesn't take away from it's value. For many, it enhances the value because podcasting has become a tool for businesses and not just an outlet for the average person. And I'm glad to see topics that help non-profits use social media to engage their communities. I think non-profits really need to learn about and use social media much more than they do, but that they first must educate themselves on it. PodCamp is one education tool they could use for that.
I go to PodCamp each year even though I am not a podcaster. I don't have the time to set it all up and get things going, yet. It took me a while to carve out a space for myself to blog regularly. But I know I'll get around to it, when the time is right. Meanwhile thought, I go each year to listen, learn, share in discussions, and see where things are going. I see friends and make new friends. But mostly I go because it expands my thinking about my interactions with the world and who the shakers and movers are in the social media space. I get more resources than I'll ever use, but can always share those with someone who can use them.
So, it's back to PodCamp this morning to get more soul food. I'll have more to say after that.