PodCamp Toronto 2010, a new media unconference, brought together a bevy of like-minded social media and tech geeks, entrepreneurs, experts and amateurs.
I attended six sessions: 3 were Priceless and 3 Less than Lukewarm, my reviews follow:
ePress Kits for Podcasters, Web Owners & Social Media Users -- Julia Hidy
From the title alone, Julia's sessions sounded extremely insightful. All about how a marketer, a PR agent, or any entrepreneur on the street could create a complete press kit to bring a stronger voice either to themselves or to the organization for which they work.
Julia's an author, multimedia producer and overall PR guru but her talk was rushed (due to time and lack of organization) and her insight vastly lacking. I could see the golden morsels underneath the sporadic switching between pages in her PDF document/presentation. The saving grace of her session was the "one sheet." For both those who did and didn't know about it, Julia exclaimed its importance, versatility, and possibility as an interactive piece of content.
How and Why to Tell Great Stories -- Mark Evans
Julia Hidy's uninspiring glance into ePress Kits certainly left me wanting, and Mark Evans was able to fulfill that need. A tech reporter, social media expert, PR rep and blogger since 1994, Mark Evans delved into the ever-current and ever-popular subject of storytelling.
When I think stories, I think Godin or Jobs. Mark certainly agreed by setting the tone for his session with a snippet from Steve Job's presentation introducing the iPhone. I enjoyed Mark's candour and personality and how he cultivated the energy in the room with his own storytelling.
The best takeaway would have to be his recipe for a GOOD STORY: Interesting, Educational, Engaging, Entertaining, Informative and Authentic. Too bad they all start with vowels or else we would've had a new acronym on our hands!
Follow Mark on Twitter, @markevans
Crowdsourcing Volunteer Technical Communities with Crisis Commons -- Panel
An odd, supposedly panel-formatted presentation with little focus and direction, Crisis Commons failed to capture me both emotionally and mentally.
They attempted to tell (or prove to?) me the efforts and strides they've made through the employment of social media to "spread the word" and "help Haiti" and "connect with traditional media". At the end of it, I was left thoroughly confused and most disappointingly uninspired.
The business of online communities for women -- Panel featuring Erica Ehm, Kim Vallee and Eden Spodek
An all female panel showed tremendous promise. Following the Crisis Commons debacle, a strong feminist (though not exclusionary) outlook on media and business was what I needed. I did't get it.
It felt more like a Yummy Mummy Club promo tour led by Erica Ehm than a serious exposition on female communities and their impact on social media. One questioner explained that Erica's Club gave her a voice which she could not have found otherwise. A second questioner, while postulating on the difficulties of using WordPress, exclaimed mid-sentence that she was single and wasn't fortunate enough to have a techie husband like Kim Vallee. Oh, despair.
These remarks, among others, left a distinct and sour taste in my mouth. Women should be, and are, proud, powerful, influential and smart. What's remarkably unbearable to watch is the dismantling of this truth with the ignorant and unaware.
The session was poignantly concluded with Erica Ehm's assertion that "Most women have blogs, you know."
Techvibes.com - Creating a Toronto Community -- Karim Kanji
Thank goodness for Karim Kanji's powerful wit and perfectly placed "right ons" throughout his presentation. Thank goodness for his authenticity and his unabashed admittance of not knowing it all and being more than willing to learn.
Karim was there to tell his story more than anything else. Though the title of the session is vastly misleading because he wasn't there to tell you how to create a community but rather explain his personal journey to develop a brand and a community of his own.
A writer for Techvibes.com, Karim used to write 3 posts a day and had managed in the first half of January to publish more than 70 posts! I asked if he every slept and he responded jovially with a sly smile, "Yea, I sleep everyday." 'How much' should've been my next question.
He started off not as a writer or a geek or a techie but as someone who wanted to change and possibly make change. He made mistakes (probably still does) and has learned from them all. Speaking is his thing, I hope he knows it.
Follow Karim on Twitter, @karimkanji.
Applied Communilytics (In a Nutshell) -- Sean Power
Sean Power was brilliant even without a working slide deck! The smartest of all the speakers I encountered at PodCamp, a true expert and powerhouse when it comes to communilytics (community + analytics).
He was energized and equipped with a strong voice that was unfortunately heard by only a few at the final session of the day. My favourite tidbit was his pronouncement after citing his third list, "I love lists!" 4 types of sites. 8 types of media. 4 types of goals. There's much more in his funnel than he explained, but the knowledge that he has is what all organizations are looking for right now. To explain, implement, optimize, and measure media/online/community etc.
Powerful content and I only wish I had more. Sean's presentation is available here. His book, Complete Web Monitoring, written with Alistair Croll, available here. Both of which I think I'll be reading and then re-reading!
Follow Sean on Twitter, @seanpower.
Thanks PodCamp for an all-round exciting, entertaining, and albeit tiring event!