Podcamp Pittsburgh

Wow. WOW. While I usually reserve this portion of the blogging world exclusively for story stuff, the inspiration I experienced this weekend is just too great to leave out. And inspiration counts for a lot.

I spent this weekend volunteering at the Podcamp Pittsburgh UNconference, which was primarily organized by Justin Kownacki, the writer/producer of Something to be Desired and general good friend of mine. While I signed up (and signed ON) mostly for his involvement and my fiancé’s interest in technology, I got more out of the entire experience than I could have hoped.

“Podcamp” insinuates “podcast”, but it was so much more than that. There were people there representing all sorts of areas: blogging, vlogging, podcasting, all sorts of video content, comics… and other things that I’m sure I am leaving out. People showed up to learn and absorb, to interact and network, to teach. Most importantly, everybody showed up with their sharing caps on, spreading the love on ideas and methods and processes in whatever their media of choice happened to be.

I was only able to attend three of the sessions between running around like a maniac, but I found them each to be informative, fun and wonderfully informal. I imagine some sessions at other conferences can be stuffy and intimidating. This was nothing like that. The format was flexible, user-driven, and one that encouraged everyone’s participation. My brain is churning like crazy right now with sweet, vibrant potential, even hours after it is all said and done.

I learned so much, and I hope everybody there took home a lot too. If I had to single something out, however, I think what I enjoyed most was the fantastic sense of community. “New media” is a tricky thing –- “new” anything always is. But whatever you are doing, there’s other people out there doing it too. The Unconference gave the opportunity for a bunch of these similar people to get together and talk/learn about their various subjects. Not in a “I’m gonna steal your stuff” kind of way, but rather a “Hey, I’m winging it right now too, let’s trade ideas so that our separate goals can be awesome”.

I met some truly incredible people/companies/organizations. If you look at the official site, you’ll see all the sponsors that helped out, and I think nearly everyone that registered online gave some way to contact them or get more information. There’s a lot of cool people out there doing very cool things.

The bonus? It all happened in Pittsburgh, a city that continues to grow on me the longer I live here. Finding out there is a sizable community for this sort of thing in the ‘Burgh is so encouraging and refreshing. From what I understand there are six more Podcamps planned across North America over the next eight months. If you are within a reasonable distant of one, I would highly suggest checking it out. If you have an idea, story, or message –- they will help you find a way to communicate it.

Here’s hoping there will be a Podcamp Pittsburgh ‘07!

…and here’s hoping we go to Tiki Bar again!