Podcamp Perth 07 – Initial Impressions of a Bewildered Non-geek

So I attended Australia’s first PodCamp Community Unconference on the weekend just past. As the name of the event suggests, this was basically a Geek-fest.

Events like these are commonplace in the States, apparently. As usual, Australia has been a bit slow off the mark. Then two silicon-heads from the Hunter Valley linked up and decided to do something about it. An Australia-wide cyber-conversation was initiated; Perth showed most interest and when Microsoft, Virgin Blue and others stepped in as sponsors, last weekend’s PodCamp Perth 07 at Central TAFE was the end result.

My friend Christine, of internet market agency Semfire, alerted me to the PodCamp. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had a clue what it was, why it was, where it was.

Not that I’m computer illiterate. I’m one of those people who know a bit about a lot of things geekoid, but not a lot about any of ‘em. For example:
* I’m not bad with Excel
* can do what I need with Word
* have designed websites of a reasonable standard using WYSIWYG software (FrontPage – yeah, I know…shuddup!) but…
* know nothing about HTML or CSS
* learnt enough of HD recording using Cool Edit Pro to digitise some ancient cassette recordings of my old punk bands (ironically, in the context of this blog post, one was named The Geeks). I also re-recorded some old punk songs on to HD, which were included on one of two compilation CDs of original archived digitised material. Both were released to the public, thanks in large part to the invaluable assistance of my tech-savvy mate, Matt, in Melbourne (see www.perthpunk.com)…the result was excellent, if Matt and I do say so ourselves
* have negotiated my way through Adobe Illustrator, and to a lesser extent Photoshop, to design some pretty original (though not necessarily very marketable) confrontational t-shirts, which feature on my recently opened Printfection e-store – more on this in coming posts


I’ve got a long way to go along the highway of tech-nerd competence, as the plain vanilla ‘design’ of this blog sadly demonstrates. I’ve been meaning forever to pretty up the header and fancy up the layout, but haven’t been able to get my head around WordPress – and to those who insist that WP is simple to customise and that basic CSS takes no time flat to learn, I say phooey to youse (which beats confronting the awful truth that I’m a retard, or bone lazy, or phobic, or all three).

My experience of Podcamp recalled an excruciating party – thankfully long ago now – at which I found myself literally incapable of conversing with anyone in attendance. I had been invited by my girlfriend of the time, a nurse, who flitted off as soon as we arrived (the rest of that sorry story shall remain untold), leaving me stranded in a strange world of doctors, interns and “professionals” who spoke all night about yachting and status cars and shit like that.

I had no idea what they were talking about and no interest in their educating me. But try as I might to comfort myself with contemptuous mental dismissals of these turkeys as fucking yuppie wankers as I listened on uncomprehending, it was disconcerting – actually, worse…it was nervous tic and asthma-inducing – to realise that I was utterly socially isolated, helplessly dysphasic in fact, in that horrific social milieu. Any time I tried to make conversation, I would stammer and stumble over my words and run out of breath before finishing whatever it was I was trying to say.

PodCamp was similar in that I couldn’t understand what folk were talking about a lot of the time and felt incapable of striking up a conversation. But there was a big difference – I liked these geeky folk. They were weird and irreverent. Some looked cool, some looked like misfits, some were – unarguably – dorks and nerds. But they were not fucking yuppie materialist wankers and were unreservedly into their geeky stuff, and that put me onside right from the start.

Volunteer speakers conducted 45 minute sessions that went three abreast in different rooms throughout the day. So, whichever session you chose to sit in on, you missed two others that were happening concurrently. That was the only bummer.

Lunch was free, and comprised pizza and Subway rolls (Subway was one of the sponsors) – more than ample in quantity.

So despite my commitment to myself to get pithy and straight to the point of this post, which is the PodCamp, all I’ve managed is to sketch a portrait of myself as a tech try-hard and dilettante and recount a horror tale of my entrapment in a den of yuppie arsehole medics years ago – oh, and outline the PodCamp session format and lunch. In my next post, I’ll zone right in on the content of the sessions I attended and a few thoughts that occurred to me as I watched on. Sometimes the only side-track remedy for a rambling tapper-holic like me is to bawl at myself to belt the fuck up and just to do so, even if it’s right in the middle of a

2 thoughts on “Podcamp Perth 07 – Initial Impressions of a Bewildered Non-geek”

  1. Wow, it seems I must be a geek after all – hadn’t noticed all the wierdos 😉
    Speaking as a former non-geek I know where you are coming from. The irony is that the more time I spend time with my new “geeky” friends the more boring I find people who haven’t embraced all that the web has to offer. I feel like the lost person when there is no one to talk to about new media and the latest “meme” doing the rounds.
    But I digress …
    Glad you found Podcamp! Your post made the whole thing worth it for me.
    There are monthly blogger’s meetings in Perth with some geeky and non-geeky types. Email me if you would like to come along and I can send you the details. It’s a great meetup and it’s where I found some of my favourite people.
    PS. Would be great if there was an “about” page on this blog. I think I can place you, but have no idea who you are 😉

  2. Hi Bronwen!

    Chuffed with your comments – thank you. It’s a measure of your generosity of spirit that a small acknowledgement of the value of the weekend – my post – should be any reward for your obviously considerable efforts to make the PodCamp happen (and happen so successfully). Thanks again to you and all others who contributed.

    If I’ve given the impression that the event was “full of weirdos”, it is likely a projection on my part of my own “otherness” and the sense of strangeness I had created about the PodCamp in advance of experiencing it.

    Thanks for the info on the blogger meetings. I’ll email you.


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