As promised, here’s a roundup of last weekend’s “PodCamp Community Unconference” from the perspective of a non-Geek.
Why “unconference”? Probably partly to emphasise the informal nature of proceedings and partly out of a slightly precious sense of perversity. This was a Web 2.0 gathering, remember. And Web 2.0 is synonymous with community, where centralisation of organisation is minimised and power is really disseminated amongst the community (eg: Wikipedia). Web 2.0 might just be the purest form of democracy ever realised in practice.
Speakers at PodCamp volunteered in response to a general invitation sent out Australia-wide prior to the event. Of course, nothing like this just materialises spontaneously. There has to be organisers to arrange sponsorship, hire the venue, decide on the schedule of speakers, get lunch happening on time etc – one of whom, Bronwen from Norg Media, greeted me warmly as I tentatively poked my head through the door on arrival like a delegate from Earth at an inaugural conference with aliens from the planet Zawk and bid me fill out a name sticker. Others would know who I was, even if that understanding has thus far eluded me.
Rather than embarking on a linear report of proceedings, I’ll take a cue from PodCamp and dare to do it differently. So, for better or worse, cop this, streamed straight from my cerebral hard drive.
Late, headed for the back. Regretted seating choice, which was directly behind a behind – a grotesquely big one – belonging to an obese geek whose pants had slipped way too far down as he leaned forward. Not much of a sight so soon after breakfast.
The speaker was Cameron Riley (see thepodcastnetwork.com), whose topic was “Is Podcasting Dead”? It was only recently born, as far as I knew.
Charismatic speaker with tendencies toward megalomania, his stated aim being to develop an alternative global media empire. Claims the world is run by “200 rich white men”. Sounds plausible. Claims mainstream media hates the web because they can’t control it, and are forfeiting power and influence to bloggers, podcasters, etc. YES! (I inwardly punch the air).
As an aside here – sorry, can’t resist – I am in love with the Net because it is a great leveller, and in being that, is ultimately subversive. There is a bloodless revolution underway that many are not yet even aware of.
What do I mean by “revolution”? Basically, a profound shift in power – and finally, into the hands of The People. Privilege, power and big bucks mean fuck all on the web. The mainstream media, for example, pours millions into establishing a web presence, but they can be outplayed by some blogger in a grungy apartment somewhere in Nowheresville who has no influential contacts, no journalism quals, no big buck backing. Cameron pointed out that some of the biggest political stories in the US in recent times have been broken by bloggers, leaving the mainstream media choking in their dust.
Also, net businesses can grow huge without much starting capital. Suddenly, the little guy has a chance to strike it rich without licking arses of influence, wealth and power. Ideas are king on the web. If you have good ideas and some web savvy, you have a better chance of success than the dim spoonfed kid of some boss man. And your boardroom can be at home. You can go to work in your pyjamas. Fart as you work. Etc.
Who knows – that lardy geek in front of me with his pants at half-mast down his bumcrack could be pulling in triple figures as a creator of computer games, or be globally influential with a blog following of hundreds of thousands. The meek have inherited the Earth!
Back to Cameron. Said he’d only been making good money over the last 2 years, but that he wasn’t driven by bucks anyway. So what is his motivation?
“I get up every morning and play with my mates all around the world. What could be better than that?” What indeed? Perhaps running your alternative media empire from your computer while you play with your mates, eh Cameron?
For all the thought-provoking and inspirational stuff Cameron covered in his 45 minutes, his PodCamp contribution was most memorable for his bizarre remark on his procreational interaction with females – “several of whom I have impegnated”! Out of the blue, no real context. Politically incorrect. And well received all round! My kinda conference…
Note to self: speed up, you tosser.
I’m all for nerd power, but librarians? They’re beyond nerd, aren’t they? So what’s with the domination of librarians amongst the bloggers at Podcamp? How come they talk so much? And so raucously? Where’s that pale, timid mole stereotype gone?
And how come I’d never heard of terms like “meme”, never heard of Sitemeter, never used Google Analytics in assessing my blog traffic? What the screaming fuck is Twitter? Photobucket?
Wanna find out? Have a look at Kathryn Greenhill’s blog, Librarians Matter, where she has just posted notes from her illuminating talk at PodCamp.
PS: How come the ABC is about to launch a new comedy series called…Librarians?! Librarians are suddenly hip? And funny? HUH?
What else? A speaker with only one name, Stilgherrian (he announced himself with the adjoiner, “yes, that’s my only name, get over it”) – see stilgherrian.com.
A guy who works for Microsoft as a “Professional Geek” (that’s the title on his business card!), Nick Hodge, announced his talk – the last of the day – thus: “This will be short. I’m very mindful that I stand between you and beer.” This set the tone for the rest of his 45 minutes: irreverent, funny, to-the-point. Sums up the tone of the whole day, really.
I haven’t mentioned all speakers or touched on the content of the speakers’ talks, which was generally fascinating, but do you really want it regurgitated here? Enough.