Going from a no-clue, totally novice rookie Podcamper to a seasoned veteran Camp alum took literally twenty minutes on a Saturday morning this past March. By the time it was done, I was such an expert I even got called to speak at SpeakerUp because of my vast experience. It might take a minute or two longer at BarCamp, but once you register, set up your profile and start picking (or creating) sessions, you’ll be well on your way!
I got up on that Saturday morning and put on a wool skirt and suit jacket, because that’s what you wear to conferences, right? Never mind that this conference is in a BAR. And isn’t even a CONFERENCE. I had spent the previous two months on the Podcamp planning crew, hashing out every detail about how the day would go, knowing I would be amidst the coolest tech and social media geeks that Middle Tennesse (and parts beyond) has to offer, but somehow the concept of an “UN-CONFERENCE” is a hard one around which to wrap your head. At least until you walk into Cadillac Ranch on a Saturday morning surrounded by said coolest geeks (who are not, as a general rule, wearing suits) and meet five new awesome people in the first ten minutes of being inside. Because Campers understand that the whole Camp idea is to bring passionate and innovative people together to share each other’s great ideas.
(If you want a better explanation of what BarCamp and the whole un-conference idea really is before you get there, check out Courtenay Rogers’ BarCamp blog. I couldn’t say it any better.)
So I ditched the suit jacket, grabbed my Podcamp t-shirt and got to work getting ready for my session on “Fair Use in a Content-Sharing World.” I had spent a good deal of time on my presentation (yes, it includes PowerPoint), but it was great fun creating it because it is a topic I know and love, and a message that I care about getting out to the tech and creative communities in Nashville. I gave my talk in a small room on the second floor (which I totally recommend – if there are 35 people there, the room is packed!), and afterwards I hung out and answered questions and got to know my audience. Suddenly, I knew people there. Suddenly, I had something to say to them that was interesting to both of us. And they had plenty of interesting things to say to me too. I met farmers and QR code geeks and brilliant data analysts. Then I heard great talks from Kate O’Neill and Kenny Silva, Stephen Zralek and Taylor Vick.
In literally twenty minutes, I went from being totally clueless to understanding that these Camps are all about sharing great thoughts with passionate people. By the end of the day, I was a full-blown veteran alum. And you will be too.