Robert Scoble (Scobelizer) and Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV) were both in the nations capital today which is a good enough cause for the DC tech community to hold a bash! The Capitol Valley Media group managed to pull together a great event at MCCXXIII on Connecticut Avenue. With nearly 500 expected guests, the place was packed with passionate DC technologists and social media gurus. I caught up with a few friends and managed to have a word or two with New Media Jim and Robert Scoble.
Social mixers aren’t really my thing so I ducked out early to catch the metro home to Glenmont. I hope I didn’t miss anything but it was great to see how big the tech community is in DC. 500 people just to see two famous Internet people, wow!
This past weekend I had the great pleasure of attending the very first PodCamp DC. PodCamp is a new media unconference, meaning the participants decide the schedule of events and topics on the day of the conference rather than in advance. There was quite a diverse set of topics ranging from the nuts and bolts of podcasting in Podcasting 101 to an interactive discussion on the future of Social Media and New Journalism. The attendees were just as diverse as the topics from the young techies like myself all the way up to retired grandparents.
One thing that really surprised me was the number of senior citizens at the event. I saw a guy typing away on his Acer laptop running Ubuntu and another lady who looked to be a grandmother wearing a Red Hat Linux baseball cap. I thought the people that attended these things were mostly young computer nerds though I was pleasantly surprised to see people of all gender, color and creed.
Her Flip video camera (atleast that is what I think it is) matched her glasses.
Probably the most insightful talk of the conference was given by Gretchen Vogelzang of the MommyCast. She talked about how her and a friend turned a simple podcast about motherhood into a six-figure business attracting big name advertisers like Dixie, National Geographic, and Warner Independent films. Gretchen and Paige put a lot of research into their work and it shows with a loyal following that rivals that of a major media property.
Gretchen Vogelzang gave on of the best talks of the conference about how the MommyCast got where it is today.
Social Media and New Journalism was a great talk with old media veterans Jim Long (NBC News) and Andy Carvin (NPR) discussing how new media was shaking things up in the traditional news space. They covered the mass propagation of information via Twitter citing the recent Illinois earthquake which quickly spread around the Twitterverse before any traditional news team even had a clue about what was going on.
New tools like Qik let you stream live video over the Internet from your cell phone. While the quality is low there is the ability for people watching the stream to chat and send comments straight to the cell phone creating a new dynamic between producer and consumer. You can see their whole talk which as recorded using Qik below.
Another product mentioned called Utterz lets you call a phone number and leave a voicemail which will be converted and uploaded to the Internet and pushed out as a podcast. Interactive tools like Qik and Utterz make covering an event in near-realtime a possibility.
This dynamic duo talked about how New Media is disrupting journalism. They demoed Qik and Utterz and sparked lots of good ideas from the packed crowd. See the footage from their talk below.
When lots of geeks get together, a gadget meet-and-greet is sure to happen. I saw a Nokia N810 Internet tablet and Asus Eee PC. Both were small, portable devices for surfing the web in a Wifi-heavy area.
Lots of gadget gawking going on at a geekfest like PodCampDC
The rest of the time was about meeting new people and trading ideas. I helped answer a few questions for a guy named Andrew who wanted to run a blog and video podcast all from his Blackberry. Using WordPress and Postie he can accomplish this as he travels around the country. Everyone seemed to be all abuzz about Twitter and I found a few more people to follow although it is getting harder and harder to keep up with all of my followers. I think I will be cutting back some.
There was so much discussion and exchange of ideas going on.
All in all, PodCamp DC was light on content but heavy on people. I heard a few complaints about the lack of technical podcasting instruction like the New Media Expo of late last year, but that’s what you get with a free, local conference. I know there will be a whole lot more presentations next year! I still had a great time hanging out with fellow web nerds.
You can see the rest of the photos from the day on my Flickr page. And if you want to see all of the pictures from the event just search for the tag ‘podcampdc‘
If you missed out on this unconference, there is the Social Dev Camp East coming up in 3 weeks. It is on May 10th, 2008, in Baltimore. I’ll be there and if you’ll be there do say hello.