Lovers of Tech, Activate! Form of…Geeks!

Yesterday morning I had the privilege of enjoying breakfast with 29 self-declared Geeks and lovers of all things tech, web 2.0, blogging, podcasting, Twitter, social media and on and on.  It’s affectionately referred to as Geek Breakfast.  In this case, the Franklin – Spring Hill, TN Geek Breakfast.

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A month ago, I knew virtually none of these people.  But that’s the great thing about the web.  Launch your group or community (in this case a Facebook group) and watch the magic happen.

With very little effort on my part, this group has grown to include nearly 100 participants.  Last month’s breakfast, the first, saw almost a quarter of that group in attendance.

I share all this to simply do one thing – encourage you.  If I can do it, anyone can.  If you’ve been putting off starting your own group – wherever or whatever that might be – you have no more excuses.  Social media makes it easier than ever.  Don’t like Facebook because not everyone has access?  Try launching your own network with a service like Ning.  Or wherever.  You decide.

Just do it.  It’s easier than you think.

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Geek Breakfast!

In March 2009, I attended my first Podcamp Nashville.  While there I got to meet, or hear speak, a couple of people I’d been following (and admiring) on Twitter for a little while.

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One of those folks was Dave Delaney (@davedelaney on Twitter).  Soon after, I discovered Dave had organized what he referred to as a Geek Breakfast group on Facebook.  He describes the group as, “A casual monthly meet-up over coffee and breakfast to discuss new media, podcasting, blogging, programming, open source, social networks and more.”  I quickly joined.  Later, I discovered a group had also been created for Hendersonville (a community north of Nashville) by Bill Seaver (@billseaver on Twitter).

I soon realized though that, while joining these Facebook groups would no doubt bring into my life many new and exciting friendships, the proximately of my home and work to both of these areas would make it difficult to make one of the monthly gatherings any time soon.

I proceded to check the Geek Breakfast headquarters and saw that, while there was a Murfreesboro group in addition to Nashville and Hendersonville, there wasn’t a south of Nashville, Franklin/Spring Hill group of any kind.  If you know the Franklin and Spring Hill, Tennessee areas at all, you know that over the last 10 years Spring Hill and the Franklin area of Cool Springs have grown significantly.

It just didn’t seem right for there not to be a Franklin – Spring Hill Geek Breakfast Group.  So, I did what anyone else would’ve done in my situation.  I formed my own.  Honestly, I did it without giving much thought to preparation and planning, the investment of time, recruiting people, any of that.  I just did it.

So, now, here I sit eagerly anticipating the development of this new group.  As soon as I can secure a location and date, I’ll pass the info along both on Facebook and here on my blog under the Geek Breakfast tab.

I hope if you live or work near this sprawling area of middle Tennessee you’ll consider joining us.  And, if you have any suggestions on how to make it better, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Thanks!

Podcamp Nashville 2009: A First-timer’s Review

Today, I attended Podcamp Nashville being held at the Owen School of Business on the campus of Vanderbilt University.  Dave Delaney (@davedelaney and @griffintech on Twitter) and the Podcamp organizers were responsible for putting it all together.

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After seeing a few of my tweets from Podcamp Nashville earlier today, several of my followers on Twitter asked “what is Podcamp exactly.”  The name can certainly be misleading, after all it’s about a lot more than podcasting.  As the site explains, “If you’re interested in blogging, social media, social networking, podcasting, video on the net, if you’re a podsafe musician (or want to be), or just someone curious about new media, then please join us.”

By the way, the first Podcamp was held September 8 –  10 2006 in Boston, and Podcamps are now being held all over the world.  Who knew?

Thanks Mitch!

I have to mention that had it not been for the tweets I received from Mitch Canter (@studionashvegas and @wordpulse on Twitter) earlier this week, I would’ve missed it altogether.

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Mitch was one of the presenters this afternoon.  His was titled Podcasting & WordPress.  Mitch knows WordPress as well as anyone.  If you’re looking for great tips and insights into WordPress (particularly WordPress.org), check out Mitch’s Wordpulse blog and podcast.  You can even stream the podcast right on the site.

I really enjoyed Mitch’s presentation.  I’m much less intimidated now about the idea of switching my blog over to the the more robust WordPress.org platform.

Podcamp Nashville 2009: A First-timer’s Review

By far the most beneficial part of the day for me was the networking opportunities I enjoyed.  I met at least three people for the first time that I’d previously known only through Twitter.  There was Mitch (@studionashvegas), his wife Holly (@nashvogue) and Nicholas Young (@nicholaswyoung).

This was the first time I’d ever experienced this Twitter phenomenon.  Kinda cool actually.  Sort of like when I had a profile up at “Love @ AOL” back in the day and went on my first blind date.

School is Back in Session

After the 10am welcome, the first sessions began at 10:30 with three going on simultaneously in half-hour increments until 4pm.  For my taste, the sessions were too short and too many.  In the future, I’d love to see the Podcamp Crew concentrate on fewer sessions, giving presenters more time to really dig into their topics.

Additionally, prior to arriving, I struggled with choosing which sessions to attend.  Often times I had to choose between two equally intriguing-sounding sessions scheduled at the same time.

On top of the three sessions every 30 minutes, there was space given to a fourth for anyone who wanted to sign up to lead one (unconventional to say the least, but I tried to keep an open mind).  I didn’t actually attend any of these “add-on” sessions and never checked the sign-up board for what was being offered so I can’t speak to the quality of those sessions.

Sessions: The Good

I arrived about mid-way through (around noon) and Jared Degnan’s Business Podcasting & Blogging session gave me a good first impression.  One of the best take-aways for me was the suggestion to read Personality Not Included. I’d not heard of this book before today.  Jared could not have endorsed it more convincingly.  I’m looking forward to picking up a copy soon.

I also got a lot out of Dave Delaney’s A Slice of Cake: The Secret to Loyalty, and Why I Love Guinness – An Intro to Social Media.  Dave is an energetic and engaging speaker.

I easily learned the most form Mitch Canter.  His presentation on using WordPress and uploading Podcasts was very practical and helpful.  He easily offered the most take-aways I think.  He also seemed to be well-received by the crowd.  I definitely think they’ll ask him back.

Sessions: The Bad

Podcamp Nashville was free, so I can’t really complain here.  But I was a little disappointed that Bob Marchman’s Font Licensing: A Debriefing was canceled at the last minute.  I’m sure there was good reason.  I just hope Bob is okay.  I was hoping to learn more on this topic in light of a new business venture my wife is working on.

Sessions: The Ugly

Two sessions actually left me with negative impressions.  I have to confess though that in both cases, I gave up on them about 10 minutes in.  Therefore, it’s entirely possible things improved after I left.

The first was titled @#%& it, We’ll Do It Live – LiveCasting.  Three presenters, one microphone.  Late start (not their fault) followed by a lethargic, un-engaging opening.  I left to catch Dave.

Second came Greg Crites’ Joomla – The CMS for the Rest of Us.  10 minutes in Greg hadn’t shown up.  The bright side I guess is I left to discover more of Dave.

Final Verdict

All in all, I’d give my first Podcamp a solid “B.”  For the most part, it was well-organized and the majority of the speakers were engaging and well-prepared.  Many even made themselves available for informal question and answer sessions after their presentations.  All were accessible and more than willing to help in any way.

If you’re interested at all in podcasting, blogging, social media, social networking, video on the net or just curious about new media, make plans now to attend Podcamp Nashville 2010.