The True Power of PodCamp

September 17, 2006

PodCamp: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Shikin haramitsu daikomyo. Every experience contains the potential for the enlightenment we seek, every moment of life has the potential for us to have that “A-HA!” power, when it all comes together. Call it the perfect storm or the alignment of the stars or the will of xDeity, but PodCamp Boston felt like that moment in time. Nearly 300 people came together, a mix of the powerful and soon-to-be powerful, the ready, the willing, the eager. Everyone came to learn, egos checked at the door, and the result was nothing short of amazing.

I’m even more excited to see so many people not only eager for the next PodCamp Boston, but also eager to take the PodCamp concept and bring it to their own cities and towns. I’m all for the idea – PodCamp was essentially a remix of the BarCamp idea, so I see absolutely no reason for other people to remix PodCamp Boston for what’s appropriate in their cities. I’m very excited to see that the UnConference style of collaboration is spreading to other formats as well. We all have something to share, and I wholly believe Dave Winer’s UnConference maxim – the sum of the knowledge of the audience is greater than the sum of the knowledge of the guy or gal on stage.

I don’t talk about it a lot because the two worlds don’t usually mix, but in a lot of ways, PodCamp Boston reminds me a great deal of my black belt test in my martial art, budo taijutsu. Both were experiences that subjected us all to a great deal of stress, to see if we could walk the talk, and ultimately to change us for the better. PodCamp was a crucible. Take a lot of people, energy, and ideas, and mash them together under high speed, high intensity conditions for a few days, and see what happens.

When I took my test in 2004, I literally changed overnight. My whole perspective on the world, on what’s possible, on what I could do, changed that evening. PodCamp has felt very similar. We all got together, shared, grew, and changed – and now the energy that we forged together has been set free in the world. Like a stone dropping into a lake, the power that was PodCamp Boston is spreading, flowing throughout the new media world, and I encourage it with all my heart.

A lot of people have asked me how they can capture and keep the feeling of PodCamp alive. I had the exact same question after my black belt test, how to keep that amazing, soaring feeling going as long as possible. You can’t capture it, but you can create and nurture environments where it can grow again. Think about it like a seed that blossoms into a flower. Under certain conditions, it will grow and thrive. Under other conditions, it’ll die. If you want to feel like you’re at PodCamp all over again, start by organizing or joining a local podcasting group in your city or town. No group? Create one online. Get involved – talk to other people, and above all else, be sharing and giving with the knowledge and experience you gain. Every one of us is at a certain point in our path through life. There will always be people ahead of us, and people behind us. Want the power of PodCamp in your life? Ask the people ahead of you respectfully for their advice and counsel – and LISTEN to them when they offer it. Then pass the lessons and experience you gain to the people behind you if they ask for it, and be generous with it.

That’s the power of PodCamp. Now go out and make a difference.

Christopher Penn, PodCamp Co-Founder & Organizer

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