Sunday, September 19, 2010

In the Big City: Podcamp Pittsburgh

Have I mentioned what a blessing it is that we live so close to Pittsburgh?  Beyond the awesome sports teams (I'm looking at you Pens, see you on Wednesday night!) and the delicious eateries and shops (I will miss you Coco's Cupcake Cafe), Pittsburgh has the absolute best community of social media gurus anywhere.  And this weekend, Hubby and I entered the fold.

We attended the most awesome event ever, known as PodCamp Pittsburgh.

This is a "un-convention" where people from the social media community gather together to learn and teach new information to each other, to strengthen the community, its bonds, and its impact.  We learned techie stuff, warm fuzzie stuff, and generally, how awesome Pittsburghers from the internets are in real life.

We got there bright and early Saturday morning, because, you know, we are big nerds, and registered, then settled in for the keynote speech from Bill Peduto.

Imagine my surprise when everyone started twittering during it, and not only was it NOT considered rude, it was encouraged!  We even had our own hash tag!  I felt like I was finally at home.  I whispered to Hubby, it is like I got to do high school all over again, with people like me this time, and I am the homecoming queen.  It was a room of several hundred people who all felt social media was worthwhile, important, potentially lifechanging, capable of being revolutionary, and so we all were revolutionary as well.

  It. Was. AWESOME.

This is one of the videos Bill showed us.  How can one not be inspired by this?

After the keynote speech was over, we started our sessions.  My first one was with Scout, about Social Media 101.

It was a good first session for me, it made me feel completely comfortable, and eased me into the whole set up.  She was so warm and friendly, and had already been tweeting with me, so I felt so welcomed by her!  These people were so amazing!  I related well to her, because she used social media to create her support in a new city, just like I did when I moved to the burgh, back in the days of MySpace.

My next session was with Michelle, otherwise known as BurghBaby.

 Oh My Goodness, she is so way awesome, and, I might add, it was in this session that I also got a chance to sneak a peak at my favorite burgh blogger ever, Ginny, aka Jane Pitt.  Can I just say how completely gorgeous and gracious these two women are in person?  Seriously.  Michelle talked about creating good material for your blog.  It was so helpful, and hilarious, all at the same time.  It is so great to get guidance, particularly from other women bloggers.

After this we broke for lunch, during which time I swallowed my fear and actually said hello to Jane Pitt before she had to dash off to catch a seat for her next session.  I was so glad I got to say hi to her, and Hubby thinks I should volunteer to help her with a project, so, Ginny, if you are reading, I would love to help you in some of your do goodery some time!

My next session was with Justin B., and it was the session that probably made me feel the best about the course I have chosen as a blogger.

 The message was, be true to your goal and your audience, write good quality work of which you are proud, and the readers will come, just give it time.  Justin is a purist, and I admire that.

I ducked out to get a seat for my next session, and got to sneak a peak at Secret Agent L.

She is a beautiful as she is kind, really.  And if you have not heard of this amazing example of the redemption of humanity, you must go read about her.  Right now.

So anyway, my last session was with the women of BitchBurgh, and I do not think I laughed so hard all day.  It was all about living out loud online, boundaries, and consequences.

These women were funny, but also really astute, and had sage advice to give.  They spoke from experience, and I actually probably applied more from their session than anyone else's.  It certainly got me and Hubby talking on the way home, to make sure I never violate any of his privacy online.

There was another session yesterday, but we had to cut out early, and then there were sessions today, but we did not make it to any of them, because we overslept, and by the time we would have made it down to the city, a lot of the ones we wanted to see would have been over.  Luckily, they were recording them, and they will be up on the PodCamp website for future perusal.

We are so fortunate that Pittsburgh has this community!  I know that not everyone "gets" social media.  I get heavily criticized for living my life online sometimes, but, to me, it is the way life is.  I do not remember a time when I was not accessible at all times to people, via cell phone and the internet.  Social media is not a hobby for me.  And when I get criticized, while my first reaction is to just "give it all up" I know I never could, because this is my way of life.

I think about my book blog, and the impact I am having on some of these writers' careers.  Me, little old me, is helping people sell their books, and make their dreams come true.  Me, little old me, writing a blog from my house in western PA.  Because I am doing something I love, with heart, and passion.  This is my life, and my love.  And I won't give it up for anything.

Thank you to all the beautiful, wonderful people I met at PodCamp Pittsburgh 5.  I look forward to getting to know you all more over the coming months, and learning more at PodCamp 6 next year!  <3