Today was the day! Podcamp Nashville 2010, downtown Nashville at the Cadillac Ranch. As always with the Nashville camps, overall it was great experience. The sessions were quality with speakers like Mitch Canter and Kate Gallagher. It was great to meet some new friends and catch up with some old ones.
With all the good however, you have to take the bad. First off, I realize I got everything I paid for with PCN. As a free conference, my entire financial involvement was parking and lunch tickets. However, as a veteran organizer of 3 ZendCons, DPC and now TEK*X, I do know a little about conferences. This post isn’t from the perspective of a disgruntled attendee, because I’m far from disgruntled. This is more of an outsider looking in on the technical aspects of the conference.
The Cadillac Ranch is a great *camp venue, IMHO. It has separate rooms for each of the speakers and a nice common area for people to gather and talk. Unfortunately, PCN outgrew this venue. The result was that most sessions were over crowded. As any conference organizer knows, this usually results in people not being able to digest the content, regardless of it’s quality.
The organizers can remedy this problem in one of several ways. The first would be to turn PCN into more of a traditional, albeit, low price, conference. Charge a small fee, enough to cover the expenses that sponsors don’t and then cap the number of attendees at a level that keeps the headcount manageable. Alternatively, they could move to a larger venue. The downside though is that PCN, BCN and other camps I’ve attended, tend to be social evens more than learning event and as such, holding them in a bar makes great sense.
PCN is a victim of it’s own success in this respect. Neither solution is good but the organizers will have to address this issue if they want to protect PCNs reputation.
First, I realize PCN is an all volunteer conference so I’m not picking on people here. However, check-in was fubar and it wouldn’t have taken much to fix it.
Registration was 4 people trying to find name tags in a single file box, I think you can see where the bottleneck was. The line was more of just a mob approaching the table, despite the fact that there were 3 “greeters” at the door who really did nothing more than say “Welcome to Podcamp!” It would have been much more efficient for them to help direct people to the right place at the registration table.
Since the website threw an error when the lovely and talented Kathy (despite the fact that when it did the exact same thing for me and I was told…it must be you) so she had to go to the “unregistered mob” to register. Again, the greeters could have actually been doing something useful like helping the herd of people trying to register.
As I said, I’ve done this one or twice so I know how important a smooth operating registration is.
I really don’t have anything bad to say about the sessions and that should be a clue. Outside of all the issues a conference might have, the sessions are what people are there for. So it’s a good sign that the sessions at PCN were interesting and well presented, well the ones I attended.
My only comment, and this is more of an observation than a gripe, is that precious few of the sessions were actually about podcasting. PCN has been taken over by the Nashville social media crowd. I don’t think that’s a bad thing because I like them but it really wasn’t a POD camp, it was a Social Media camp. Again, I enjoyed most of the sessions I went to but none of them were about podcasting.
Ok, nobody goes to a conference for the food but it’s an integral part of every conference. The food at PCN was edible. The coffee was ok (even though the lovely and talented Kathy will tell you that conferences should provide sweeteners other than sugar) The lunch line was organized and overall it was ok. They could be a bit faster in replenishing. When we were there, they were out of fries and I got the last bun for the pulled pork sandwiches. (which were pretty dang good) All in all though, the food was ok. Any problems with it really fall under the organization heading.
Rock solid when I used it. Not much more to say there. Conference wi-fi either works or it doesn’t. If it works, nobody says thank you (I will, thanks PCN for great Wi-Fi) If it doesn’t, everybody gripes. :)
As I said to start, I had a great time. Could it be better, sure, but then again every conference I’ve worked could have been better. All in all though, I’d give PCN a good solid B. It could improve but it was a good experience.
I do want to express my gratitude for the PCN crew, organizers and volunteers. I’ve been to every PCN and I plan on being at the next one. Thanks gang!
Until next time,
I <3 |K