“We are all prisoners. We are all doing time. We are all tapping on the
walls late at night waiting for answers from distant cells.”
–Cary Tennis, “Since You Asked” on Salon.com
Last week I was honored to talk with some of my smart friends in the Pittsburgh social media scene. The topic was the G20 Summit next week in Pittsburgh — what we can expect and how can social media creators be involved.
Mike Sorg, new media producer and fellow PodCamp Pittsburgh organizer, put it all together. The participants were Tim Hindes, Grants Manager and Creative Director with GSP Consulting; Elizebeth Perry, a sketch blogger and Technology Coordinator at the the Ellis School; Norm Huelsman, Assistant Director of Public Relations with the Art Institute of Pittsburgh; and me.
Highlights: What is the G20 Summit; how are preparations affecting life in the region; what role can social media creators — bloggers, twitterers, etc — play in understanding and discussing the G20; is this a good thing or bad thing for Pittsburgh; predictions and suggestions.
Behind-the-scenes note: I was running a fever of about 101 degrees the evening of our discussion, thanks to a late-summer flu I picked up. I’d like to blame the fever for any particularly wandering trains of thought I followed during the talk, but really that’s how I am all the time.
A few times today, I told people at PCPGH3 to try writing a blog post every day.
It’s an interesting discipline. When I’ve blogged daily, I’ve posted some rather boring stuff, but I’ve also created more interesting and unique content.
If you’re interested in trying the post-a-day practice, the perfect opportunity is just a few weeks away: NaBloPoMo.
National Blog Posting Month is the epicenter of daily blogging! People who want to set the habit of blogging by doing it every day for a month, including weekends, can come here for moral support, inspiration, and the camaraderie that only marathon blogging can provide.
You don’t need to do anything special to join in (other than post every day), but if you want to connect with others who are NaBloPoMoing, visit the NaBloPoMo and join.
Then let me know you’re in, and I’ll follow your adventure through your blog.
Today 8 or so months of collaboration come to fruition. I’m at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3, the third of these unconferences about social media (blogging, podcasting, social networks, etc.) that we’ve had in Pittsburgh, PA.
I co-lead a couple of sessions on blogging with Mike Woycheck, one of my fellow co-founders of Pittsburgh Bloggers. The sessions were fun for us, as well as a nice ego boost since both sessions were standing-room-only.
This is a great example of what makes PodCamp amazing: I can share what I know and learn from what others know. Everyone gives, and everyone gets — and the more you put in, the more you get out.
It’s back! Pittsburgh’s social media conference returns for the third year running, with great sessions, awesome networking opportunities, and unexpected unexpectedness.
PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 will take place on October 18 and 19, 2008, with a meet-and-greet the evening of October 17.
See the PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 schedule. Add a session you’d like to give, or request one you’d like to attend.
Would you like to sponsor PodCamp Pittsburgh 3? Find out how.
Spread the word about PCPGH3 with badges, video bumpers, and more.
In addition to the two days of conference, there will be a meet-n-greet reception the night before, 6 to 9pm at AlphaLab on Pittsburgh South Side. Details for the reception here.
It might seem like I’m nagging my writing friends by posting this. Honestly, I think it’s just funny. And painful. And funny.
(I first saw this on John Hodgman’s blog, which is a constant source of joy.)
I’m working on a couple of things right now: End of the month, so there’s billable work to finish and bill; grant applications and proposals to thoughtfully complete and send; project work to push diligently ahead with; and administrivia.
Also a blog post I keep trying to write about blogs, rules vs. freedom, social media and traditional media and the difficult links between them, and civility, which is particularly hard to write because every day there’s one more thing to bring into the mix (like that video of Bob Costas trying to keep the Deadspin guy and the athlete and the old media guy from stabbing each other in the heart), so I begin to despair of ever having the time and mental power and general quiet to get the damn think thought out and composed and written.
Can you all just sort of stop for a couple of days until I get my thoughts sorted? I would truly appreciate it.
Meantime, I’m just trying to keep things together and bills paid, so someday I can live in a house like Sinatra’s. Wonder if I could afford someday to buy this place and take it out of the rental market. I love my home town, but I would totally move there. (Dear sugar daddies: Call me.)
Also: There’s someone lounging on one of the couches in this photo, right? Is that a mannequin, or is it someone who comes with the property? Get out of my fantabulous and hip damn couch, person!
I attended the first PodCamp Pittsburgh, where I shared what I knew and thought about blogging and learned a bit about video and podcasting. Then I helped organize a newbie version of the conference, and then PodCamp Pittsburgh 2.
I had fun with the planning and I loved participating in the PodCamps, but what’s been most rewarding all along is meeting amazing local people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and working with them to create awesome stuff.
So we’re at it again this year. PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 will be held on October 18 and 19 with a lead-up gathering on the 17th. It’ll be held at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Registration will be free, and anyone can present a session (although we are organizing a little bit of curriculum to make sure we cover some basics and offer info of interest to people with advanced skills as well).
We had a planning meeting tonight — the third or fourth I think — and stuff is coming together. In the past we’ve waited a bit late to start organizing, so it’s a change to have enough time to do things properly. For example, the web team and I have several weeks to revamp the website, rather than a couple of days. We’ll even have a testing period. Novel!
We’ve discovered new ways to improve the experience each time, and we’re working to learn from other PodCamps across the country. Ours is the best (naturally), but everybody else does great things, and we all seem willing to share and move the community ahead.
The Loungy Lounge, by the way, is one of two break rooms we had at PodCamp Pittsburgh 2. The other was the Mentor Lounge, which was stocked with computers and was a place where people could go and ask questions. It didn’t seem to be quite as effective as we had hoped; I think some of the Canadian PodCamps have come up with improvements.
But the Loungy Lounge was where anyone could go to just relax, and socialize or not talk to anyone for a few minutes so the brain could absorb all the new info. It was among my favorite innovations for PCPGH2, so I hope we work it into the plan this year.
Photo from City Theatre’s production of Flight, March 2008. Pictured center: Joshua Elijah Reese and DeWanda Wise. Photo credit: John Schisler.
In Flight, Charlayne Woodard’s play (recently produced, brilliantly, at City Theatre), the characters are all slaves living on a plantation near Savannah, Georgia in 1858. They are forbidden to learn to read or write, and one of their fellow slaves has just been sold because she had learned to read and was teaching her son.
Not knowing how to read or write doesn’t stop them from telling stories though. The play centers on the oral tradition, the passing on of tales from one person to another, from one generation to another. The storytellers mingle in music and dance, and in Flight the listeners act out the parts of the stories, adding their own interpretations and experiences along the way.
The oral traditions aren’t confined to slaves or people of African descent. Last year, performance troupe Mabou Mines brought Finn, a work-in-progress, to the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre. "Interweaving a Celtic legendary figure, Finn McCool, and elements of Middle Eastern folktales, Finn tells the story of a boy’s journey to avenge his father’s death."
Of course, we’re all familiar with some flavor of oral tradition, whether it’s sitting around at the holidays and listening to old family stories, told for the hundredth time, or meeting up with old friends and rehashing tales of the sordid past.
Is this changing with the existence of the Web, with its wikis and blogs and Facebook photos?
If I post a story on my blog, it’s captured in words. That’s nice if I want it to be captured. But what if I want for others to take it and run with it, add their own twists? People do this with memes, like lists of statistics from their iTunes setups; they sometimes respond to a blog post on their own blogs. But memes are small and frothy; blog posts can have substance but rarely does anyone take a post and reimagine or re-present it in a new light. In fact, I think if someone did, they might be slammed for stealing the originator’s idea.
But think of medieval troubadors going from town to town, singing stories along the way, leaving the stories behind to be sung by others with some parts added and others forgotten. I think the Web is a little too good at preserving things, so we can’t experience the beauty and surprise of mutation.
Or maybe it’s there and I’m not seeing it. What’s the modern equivalent of the oral tradition? Is it just what people used before they could write and record and blog, or it is part of the human experience?
UPDATE: On a related note, over at AndrewAlan.com Andy explores social networking on the web and in real life. Good thoughts.
Norm Huelsman was kind enough to post about my blog today — he’s writing about a different site each week in his BlogShare feature.
That’s a nice example of how Pittsburgh’s social media community — bloggers and podcasters — put energy into connecting with and promoting each other.
Another example: Rachel of That Night was nominated for the "Best Kept Secret" category for the 2008 Bloggies blog awards, and within a couple of days Norm, TheJim, Doug, and even the elusive PittGirl of The Burgh Blog are posting about it and encouraging everyone to vote.
We started planning for PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 on Wednesday. The kickoff meeting was lively, as always, and I felt so happy to see everyone and hear what we’d all learned from previous events and what we want to accomplish this year. Exciting stuff.
PCPGH3 will most likely take place September 27 and 28, with a meet-and-greet party on the 26th. We’re confirming that locations and other important things are all available then, but for now save the date.
We’ll be working harder this year to keep everyone informed of plans along the way, and to invite participation. I haven’t updated the PCPGH site recently, but keep an eye on it for changes and news.
This is a good time to mention two events that are coming up much sooner. Tomorrow from noon until midnight is DevHouse Pittsburgh 2, for programmers and designery-types to gather and make great things. And Friday, February 22 will be Pittsburgh BlogFest 13 — our luckiest blogfest yet. I hope you’ll join us!