Post BlogCamp2006

BlogCamp came and went. The whole event is bound to come under a mountain of criticism if there is enough digging done. For the money it raised and the people who came in, it could have been so much better, gone so much further and been so much more useful and entertaining. The positive aspects of the event are obvious and enough said – that meeting some of the bloggers, and to put faces to their URLs, engage in conversations outside the hall were some of the best aspects of the event. Blogging doesn’t just change your surfing habits or make you arrange your personal information a certain way. The power to publish and broadcast comes with a great sense of vulnerability. Your circle of influence, friends, impact and knowledge changes dramatically. The challenge is perhaps in resolving the dichotomy by acknowledging it – and dealing with it in one’s own way.

An unconference is not a “cool” concept. It makes sense only if a conference mode is not effective. Conferences can be very effective. Now, an unconference when it comes to blogging makes sense somewhat if you consider that there are many experts, and mostly expertise is due to experience, and that one desires that the “users generate content”. Which is all fine and nice if there is a “tighter” theme that could possibly bind the entire event. An unconference also has potential to topple the usual hierarchy that exists in many conferences that completely limits experiences and content. (Remember We Media?)

My idea of an unconference is smaller sessions running simultaneously. But somewhere things began to go a little wrong. However, some of the presentations were brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed some of the sessions that were more conversationsal and engaging. Dina, Peter, Kiran and others were key in tying together some of the sessions. But given that it was a first of sorts, perhaps it will take a few such events to get used to the entire concept. While an unconference mode may work well for a BarCamp – a BlogCamp simply doesn’t get the same sort of people. Apart from all this – I couldn’t help but notice the outsider/ insider divide. Any unconference is only as good as its participants. This one had a lot more promise, but it’ll take time before we get used to this much of movement within an event.

The IRC channel at this conference was quite a let down. In all honesty, IRC chatter has a way of getting out of hand and is usually quite “noisy”. Lots of distractions, parallel conversations and arbitrary comments are the norm. However, in this particular instance – the conversation was almost unpalatable at points.

What this could potentially do is open up blogging to other ways. The more we talk, and however dispersed the conversation maybe, the more you discover where the gaps are and they can be filled. Blogging is a tool. It doesn’t make people equal or make them smarter. (Maybe it does actually – I know I’ve been reading a lot more ever since I’ve started blogging.) It’s a relatively user-friendly and dynamic tool that will go only as far as a user will take it. Just because a person blogs doesn’t mean that person is open to any kind of conversation. Blogging like any other activity or way of doing things amplifies what we already are. The entire notion of a “community” is only generic, it’s not supposed to signify some sort of homogenous existence. There are many communities.

There is a big difference between a Disorganized conference and an Unconference. The fun is in getting from the first to the second. What’s the point if everything was that easy! Besides all that excitement and energy definitely does give a headrush.

7 Comments

Filed under Blogs, India

7 Responses to Post BlogCamp2006

  1. I’m glad that some people take blogging so seriously. You are a star. I for one think of blogging in a fairly frivolous manner as I have nothing of note to ever write and would be a dust mote at a serious event like this.

    BTW, I read less now that blogs are up – paper books that is – I spend all my time reading blogs! And I miss the books…..

    When are back of this working holiday?

  2. ang

    Just some clarification on the IRC channel.. and there may be many people angry at me for saying so.. but anyways… an IRC channel was requested… the channel was registered, kept alive :) … normal channel maintenance to the run up of the weekend…but yes i do agree with you that there were some “unwanted” conversations.. etc. etc. now.. that was something which an irc moderator could have facilitated… did we have a moderator? no… did we have admins? yes…

    and everytime we kept opping those that were supposedly to moderate the channel… nothing happened.. come day 2 and i thought it was the spirit of an unconference.. so i was wrong, realized it too late…

    but just to point out that an irc channel was put up remotely.. maintrained in remote fashion.. but there is quite a limitation as to what could be done remotely when it comes to IRC… in terms of moderations that would be something that could only be done by someone at the unconf…

    not pointing fingers at anyone but myself for having goofed! sorry!

  3. Have to step in apologize too (about the IRC channel), since Ang has done so. I admit that what started as plain natured ribbing might have gone over the top as we pushed our limits.

    And as for the one instance that you stepped in and told me not to use a particular word, I assure you that there was no ulterior intent. I know better than that. While it is certainly used colloquially to mean something, it is sometimes spoken of in innocent terms as well, as I was doing. Really, whether you believe it or not.!

  4. I shall the put attendance. Nice post. Like it a lots. I am of the unanimous opinion BC’06 sucked, inspite of the good show put on by a few spirited people. Had fun, though, meeting up with all you gud peepul

  5. Pingback: Conversations with Dina

  6. 30in2005: Arre. See, some people take mobile phones seriously. You may use a mobile phone service but may never really be concerned beyond what comes to you, and you may use it in certain ways. Blogging is a lot like that. We have different ways to look at it.

    Ang: I agree – a lot of it had to do with the fact that the IRC wasn’t really part of the conference as it usually is.

    anantha: Nothing personal. Really. :)

    Ravages: Have marked you in the register. I wouldn’t say it sucked. It just had so much more potential. Now that we know how to take care of organizing it – maybe next time we’d have more time to figure out content.

  7. Hey,

    Nice running into you at BlogCamp or rather, at the airport, since we hardly got any time to talk at the event itself. Hope your flight, already much delayed, wasnt delayed any further.

    I agree with your take on BlogCamp – there are certain times when unconferences can be effective and there are times when you feel the noise all around and you search for a signal, even a remote one to hang on too. Sad that BlogCamp turned out like that. However, dont think it would suffice if one just cribs and not do something about it. So I was thinking of what exactly went wrong with BlogCamp so that the future events arent nearly as pointless.

    I think the reason for the debacle is that as far as blogging is concerned, different people have different takes on it. For some, its intensely personal and for others, its more professional where they explore their professional avenues and build contacts and such through blogging. Putting all these people in one room, in the clear vision that hindsight provides, was a sureshot recipe for disaster.

    Next time, I think there should be different tracks for people who do it for personal reasons, those who do it for professional reasons, et al.

    In any case, nice running into you.

    Keep in touch.

    Cheers,
    Abhinav