The 2008 New Media Expo, the fourth annual event that was aimed primarily at podcasters, did not quite live up to expectations, and Bourquin had not announced a 2009 event, leading to speculation that the show would either disappear or be moved from Las Vegas to a more conducive venue.
I’ll be honest with you here. I’m fighting the temptation to rain on the BlogWorld Expo parade, even before I hear what organizers might have planned. It’s not that I begrudge Bourquin’s desire to cut his losses, or to recognize that the NME cannot continue in its present form. Under the circumstances, Tim did the right thing. He ran a good event that earned the support of podcasters, ranging from the most committed monetizers to the strong contingent of community-oriented folk, both business-focused, and hobbyists. He listened to the suggestions of many podcasters and would-be podcasters and worked hard to weave socializing, technical and corporate-focused sessions, and exhibits into a trade show and conference that worked on many levels, and for many budgets.
The parade-raining part comes in as I consider the difference between NME and BlogWorld’s content and zeitgeist. I firmly believe that if BlogWorld is to truly embrace the podcasting side of new media, its producers will need to learn from Tim, and from those of us who supported and benefitted from New Media Expo.
Here’s the first of a two-part to-do list for integrating the best of NME into BlogWorld Expo.
Community, community, community. I’ve argued among friends that podcasting isn’t really an example of social media. But it is true that from the very beginning of the medium, producers were creating and participating in communities, building things collaboratively, creating meetup groups, attending PodCamps, and referring to themselves collectively as “the community”. The social aspect of podcasting, I would argue, earned the first Podcast Expo (later to become NME) more broad acceptance than it otherwise would have had, giving the show the push it needed.
BlogWorld Expo should develop or encourage more social events, both on and off the exhibit floor, and encourage show sponsors to get involved, too. Conference sessions should feature speakers with roots in podcasting; people whose names and reputations were built by working actively with other audio and video producers.
Strong podcasting-specific content. Like many trade shows, BlogWorld Expo organizes its conference into tracks. Many of these are focused on content genres; politics, military blogging, mommy blogging, etc. Of course, there are also plenty of sessions about blog advertising and other business strategies. Podcasters will certainly gain from the expertise of bloggers, but their needs diverge in some key areas. Podcasting has a strong technical component, for one thing, and the BlogWorld folks will need to incorporate these topics into their session tracks. To this point, podcasters have been less likely than bloggers to organize themselves around the content genres they work in. The exception to this rule are the sci-fi/spec fiction producers, who have not only built podcasting tracks at Dragon*Con and Balticon, but have even gone so far as to hand out awards within their ranks.
BlogWorld organizers should do two things with regard to genre-focused producers: rely on the leaders of the spec fiction podcasting community for advice, and develop Birds of a Feather, or SIG sessions where genre podcasters can meet informally and exchange meaningful advice and information.
Continued technical focus. I’m a geek. I like to sit in sessions where the slides or live demos feature waveforms, or where a presenter does “show and tell” with a table full of podcast gear. Both new and experienced podcasters need outlets for their technical questions and discoveries. As podcasting has matured, the number of opportunities for tech talk aimed at wannabe producers have diminished. Even the PodCamp movement, where larger discussions of social media and marketing have, to some extent, smothered discussion of podcasting, has de-emphasized the tech.
BlogWorld has an opportunity not only to help NME refugees get their tech on, but to empower its blogger base to begin podcasting. Tech sessins at the begining and advanced level, led by experienced podcasters and audio/video producers, should occupy their own conference track.
Coming next, loosen up, listen, and ignore Vegas.