I never ever ever thought you would hear from me, I’m going to Pod Camp Ohio. Yet, yesterday morning I was up and out the door at 7:45 to drive to Columbus for the first ever Pod Camp Ohio. I’ve seen a lot of people on my Twitter list talk about Pod Camp experiences…and I admit I have liked the idea of having so many friends in one place to get a chance to meet. But the rest of it? The sessions? Meh…
I probably would not have gone at all if I hadn’t seen a status message from Chris Abrahams–going to Pod Camp Ohio–I sent him a message, are you serious. That was the nudge I needed to sign up and make plans to go. I kidded pre-conference that I would be in the corner with the giant panties over my head tied up with a cat5 cable. :o)
With the help of Andrew I found the location without any difficulties, it was close to the highway and very easy to get to. A gold star for the Pod Camp Ohio planners for finding such a great location. The facility was nice, free wifi a geek’s paradise! I spotted Ms. Sangs, @KaitSwanson as soon as I got in the door. I had to give her a hug even before I checked in for the conference. That hug and that chance to finally meet her made my day, could it get any better than this?
I started wandering around, getting my bearings, pulling out the lanyard for my name tag, writing @AnnOhio on it and getting myself organized. As I made my way back to the room for the first address of the day, I passed a lady with pink streaks in her hair–I knew right away it was @AlisonL. I gave her a big hug and delivered the promised homemade cookies. It was nice to finally get to meet her in person. As a I am talking to her I see a few more familiar faces @BarbaraKB and @DanielJohnsonJr–more hugs delivered.
I found a seat about mid-way back and made myself comfortable. I love to people watch, and I took a look around and didn’t see anyone else that I knew. I hear someone behind me talking to the person next to him. “Hi, I’m Chris Abraham.” I turned in my seat… “Chris? AnnOhio!” Naturally I jumped up to give him a big hug to welcome him to Ohio.
I looked through the session list, trying to find the non-geekiest session to go to. First up a session by my twitter pal (who I constantly harass for being a geek) DanielJohnsonJr. When I got to the room Chris was standing outside, he was planning to attend the same session. Alas, the door was locked. I pull out my cellphone and send Daniel a text message–the door is locked dummy. I made my way to the back of the room, I planned to knit during the session. The room filled quickly with people and I was glad to have a seat with a table to spread out all of my stuff. There was about 10 minutes before the session started, it gave Chris and I a chance to talk a little more. Daniel then had people do introductions, you know the usual name, where are you from blah blah blah…when it was my turn I said, “My name is Ann I’m here to see Daniel and to knit”.
It really was a great session, I have to confess that I learned about a few new things, and it was fun to see a Twitter pal in a new light. (That does not mean that my constant harassment of the guy is going to end!) I noticed during the introductions a familiar name and stopped him. “Oh Mr. tw3nty3ight? I saw PreppyDude talking about me to you last night I’m AnnOhio. ”
“AnnOhio! I have to take a picture for PreppyDude.” Acckkkk I iz on BrightKite! But it shows me knitting so the guy is ok in my book. (Sheesh BrightKite?)
The next session in the room was on viral marketing, I was comfortable and decided the topic sounded interesting, as did most of the other people at the unconference, we moved to a larger room which put the presenter 10 minutes behind. I could have actually stayed in this session for another hour, I have a feeling that the period after the presentation, the time for questions and responses would have been just as valuable as the session. Next up..LUNCH!
There were some challenges for lunch, but in no part due to the organizers of the event. The catering company forgot a few of the ingredients for the tacos. It might have also helped to make things go faster to pull the tables out from the wall and to let people go through the line on both sides, it was a narrow hallway that may have been a challenge. I honestly heard no one complaining at any point during the day. It was a well run event, and the organizers should be proud of what they accomplished.
Lunch, was my favorite part of the day–not because the food was amazing, it was sitting down and connecting with friends. Talking, laughing, sharing stories…and seeing the circle of people grow and grow. I made a few new friends–people who I added to my Twitter list with the caveat that if they weren’t adding to my life I was subtracting them. I saw people sitting off alone, laptops open, Twittering and doing a variety of online social media. Excuse me? You are in a room full of people, many, if not most with the same interests as you and you are ONLINE? I’ve been known to stick a cellphone down my shirt at tweet ups when people were tweeting, not even my bra is big enough to hold a laptop. :o) I had someone from the conference add me on Twitter–he said he did the add during lunch. I later teased him “Why didn’t you come find me at lunch and sit at the cool table and have a real conversation with me?”
After being entertained by Paull Young and Luke Armour I had to stay for their session about what not to do in social media. They made me giggle, and I would give them two thumbs up as my favorite session of the day.
Then..it happened…I attended a session at the very edges of geekiness, what I thought pod camps were all about. As more and more html code popped up on the screen I felt the energy, the very life leaving my body. I turned into pod camp zombie. The presenter was full of lots of helpful information, but it was clearly the wrong session choice for me. I hit the geek wall and crumbled to the bottom in a pile.
Yikes, it was time to escape and make my way back to my corner of the cornfields. I passed out a few hugs on my way out the door and headed home in the pouring rain. I saw several tweets from friends who went out to dinner and or drinking afterwards, and that made me wish I was still there.
A few things I would have done differently–I would have made hotel reservations and stayed in Columbus on Saturday night. In reality I didn’t even plan to be there at lunch time, I thought I would be long gone. I would have left the session that sucked the life out of me and just wandered the halls connecting with people. I’m used to going to conferences and feeling the need to attend as many sessions as possible.
All in all..a day much better than expected and a chance to connect with friends.