I am sitting here next to Hugh McGuire from LibriVox at BarCamp Montreal watching a person present on intellectual copyright in China. It was funny and insightful. He presented in only five minutes. I turned to Hugh and said, "this reminds me of a poetry jam," to which he replied, "yeah, it's like open mic for Geeks and Nerds."
And that's the point, isn't it?
BarCamp — and other unconferences — are really about giving a voice to people who never had a place for their voice to be heard.
You can make the same correlation to Blogs, Podcasts, Wikis and many of the hands-on digital tools that marketing professionals are using to connect to their consumers and vice-versa.
I love days like this. I love connecting to the community in person. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of speaking to the leadership of a large corporation on the topic of digital marketing. One of the directors was probing me about the issues that may arise with people always walking around with their iPod on or thumbing away on their Blackberrys and how this affects our day-to-day interactions.
It's a hard point to argue, but I think the backend is that people are now connecting in new and more meaningful ways. Two years ago I would have never imagined someone setting up a wiki page and close to two hundred people showing up to talk about technology — like today's BarCamp Montreal.
There might be magic in random meet-ups that are being missed because people are lost in their iTunes or responding to spam on their Blackberry, but I could never have imagined the power of online communities and how when they spill over into the real world, even more impressive results occur.
Prior to lunch we heard a story of two people who met at the first BarCamp Montreal and they were here presenting their new business venture together today.
This is the graying of social media. This is the stuff that Marketers need to start focusing on. Social media is social — both online and offline. This is not about a bunch of people Blogging in their boxer shorts (although, we do know that this is a large community as we well). Those that are engaged — whether it's a tech meet-up like BarCamp or an e-commerce shopping group — are looking for real ways to connect in the real world.
Back to BarCamp — someone is demoing some pretty slick project management tools and presenting their proof of concept.