I am sitting here at PodCamp Singapore and, truth be told, it's nothing like any of the PodCamps you've heard about here in previous posts. It is being hosted by Michael Netzley who put it together for Singapore Management University and is taking place over two days.
It's not really an unconference at all, but it is very telling of an amazing and burgeoning opportunity. It's also been an opportunity for me to open my eyes well beyond the typical North American-centric world in which I live.
Listening to John Kerr (who is Director - Southeast Asia for Edelman) talk about how they are looking at trends really made me take a deep breath and realize the world is, indeed, flat, but - most importantly - we're not always focused on where the masses are. Kerr was saying that when it comes to mobile, they are looking to Hong Kong, when it comes to social networks, they are looking to Korea and when it comes to bulletin boards and conversation, they are looking to China because that's where the people are using these channels most.
Not the answers I had expected. There goes my North American-centric ignorance again.
I also had another Pow! Right Between The Eyes moments (Andy Nulman would be proud) from Chong Pow Min (Assistant Vice President of StarHub) who presented a case study for the launch of a new service called Pfingo (which I can't wait to jump into). StarHub is a full service telecommunications provider (mobile, wired phones, cable TV, Internet services, etc...) and they made a decision that goes something like this: "can we look for profits elsewhere? Can we develop a service that turns a traditional corporate brand into a bond with consumers?" The idea was to launch what they describe as the "first carrier and network independent end-to-end mobile service delivered through a mobile portal." It's amazing to see how the thoughts of Pfingo revolved around not trying to compete with something like Facebook, but to use a 300k java application on your mobile device to compliment it, build the StarHub brand and look for money beyond the margin-battles typically found in the telecommunications industry_ and also build out a Facebook application so they can work together as well.
This all leads to my main point: I'm in a room right now listening to Jorg Dietzel (and branding and advertising consultant and Adjunct Professor at Singapore Management University) present, Social Media, Advertising And Branding in a room of about forty local business people. Some people might think, "forty people_ that's it?" Here is my thought: forty people_ awesome. Go back three years, how many people would be in a room in Montreal for something called PodCamp? Singapore, Asia and beyond are just getting their Social Media feet wet and this event reminds me plenty of the same feelings I had when I attended PodCamp Boston: this is the beginning of something big. You can feel it. It's in the air. The people are passionate to learn more and share this information with their peers.
Key learning: it doesn't matter where you fall on the scale of being in, behind or ahead of the Social Media wave_ you have to understand it and try stuff (experiment with it). It's exciting to be across the world and see that people are trying to connect_ just like I was at that first PodCamp Boston. They're also faced with the same challenges but are encouraged because of these open conversations and dialogue here today.
It's powerful and very moving, and this is only magnified by the many different faces here today - from all over the world and varying cultures with one common goal: how do we use Social Media to connect closer to each other and enable whoever wants it, to have their voice heard.