I attended the Podcamp Unconference that was conducted at Open Square in Holyoke on Saturday and I'm very glad did. I've been mystified about social media such as Twitter and Facebook – yeah I know it's not new, but it is to me – and the Unconference helped me wrap my head around some uses for these applications that I think would advance several schemes of mine.
My pal Bill Dusty was there along with writerjax a splendid writer/pr person whose work I've long admired. And I met Tish Grier whose blog "The Constant Observer" is now something I'll read every day.
What liked so much was the exchange of information that came fairly organically and democratically from the participants. My many years as a journalist was actually seen as an asset by some in discussions about hyper-local news coverage and citizen journalism.
I guess that made up for my profound ignorance on other issues!
I did have one on-going beef with a guy that started the moment I arrived. He identified himself as a former Agawam resident who now lives in the Worcester area and was criticizing Holyoke. He said that while driving to Open Square he questioned whether or he should attend it based on his quick assessment of the city.
I defended Holyoke and noted that so much is happening organically in the town among young people seeking an inexpensive place to start a business or creative endeavor. I pointed out the great things happening at Open Square.
But I'm a Western Massachusetts patriot. I want to operate seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty. A little positive thinking assists in dealing with inevitable storms of life.
I don't think he understood for a moment that most of the people at the Unconference were doing the same kind of thing that is happening in Holyoke and Open Square. Just like the owners of Open Square are re-developing what an urban center should be in the 21st century, the Podcampers are re-thinking how content is distributed and how people communicate.
He didn't buy my arguments. Hey, it's a free country. My advice is not to leave Worcester.
© Gordon Michael Dobbs