PodCamp Boston Educates Public

For more than half a decade, the city of Boston was home to an evolving public forum for the how-to’s of new media. PodCamp Boston was the first of its kind, and sparked a global revolution regarding the accessibility to general development of education surrounding new media. Sponsored by technological giants and local businesses alike, PodCamp Boston succeeded in combining the best of great ideals: mass education, inspiring minds, with the proceeds going to charity. It doesn’t get much better than that.

At the start of its six year stretch, PodCamp Boston was the forerunner of a form of altruism of the digital age. Event organizers brainstormed and collaborated to bring to pass one a truly trendsetting phenomenon: bringing together the experts and “rockstars” of the technology sector with young, inquisitive minds that lacked only the knowledge of their opportunity to create the next generation of global media.

Typically, one would have to pay big bucks to receive a one-on-one education with Microsoft developers, but Podcamp Boston must have seemed like a scene out of a film in which corporate giants (or in this case, super nerds), descend from their high-rise office buildings (or research labs full of computers) to bestow wisdom and knowledge upon the meek of the earth. But it seems PCB came off as much more entertaining than this (large live-band parties excluded).

You see, the motive behind this so-called “unconference” was not to provide deep and far-reaching technical knowledge to people of all ages. Had that been the case, ‘PodCamps’ as they became internationally known would not have spread across the world with such rapid popularity. The reason the venues had to continually be moved to larger and more prestigious housing was simply because the public loved being able to feel that creating and developing podcasts and all varieties of new media was not beyond their reach, and rubbing elbows with the big and brightest who could share some simple steps and tricks only enhanced the magic. It was as if the traditional grade school “Career day” was suddenly hijacked by Steve Jobs.

Perhaps the most inspiring part of the legacy was that people from all fields, socio-economic levels, and backgrounds were suddenly introduced to a platform of individual expression and potential economic success that they had never before considered. Even if the thought of creating digital media to share with the world had crossed their mind in the past, many people lacked the knowledge of where to begin. And for those who possess varying degrees of computer literacy, undoubtedly the ideas of “Who am I to attempt to share my thoughts with the world?”, or “Who would even care?” were omnipresent and equally stifling.

With the right tools and know-how in hand, it was not surprising that individual success resulting from PCB sparked fires of change across the planet. Reminiscent of the miracle of the printing press, the concept and design of additional PodCamps began to put digital liberty and the power of creation into the hands of the general populace in cities the world-over.

As the years progressed, former ‘students’ of the program were able to return and report on their own successes in learning and creating. This indubitably created a “success cycle”, in which new attendees could see first hand that the principles that were being shared with them did in fact work, and that their voices could also be heard across the web. This ‘snowball’ effect could easily account for the increasing volume of people eager to attend PCB, and the pop-ups of PodCamp “franchises” across the nation, and subsequently across the world.

It could be said that teaching average people how to utilize existing tools in the field of technology in order to bring forth a great harvest is much akin to the initial suggestion of the first entry in the United States’ Bill of Rights. “Freedom of Speech”, suddenly became aflame in a completely new realm, one that could be accessed by greater audiences than ever were imagined by the Founding Fathers.

With their respective companies backing them, the “super nerd” presenters were able to draw heavy crowds. The participation and contribution of the renowned companies, local organizations and private individuals greatly influenced not only conference attendees, but substantially benefited the local homeless population as well. With each PodCamp held within Boston accounted for, tens of thousands of meals were provided from PCB proceeds being fully and immediately donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank Kid’s Cafe.

Perhaps it is worth considering why such successful individuals would give so freely of their time, knowledge and resources just to give a few pointers to kids and their parents learning their way around the internet. PCB founders apparently did not think this idea as ridiculous as it was novel. Likely technological innovators realized that their field, unlike any other, was spreading like a wildfire much too fast to fight alone.

While it is not likely that someone in the medical field is going to create a revolutionary product or trend prior to the age of 20, this is an everyday occurrence within technology. As the internet is an open slate for all contributors, these digital “investors” understood better than most that the web and the progress of its applications is only as good as those who contribute, and those contributions are only as good as the education one receives in creating and building with digital tools.

So, with their ‘posterity’ close on their heels, it was evident that podcasting and media construction gurus saw the wisdom in taking their fledgling media creators under their wings and teaching them the basics. They saw that these people who could easily be labeled as “uneducated in technology” could very quickly become their greatest allies and strength in building the web. As these “newbies” got the hang of producing their own forms of media, innovation would invariably strike and chances are someone created something that changed the internet forever. That is why PodCamp Boston saw such success, and PodCamps across the world continue to inspire and motivate everyone, everywhere to pitch in with their own talent and make the world wide web a much more dynamic and fun place to be.