Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my second Podcamp Boston (#PCB4). In my opinion, PCB is by far the most influential conference in Social Media.
I haven’t figured it out yet, but there’s something about the region that produces Social Media content creators. Perhaps there’s something in the water. Perhaps it’s cultural. Perhaps it has to do with Boston being the birthplace of the American Revolution–an area seething with strong opinions and a propensity to throw tea into harbor. But whatever the reason, Boston is truly “The Hub” of the Social Media world. How else can you explain the fact that Chris Brogan, Chris Penn, C.C. Chapman, John Wall, Steve Garfield, and Ann Handley–all people who have been using Social Media since before it actually had a name–live within such close proximity to one another?
I was seated at a round table waiting for the next session to begin. Across from me, a woman tapped lightly on her personal media device. Shortly after the session began, I sensed that a man had joined our table. At the end of the presentation, Chris Penn instructed the audience to introduce ourselves to everyone at our table. I glanced to my right, smiled, and reached to shake the man’s hand.
“It looks like I have the pleasure of introducing myself to the most famous guy in the room,” I said.
The man smiled and shook my hand sheepishly. “Thank You.”
“You’re famous?” the woman on the other side of the table asked. “What do you do?”
“Well,” the man answered, clearly uncomfortable with the “famous” label, “I like to bring people together to share ideas. I organize conferences.”
“That’s why you’re famous?” she asked.
It wasn’t the first time that I had met Jeff. We once shook hands in October 2007, when I thanked him for hosting an open bar for an event at Podcamp Boston #2. But this time, I had the opportunity to speak with him one-on-one for just a few minutes. I asked him about his upcoming 140 Character Conference to be held in Los Angeles on October 27th and 28th. Jeff’s eyes lit up as he told me about his thoughts on the conference and the implications of the real-time Internet. We were in the middle of a conversation when it became clear that others were politely waiting for their chance to speak with Jeff, so rather than monopolizing his time, I politely excused myself and let them have a few minutes with him.
As I walked away I remember thinking to myself, this is EXACTLY the type of person that I came to meet at Podcamp Boston–smart and passionate about his subject.
“The serendipity of life. We are always in transition. It never is how it was. It will never be what it is today.”
The State of Now
On Sunday, Jeff lead a session called “The State of Now,” forty-five minutes of rapid-fire concepts delivered without notes or a presentation. As my pen sped across my notepad in a poor attempt to capture his thoughts, I cursed the fact that I never learned shorthand. But here are some of the gems that I deciphered from my illegible notes:
Real-Time Conversation: The state of Human communication has hit an inflection point, as indicated by the fact that we can get a tweet-back from anywhere in the world–instantaneously. Such ubiquitous access to real-time information will cause massive change in our lives…the key is to figure out what we’re going to do with the information.
The Velocity Effect: The “velocity effect” is a repercussion of the fact that we now have more access to real-time news and information than at any other time in human history. With such access, our behaviors are likely to be effected. For example, Jeff posed the following scenario:
What if we merged the trending topics of various information sources such as Craigslist and Ebay? Individually, the information is interesting, but if we apply mathematics to make sense of the merged data, one might have an advantage of placing orders based on the monitoring of real-time events because “…the first and second derivatives of this information is valuable.”
The Social Network of One: Your personal network allows you to use the freedom of expression to determine who you are and to set up peering relationships with friends or even “frienemies.” We have the “…opportunity to take serendipitous opportunities to another level” by asking strangers for a favor. Jeff described an example where he was standing on a street corner in New York City and needed help unpacking some boxes. He sent out a request for help on Twitter and seven minutes later, eight people showed up to help.
Social Platforms Are Addictive: Some people lament the addictiveness of Social platforms; Jeff Pulver embraces it. “It’s contagious,” he said. “You can’t get enough of it…(Social interaction) is “… a part of your digital soul…”
Jeff round up his talk with a warning: “Now is not the time to put your head in the sand. The Big Bang has yet to happen.”
Thanks to conferences such as Podcamp Boston and speakers such as Jeff Pulver, I know we’ll be ready for when it happens.
Photo Credit: C.C. Chapman