I have been thinking about all of the reasons why I have been feeling so good about yesterday’s SocialDevCamp. Its a little hard for me to pin down exactly, but all I can say is that it was an absolutely great event. No, it was a special event. Baltimore has been craving for something like this for years (at least in my opinion).
The event reminded me in many ways of the very first Podcamp in Boston two years ago. There was a clear energy present, and everyone who was there knew it. Yesterday was like that for me in many ways. From the moment I got there until the moment I rolled out of the Brewers Art at the afterparty, it was energetic, passionate, educational and inspiring among many other things. It was great to connect with so many other folks from the area and along the corridor (Boston, NYC, Philly, Baltimore, DC), the Amtrak corridor that is
For the first time in a long time it felt like the Baltimore scene was truly vibing. I know we have all been “vibing” in our own ways, but SocialDevCamp brought a lot of like minded individuals together for the first time ever in our city. Sure there have been small gatherings, happy hours, and definitely lots of great programming by the GBTC to bring the business community together, but this was the first time, that I can think of, where everyone came together. The entrepreneurs, the hackers, the developers, the media, (insert what you are here), etc, it was a collective, and it was a good one.
Thanks once again to Dave Troy, Ann and Keith for organizing this. A big thanks to all of the volunteers, and to all of the other sponsors for financially supporting the needs of the event, and finally thank you to all of the participants for showing up and making it happen. What a turnout!
Here are a few random thoughts from my perspective:
Facility & Location
University of Baltimore’s facility was a GREAT location for this event. The physical space simply worked. There was a main common area where the meals were and tables, the auditorium and the session rooms were all right there. This kept the attendees connected and engaged. It was refreshing to see that there were no sessions on multiple floors, lack of a common gathering area, and basically people all over the place, which is often the case when using university / academic facilities for these types of events. Finally, the actual location couldn’t have been better for out of town folks who hopped on the Amtrak and came from other cities. The UB facility is literally 2 blocks (at the most) from the train station. That fact alone definitely helped with the great turnout.
Sessions & Participation
Although I didn’t participate in the session selection and voting (I showed up a little late), I think the sessions were great. I particularly enjoyed the “Business of Social Media.” What was really great to see was the level of participation from attendees. I know thats the point of these events, and it was definitely present and accounted for. It was great to hear so many perspectives and to learn what was on peoples minds. I sat in the Business / ROI of Social Media, learned about the semantic web, attended Shashi’s session on selling social media to the boss, and the mashed up “who needs VC’s and Amtrak Tech” session. All good stuff.
Corridor concept (DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, Boston)
I liked the discussion that was started around linking up the “Amtrak” cities and building off of the momentum of every location. There was a lot of discussion and comparison around startups in Silicon Valley vs. startups out here on the east coast. Discussion around the available resources we have to us, from money to talent and more. The thinking is that we need to start to look at ourselves, out here on the east, as our own corridor or ecosystem, and shouldn’t look at it from a single city point of view. The connecting link between five major markets, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC & Boston, is the Amtrak. You can get to any of these cities VERY conveniently via the train, and be in the center of them within a few hours. I look forward to more discussion around this, as we truly are our own technology corridor. Lets tighten this concept up.
In many ways, its great to finally see Baltimore on the map as a micro-hub. I look forward to many more events like this in the future. The next SocialDevCamp is already being planned for this September, details will follow as they are announced. Blue Sky Factory will continue to support these events and any other event that helps bring everyone in our region together.
Here are some links to SocialDevCamp Media: (feel free to add more links in the comments to other media)
Animoto Slide Show from East Coast Blogging
Video of Sessions by Kenneth
Great to see everyone, catch you all at the next one!