Solutions Playground

Originally uploaded by miss_rogue.

A friend of mine on the Podcamp NYC team sent me the link to this great photo of a sign at TransitCamp. TransitCamp was an unconference held in the Bay Area to help brainstorm solutions to the day to day solutions to the ongoing public transit issues there. I thought the sign was brilliant, and one we should adopt for every podcamp.

Podcamp is a great unconference about new media. But at the heart of it, we want to help people find solutions to their questions about social media, whether it’s answering the “How do I….?” question or introducing people to new solutions for problems they never knew existed, or helping veterans up their game, in search of better ways to find audience, or help people find their media more efficiently on the web.

CC Chapman uses the term New Media Playground alot, and I like to look at all podcamps as New Media Playdates, where we can get together with our friends and talk shop. Podcamps shold be about meeting new and old friends, getting our hands dirty with new tools and improve our expertise with older ones we know well, by seeing what other people do and how it works for them. It’s about realizing that there is wisdom in crowds, but you have to get them to relax and open up to really share what they know.

I think Tommy Vallier had a good idea with the Mentor Lab concept at Podcamp Toronto. We should spend more time putting experienced people into a room, and asking anyone to come up with any new media question or problem, and brainstorm solutions. Breaking the ice could be a problem, but I know we could always choose a few starter questions to get everyone started.

It’s funny- many of the people I know in new media figured things out by a lot of experimentation and trial and error. Because of this, we often wear the badge of “expert” uneasily, since no one has really graduated from “Podcasting School” and there’s no formal place to learn all this ‘stuff’.

Yet we all know we know a lot, we just have a hard time articulating it without devolving to the “give it a try and see what you think” response. It’s hard to tell someone there’s one perfect way to do something, when we do things the way we stumbled into them, not by reading a manual. Even the podcasting books I have read have acted more as suggestions rather than a bible showing the one true path.

I am hoping podcamps take this sign to heart, and we become solutions playgrounds- places where people can toss around ideas, bounce ideas off of friends in an incubator type of environment, and then go explore on or own, coming back the next time with more to share and discuss.

I love this community of people- they are bright, generous, intuitive and passionate about life and their work. I can’t think of a better set of friends to have, and I look forward to our next playdate at the solutions playground.