Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche of the Canadian Podcast Buffet have put on a great conference, Podcasters Across Borders, affectionately known as PAB, now entering it’s third year. Unlike Podcamps, where the speakers list is open to anyone who wants to speak, you have to be selected to speak at PAB. I applied, wanting to talk about the importance of development of community, and my proposal was selected!

Here’s a bit about what I’m going to talk about:

Community- Why It’s the ONLY thing that matters

In Podcasting and social media, we talk a lot about community. Community can be a very fluid subject, as we all belong and identify with many different communities- the Podcasting Community, our Twitter friends, the people who listen to our show, developers, geeks, second life- you name it. Then there’s the offline communities around built around work, school, music, the arts, church, etc. that we equally align ourselves with.

Each community has its own written and unwritten rules of conduct, that help make up the canon that holds the group together. We’ve all witnessed times when the community values are breached or sprained- How do we handle those situations when they occur? How do we navigate friendships and trust relationships when someone breaks the rules or violates the collective trust? When someone tries to join a community, how do we make them feel at home? How do we moderate behavior and sensibilities? And how do we lead and steer communities over time as our interests and podcasts change? (Think how people feel abandoned when someone podfades and what happens to that community now that the leader and the space no longer exists.) When people have had “enough” of a community, how do you exit a community gracefully without destroying friendships or reputations? Can you “save” a community that has hit some uncertain times?

As we build cyber-communities that span great distances and are not always happening in real time, we’re starting to confront the social issues that face real life communities. When does a community get too big to be manageable? When do you start your own community? When is a new community seen as competition and get treated as such by others? How do we define and sub-define our groups?

These are questions that we all need to talk about together, and I’m so excited that we’ll get to discuss them at length at PAB. I’m not sure there are going to be any hard answers, but I look at this conversation as part of the “Solutions Playground”- it’s only by talking about it as a community that we’ll get any closer to understanding the difficulties we face, what to do when bad things happen, and how to avoid these “dangers” in the first place.

I hope you’ll be there-because as in all communities, it’s your participation that’s most important.