“The problem with the Internet startup craze isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it. That’s somewhat understandable, because there are many moments that are filled with despair and agony, when you have to fire people and cancel things and deal with very difficult situations. That’s when you find out who you are and what your values are.”

Steve Jobs

The web encourages and feeds the short attention span.  There’s always new information, coming through the fire hose, faster than we can consume it.  But as someone said recently- Information isn’t scarce- it’s knowledge and wisdom we really have to worry about.

Information has become abundant, but how to turn that information into something worth far more is harder to find.  More than ever, we need guides to help us digest everything we can find out via a search engine, into useful packages of curated information you can do something with.

I think many people get burned out from the web and social web because it seems like so much information, with a low signal to noise ratio.  At dinner the other night, I was trying to explain to a College professor I know why he would or would not find value in Twitter.  As a mere cost/benefit ratio, Twitter can certainly be noisy compared with a discussion with colleagues at the office, or reading a trade journal for  pure “useful” and related information you could use.  I’m not really sure everyone who reads a trade journal actually gets all that much ROI out of every article, just like many tweets are mere fluff to me.  But as a quick, efficient way to spread or broadcast information to engaged parties, it works well.  It can connect people in real time all over the world.  There are many tools that do this of course- google groups, the telephone, email…. In the end, the discussion became one of using a tool that was appropriate for the task at hand, rather than merely switching out one tool for another, on whim.

The reason I’m attending Podcamp Boston this weekend and helping organize Podcamp Philly October 1 & 2 is that I always find people at Podcamps who help me with these processes- both curation of information and selecting the right tool for the job at hand.  Whether it was Mitch Joel at the first Podcamp discussing Personal Branding with CC. Chapman, or Mark Blevis and Larry Lawfer discussing how to conduct a great interview, or the search sessions at Podcamp Philly, I’m always learning something new.  It may be a nuanced look at something I’ve taken for granted.  It might be a short-cut that I never knew existed, saving me time and money.   I find that I learn so much from talking with other people, discovering new resources, and simply meeting others from diverse backgrounds, that I always come away with something new to try and experiment with, that will make my investment of time and money more than worth while.

Over time, Podcamp has remained a vibrant place, with even more new faces each year than before.  While I understand the “old timers” feeling as if there’s nothing new they can learn from the sessions, the teaching and sharing with folks for whom it is new and exciting is still a spectacular experience.  Every year, someone comes up and thanks us, with a sparkle and electricity in their look that makes everything that goes into putting on the conference worthwhile.  And that’s why I keep coming back each year.  It’s not  revisiting old territory- it’s rediscovering the aspects you took for granted your first time down the path, and appreciating what it can do all the more.

I hope to see you at an upcoming Podcamp.  Let me know why you are thinking of going, or why you no longer attend.  What do you hope to learn?  Why are these community experiences important to you?  I know my reasons, but I’d love to hear and share yours as well.