Okay, so I know that title is a bit dirty–but trust me, it was the terminology being used at PodCamp Western MA 4 yesterday! I and my fellow podcamp virgin, my fiance Andrew made the trek up to Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, MA for a day of unconferencing, networking, live-tweeting and learning.
For those who don’t know, an unconference is a conference in which participants choose the content and subject matter. At PCWM, a wall was divided up by rooms and session times, and people put their stickied suggestions up on the wall. Some of the sessions had been somewhat planned in advance, with a speaker prepared with a presentation to give. But some of them were also open discussions to dialogue and share ideas.
The first session Andrew and I went to was about augmented reality. This is something I knew little about. To sum it up in hopefully layman’s terms, AR is a digital overlay or augementation onto the real-world/live environment. For an example that puts this into a visual, refer to Yelp’s Monocle feature, in which looking at your mobile phone and tilting it east, west, north and south will reveal local spots for food, entertainment, and more in their proper direction in relation to where you are standing. Another good example is Google’s SkyMap, in which tilting your phone in all directions will reveal the stars and constellations all around us. Another very cool app that was discussed was HistoryPin, which allows users to pin historical photos onto geographic locations. For example, a look at Hartford, CT shows several pictures throughout the city, including an 1870s photo of Harriet Beecher Stowe, a 1910 photo of the Columbus Parade, and a 1952 photo of a home. Now that I know what AR is all about, I’ve love to see it integrated into Foursquare, which is one of my all-time favorite social media tools.
The next session we went to was about mobile marketing. This was in more of a presentation format, and it was focused mainly on QR codes and the mobile web. QR codes are showing up in more and more places–our PCWM shirts featured QR codes, and in my job we ordered some custom bags featuring QR codes–but they shouldn’t just link to any old site on the web. Since QR codes are being used on mobile phones, it’s important that they link to mobile-friendly webpages. It also helps to reward early adopters, the first few people who scan your QR code, so that they’ll share with their friends. A couple good tools to take away from this session included WPTouch, a plugin that makes it easy to turn your WordPress site into a mobile-friendly site; and of course the QR code generators, such as Kaywa, which can generate a decent variety of codes.
The after-lunch session was about healthcare and social media, a topic that is pretty near and dear to me as it’s my job! Health care and social media is a huge topic, and it can encompass such a wide range of aspects of health care. For example, in the session, we had folks from community health centers (represent!), from long term care, from the health literacy field, cancer, hospitals, and heart health. And all of these have their own concerns and issues. But the discussion did revolve a lot around trust–how much do patients really trust their providers? And does social media help increase trust? Social media can perhaps also be used to enhance health literacy, making it more widely available to more people. A couple of good tools that were brought up included Xtranormal, a cool and easy way to make text-to-speech videos (including health-related, instructional/awareness-raising ones!); and Google Flu Trends and Flu Near You, two flu tracking websites which monitor the discussion of flu using social media.
Next we hit up social photography, an interesting session that showed numerous options for sharing and editing photos across the web. I don’t have an iPhone so I can’t use Instagram, but there are a few other tools out there for Android or other users such as myself. A cool one was Big Huge Labs, which has a ton of options for photo editing. Another tool I want to check out is Pitch Engine, a way to package your PR all on one site. Finally there are plenty of photo-sharing options out there, but it looks like Flickr is still a major player; and Google+ is an easy, visually appealing place to share photos as well.
Finally, our last session was about Google+. It was slightly targeted for the beginner, and the main presenter discussed many of the basics. One thing I found confusing about Google+ at first was how to share something with just one user. By simply typing your post, then typing one person’s name, you can ensure that your post will only be shared with that individual. We also discussed how to get your gplus URL. Just go to gplus.to, enter in the series of numbers from your Google+ profile URL, and click add! Mine is now all set: Circle me!
In all, my first PodCamp was a great experience. It was super fun and the unconference style made it really casual, friendly and enjoyable. Everyone had interesting questions to ask and topics to discuss, and it was fantastic to learn a little something new from everyone I met. There’s already some great photos up from the day. And–good news!–there is a PodCamp Connecticut in the works, set for May 12, 2012 at The Grove in New Haven. You know I’ll be there!