SocialDevCamp East – Recap

I feel like it's all been said already, but since that's never stopped me from talking before… 😉

Wow, SocialDevCamp was amazing.

First, the opening were great. Ken Yeung was good enough to catch some of the opening discussion on Viddler. Look past the chaos for a minute and see how order appears and negotiations happen implicity. It's amazing how when you have a lot of smart people around and competing interests that we can work something out without anyone being *too* disappointed. We started with 25+ sessions and were able to filter it down to 16 pretty easily. We had 4 sessions going concurrently throughout.

For sessions, I attended:

  • a detailed discussion on Amazon EC2 and S3. Jimmy Garnder – the creator of MyDropBin, a simple S3 front end – was in attendance in addition to numerous EC2 users doing some advanced things. The ideas, information, and usage kicked around was pretty impressive.
  • I popped in and out of the second session, but luckily Ken also caught that on video: Social Media & Semantic Web from Dr. harry Chen. The bits and pieces that I caught were fascinating and touched on Taxonomies, Ontologies, and other things with names. 😉
  • I hosted the third session of the day on "Building the Social Hub" where we talked about integrating with third-party platforms. This was an interesting one to follow the Semantic Web discussion because Bear of Seesmic shared all kinds of tips, tricks, and ideas to integrate things indirectly via semantic web concepts.


The final discussion was hosted by Jared Goralnick of AwayFind (sponsor) and discussed the idea of the DC-Baltimore-Philly tech corridor and deserves a discussion of its own. We talked details about what makes us different than Silicon Valley, how we can benefit and utilize those differences, how we can close the gap on others and generally spark things moving faster. One of the single biggest differences that strikes me – and I noted it during the discussion – is the DC Tech Scene's view of competition. Yes, we compete, but we're all connected too. We don't tend to compete against each other… we're working together and fighting the same fights, so we cooperate and coordinate. I don't see that in Silicon Valley or hear it from my friends there. It's a different idea. After the main discussion, Clarence Wooten of CollectiveX shared his term for it: cooper-tition. Mario Armstong of NPR/XM shared some experiences working with O'Malley when he was still Mayor of Baltimore.

Afterwards the festivities at Brewers' Art were fantastic. We ended up with just a little more funds than we expected, so towards the end, the food ended up being on the same tab. I also shared some tips with Mario on some ideas for using Social Networks for competitive research. I've shared some of those ideas in this space… some are staying off the record. 😉

And finally, Dave & Jennifer Troy, Ann Bernard, and myself acted as the organizers/cat herders of the operation. While I've received dozens of emails, calls, im's, and dm's thanking me/us for everything, but I think a good portion of that is misplaced. Yes, Dave found the venue. Yes, we all contacted sponsors. Yes, we all got the word out and pushed people to show up. Yes, Ann coordinated presentation selection and handled… announcements. 😉 But it's leaving out the biggest part…

The participants…. Without the people who showed up, who volunteered, who volunteered to speak, who asked questions, who gave their opinions, who shared drinks after, who kicked around and tore apart ideas… the whole thing wouldn't have worked. That's what an unconference is. It's self-organizing and the good bits and information float to the top and the real experts and opinions filter out. That's what happens.

And if you don't believe me on how much people enjoyed it… check out the generous coverage:

Jimmy Gardner (sponsor), Shashi B of Network Solutions (sponsor), Ann Bernard (organizer) on WhyGoSolo and her own blog, Dave Troy (organizer), Ken Yeung, and Greg Cangialosi (sponsor). There's a larger sample of the coverage in Twitter via Hashtags and Summarize.

For a more visual review, check out SocialDevCamp on Flickr, Jimmy's photo collage, Mark Scrimshire's photo collage or maybe the videos from Ken Yeung or Dave Troy.

The final – and my favorite video – is from Shashi B. Yes, I'm in it and the first half is dedicated to WhyGoSolo, but the second half is key. In the second half, I share how we managed to collect the last 20% of the funds to pull off SocialDevCamp East. If you ever doubt that one of these events are community driven, listen to that half of the video and think about it. This unconference happened because of the community, because of the participants, and we – Dave, Ann, and I – were simply lining people up in the same direction.