Thoughts on Barcamp San Antonio

On the off chance you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the news, we just held the first ever Barcamp in San Antonio this past weekend. It was an amazing success and by far the easiest camp-like event I’ve organized. Considering I’ve done two Podcamps and a Startup Weekend in the last 16 months that says a lot.

When we were planning Podcamp San Antonio in May 2007, it was a challenge to obtain sponsorship, spread the word and facilitate registrations for a first-time event. Fast forward 16 months to Barcamp San Antonio which had generous companies contacting us to sponsor, pre and post press coverage and “sold out” registration twice! So what has been the difference?

I believe it’s a combination of a few things: First, the Camp-phenomenon is finally becoming main stream. Second, because of previous events, San Antonio is more aware of camps. Third, We have been lucky enough to have increased coverage in the traditional press.

Something else which has helped to bring our participation level up is the camp-to-camp attendance within the state. By attending camps in Austin, DFW and Houston we’ve been able to increase awareness statewide of what the Tech/Creative Class are doing in San Antonio.

When I first started attending Camps and talking about San Antonio, I would hear, “Oh, you’re from San Antonio? We never see or hear from folks in San Antonio. You guys are so quiet down there. We wondered if you all had any tech geeks and if you did what you all were doing.” It surprised me to hear these comments.

While I am a Native Texan, I was not a Native San Antonian. The fact that folks outside of San Antonio were unaware of the local tech culture seemed unfathomable. By being an active part of the community at large and encouraging other to do the same, that perception has changed.  What I hear nowadays is, “Hey, it’s the San Antonio peeps! So glad you guys made the trek. When are you holding your next event? We’ll be there! I’ve got an event I’m planning, can you help us spread the word?”

I do believe folks who are part of the Camp movement epitomize the whole, “Learn, Share, Grow” mentality. We inherently want to help not just our local community but by extension the communities in our state, country and world. Camps are found on almost every continent. (If anyone knows about a Camp being held in Antarctica let me know.) There is an energy surrounding a Camp which is so powerful it’s almost a physical entity.

By attending camps around the state and organizing camps in San Antonio, I’ve found other creative folks who are just as passionate about tech, media and the community as I am. It’s both refreshing and enlightening. Most of the time we work in obscurity within our chosen medium and rarely find other like-minded folks to share these passions with locally. Sure, we’ve got our online community to inspire and motivate, but the face to face connection never goes out of style.

So my thoughts on Barcamp San Antonio really revolve around the whole growth and shift in local and state-wide interest and involvement.  With annual Camps planned in April, May, June and September, the time has never been better to be involved in the Tech/Creative Class in San Antonio.

The Social Networking Short-Cut

Social Sites Social Networking is all the rage right now. There are those who have been a part of it in some form or fashion since it’s inception. There are others who are just hearing about it today. I became involved in Social Networking through podcasting in 2005. For me, it was about finding people who were as interested and passionate about podcasting as I was. It turned into more as the online relationships developed. Attending conference events like the New Media Expo and unconference events like Barcamp Austin led me to even more online social networks. It started off as a way to continue the conversation with folks I had met at events.

Over the years it has progressed to first meeting folks online and later meeting them in person at an event.  Even though I was meeting them for the first time, it felt as though I was visiting with an old friend. It was great! I was connecting with folks who had the same interests. It didn’t matter that they lived in Florida, Connecticut or even Canada. Our relationships were as real as any in my own town. More so, because we interacted with one another on a daily basis. I don’t do that with anyone in town with the exception of my family.

So by doing what came natural to me, chatting about stuff that interests me, it turns out I was Social Networking. Who knew?

Fast forward to 2008 and Social Networks are all the buzz. You can’t open a magazine without hearing about Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube and so many more. There is a lot of socializing going on in the Social Networks. So much so that Big Business has started to pay attention. Southwest Airlines, Comcast and Zappo’s are not only on the networks, they are actively participating in them daily. Ford just hired Scott Monty as their Social Media Strategist. Other companies are taking a serious look at Social Networking.

What does this mean for someone who wants to get involved but doesn’t know the first place to start? There are so many networks out there it can make your head spin. Which ones should you join and which ones should you avoid like the plague? Oh sure, there is always the old standard method of trial and terror. It does work. However, it can be time consuming and fraught with Social Media faux pas. If you are a business owner you may not have the time to learn the ropes. And there is a learning curve. There are folks who jump in with both feet and in their excitement proceed to get blocked or ignored.

While Social Networks can be beneficial for your business, organization or group, there is a right way and a wrong way to participate depending on the network. I highly recommend you take the time to learn about each network to see which one best suits your personality, interests and goals. In this case it’s okay to be a bit of a lurker. It’s one way to learn the nuances and ensure your acceptance into the community at large.

Another way to jump into the social media landscape is to participate in one of the unconference-style camp events which happen periodically around the country. They pack informative sessions on podcasting, videoblogging and social media all into one day long event. Here in San Antonio we have PodCamp San Antonio and the upcoming Barcamp San Antonio. Check for an event in your neck of the woods on the various camp wiki’s. Here is the Podcamp Wiki which shows future and past events.

And still another way would be to participate in a workshop or hands-on class. These are meant to be small and intimate affairs where the goal is to not just learn but to do. One of my favorite sayings is, “It’s all about the DOING”. It’s fine and dandy to have plans but if the actual DOING of the plans isn’t carried out then the plan was for naught. This could apply to just about anything but it certainly is applicable when it comes to Social Networking.

You could also hire a Social Media Consultant or Strategist to help you navigate the ever changing landscape that is Social Networking. This would be considered the most personalized method for introduction into the world of Social Networking. Each facet is highly customized to the particular organization. Having a guide to help you maneuver through the nuances of each particular site certainly makes participating less daunting.

Out of the four options I listed above, I consider the last two Social Networking Short-cuts. By hiring a Consultant or participating in a workshop you are able to shorten the learning curve considerably. The margin of error also goes down and your adoption rate goes up putting you on the fast track to Social Media Nirvana. Which is the perfect blend of real world and online world interaction with folks who are passionate about your business, brand, cause or even you.

What will it be like when you share coffee with folks all over the country over a Social Network like Twitter? How much of a boost will your career take once you engage with the LinkedIn community? Who will your dog connect with on Dogster?  Yes, even dogs and cats (Catster) are doing it. So, just how telling is it when dogs and cats have their own Social Network?

In case a workshop is more your style, I have partnered up with Connie Reece and Sheila Scarborough to conduct several workshops on Three Web 2.0 Tools. There are two in July. One is on Friday, July 18th in Austin, TX at the Hilton Garden Inn Northwest.  The other workshop will be held one week later on Friday, July 25th in San Antonio, TX at the San Antonio Technology Center. These workshops will be hands-on and highly interactive. Get ready to roll your sleeves up for an indepth introduction to three of the best ways to start your social media journey.

Regardless of the method chosen to engage in Social Networking, I do believe participation is the key to sucess. I hope you find Social Networking as informative and fun as I have.

Social Media Webinar thru Educating For Success

If you look to the right of my blog you’ll see a section titled, “The things I’m doing, The places I’ll be”. Underneath is a list of events with dates. Some I’m organizing like Barcamp San Antonio and others like “Five Web 2.0 Tools” I’m simply an attendee. Either way these are events I believe in and if you are interested in the whole New Media, Social Networking, Podcamp/Barcamp thing you might want to consider taking a look.

Rhea Perry One of the things coming up this week is a 3-part Social Media webinar series I’ve partnered up with my long-time mentor and friend Rhea Perry to teach.  Rhea is a homeschooling entrepreneurial mom who holds seminars/training courses all over the country teaching parents and their teenagers how to become financially free. She does these events through her company, Educating For Success. Due to the knowledge and training folks have received from these events there are quite a few Dads who have left Corporate America behind.

Educating For Success

I’ve been a member of her Entrepreneurs at Home Yahoo group since 2003, attended a few of her events both in person and virtually. She is an energetic dynamo who has a real passion for helping families gain control of their own financial destiny. For this and many other reasons, I am honored to introduce Social Media to the Entrepreneurs at Home group,

On  June 25th at 3pm CST the first of the 3-part series on Social Media Sites will begin. The second class will be on July 2nd and the last class on July 9th.  Each class will be held on a Wednesday afternoon, recorded and accessible at any time to course participants. If you’ve been wanting to discovery Social Media and wonder how or if you can utilize Social Networking for your business or group then this course is for you. Course participants will not only learn the background of Social Media but interact with one another on  the Social Networking sites. Since I’m a big believer that “doing” is important in the learning process, the first people we will interact with will be fellow Social Sites Class participants.

Since I’m a fan, I highly recommend taking the time to get to know Rhea Perry and discover for yourself the amazing things she is doing to encourage entrepreneurial families. Head on over to the Educating For Sucess site and do take a peak at her blog. She calls her posts “Rheavings” and I think after you’ve read a post or three you’ll understand why ;-D

Meetup HQ in San Antonio

meetup.com badgeOn Wednesday evening the folks from MeetupHQ were in San Antonio. As far as I’m aware this is the first time Meetup has ever been to the Alamo City. They did come to share some of the recent site changes but mostly they came to listen. They wanted to know what we as organizers of groups needed. How could they help us do what we do better? Did we have a wish list of things we would like on the site? They were very sincere and honest about what was in the works, what they could and couldn’t do. They took notes, responded and offered their own experiences as Meetup Organizers.

There are 200+ meetup groups in San Antonio. Out of all of the Organizers that are running these groups only 9 folks showed up to spend time learning and sharing with Meetup HQ. I was glad to be able to represent San Antonio and be part of the Think Tank. We offered ideas, suggestion and a wish list which MeetupHQ will take back to their headquarters.

It was great to have the opportunity to exchange tips with my fellow Organizers. There was plenty of conversation regarding venues, RSVP’s, group participation, keeping a group active, even the pay or no-pay option organizers use to help fund their groups.

The biggest bomb shell that came out of this was that for the single monthly payment each organizer uses to fund a group you can actually run three groups. When I heard this I was stunned! I asked how long that had been in effect and their response was, “Oh, it’s always been that way.” I asked the other Organizers if they were aware of this 3 for the price of 1 feature and the resounding answer was, “No”. As a matter of fact there was one gentleman who was organizing 3 groups who was paying for all three groups. His annual payments for all three groups was $432. However he could have been doing the exact same thing for only $144! I’ll admit to having been upset when hearing about this apparent long time feature that no one knew about. When I pressed them for a reason this their response was, “We have found that when a person runs more than one group the failure rate for their groups increases.” My response was, “Well if I’m paying my $20* a month and want to create three groups and they all fail, I’m paying for the right to do it.” Now granted, I certainly don’t encourage folks to create a bunch of groups and then allow them to languish, but you get my point.

*Disclaimer: The actual amount you pay on the site is dependent on how you prefer to be billed. $19 for one month, $45 for three months or $72 for six months. Obviously the more months you pay for in advance the less expensive the per month cost. They had a $120 per year price, which was great, but they’ve done away with it since it was their least used plan.

The thing that restored my faith and good humor happened at then end of the evening. Meetup HQ gave the Organizers of San Antonio a check for $500! They called it Seed Money. It is meant for us to use in any manner we see fit to promote our Meetup Groups in San Antonio. Talk about a “WOW!” moment. We decided to create a “San Antonio Organizers Meetup” and use the money to promote Meetup with a monthly business card size ad in the San Antonio Current. The goal is to reach the hobbyist or enthusiast who may not be internet savvy but would enjoy connecting with like-minded folks. In other words it is a way to bring new blood to the San Antonio Meetup Family.

I can say it quite the informative event. As someone who has been organizing a group since 2005, I had a few hard hitting questions and plenty of suggestions. They took what I gave them and were sincere in their responses. I respect that. It was apparent they enjoy and love what they do.

While I have been utilizing the Meetup.com services for a while I haven’t followed the company inner workings. If the four people I met this past week are an indicator of the corporate culture of Meetup, I can say they’ve got passionate employees who not only care about the company but are it’s biggest fans.

Thank you MeetupHQ for being willing to come down to the grass roots level to really find out about the local Meetups.

Live Online Audio Interviews

I struggled a bit with the title of this post. I started to put “Online Radio Shows”, but then thought better of it. I mean, if it’s not actually on the radio is it still a radio show? So then I started to put “Podcast Interview”, but it’s more than that, too.

Since it is going to be live and folks will be able to call in to ask questions that brings it back to being more like a Live Radio Show. So, I opted for “Live Online Audio Interviews”. Sounds kind of generic, but it does seem to be more of an all-encompassing term. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the subject. Am I reading too much into the terminology?

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, I’m going to be interviewed on two live audio shows this week in anticipation of an online class I’m teach at the end of this month Social Media for Entrepreneurs.   As someone who is an entrepreneur and active in social media, I find business owners often jump into social networking ill-prepared.  Which negates any personal and professional benefits which are possible in the social networking arena.

This is a topic I feel so strongly about that I partnered with Rhea Perry of Educating for Success to teach a 3 week online course. This class is meant to help entrepreneurs, small business owners and organizations navigate the nuances of Social Media.

I’ll be talking about this in more detail tonight.  Join me at 7:00p.m. CST when I speak with Shaine Mata on BlogTalkRadio (<–There goes that radio thing again ;-)  Shaine is a Social Media dynamo in the Rio Grande Valley. Feel free to call in with your questions at (646) 716-8227.

On Thursday, June 19th at 2:00p.m, I’ll be chatting with Leslie aka Springanew on her Homeschooling Open Chat show. Leslie is an entrepreneurial homeschooling mom who does a daily show on TalkShoe. Participation is welcome (724) 444-7444 Call ID: 21854

As you know, I’ve never been one who is at a loss for word. So I’m looking forward to chatting with both Shaine and Leslie about Social Media. Log in and join the fun!

Startup Weekend San Antonio

Startup Weekend San AntonioOn May 16-18th 40 people gathered together to create 3 companies from scratch. It’s a new phenomenon that is sweeping the nation: Startup Weekend. It was created by Andrew Hyde in Boulder Colorado with events held all over the country and Canada.

I knew some of the folks who had thrown Startup Weekend Houston in September 2007 and heard more details about the experience from Erica O’Grady at Barcamp San Marcos in October 2007. I immediately thought it would be a great concept to bring to San Antonio.

I started discussing this with my network of podcasters, entrepreneurs and social media folk to gage the level of interest. Todd O’Neill, Organizer of Co-Working LaTaza, suggested the person I needed to connect with was Dean McCall of Ideagin. Todd introduced us on Twitter, we met in person at First Friday Co-Working at Firecat Studio and Dean jumped aboard. Since it takes a team to make first-time events like these happen, Dean knew that Celeste Diaz Ferraro was the perfect person to round out the Startup Weekend San Antonio Organizers.

Erica O’Grady, of Peanut Butter Media, was Startup Weekend’s Representative and helped us kick off the amazing 2 1/2 days of fun. She was phenomenal! Having been at the Andrew Hyde’s first ever Startup Weekend in April 2007, attended four other weekends including organizing the Houston event she was the perfect person to offer her soft guidance throughout the weekend.

Twenty-one ideas were pitched and by the end of Friday night it was narrowed down to three:
iDre.am: A dream interpretation site
ForceXchange: an auction and community site for folks in the security forces from border patrol to military
RentEscapes: a second home/vacation home community site.

By day two, with company names chosen and domain names purchased the programmers were busy creating the architecture for the sites. Those not programming busied themselves with logos, business plans, marketing plans, video scripting, social media strategies etc…

The San Antonio Technology Center
was abuzz with all the planning but there was time to wind down with afternoon chair massages and evening musical entertainment by Matt Barker.

On Sunday morning although folks were sleep deprived they were still energetic and ready to see all three companies launched. Philip Wheat of Microsoft stopped by on Sunday afternoon to give away goodies from Halo 3 Xbox games to Vista Ultimate software. By the time it was all said and done two out of the three companies had live sites: iDre.am and ForceXchange RentEscapes has plans to launch within 30 days, are staying in touch with one another and have had subsequent meetings since Startup Weekend San Antonio.

Overall, I would say my personal experience with Startup Weekend was a complete success. I met some of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and tech savvy folks in San Antonio. Not to say there were only San Antonians at Startup Weekend. There were folks from the Rio Grand Valley, Austin, Houston and Raleigh, NC. I’ve made some fast friends that I will stay connected to via Twitter and Skype.

Where do we go from here? All three teams are moving forward with their respective projects. I’ll keep you updated as things progress. As for Startup Weekend San Antonio, we’re fielding requests from folks who were unable to attend but caught the UStream of the fun. I’ll be meeting with Dean and Celeste later this week to recap the event and discuss when to hold the next event.

PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos – May 3, 2008

Podcamp San Antonio: Numero Dos

In case you were wondering where I’ve been, the title should explain all. PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos (that’s 2.0 for the non-Spanish speakers) is happening on Saturday, May 3rd at the El Tropicano Hotel from 9am-5pm.

We had a great time organizing it and had the opportunity to create a wacky but fun 4-part video promo. We follow the Podcast Pickle aka The Pickleman throughout San Antonio while he searches for PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos. Luckily he meets lots of friendly folks, sees the sights and has an all around good time.
Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Want to learn about the New Media and Social Networking scene? Have a topic you would like to share? Enjoy the mental grow process? Or just want to hang around folks who are as excited about Podcasting, Blogging, Video Blogging and Social Media as you are?

Then come on down to PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos to participate in the Learn, Share, Grow that is PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos

PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos

Podcamp San Antonio

In one month, May 3rd to be exact PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos will be in full swing. The PodCamp festivities will begin on Friday, May 2nd. We’ll be hanging out on Red Gizmo’s patio inside the Blue Star Arts Complex. Come on down and enjoy the art, music, food plus some of Blue Star Brewery’s tasty brew. I’m really looking forward to reliving some of last years experience, but this time with an artsy vibe.

First Friday is one of the events we always make an effort to take friends and family when they visit San Antonio. Everyone always has a good time. For me this will be even better because I’ll get to combine several things I like into one fantastic night: Art, Brew, Fun and doing it all with my Podcasting Buds.

Although, we’re going to have a great time Friday night, the real fun starts on Saturday morning. We’ll kickoff PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos at 9:00am in the El Habana room at the El Tropicano Hotel. There were several places we could have chosen to be our PodCamp location, but one thing I like doing is showcasing and highlighting different aspects to the Alamo City. There is an amazing and rich culture in San Antonio. One that goes beyond the Riverwalk and the Alamo.

The El Tropicano Hotel is on the Northern end of the Riverwalk. Which is exactly where the Expansion Phase (ie. construction) is taking place. For a moment I wondered if we should hold PodCamp here, but that thought quickly disappeared once I walked into the hotel. 1960 Acapulco Retro describes it perfectly. You feel transported back in time as you walk around the lobby of the hotel. The decor looks right out of a movie set. The latin music in the background helps to bring the scene full circle. El Habana shares a wall with the tropical birds and iguanas in the hotel’s aviary. How cool is that? This hotel offers a one of a kind experience that’s for sure. If we wanted to showcase something unique about San Antonio, I knew we had found it El Tropicano. We’ll wrap up the session by 5:00pm and make our way down to relax along the Riverwalk. We had such a good time last year at the Naked Iguana we may just wind up there again.

For those not ready to end the PodCamp fun, we’ll meet at Cafe Latino to enjoy some tasty brew out on the patio. Gary Ard has done a fantastic job creating the perfect place to relax and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee. The patio comes complete with 3 Hookah Tents for folks wishing to partake in this Turkish custom. Jackie and I will record the Morning BrewCast LIVE!  It’s sure to be a good time for all.

I look forward to seeing everyone next month for PodCamp San Antonio: Numero Dos.

Barcamp Austin III

During the early part of March, the masses come down to Austin for SXSW. But it’s not the only ticket in town. Not by a long stretch. There are lots of other great things to do in Austin at the same time. For me that means BarCamp Austin III.

Will Hurley, or @whurley as he is more commonly known, has been the evil genius behind this fast growing annual event. With the help of Giovanni Gallucci (@giovanni) and a whole host of great volunteers, the previous barcamps have been a good combination of sharing and fun. Truth be told, I modeled PodCamp San Antonio after last years open, loose and laid back BarCamp Austin II. Well, minus the bar part.

I knew things were going to be different at this years barcamp when I first saw their smoking logo. It was confirmed when we walked into the GSD&M|Idea City building which was host to the event. From the high tech sign-in to improv to the iPhone Dev Camp it was the best BarCamp ever. Ladies and Gentlemen the bar has been set and it’s been set high. The swag wasn’t too shabby either.  I do have to give kudos for having shirts styles especially for the ladies. It was a very nice and often overlooked bonus.

Different from last year were sessions held in separate rooms vs. having all the sessions in one main area with room for breakouts.  This was good in that it allowed for more sessions to happen. The drawback for me was missing out on sessions I wanted to attend because they were all happening at the same time.  My favorite presentation was the Half-Baked session in which we created a company to pitch to VC in 15 minutes.  It was invigorating. You know how I much I love my coffee. So, when I tell you that session did more to wake me up than the coffee I drank earlier, I want you to know just how energizing the experience was.

Now with all these folks in and out of sessions there is a tendency to get hungry and thirsty. Well those needs were met thanks to great sponsors like Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Independence Brewery and Sweet Leaf iced tea. I know I certainly enjoyed the grub and tasty brew.

The big surprise was the BattleBot presentation of Steel Reign or as it’s now being referred as, “When Robots Attack”.  I’m still scratching my head wondering just what the AC unit said to Steel Reign to tick it off so much. Well, Steel Reign showed it who was boss.

The barcamp fun continued on with the evening portion of the festivities. A concert by   Soulhat was followed by karaoke fun with Karaoke Apocalypse. What’s more American than hot dogs, beer and a concert?

If BarCamp Austin was a youngster and BarCamp Austin II was a rowdy teenager, then I would have to say that BarCamp Austin III was a akin to debutante ball. Yes, BarCamp Austin is all grown up and with style to spare!