Sunday, October 2, 2011

Barcamp Nashville 2011 - Histornetiquette

(This is one article in a series written by different authors about BarCamp Nashville 2011. See the previous article in the series at and see the next article at


Before travel to a country, it is important to study the culture and understand the history, to learn key elements of the language and etiquette - all to enrich the experience of and potential for enjoyment of the country. So here's some advice for those travelers who will stamp their BarCamp Nashville passport Saturday, October 15, 2011 at the Cadillac Ranch (

Nicholas Holland ( got me thinking about the origins of the name "BarCamp" when he was crowdsourcing event planning with a question on Facebook (or was it Google+) about what his company, Centresource (, should do at the event, in addition to sponsoring BarCamp Nashville 2011. He mentioned putting up a tent inspired by the "camp" part of the title and so I wondered...


The origin of the event is disputable, but the atmosphere is undeniable: it has been the same at science fiction "conventions" since the 1930's; was the same at computer science association meetings in the 1970's; was the same at hacker's meetings in the 1990's; was the same at every "unconference" (with titles like Barcamp, Podcamp, Geekcamp, Wordcamp, Mindcamp, Cloudcamp, Crisiscamp, HealthCamp, RECamp, Givecamp etc.) based (more or less) on "Open Space Technology: A User's Guide," by Harrison Owen. (

In 1985, Owen conducted the first "Open Space" meeting: "In his main meeting room he set the chairs in one large circle and proceeded to explain that what participants could see in the room was the extent of his organizing work. If they had an issue or opportunity that they felt passionate about and wanted to discuss with other participants, they should come to the center of the circle, get a marker and paper, write their issue and their name, read that out, and post it on the wall. It took about 90 minutes for the 100+ people to organize a 3-day agenda of conference sessions, each one titled, hosted, and scheduled by somebody in the group." Read more at

The first actual "Barcamp" in 2005 in Palo Alto was an alternative event, planned in response to "Foocamp." And Foocamp was the brainchild of Tim O'Reilly, an affable guy originally from Ireland, raised in California, educated at Harvard, who found fortune and fame publishing computer user manuals but prefers to think of his work as "technology transfer," and is on the board of directors of Code for America... Yes, that Tim O'Reilly who put on his annual invitation-only participant-driven conference: "Foo" (for Friends of O'Reilly) camp.

Consider also that "foo" and "bar" are terms historically used as variables, functions, commands and placeholders in programming (that may help explain some of recent the consternation about the amount of technical content - it's never enough for some coders). And contrary to popular belief after the inept operations of some "camps," there is no association with the WWII military acronym "FUBAR." (

I've attended Barcamps in San Francisco and Boston and Detroit and New York and Dallas and San Diego, and while they may be alike in atmosphere, no two have ever been exactly the same, thank goodness. Because I have found that it is exactly the unique qualities of the people attending in each city that make or break the experience. The Barcamps and Podcamps that I have attended in Nashville have also been unique because of the "Southern hospitality" which pervades every aspect of life here. In other cities I've seen Barcamp attendees arm wrestle or throw darts (and even beer bottles) to see who gets to speak next. Not so in Nashville with a far more organized approach that has generally resulted in a better selection of speakers and topics.


Having made presentations at a number of camps including Barcamps and Podcamps in Nashville, I've noticed that in addition to excellent organization of the events, audiences in Nashville are in general far more respectful of speakers than audiences in other cities. By that I mean there seem to be far fewer hecklers in any given audience. Destructive heckling, or heckling just to heckle, is no better than obnoxious trolling online, but constructive heckling, where the audience is doing its best to not only engage with the topic, but also keep the speaker honest, is the best possible unconference experience for everyone.

So please speak up, Nashvillians! If you are not presenting, at least add what you can to the discussion. Even dumb questions move the presentation along an honest path. Come to Barcamp with an open mind, but don't be afraid to share what you know, and to call people out if they are wrong or misinformed, or worse yet, misinforming others. It's your right and your responsibility.

"Voting with your feet" also counts as productive heckling. Dave Delaney ( has been great about encouraging this for years. And Nashville has been getting much better at it. Presenters should pay close attention to this and switch to Q&A format before the majority of an audience leaves. No question, good Q&A offers the best of both worlds for the audience and speaker (it is often the best part of the presentation).


A Barcamp is a marathon, definitely. Not so much in time (not a 3-day conference, but it does run morning to night if you stay for the afterparty - highly recommended), but certainly in energy (both physical and mental). Great presentations can leave you exhausted (a good exhausted). One tip, even though the bar is open, it is probably best to wait until "the sun is over the yard-arm" somewhere in the world before sampling the latest micro-brew. Everyone's metabolism is different, but snoring in an afternoon session is never good form, plus falling asleep in a roomful of geeks (with the collective maturity and sense-of-humor of a 14-year-old) is never a good idea (ask anyone who has woken-up to find a new permanent ink handlebar mustache or worse on their face).

If you are speaking, be early, be prepared, be brief and be seated. I usually just keep repeating the last 2 over and over to myself before and during my presentations. Bring your own extension cords, and never assume there will be adequate technology (bandwidth, projection equipment, audio amplification) because if something can go wrong, it probably will. So be smart and plan on it. Could you do your presentation by candlelight if the power fails? Plan on it.


If a tree falls in the forest and no one tweets about it, does it make any sound? It might, but if no one tweets or posts or shares about Barcamp, you are missing the point. In addition to constructive heckling, the unconference idea is to share all of the discoveries, new ideas, good jokes and wardrobe malfunctions (oh, I hope not) with the rest of the online community (not just in the Nashville area, but around the world). Unlike traditional conferences where cameras and recording devices are sometimes banned (so you will buy the "official" recordings from conference organizers), someone should be able to follow BarCamp Nashville 2011 by monitoring the #BCN11 stream (!/search/%23bcn11).

Joking with conference organizers one evening, I discovered that every year in the crop of new Barcamp volunteers, someone always suggests videotaping the sessions. It's always a big hoot & holler for conference veterans. Apparently they have tried a number of times, but have always been overwhelmed (complexity of audio in the open bar setting, lighting problems, editing issues, etc.). So unless some really intelligent video production company steps up to the challenge (hint, hint), it is up to attendees to capture and share as much as possible.


Now that you know something of the history, and some of the current challenges, I would encourage you to attend BarCamp Nashville (and follow these suggestions to get the most out of your experience - be the heckler, share the magic!), and to invite others in the local community to attend, and to invite those outside of the area to tune-in best as possible to monitor the event online. In the case of BarCamp Nashville volunteers, there is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration, no question that is true. But in the case of attendees, just get your butt in those seats as early as possible (on a Saturday, I know). Show up, and with whatever energy you have left, please participate - loud and often!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Podcamp Nashville 2009 - #pcn09

by Bayard Saunders

PodCamp is growing up... The challenge was to become less chaotic, perhaps just a little more organized, without losing the original spirit. This PodCamp Nashville 2009 walked that tightrope pretty well.

Some people groused about the level of content (some always will), but nobody threw any beer bottles at any speakers, and there were no fist-fights to see who presented next (I know, call me nostalgic).

Requiring specific mention and thanks and applause - the sponsorship from Yazoo with the fresh beer that left no appreciable hangover - incredible, and everyone should run out and buy a case right after you finish reading this. I'm not kidding, don't wait...

Wonderful meeting people in-person that I had only followed on Twitter. Fascinating to put faces to names. Gave me an idea for a Halloween party: Make masks out of your Twitter or Facebook profile picture or avatar. Shared that with @tronnash at a Centre{source} mixer (you should go next month if you haven't been to one yet).

The presentation by Gavin Richardson on Spirituality and Social Media posed some interesting questions:

- How are new prophets emerging in society? Same as they always have, using the media common to their time - examples of art, music and storytelling through the ages.

- How is the church and its spectrum of users, from early adopters to laggards to luddites, using social media? Poorly, if they are guarding their knowledge like private property, or practicing exclusion or worse yet trying to censor the existing channels of conversation.

- Why is satirical communication (where you must follow the news to get the joke) so popular? Satire is easy, and for Gen-Y and younger, a staple of daily communications.

- Why are the comments on YouTube posted by that community in response to videos relatively (vs. written blogs) more weird and mean-spirited and odd (passionate)? No good answer for this observation/question.

- Can we really talk to an institution on Twitter or friend a building on Facebook? No, the media is just one tool to connect human beings so they can build meaningful relationships

- How do we begin the dialog online? Start listening. Then cultivate whatever media or technology is needed to facilitate communication.

I think Gavin will be more excited than most to see the new digital campaign from the United Methodist Church - stay tuned for the announcement next month!

Also thanks for the reminder about the website "Old Jews Who Tell Jokes" - I'd seen some on YouTube but this is a nice collection... "A woman walks into a store and asks for broccoli..." Look it up.

Listened to a presentation about groups on Twitter from, the company that makes Twitter identities that:
- reposts anything that is Twittered on that account
- invisible to user
- intuitive for novice users
- accessible from anywhere

Mostly meaningless even to Twitter users until you experience it - actually "follow pcnChat" or "follow NashTraffic" or "follow NashPreds" - all will be revealed to you... This is a great way for groups of people to Twitter about a topic on a continuing basis.

Also enjoyed the Ethos3 presentation on Storytelling to Gen-Y. Brilliant observation: Gen-Y'ers are like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - full of distrust and facing a lot of adversity in their lives.

To reach Gen-Y, be like the Jabbawockeez (from America's Best Dance Crew television show):
- well branded - masks, the presentation is your brand
- showmanship - bring your A game, are you credible?, do your homework
- consistency - expect a powerful performance each week
- innovation, not imitation - diverse new ways to approach, not status quo

More tips:
- Use sardonic wit, high-sarcasm like on Family Guy
- Video needs quick cuts, like Bourne Ultimatum (2-second clips)
- Make succinct points and move on, like a Morgan Freeman commercial voiceover
- Cut the fat out of your presentation, like Biggest Loser, 30% the night before
- Help your audience "go elsewhere" or lose themselves in your presentation, like Lost, with the flashbacks and side-stories

There were so many excellent presentations to choose from, I had to just pop my head into some and go on. People have mentioned CC from Firepit Friday was entertaining (see her video on her blog) and also Dave Delaney gave good information. Saw Kate O'Neil run a miniature MIT Forum style, shoot-from-the-hip website analysis session - I wish more developers had the courage to put their work up. Best takeaway: You're never too small for analytics.

Thanks to the PodCamp Nashville 2009 volunteers who were the crew and made the day a success for the Nashville technology, business and podcasting community.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Barcamp Nashville 2008 - #bcn08

Where the Big Dogs Go

On Saturday, October 18, 2008 at Barcamp Nashville 2008, BOHAN Advertising led a panel of digital executives from the largest media companies in Nashville discussing their current breakthrough work online and their visions for the future…

My first impression walking into the Sommet Center downtown was that this Barcamp was nothing like the early Barcamp meetings I’d attended in San Francisco and New York (or the Barcamp Nashville 2007). Kudos to the organizers for actually organizing this event! Shout-out to the roving master-of-ceremonies, Nicholas Holland, CEO of Centresource, ( who also made a killer presentation on, “Crowdsourcing” – if you don’t know the term, Google it, then call Nicholas.

As the day went on, I did have some nostalgia for the drunken hecklers that filled the later-afternoon sessions of Barcamps past – always an entertainment. But the generous sponsors should be thanked profusely and you should give them all your business.


Dave Delaney of Griffin Technologies gave the most cogent presentation I’ve seen yet on Twitter and the merits of blogging via TXT message. Note: he started a campaign to raise money for a charity and by the afternoon announced that he had surpassed his goal… This was must-see-TV for marketing and communications professionals -

I caught part of an excellent presentation about Public Relations, called “PR 2.0, Now the Deer Have Guns” or something like that… Great concept, very important to remember it’s not just a jaded media audience we are speaking to, but also one where each person has the power of global communications tools and social networks at their fingertips. Don’t be afraid of it… use it!

I had the privilege of introducing Tod Fetherling, the new President of the Nashville Technology Council, for his presentation, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” This was Tod’s third day of employment with the Council, and he was (and still is) soliciting ideas from Nashville’s disparate groups of digeratti (Digital Nashville, Geek Breakfast, Startup Weekend, LinkToNashville, NAF, AMA, PRSA, etc.) about how the Council can provide more relevant programs and a stronger voice for tech companies’ interests here. Note: he announced the Council has a Ning site, and while he was speaking, a large number of the audience joined online – you should too -


Our presentation “WHERE THE BIG DOGS GO” started with a giant technology fail… Apologies to the Barcamp audience and The Tennessean and Comcast for not being able to show your links – they are all included here…

I felt like that guy who reaches the heart attack victim first onstage at the surgeon’s convention and yells: “Is there a doctor in the house?” …Except that I was asking for a laptop with a functioning internet connection…


Fred Menko, VP Digital at The Tennessean forged-ahead without the benefit of audio-visual aids and described some of the challenges and strategies that The Tennessean and other Gannett publications are pursuing. Gannett Co., Inc. is a leading international news and information company that publishes 85 daily newspapers in the USA, including USA TODAY, the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper.

Note: The popular “MusicCityMoms” website is being expanded to a national network of similar websites (presumably WindyCityMoms, and TheCityThatNeverSleepsMoms, etc.)… They will all now reside at the new online community –

Fred also generously answered audience questions while the technology continued to evade us. He graciously took flack from a Barcamper who was very passionate about the content choices and timing of previous news coverage. As my father would have said, “The time to worry is when people stop caring about what you publish.” I saw it as a validation of the continued importance of the newspaper in people’s lives.


Next up was Kathy Himmelberg, Digital Sales Manager for South Central Area, which is comprised of 15 markets in Southeast for Comcast "Spotlight" ( - the advertising sales division of Comcast. As mentioned earlier, Comcast customer service operates the Twitter channel “ComcastCares.” If you follow him or send him a message through Twitter, you will see, a real human being named Frank will get you the information you need or find someone who can help you.

Kathy was also hindered by the final part of our technical struggle, and was forced to describe rather than show examples of Comcast’s new Auto Ad Network of national websites, and Video on Demand, and of course, Banner Video on such as:

Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center

Boy Scouts of America


At this point, the employee of The Tennessean came to the rescue and we were able to continue with the presentation by Scott Winchell, Online Sales Manager for Clear Channel in Nashville. Scott has spent 25 years in the Nashville market, is a graduate of Trevecca, has a music industry background and six years with Clear Channel: 1059 The Rock, 101.1 The Beat, The River, The Big 98...


Then Christian Grantham, Web Manager at WKRN, ABC-TV Channel 2 in Nashville, alumni speaker from Barcamp Nashville 2007, who blogs on, and ran a commercially licensed webcast company that created two music channels on Apple’s iTunes, shared sites that included a Twitter channel:

As he was speaking, members of the audience were sending Twitter messages or “tweeting” about his presentation, and the messages were appearing on the website he was showing. It was a very surreal experience, better than when I watched the political debates with the laptop browsing side-by-side next to the TV.


Last but not least on our panel, John Tuminello, Interactive Marketing Director for South Central Radio Group, manages the interactive marketing activities for two radio stations, Mix 92.9 and 96.3 JACK-fm, and is the co-creator of…


It was initially David Bohan of Bohan Advertising|Marketing ( and TWITTER who had inspired me to present this panel at Barcamp Nashville 2008. David has recognized the digital talent developing here in Nashville, and has said more than once, “We need to convince ourselves that we are ready.” If we had more time, we would have presented Bohan’s new campaign for Ebonite, ‘They Ruined Bowling” ( - in the spirit of the video “mockumentary,” comedian Dale Jenkins rants and mockublogs and mockutubes (he doesn’t mockutwitter yet) and creates buzz in bowling circles on ESPN-TV and online.

I have also been impressed with Cricket locally (represented by The Bradford Group –, and the community they continue building on MySpace using the fuel of musicians’ egos here in Nashville (local bands submit songs, are featured on the Cricket MySpace site, and a free downloadable ring-tone is created for their fans) –

[We had some incredible questions from the audience, and when the video is available this paragraph will be edited to include a link!] There were so many excellent presentations throughout the day; I hope that you will take the time to review the videos and other people’s blogs about Barcamp Nashville 2008 –


One of my other favorite presentations was “My Most Fabulous Geek Life: For Geekettes Only!” Thanks to Katy Kirby, Alison Groves, Elin Eifler, Raquel Maddox, Kate O’Neill, Rachael Qualls, Kim Hatcher and Julie Moore for all the sharing.

Another was “Make Google Your B*tch!”…And not just for the vote-winning, attention-seeking, irreverent title. John Henshaw, Internet Strategist at Sitening ( gets it (SEO that is, along with other principles of effective online communications), and shares it well (he’s in good company now – Kate O’Neill is their new Managing Director).

Some equally incredible folks in the three different presentation rooms, the hallways and café/bar (smile your on Candid Blogger Camera!):

Jackson Miller, Statzen (;
Karen Parmelee, Producer/Writer (;
Donna Mattick, Nashville Chamber of Commerce (;
Milt Capps, Venture Nashville Connections (;
Paige Presley, Dealerskins (;
Nick Bradbury, NewsGator (;
Ken Russell, Nexus Group (http:/;
Michelle McManus, OHL (;
Lisa Kelley, White Chocolate Video Productions (;
Jennifer Leeda, Atkinson Public Relations (;
Alex Lavidge, Knoxville Overground (;
John Carney, Shelbyville Times-Gazette (

Hope to see all you ‘campers next year!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Google via TXT

The idea to do the BOHAN Byte as a vlog came from work on a sales PowerPoint for a new client, which is interactive in design, allowing viewers to navigate to any section of the presentation rather than see the slides presented in a linear order (increases both comprehension and retention rates). If PowerPoint is the new web, then video is becoming the new PowerPoint (or Keynote for you MAC users), because video remains a linear presentation medium (beginning, middle, end).

And now for the topic: Google via TXT...

Even in the digital world, "everything old is new again." Take for example the venerable Google, at one time a mere startup, now the unquestionably the industry leader, despite what Microsoft or Yahoo! may do in the near future.

In an increasingly mobile world, how is Google responding? Of course, you can access the Google website on internet-enabled cell phones and other mobile devices. But that still leaves out the majority of cell phone users who do not have internet access on their phones.

So Google is beta-testing a TXT messaging service that works like this:

Create a TXT message on your cellphone that includes a keyword (or phrase) and a ZIP code. Send that TXT message to phone number 46645 or "GOOGL" (the "E" is excluded). In a few moments you will receive two reply TXT messages from Google, with the name, address and phone number of the first few businesses that match your keyword(s) and ZIP code.

For example, send the TXT message "PIZZA 37203" to GOOGL and the system will reply TXT you with the name, address and phone numbers for Mellow Mushroom, DaVinci's and Papa John's pizza, all in the same ZIP code as our office.

Why is this important for our clients? If this GOOGL TXT program ever comes out of beta development and becomes more popular, we may want to help clients optimize their websites and improve their Google ranking to be sure they appear in this type of search.

In a broader sense, the use of TXT messaging is becoming more common, certainly with younger generations and teens for whom TXT is a very large part of their peer communications, and we should know how to use it effectively. Also, TXT messages like email can be forwarded and shared with others, so the more viral the message, the better.

Restaurants and destinations could use the technology to send TXT alerts about new menu items or promotions or special events to customers and prospects who have either given permission previously for us to send them TXT messages, or who send a TXT message in response to an advertisement or POS display.

TXT a message with a month/date/year to "PALMBCH" and receive a reply TXT with a list of events for that date in Palm Beach County. Or TXT a message with your ZIP code to "FAZOLIS" and receive the nearest restaurant contact information along with a code for a discount or the latest promotion.

Imagine the possibilities...


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CES 2008

Every technology has its time. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Earlier this month manufacturers introduced a tsunami of new concepts and technologies, as they do every year, some certainly more “ready” than others for the current market. I’ll bring you a few highlights of the best and most likely to succeed in later blogs, but just like the American Idol TV show, there are a few that can be dismissed after a quick audition. This year’s clear loser? The combination MP3-Player/Taser Gun. Perhaps it’s ahead of its time, or more likely it will never have a right time, let’s hope… If you can’t wait, some of the best reviews are on and on

Over the past holiday, consumer spending on digital appliances was led by the “GPS” sales – clearly a technology whose time has come (,,, Since the introduction of a new evolutionary software last year, the GPS experience has become far more like a trusted friend with a map in the front seat than their previous more complicated incarnation (released at CES before its time). So consumers are responding now, and the winners are those companies (restaurants & shops) who were early adopters, investing in advertising placements on those GPS software maps (, before anyone could even guess at how to calculate their value.

Thanks for the feedback last week on “Tell Me” (1-800-555-TELL,… Two people said they used the Driving Directions and another echoed the research that women’s voices aren’t as clearly understood yet. But continuing on last week’s theme of useful speech recognition technology, I wanted to share my favorite and most-used technology from last year – the Post-It Note for a new century (my tagline, not theirs) –

This is another completely free service. You call an 800# and dictate any message for up to 30 seconds. That message is then translated into text and you can choose to have it emailed to you, or to someone else, or to a group of people, or even have it posted to your blog or Twitter.* Go ahead and register then "jott" yourself a note – see for yourself. In the interest of fairness, there are other competitors who offer the same or similar services:,,,,, etc…

* Twitter – Staying “hyper-connected” has never been easier, but it sure is hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it. For more information, see the next BOHAN Byte or check it out yourself at

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ending the Tyranny of the Keyboard - TellMe

With all the advances in digital technology, many people still complain about the “tyranny of the keyboard.” At first we were limited to the use of typing skills to access information from computers, and even with advances like the mouse and touch-screens, the problem is that we human beings are required to learn and adapt, rather than technology adapting to us. Mobile devices like palm-sized computers and cell phones with internet access have freed users from the desk, but most still require some type of manual input.

However, recent advances in speech recognition technology are changing this. More and more, mobile phones and other devices have integrated speech recognition software and hardware that allows you to automatically dial someone in your contact list by simply speaking their name. Most 411 directory information systems and some airlines and hotels have also begun using the technology.

The most advanced system available now, and the clear winner in the battle for consumer acceptance of the new technology, is produced by a company called “Tell Me.” And you don’t need a keyboard or a computer to try it. Just call (800) 555-8355 – they advertise it in the easier-to-remember format: “(800) 555-TELL” – and speak to it just as you would a person.

There are many useful features, but the one that I’ve found most useful is “Driving Directions.” Just like Yahoo or Google Maps will give you turn-by-turn directions from one address to another, the Tell Me system will read them to you step-by-step after you’ve told it your starting and ending addresses.

Other features are current stock quotes, sports scores & news, weather information, connection to airlines or hotels or rental car or taxi services, movie information from Fandango, horoscopes, lottery results, soap operas plot summaries, a 411 business directory, business-world-entertainment news, and a black-jack game (voiced by a wicked Sean Connery imitation).

Hope you will find the technology useful as so many companies are adopting these systems, and, of course, adding their own audio advertising into the mix, so it may be a good idea for clients who are upgrading from the old telephone tree systems “Press 1 for this, press 2 for that.”