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Thoughts from the road

I’ve been on the road a heck of a lot lately, getting to meet lots of interesting people, talking about new media. Ever since September, it’s been go-go-go and I’m grateful for a pause until spring. In order:

– Podcasters Across Borders
– PodCamp Philly
– Emerson College
– Bentley College
– NASFAA private engagement
– PodCamp Boston
– SREB GoAlliance

There have been a surprising number of commonalities during the trips; at each location, I’ve had the opportunity to speak publicly about new media – podcasting, blogging, social networks, and much more. Some of the commonalities of the audiences:

1. At least 50% of the audience has no real mental framework to even begin assessing the worth of new media. They know the buzzwords from mainstream media, but are unsure of how all the pieces fit together.

2. Virtually 100% of the audience is very, very, very interested in new media in one or more aspects. SREB brought me in principally to speak about social networks. MASFAA brought me in to talk about podcasting. The desire and interest to learn more about new media is very strong and growing.

3. Analogies to existing mental frameworks are critical to understanding how to explain new media channels to people new to the world of new media. Some of the explanations I’ve used:

– Blogs are newspaper columns written by columnists… without the rest of the newspaper. Hat tip to Chris Brogan for the seed idea on this one.
– Audio podcasts are downloadable internet radio shows.
– Video podcasts are downloadable internet TV shows.
– Social networks are a cross between virtual conferences and virtual water coolers.

When put in at least a semblance of a mental framework, it’s been my experience that audiences are more easily able to change aspects of an existing idea rather than try to form a completely new one. Downloadable internet radio isn’t quite right (it ignores RSS, subscription mechanisms, etc.) but it’s close enough that people can make adjustments to their internal pictures and sounds rather than create new ones.

4. People have no idea regional new media communities exist. For example, SREB brought me into Atlanta to speak, but there’s a huge blog and podcast community here – heck, there was a PodCamp here, so the community exists. I would love to be able to travel to each of the cities I have been to this past year and help them sign up for a PodCamp; because each city has had one (Atlanta, Boston, DC). That, I think, would go a long way towards not only making PodCamps more local, but also getting new media producers connected more tightly with their communities.

Travel will pick up in the spring again, but for now I’m happy for a couple of months of hibernation and family-only travel. Thanks to everyone who requested me as a public speaker at all the recent events lately – I am grateful for the chances to serve your communities.