Where do the veterans of new media go?

A theme that has cropped up in discussion lately about PodCamp is this:

Where do the veterans go to learn new stuff?

PodCamp, BarCamp, NewBCamp, BootCamp – there are so many conferences, sessions, and opportunities for new folks, from Zero to Podcasting at PodCamp Toronto to all of NewBCamp/BootCamp, and it’s heartening to see the new media community welcoming with open arms anyone who wants to learn. New media’s future hinges on the continued generosity of the community, and I hope PodCamp especially continues to be one of the welcome wagons.

That said, where do the veterans go to take their game to the next level? Where can they turn?

To be honest, there isn’t anything for them, not because of a lack of desire, but because being on the frontier means you’re responsible for your own training, your own innovation. You can get together with friends and share what you’ve created, but by and large, innovation is your responsibility.

Sure, I think it would be fantastic to have a 400-level track at PodCamps, and PodCamp organizers would do well to remember that all levels of skill welcome means all levels, including the occasional rocket scientist/trail blazer, or else that occasional rocket scientist has a diminished incentive to contribute.

But beyond that, the innovators are on their own. In the martial arts, one of my teachers, Ken Savage (of the Winchendon Martial Arts Center), compares our head teacher, Mark Davis (of the Boston Martial Arts Center) to a trailblazer at the head of our line, machete in hand, cutting a path so we don’t have to.

Being a trailblazer can mean recognition, thanks, and even fame, but it also means you’re the first guy or gal to step on the snakes, scorpions, and other delights the jungle has in store for you. Veterans of new media need to remember that as well – if you want to continue being a leader, the path never gets easier. Same scorpions, different day.

Where do I personally go to learn? I look at tons of different sources for idea components. For example, I got a thank you email from someone on LinkedIn that had a great idea component in it, something that I’m going to combine with a few other ideas and make even better. New ideas, new insights are all around, if only we’re paying enough attention to grab them as they whiz by. Ideas come from arbitrage – I’ve often quoted Mark Davis’ signature expression, study something old to learn something new. Finally, ideas come from just trying something, watching it flop, finding the parts that did work, and refining it until it does work.

As Thomas Edison said, “I haven’t failed 10,000 times. I have just found 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.”

Where do YOU get your ideas? Where do YOU go to learn?

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