Warning: References to the musical world are purely imaginary and will likely dumbfound most readers. I hope the rest of you enjoy the links.
On the weekend of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Product Camp Austin 09 became the first rock concert for product types. The Dead was there to teach us about Twitter (and how to get by with a little help from your followers … free replay here). Joe Cocker showed up to give the kick ass talk about social media that The Beatles should have done on the album. His talk went viral and was replayed around the world! The Stones didn’t show up, and The Beatles only sent George Harrison, though he impressed the crowd with some solo material and garnered artist of the day. There were some really cool new faces, for me at least. I heard that Janis Joplin’s set was awesome, but I missed it. She’s performing it again in a week or two. A fairly new group on the scene, Credence Clearwater Revival, was clearly on fire, garnering a top spot in the schedule and an excited and interactive audience. (Full disclosure: in this analogy, I am John Fogherty. Not looking forward to having my content embargoed by Warner. I just hope I can perform my own material 10 years from now.)
Three weeks ago, the inaugural Product Camp NYC was extremely well run, and still had the smallish feeling of a folkfest that people associate with an unconference barcamp. Even with smaller numbers (150 – very respectable), the artists were top drawer. Simon and Garfunkel were still together, and James Taylor, did a decidedly quaint but inspiring version of Long ago and Far Away. (That last link was real. Definitely quaint, but worth a listen.)
With this third Austin event, Product Camps have officially entered the category of rock concert. I say Rock Spectacle, because it’s not a single band event … it’s become Woodstock.
But can the Product Camp (barcamp) format and withstand the transition into a mainstream event?
My belief is that this format is the new main event. But there will also continue to be innovative smaller gatherings, and probably also more regular microevents. Product Camps will continue to grow, retain their self-selecting, vote-with-your-feet philosophy, and new innovators will find ways to create segmented, microsegmented, and serialized events.
Hop on the bus, Gus
I am hoping participants of any Product Camps and the organizers of past and future camps will weigh in here and debate this issue.
No more Woodstock jokes. My hat is off to the organizers, Volunteers, and sponsors of Product Camp Austin.
Paul Young was the chef du jour, with the rest of the organizing team consisting of Bertrand Hazard, Roger Cauvin, Colleen Heubaum, Vicki Flaugher, Elizabeth Quintanilla. There were also many many volunteers. If anyone from the team can post a list or some names, please do so below.
Back to the main question(s):
- Can the Product Camp format withstand the transition from Folk Fest to Rock Spectacle?
- What needs to change? What needs to stay the same?
- What innovative new things are emerging will make barcamp look old? Where are the new folk festivals?