Honestly, before we start, the answer from me is: I don’t know.
In the past few days, a few people have approached me wondering what I thought of PodCamp DC, which is ostensibly an unconference centered around podcasting and related techniques. The problem, it seems, is that PodCamp DC eschews the vast majority of the tenets of a BarCamp, while still parading the “camp” brand.
You know what they say about throwing stones in glass houses. Full disclosure: as an organizer of BarCamp DC, we did break some rules too, but we tried our darnedest to balance the rules with the incredibly high demand we found after announcing the event. I’ll defend all of those decisions, even in retrospect, but it wasn’t conferment to the platonic form of a BarCamp in the purest sense.
Is it a BarCamp?
So anyway, here are a couple of the problems one might have with PodCamp DC using the “Camp” moniker:
The schedule is already set
Not only is there already a detailed schedule, but there’s already a lineup of speakers to fill those slots. BarCamps are built around a lack of structure in, first and foremost, the schedule and the content. In almost all cases, the schedule is created that day. In many cases, all attendees participate as a speaker in some sense, though that seems flexible. In this case, it seems, most attendees will see this event structured in the same way most real conferences are structured.
Sponsors have big skin involved
Sponsorship levels are priced as high as $5000. This isn’t friendly support from an area company, this is a significant marketing strategy on the part of the sponsor. There will be sponsor logos on the stage, sponsored pieces of the official podcast and video, etc.
Should we care?
I don’t know. I know some other people are flat-out pissed about this. Maybe it’s that I’m not all that into podcasting as a strategy, so I don’t sweat it too much. But, if I’m playing devil’s advocate for a moment, here’s why I can imagine some people being a bit put off:
It reflects poorly on DC
We can’t exactly say that DC really gets it and then have a major event that uses a brand name and violates most major tenets behind that brand. I know that if I were from outside the area, and I saw this event, with the Camp on the name, I’d probably think that the region was a little JV when it came to the web. Since this is one of the community’s current challenges, it’s certainly not helpful to have stuff like this setting the mission back.
It might turn a profit
At $5000, $2500, or $1000 per sponsor, this event could legitimately be profitable. If someone profits significantly off the BarCamp name without adhering to the requirements, that could be grounds for being significantly disturbed.
It doesn’t jive with the license
If it’s legit, it appears there’s actually a license for using the PodCamp name. There are six rules required of those licensing the name, and at least two of them are being broken in this case. Rule one, requiring that all attendees be treated equally, is broken by having a set of speakers already in place. Rule three, that all attendees need to be participants, is broken by the same rule.
So, worth being pissed?
I dunno, you tell me. Are you going? Does it bother you? Does it bother you that other people are bothered?