Pod Camp Western Mass is All About Relationships

by Ron on February 6, 2011

Getafe electricImage by cambiodefractal via Flickr

On another horrible winter day in 2011, I decided to trek to Westfield for Western Mass Pod Camp 3. Like last year, I wondered if I should even go. The forecast was horrible and truth be told, I tend to hibernate in the winter.

What’s more, I told myself that I don’t think I need basic social media training. But like last year, I learned more than I thought I would, and seeing old friends is good for the soul, especially after such a a horrible winter. And that is ultimately what Pod Camp is all about.

I have a post coming out on Tuesday on Internet Evolution about two views of social media. Without giving too much away, suffice to say that MIT professor Sherry Turkle has written a book called Alone Together that suggests online Social Networking is a form of modern madness. Yes, that’s what she called it. I’m not kidding.

I’m here to tell you that if this is madness we should all be going there. I first met many of the folks attending, whom I now consider friends, on Twitter and Facebook. While Turkle might believe that online relationships are shallow and meaningless, my experience is the opposite.

Whether attending a session on Facebook privacy or contributing to a discussion on the relationship between public relations and reporters (and the role of social media in faclitating these relationships), I learned. I contributed and I felt a part of a larger community.

When I spoke to one of the event’s organizers, Morriss Partee, we discussed the phenomonon of meeting people online, then meeting them in person. When I told him that I felt like I already know people I’ve never met in person before because of our interactions online, Partee said everyone involved in social media feels this same phenomenon.

I know that online social media is not an end unto itself, nor is it all good or evil, but what it can do is bring groups of people together, facilitating friendships and business connections and more. There’s no way anyone can think that’s anything but positive.

At the end of the day, I was glad I went because I saw some old friends and met some new ones and that was more than worth my time on a rainy/snowy/icy Saturday in February, no matter what Dr. Turkle may think.

In fact, I’m already looking forward to Western Mass Pod Camp 4. Hope to see you there.

Cross-posted on ‘by Ron Miller.’

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