Last weekend Heather and I attended the second annual PodCamp AZ. As far as podcasting conferences go, we have now attended two podcamps and one New Media Expo (formerly a Podcast Expo and a Podcast and New Media Expo...). With this limited experience we both agree that we have gotten more out of PodCamp AZ than the Expo. I feel this is because of the nature of these shows, and the "expenses" involved.
First of all, PodCamp AZ is free! Now, the New Media Expo is also free if all you want to do is attend the "floor" of the show. However, for the most part, all you're going to get from that is an opportunity to socialize and be bombarded by advertisers. At PodCamp AZ, the speaking sessions are also free. At the New Media Expo you pay about $300-$400 for the "conference" portion of the Expo. This may not seem like a lot of money to some, but for two podcasters that are not making any money off of their show, it's insurmountable. If we could have afforded to attend the conference at the Expo I may be singing a different tune. However, based on our experiences I would definitely have to say that we enjoyed PodCamp AZ much more because we were able to participate in the sessions at the price of a few gallons of gas.
The second reason I feel I got more out of PodCamp AZ is because I spent a lot of time talking about podcasting with fellow podcasters. There was definitely a lot of socializing going on at both PodCamp AZ and at the New Media Expo, but the New Media Expo felt like it was mostly just about socializing. Again this may have been different if we had attended the sessions at the Expo, but I will never know unless I become a famous and successful podcaster (not likely to happen)... Until this happens, I am glad that PodCamp AZ was put together because it is fitting the need very well.
I am very grateful to both the folks who put PodCamp AZ together, as well as all the sponsors, volunteers, and speakers.
Moving forward, I think I'm going to try my hand at leading a session next year. I would also wholeheartedly recommend that you look for a podcamp in your neighborhood and find some way to participate.