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One weekend. 72 hours. Hundreds of people, pictures, and videos. 4,320 minutes. Millions of words. That is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to describing the fourth installment of PodCamp Pittsburgh.

There are many stories to be told about the weekend, but I thought I’d just get things started with a short story in pictures.

PCPGH4 001Kelly helps our rockstars make name badges

PCPGH4 002 Brian and Tim wait to greet our rockstars. Supposedly.

PCPGH4 005Even Creation Rex signed up to come, but the jerk was nowhere to be found.

PCPGH4 004 Our fabulous sponsors gather in the sponsor lounge

PCPGH4 008 Oh look! Franktuary stopped by for Saturday lunch!

PCPGH4 009 There were even noms from The Goodie Truck!

PCPGH4 014 Ginny and her butler, Woy, talk about that Burgh blog thing … you know, THAT one.

PCPGH4 020 The 649. Want to know what it is? Come to next year’s PodCamp.

PCPGH4 030Did I mention how awesome Market District is? Totally.

PCPGH4 039 Norm wraps up the day in a really small iTwixie shirt

PCPGH4 036 Well, well, well. Look who decided to show up after all.

So, here’s part of the story through my eyes. What’s yours?

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I set out on Nov. 1 with a mission – to find out if I could write a blog post a day and churn out a 50,000-word novel by Nov. 30. This was all in the name of National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Here I am 30 days later and the results are in: I made NaBloPoMo, but NaNoWriMo was a total failure. I thought it would be fun to break things down by the numbers, in a sense, to see how I fared. Making it hard on myself, I decided to go through each blog post and check my word count. I’m sure there was probably an easier way, but eh, I like to be difficult sometimes.

NaBloPoMo – 30 posts, 9,685 words/average of 322.83 words per day

NaNoWriMo – 598 words/average of 19.93 words per day

I think it’s pretty evident, when you look at it that way, just how poorly I fared with NaNoWriMo. I told myself I’d be happy if I got past 10 pages. I didn’t even hit two. I have a story, however, and I think I could make something of it if I come back to it from time to time. I’m more determined to write something well, rather than just get to x number of words, as was the goal of NaNoWriMo. Perhaps the effort’s not a failure after all.

NaBloPoMo was hard. If you look back at my November posts, you can see that some of them are completely lacking in content. Those were the days that I struggled with motivating myself to write. There are so many things out there to write about and it’s hard to juggle thoughts when they’re racing a mile a minute. I believe I even still have a post or two in draft form.

My intention with doing NaBloPoMo was to become more consistent with blogging. I think the real challenge, however, is going to be whether I stick with it. What does tomorrow or the next day hold? I’m sure many of you are facing that same dilemma. How do you keep yourself motivated?

Funny thing is, those 9,685 words rack up to about 19% of a 50,000-word novel. It’s interesting when you look at things from that angle, but it’s important to realize that blogging and novel writing are two totally different bears.

I would like to extend my congratulations to all who took on one or both projects. Even if you couldn’t see things all the way through, at least you gave it a shot. Beginning is sometimes the hardest part. 🙂

Cool tidbit: More than 1.5 billion words written for 2008’s NaNoWriMo (so far).

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Do you have the answer?

Adam Zand (@NoOneYouKnow) commented on a previous post I made and suggested that we co-present a panel at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 about how SM is a lot like high school. It didn’t happen due to Adam not being able to make it down from Boston and well, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump into my first PodCamp with a presentation.

I’ve been revisiting that ever since, when I see all of the tweets in my Twitter stream about “Top 50 Tweeters,” “Help me get to 5,000 followers!,” or “Who’s the hottest blogger?” – junk like that. Sadly, it really does seem that social media sites are progressing into popularity contests.

Why? I thought the purpose was to create relationships and share ideas, not make it about who has the most followers, comments, linkbacks, whathaveyou. True enough, there’s some vanity involved when we check out our Twitteranks, Twitter Grades, and utilize other web sites that tell us just how we measure up against our fellow social media users. It kind of reminds me of Snow White’s wicked stepmother who consulted that magic mirror to know she was still the fairest in the land. Is that really what we need to keep ourselves going?

There are incredibly smart people out there who are utilizing social media for great things, but why are only a few people called rockstars? Why can’t we all be rockstars?

What you’re doing is just as cool as what I’m doing. We might want different outcomes, but I’d like to think we could all be on the same social level, without trying to one-up each other. I don’t think, however, we can truly be social as a whole until we get rid of the labels and all of these self-serving motives (and yes, I know we all have self-serving interests in a sense) that do little more than try to inflate online social status.

I’d like to take a line that those High School Musical kids so cheesily, yet happily sing: “We’re all in this together.”

They have a point.

Do you agree? What are your thoughts on social media and popularity?

You can also feel free to email me your thoughts and I will post them in comments under anonymous or any way you’d like.

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This recent Dilbert comic made me laugh, but also made me wonder if many people believe that it’s true. We know that we’re spending more time online now than ever before, especially with the growth of social networking sites. In fact, it has been suggested that internet searches for porn have been overtaken by social networking.

We’re a plugged in society, ordering the internet-to-go with us now on laptops, PDAs, Blackberrys, iPhones (iPod Touches as well), and any other device that can catch a signal. Do you find it hard nowadays to go an hour without checking your email or Twitter stream. Admittedly, I know I do, as one who has been fully connected since the age of 12.

Still, my thoughts are trekking back to this comic strip. Do we value the internet more now than we do the outside world, and well, real people? Perhaps, but I’m going to make a case for those of us who have been interested in the Web 2.0 phenomenon.

Social networking, social media, web 2.0 – whatever you want to call it, is about creating community. It doesn’t come easy, however, as you have to be willing to invest a lot of time. (It can cost money, too, depending on your intentions). If you really dig deep you can meet many interesting people from all walks of life. But, the thing about the internet is you can be whoever you want to be, right? True, but I’ve found that for every person who isn’t always truthful, there’s dozens more who are as real as possible.

We all have different reasons behind our interest in social media. For some, it’s to make money. Others are communications or tech professionals who want to understand more about how SM can help grow their organizations. Still, some people just want a conversation – to find a group of people who have similar interests and share experiences.

We can have all of that with a click of a button and a few strokes on the keyboard.  What we’re seeing now, however, are things like tweet-ups, PodCamp and so many other meet-ups because people want to take these relationships offline. They’re not interested in hiding behind a computer screen. It’s a suggestion that relationships are very much real and meaningful to people offline as they are online.

So, here’s my answer: There are aspects of the internet that are interesting, but I think that what it ultimately does, in this day and age, is lead you to far more interesting people.

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Hope y’all had a great holiday. Surprisingly, I made it to the airport by 4:20 p.m. today for a 5:10 p.m. flight with virtually no wait to check in my bag or go through security. It was amazing. If you’ve ever flown through Philadelphia International, you know it’s never cake. Perhaps I got lucky because of the holiday. Oh well, moving on …

I’ve been thinking about it and I’d like to revive the “Can We Talk?” Yahoo! Group. It’s not directly affiliated with this blog, though it’s a shared name. It was intended to be a branched-off group from YoungPRPros, as a forum for students and young professionals. Admittedly, it kind of fell to the wayside after I graduated college the first time in 2006.

Now that there are many more students and young professionals participating in social media, I think that a very valuable exchange of ideas can go down with this listserv. I’m hoping to start things off slow and welcome back those of you who were previous members and those who were interested in joining when it went defunct.

Let’s talk!

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It’s that time of year once again, where we gather together to eat ridiculous amounts of food and reflect on the things we are thankful for in our lives.

Well, here’s my little list:

Family

I’m thankful I have the opportunity to be with them again this year, after not seeing anyone since Christmas. It’s still pretty weird to know that when I’m back in NJ, it’s just to visit.

Friends

As it goes, friends have this amazing ability to get you through the best and worst of times in a way that your family members cannot. They always make life a little easier.

Opportunities

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to develop both personally and professionally. I’m even more thankful to those who have been willing to give me a shot as I look to advance my career, and the possiblities that have yet to come.

YOU

I’m thankful that I’ve met some really awesome people through social media. Moving to Pittsburgh afforded me that opportunity and it’s something I never even thought possible. I am looking forward to meeting even more folks in the future.

It’s also important to remember those this holiday who are less fortunate and cannot count their blessings. Let us think of them and what we can do to help make their lives a little better.

As a side note –

The Macys Parade Rickrolled us all with the man, Rick Astley, himself. If that’s not an indication that social tools have such a profound impact, than I don’t know what is. It’s obvious he lipsynced, but it was still awesome.

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A few days ago, I read an article that Facebook sought to acquire Twitter, but the microblogging service apparently backed out over the financials. It seems there’s disagreement over the value of the Facebook empire. It’s been appraised as high as $15 billion, but the Twitter folks believe it’s inflated from a more realistic $5 billion. To them, this meant that Facebook’s offer of $500 million in stock was really only worth $150 million.

Frankly, I’m pretty happy that the deal fell through.

It may come to pass that Twitter will be scooped up one day from a large media conglomerate. It seems it happens often. My main concern is that if Twitter is acquired, it’ll be absorbed into some service and lose its identity. I’m afraid that’s what would happen if Twitter went to Facebook. I’m already sick enough of 99% of the applications and do-hickeys on Facebook. Would Twitter just become a built-in component of the site or would the Facebook folks be content enough to let it stand alone? If that were to happen, I think the dynamic of community would largely change and not necessarily for the better.

I’m not dissing Facebook as I like it and do use it, but there’s just so much more to Twitter than “What are you doing?” I think the concept of community is inherently different for each service – while Twitter’s community seems small and inviting, Facebook’s community just feels cold and disconnected. At least, that’s the experience for me.

The biggest problem Twitter faces right now is generating revenue. The service has one part down with a user base that has rapidly expanded the last year, but like any business it has to show its backers that it is sustainable. Should it stay as a free service? Should it incorporate ads into the user experience? I think it would be wise of Twitter to spread its wings and find out, instead of taking the easy route and having another company do it for them.

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