I thought the Podcasters Across Borders (PAB) conference would be different and boy was it ever. I expected a weekend focused on tactics for exploiting podcasting as a marketing and communications tool. I got that wrong. Turns out PAB is really a creativity and storytelling conference. In speaking with a few of the attendees on the first day, it became clear that these people weren’t at PAB for professional development per se.
They weren’t emissaries from government or business. Instead, they’re part of a very special community, initiated online, where the common bond is self-expression. In fact, the people at PAB reminded me more of the musicians and music enthusiasts I’ve met at festivals and music camps than the people who typically attend business and technology conferences. For these folks, the focus isn’t how to sell the next widget, it’s about the content–their own content–and their love of audio. And while podcasting is more than just audio (check out Sylvain Grand’Maison’s site) tied to a variety of online distribution channels, it shares many of the characteristics of radio, which is a very intimate medium and ideal for storytelling.
More surprisingly, PAB is a real-life example of how online communities can manifest themselves in real time and space. People arrived from across Canada and the United States, most of them on their own nickel. These folks have developed an enuring bond through online conversations and a shared love of the medium. I arrived hoping to learn enough about podcasting technology to add it to my own inventory of technical knowledge, with no intention of returning to the event next year. I left thinking about how I could continue to stay connected and looking forward to the next event.