I think a lot about Spark, the radio program I work on. I talk a lot about Spark, too — mostly to Liz and Nora (my co-workers), to listeners, and to other radio people.
This past weekend I attended Zap Your PRAM, a non-conference organized by Charlottetown-based silverorange and Reinvented. I was asked to give a talk loosely based on “how being involved with a radio show that tries to use the web in new and interesting ways has actually worked out.” And it was a genuinely refreshing experience. Mostly because (I think) I wasn’t talking to a group of radio people. I was talking to a group of technologists.
The format of talks at Zap lends itself to interjections, questions, spontaneous discussions, and derailments. Which was wonderful. Rather than walking in, presenting my prepared points, playing my prepared clips, and taking question at the end, the flow of comments and questions seemed to start almost immediately, smack dab in the middle of what I thought I was going to talk about.
As someone who’s used to performing off a script, it was scary. Terrifying, even. People asked questions about points I hadn’t made yet. People questioned things I take as givens. And through it all, the participants got me thinking about the work I do in ways I hadn’t thought of before. (A particularly helpful comment came from Rob Paterson, who mentioned NPR’s Bryant Park Project, Planet Money, and the difference between radio -> web and web -> radio.)
And I think that’s sort of what made Zap wonderful for me — the ecclectic mix of people with perspectives that I would probably never otherwise have access to.
Did I make all the points I wanted to make in my talk? No.
Did I properly articulate anything about how I see the relationship between public broadcasting and social media? Probably not as clearly as I would have liked.
But in the “inline discussion” during my talk, and in the various chats I had with people one-on-one afterwards, I picked up some very useful nuggets from some very smart people that may help our radio show continue to improve. Hanging around designers for a weekend’ll do that, I guess.
Between the talks, the venue (beautiful), the amazing food, and the great people I met and talked to, Zap was a great success. Congrats and thanks to Steven, Dan, and especially Peter, who not only invited me, but took me on a Sunday afternoon tour of Charlottetown after the conference was over. The Überloo was a touchless wonder. Consider me zapped.