Austin’s 3rd UnConference for product managers and product marketing managers is coming up on August 15t. If you’re in Austin or can come to Austin, you should definitely plan on participating – it’s free, and a great opportunity to network, share, and learn.
ProductCamp – What Is It?
The first ProductCamp was started in the San Francisco Bay Area by Rich Mironov and the folks at Enthiosys in March 2008. The largest one so far had 375 participants in the Bay Area, and the most recent one was last weekend in New York City. As I type this, the ProductCamp Austin has 217 signups and 26 proposed sessions – less than a week after the announcement.
ProductCamp is a free, collaborative, unconference about product marketing and management. ProductCamp is a bunch of smart, passionate people coming together to discuss, debate, and collaborate on the issues they face every day. Everyone brings different experiences and leveraging that collective knowledge is what makes ProductCamp special – and something you can’t get anywhere else.
There are ProductCamps happening in more locations every day: San Francisco Bay, Austin, Toronto, New York City, Research Triange Park, Atlanta, Seattle, Boston, and maybe some more that I’m missing. Someone created a web page that lists upcoming product camps (although it doesn’t provide any other information yet [if you're the owner of that site, comment below and let folks know how we can help connect the other city-specific sites to yours]). There’s also a list of “all” past product camps on the barcamp.org wiki. I know it is currently missing some of the events, but hopefully will emerge as the canonical list. There’s also a newly created facebook fan page for all of the ProductCamps. It has a link to the Toronto ProductCamp fan page, and to the Austin ProductCamp fan page and hopefully soon, to any others that have been created.
If you know of a past ProductCamp that is missing, please update that wiki page (or contact me and I will update it).
Check out Paul Young’s recent article about Product Camp Austin and what to expect (if you haven’t attended one in the past). Paul also gave a webinar yesterday about ProductCamp – with an introduction for new-to-ProductCamp people, and guidance for how to start a ProductCamp in your area. You can download his slides and listen to the 40-minute audio track at the link. Thanks to Ryma and Val Workman for hosting the webinar!
ProductCamp – How Does It Work?
Volunteers in each city put a lot of time into organizing the events, finding venues, soliciting donations to cover costs, encouraging people to participate, creating awareness of the events, setting up, tearing down, etc. The event is free for people who attend – all that is asked is that people who attend help out. Ideally, that means hosting a session (a presentation, roundtable, panel, workshop, etc) or participating in one; or it could mean helping out before, during, or after the session.
ProductCamp – What’s Going On?
There isn’t quite critical mass for any one site that aggregates all of the ProductCamp information. This is an emergent phenomenon – and if you’re reading this after Jul 23rd 2009, the links above may not be the best ones. For now, Twitter has emerged as the best way to see what’s going on with product camps. The way to keep up is to search for hash-tags that the different product camps are using, find people who are tweeting about the product camps, and do some discovery leg-work. Try searching Twitter for any of the following: productcamp, #pcamp, #pca09, #pct2, #pcampnyc, and certainly some others [add to the comments below].
ProductCamp Austin – How’s It Shaping Up?
As of this morning, for ProductCamp Austin Summer 2009 (main wiki page, facebook page, twitter search term, registration page, session-proposal page), we have 219 people registered, and 26 sessions proposed. One thing we’re doing this year is capturing a demand signal from people as they register – specifically, what topic areas would they be interested in seeing presentations about.
We asked (are asking) people to select the three topic areas of most interest to them, from the list:
- Product Strategy
Here’s a snapshot of the data at the moment:
Larger (and current) images of both graphs are maintained on the session-proposal page of the ProductCamp Austin Summer 2009 wiki. This information is intended to inform the people who are proposing sessions – it is a demand signal. There are no quotas by topic area, no requirement that sessions be in a particular area, etc. Just information to help presenters pick a topic area (when they are undecided).
ProductCamp Austin – Finding Presenters
We’re driving participation “top down” because we’re creatures of habit. However, what I personally believe will be more effective is for you to get people to host sessions at ProductCamp Austin.
- Do you know someone who is a great presenter with something to say about product management or product marketing? Beg them to present.
- Do you work with people who have great insights about a particular area? Bully them into participating in a panel (and volunteer to run the panel).
- Have you met someone who is facing a particular challenge and is looking for answers? Convince them to organize a roundtable on the topic (and convince people with experiences to attend).
- Have you learned from someone who is a great teacher? Cajole them into running a 50 minute workshop where people can learn something valuable and tangible.
Or of course, when you fit into any of these categories, volunter :). And when asked by someone else, be flattered. And say yes!