PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 is over and I'm back in Colorado. I didn't blog at all while I was there and I expected to be either too busy or too exhausted to share my experience as it happened. Distilling the eventful 5 days is a challenge. First, PodCamp is a gathering of the social media community. Notably, Kristin Mitchell of VisitPittsburgh (the city's convention and visitors bureau) arranged a tour of the local attractions for a few out-of-town bloggers, treating us like journalists who might help spread the good word. VisitPittsburgh paid for everything and I believe they are ready to embrace social media as a means to promote the region. I predict that VisitPittsburgh will get more value out of entertaining a few bloggers than they would from flying in a couple of well known members of the press.
Second, my take away from the trip is that the social media community is a powerful aggregator of trust. If anyone can piece together a balkanized Pittsburgh, they can. Social media is still novel enough to be dominated by a select group of pioneers who seem to share a world view that facilitates the transfer of knowledge. That which usually remains locked up in small neighborhoods travels easily between podcamp wonks. I'll be interested to track how the Pittsburgh value proposition echoes throughout the blogosphere in the coming the weeks.
I may have a few new readers thanks to my attendance at PGHPC3 and I should explain what I mean by "value proposition." A sense of place is difficult to articulate and doesn't travel all that well. In other words, I have a hard time explaining why I think Pittsburgh is so great to someone who has never been there. VisitPittsburgh is laboring to communicate the value proposition of the city. They hope more people will make Pittsburgh a vacation destination or conference site, but they are also selling the region to people seeking to relocate. Bloggers are instrumental in making this pitch. For example, you might read a post from Chris Briem about the latest place ranking either celebrating or trashing Pittsburgh. By drilling down, such bloggers provide a fuller sense of place. The quirky and unusual comes to the fore. What makes Pittsburgh the city that it is will appeal to more than native boosters. Furthermore, the urban amenities are surprisingly inexpensive. As word spreads from one social media community to the next, I think Pittsburgh will start attracting more outsiders. And these outsiders can plug right into the PodCamp Pittsburgh crowd, who often share the very same interests and perspective.
Update: Chris Brogan, one of the bloggers on the VisitPittsburgh tour, generates a great discussion about what I call the value proposition of a city.