Lesson 1: there is no better time to know a little or a lot about ‘social media’ – you’re in demand. There were something like 1600 people signed up in Toronto yesterday. I didn’t check, but I’ll bet the first podcamp had something like 12 people show up.

Lesson 2: business is catching on, catching up – a couple of jammed sessions I sat in on included:

Chris Barger, Director of Social Media for General Motors (who knew?) discussing the role of his group during GM’s Chapter 11 meltdown and relaunch.

Donna Marie Antoniadis of co-founder and COO of ShesConnected Multimedia Corp discussing the power of Facebook and throwing up cool Facebook promotions from Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Jet Blue, McDonalds and others as great examples of business-building through community building on-line.

David Bradfield, Senior Partner, Global Chair, Digital at Fleishman-Hillard tackling the issue of how to deal with social media when it turns against your brand (and there was also a ‘boob’ story but it didn’t translate very well at the back of the room) – a decidedly PR approach to social media (David is a very knowledgeable, great speaker) that unfortunately left me cold.

Lesson 3: the ‘unconference’ approach to topics has huge value – experts in the crowd, relevant conversation, questions and answers – but not everyone gets it yet (any presentation longer than 10-15 minutes is too long) and it’s tricky if there is only one expert in the room (which doesn’t happen often).

Lesson 4: I’ll never pay $1200 for a conference again. Podcamp Toronto is FREE (as are any huge number of meetups, mixups and mashups going on all the time now all over Toronto on any and every topic). Not only did Podcamp Toronto include first class facilities, topics and presenters, the sessions were live-casted on the web, and podcamp has its own great website, facebook, twitter, etc, etc. It’s been a while since I’ve read Chris Andersons book called Free, but clearly the FREE pricing model extends  beyond the on-line world – at least to conferences about the on-line world! Gotta be a big thanks to heavy-hitter sponsors like Social Media Group, Chevrolet and Rogers for making it possible.

Bottom line on Podcamp Toronto. Great value. The world is still changing fast. Business is hanging in there. It’s a good time to be an unexpert.