My head is spinning from all the excitement in the DC technology community. Over 90 people at an event on widgets this week? WTF!? nextDC, Refresh DC, Social Media Club, DC Bloggers, NoVA Open Coffee, NetSquared, Tech Tuesday, Lunch 2.0 (fyi, this is a random selection, and probably not accurate or complete)…and those are just the ones that want to meet monthly. The only thing to be sure of from all this: there’s a lot of Type A geeks inside the Beltway. But how will all this evolve into something sustainable, vibrant, more diverse, and larger than the sum of a few energetic parts?
I’ve spent the last five years networking with people who think online communities were invented in the last five months. My clients are primarily MBA & lawyer types, and my friends are mostly save-the-world liberal arts people. But every day I’d go through the geeky & design-y podcasts and RSS feeds, dreaming about the west coast. So I thought of starting a technology group in DC because I knew there would be people with similar passions. I purchased the domain silicondc.com and did what any entrepreneur would do: market research. That’s what led me to the cacophony of DC technology groups above. Needless to say, DC no longer needs me to bring people together to talk tech.
What the latest round of DC technology needs is a vision. Do we want mainstream attention? Do we want investor attention? Do we want to be divided between members and vendors toting products to us (like most other groups)? Is the focus partnership, education, socializing, business deals, the reputations of the organizers, or just a place to find like minded individuals and play it by ear? Right now the answer is “all of the above” but mostly playing it by ear. I’m not convinced what’s happening now is sustainable on its current path.
Then there’s the rest of the business networking landscape. They’re just now starting to hold events on social media and conferences on current trends. Their audiences are different but the topics are the same–it’s up to you to compare the speakers at many of these to the local talent at the events we’ve put on. (And note that the events aren’t by any means free like ours)
The rest of the area is just now scratching the surface of what’s going on with technology. We’ve got talent, we’ve got energy, and we’ve demonstrated at events like BarCampDC and TechCocktail that we can access the capital. The newness and excitement isn’t going to last–heck, you won’t be reading my blog 2 months from now. But if we put our heads together to not just talk tech but the vision of this whole thing, I imagine we can put aside some personal plans and figure out how to sustain to have more startups, more education, and more geeks in the area.
I think the next step is to collaborate on this vision. I’ll be contacting people to see if they’re willing to hear me out–not on just my ideas, but on everyone’s. If you’re interested in such a conversation, feel free to chime in or email.