OpenDataPhilly.org unveiling, what it means, how it happened

More than 120 people crowded into the Dorrance Hamilton Public Media Commons at WHYY to watch a data catalog unveiled. The event was a part of Philly Tech Week.

Ten dozen people, including developers, journalists, nonprofit leaders, city representatives and the curious hung around for an hour, with standing room only left, to be there when OpenDataPhilly.org officially kicked off. That says something about the Philadelphia technology community and its interest in the online transparency movement around government.

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Kicking off Philly Tech Week, April 25-30, 2011

By way of City Council resolution, it is officially Philly Tech Week.

Back in January, I first announced here this open calendar of events meant to promote technology and innovation in Philadelphia, as organized by my two colleagues and I at Technically Philly.

Thanks to our all of our sponsors, including the official Philly Tech Week headquarters WHYY, some 50 event organizers, thousands of attendees and friends, we have brought together a week-long celebration of technology and innovation featuring some 65 events across industries, focuses and interests.

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Here’s the radio spot currently running on WHYY.

This morning, at a kickoff breakfast for event organizers, we launched the first ever Philly Tech Week to finish up Saturday. This afternoon, we’ll be unveiling the first catalog of City of Philadelphia data online and much more is to come.

Below, find some highlighted events:

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Why this truancy ad sucks and what I think would be better

Media, particularly that which is meant to attract the indifference of youth, has to be more informed by the end user.

Riding the El in Philadelphia, I see this truancy ad with Bill Cosby pretty often.

Maybe I’m just cynical, but this seems so clearly to be an ad that completely ignores its audience. This ad’s message of getting kids to go to school was made by adults, for adults or by high-achieving kids, for high-achieving kids.

I’m not sure I believe that any kid who is at risk for skipping school would look at this ad and be moved to change his or her ways.

It’s a picture of an aged Bill Cosby and a pack of clean cut students, suggesting going to school ‘made me a winner.’ I don’t believe it’s compelling: nameless kids and an older celebrity. I don’t think there is anyone there who, without context, would inspire other students to follow this suggested path.

What would be compelling, I believe, is making clear the looming risks of not graduating high school.

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Hardly Strictly Young roundtable: alternative Knight Commission recommendations

Data, context and engagement were the themes of the Hardly. Strictly. Young. event at the University of Missouri Reynolds Journalism Institute this week, says Michael Maness, the Knight Foundation Vice President of Journalism and Media Innovation.

Also read a Columbia Journalism Review overview from fellow attendee, new friend and total asshole Craig Silverman, who takes the opportunity to poke fun at me. (I forgive him.)

The two-day conference meant for brainstorming alternative recommendations to implement a 2009 Knight Commission report was something of an idea-hackathon.

Though I arrived on Saturday to couchsurf in St. Louis first, the confab kicked off with a welcome dinner Sunday night and was made mostly of rotating groups of us 30 members discussing implementation ideas Monday and presenting those ideas Tuesday. The goal was to create real ideas for implementation.

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Five criteria for the flourishing of news entities of the future

Late at a bar in my neighborhood, a friend asked me: how are you innovative?

His general assessment was that Technically Media, a consultancy, and Technically Philly, a news site, weren’t particularly innovative or interesting for 2011. We’re an online-based startup of 20-somethings creating journalism-fueled content. That might barley bass for envelope-pushing in the late 1990s.

Sure, we think editorial strategy — in which all organizations create content to build audience to have impact — is interesting, and that’s a big part of what we’re doing, but I wasn’t satisfied.

So I’m going to share what I came to: the five criteria of news entities of the future.

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Homelessness in Philadelphia: what I learned working for a social services startup for a year

Last year, I left a position at a homeless advocacy nonprofit and returned to the journalism startup I helped launch. After sharing last month some of the member interviews I collected while working at Back on My Feet, I realized there were other lessons I wanted to share.

I worked for Back on My Feet for less than a year and while there, I wasn’t deep into our programming work, but rather promoting the organization by way of sharing member stories, using social media, managing our website and even working with traditional media contacts. You know, and growing staff interest in content creation, most notably video, like these 15 best examples.

But, you can rest assured that I tried to learn as much as I could with my time there about the social services work and agencies on which our mission and some of my colleagues focused. I was blessed with serving a role that let me meet, speak and share with more of our members than most any of our staff, outside those serving direct care.

I encouraged our staff to use our blog as a way to share homelessness news, and I myself curated weekly news roundups on the subject. I also picked the brains of anyone I came in contact with in or outside ‘the system’ as it is often called.

Given all that, I thought I might share just some of what comes to mind as take aways and lessons from the world of homelessness, particularly in Philadelphia.

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Philly Tech Week Not Just for Geeks: Flying Kite profile

Photo by Jeff Fusco for Flying Kite. Click to enlarge.

Online innovation magazine Flying Kite featured a nice overview of Philly Tech Week, including some background on Technically Philly, written by Salas Sarayia.

Photo by Jeff Fusco for Flying Kite. Click to enlarge.


If you’ve never been to a technology-related event in Philadelphia before, don’t be surprised if that changes before the end of the month. From April 25-30, there will be around 50 technology related events taking place around the city as part of the first annual Philly Tech Week. The series was envisioned by the three journalists from Temple University who are also the founders of Technically Philly. With a model similar to Philly Fringe, any group or organization could submit their event to Technically Philly for inclusion on the Tech Week calendar. The diverse nature of the individual event organizers has created a series with a wide scope and potential reach.

Freelance photographer took some nice shots of the three of us who founded TP and organize PTW, even if that light may have helped me look like a zombie.

Thanks for the coverage.

Chris Wink on Tech Week by Salas Saraiya: Interviews

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Technically Philly article referenced in Philly Police Dept. budget hearing

Yesterday, Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green tweeted something interesting to me:

“Here’s the @TechnicallyPHL article I just referenced during the Police Dept budget hearing http://bit.ly/er1mnf

The article he referenced was some coverage I did of the Philadelphia Police Department using open source technology for its website and utilizing social media for canvassing communities for tips.

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25 things I learned from the best newspapermen (and women) around

Dallas News reporter John Rosenfield sitting at desk, behind typewriter in Houston, TX in November 1948. Photo by Michael Rougier for Life magazine.

Tradition matters to me.

It gives us culture. It is a way to pay remembrance for those who came before. Yes, it’s a little bit fun.

In the world of news, there is a lot of tradition that needs to be lost. Unquestioned impartiality, balance without real context, an ignorance and distance of what funds it, a rigid belief in a strictly reactionary audience.

But, I’ve always felt, there is lot to be taken in from the past. I’ve been blessed to work alongside some talented and hungry older journalists who have imparted great wisdom on me. I thought some of that tradition was worth sharing as, in my own way, I try to preserve the best of it.

Below, find 25 pieces of advice about being a newsman that I take great value in.

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My remarks to Philadelphia City Council after resolution names April 25-30, 2011 as Philly Tech Week

Philadelphia City Councilman Bill Green introducing a Resolution formally calling April 25-30, 2011 as Philly Tech Week, flanked by Councilman Brian O'Neill at left and Councilman Wilson Goode at right, with Sean Blanda and myself, in City Council chambers the morning of April 7, 2011.

With the passage of Resolution 110218, Philadelphia City Council officially named the last six days of April officially as Philly Tech Week, as celebrated with a reading of the resolution in council chambers Thursday morning.

There, my colleague Sean Blanda and I, two of the three co-founders of Technically Philly and organizers of Philly Tech Week, received an embossed copy of the resolution from Councilman Bill Green, who introduced the legislation, and Councilmen Brian O’Neill and Wilson Goode, who co-sponsored the measure. I addressed council briefly to note two things: that (1) technology and the Digital Philadelphia vision is more than just gadgets and (2) the Philly Tech Week resolution featured two dozen groups and organizations because the technology community is so broad.

These resolutions can be a little silly, but they do serve as validation of the interest and growth of the technology community in Philadelphia. It was an honor to represent the community, even though we’re only a small part of its growth.

Below, watch my brief remarks and see the notes that I should have prepared.

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