I go to a lot of events. I cover them. I organize them. I speak at the em. I attend them. For any given event, easily the most common question is how many people attend. It’s how we get a sense of how popular (which is a clumsy shorthand for how valuable something is) the event was. But it’s the wrong question and, I’ve found, almost always a lie.
Because it’s so damn hard. Think about the challenge of estimating attendance at large-scale public events. We always have our reporters estimate attendee counts and often have organizers challenge us. Once an event stretches beyond even just a few dozen people, there’s no sure thing that anyone there will have a good sense of the attendee count. People will have a perceived sense of the crowd — was the event well attended or not — but that has very little to do with actual account and more to do with how full an event location is, among other biases and perspectives. Give me the right number of chairs, and I’ll make your 20-person event crowded.
It’s become second nature for me to hand count attendance at smaller events and do batch counting for larger ones (gauge what a group of 100 looks like and then estimate from there). So I read other event estimates with heavy skepticism.
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Appreciation for art is meant to be, by today’s focus on accessibility, wholly subjective. Whatever your view of something can be defended as your experience with it.
Over drinks at a Gayborhood bar last month, a primatologist-turned-choreographer shared his view on trying to interject objective reality into art — incorporating technology, data and fact into ‘timed performance art.’ With no art history background or deep cultural experience, I deserve no voice in the conversation, but our chatter did result in me sharing with him something I’ve been mulling since.
My knowledge of the debate on whether art is subjective or objective seems incomplete. As I understand it, there are two very different types of art: that which aims to inspire through an existing tradition and that which aims to explore something new.
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An essay called ‘Share Something Greater’ I wrote on the social impact possibilities of consumer technology was published in the Asteroid Belt Almanac, an anthology from the Head and the Hand Press, a small publisher based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to also be included in their Rust Belt Almanac as well.
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This commencement address from “Always Sunny” actor Charlie Day gets really good, including: “I’ve always had this half-baked philosophy that having a Plan B can muddy up your Plan A.”
Fail in the place where you would want to fail.
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Printed media are inflexible, expensive and in-viral, and that’s why its utility will last. That’s what I told nearly 100 mostly older, more established attendees of the annual American Association of Independent News Distributors conference inside the Times Square Crowne Plaza May 1. Looking on it now, having not been given my context, my words were likely a little surprising and surely unusual.
Number of Views:1475
To set up a Philadelphia City Council hearing on tech business that Technical.ly Philly organized with Councilman David Oh for Philly Tech Week, I gave a short testimony to committee.
Watch the full 90-minute hearing, including mine below. The goal was to better familiarize council with tech business. We organized something similar in Baltimore.
Number of Views:1184
To promote his new book ‘Things a Little Bird Told Me,’ Twitter cofounder Biz Stone was at the Free Library of Philadelphia for a ticketed, breakfast event for which I interviewed him on stage for a half-hour before audience questions finished the morning.
My line of questions can be seen here. I tried to to steer the conversation away from what has already been said by Stone, a well-covered tech entrepreneur who is in the midst of a popular book tour, but we still hit upon some of what has already been covered: the designer by trade has focused on bringing the human touch to software.
That helps explain how decidedly simple Twitter is and how Stone’s new startup Jelly, a network-driven answer app, has stayed focused on getting social responses.
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Whether Facebook anonymous login will matter or not will be determined if enough sites and apps see enough benefit in the frictionless vetting of users by Facebook that they’ll forgo trying to collect user data themselves. Find snippets of my interview with KYW in their quick-hit here.
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The hyperlocal news site NEastPhilly.com that served Northeast Philadelphia for five years stopped publishing in December and was closed by founder Shannon McDonald. During that time, I helped her with strategy, reporting and web work. Since its closing, I’ve wanted to share a few lessons from that time.
Find out why Shannon decided to stop publishing NEast in her own post here. Below, I share what I learned (find other writing here I did about NEast here).
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A couple times a year, someone in Philadelphia technology will say to me, what that community really needs to broaden its prominence is “its own Tech Crunch,” a reference to the established and influential tech business blog with Silicon Valley roots. The implication is, with all due respect to the maturity of Technical.ly Philly (relative to our newer, smaller markets) and its readership and regular events, that Philadelphia needs a megaphone to a global audience of investors and talent.
When someone says this, I hide my cringe and instead I politely nod, before changing the subject.
Of course, a statement like that shows a profound lack of understanding of audience, goals and impact in online media. Tech Crunch is established and influential because it covers big, well-funded tech business nationally, not a fledgling community in a non-traditional hub. Technical.ly Philly looks the way it does because of where it is. It doesn’t have national readership because it isn’t national in focus. The people who say “we need a Tech Crunch,” are confusing outcomes and solutions (Silicon Valley was the global tech leader first, then it spawned Tech Crunch, not the other way around).
This is a problem that happens elsewhere.
Number of Views:6525