A conversation on building a maker community: Philacentrics

I’m thankful I was included in a salon-style dinner among a dozen Philadelphia city creative and philanthropic leaders at the historic Waterworks restaurant. The prompt for the conversation over dinner was the ‘maker economy.’

The discussion focused on Philadelphia but clearly the themes tie to a lot of cities around the world today: how do we build a broad future economy? The conversation was off-the-record, but there were a few topics interesting enough to be worth sharing without attribution.

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Al Jazeera hackathon imagines the future of news [GigaOm]

Gigaom’s Matthew Ingram recapped the Aljazeera hackathon that brought me to Qatar over Thanksgiving. I got a mention in his nice write-up. His words:

Christopher Wink, who founded the Technical.ly network of local technology sites in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and other cities, was one of the mentors that Al Jazeera brought in for the event — which pulled together 90 participants from 37 countries, out of more than 1,600 applications. He has a blog post in which he lists some of his favorite projects, and almost all of them seem like they could help make the job of a journalist easier, or in some way expand the practice of news (there’s another good list here). [[MORE]]

My first internet

In 2002, I was a junior in high school. In my school, there was a mess of networked computer printers that effectively, if uselessly, allowed you to print from one room to another. It often caused confusion and, looking back, was my first experience with the serendipity I love of the internet. I just recycled the box to prove it.

I recently found that old box from a pair of work boots I bought for my first summer working for a construction company in the county I grew up in. Once I saw the box, I immediately remembered what I used it for back in high school. I had a strange habit of visiting those networked printers — in the library, computer lab, various classrooms — and grabbing whatever was sitting in the printer tray at the given time. There almost always was something leftover.

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5 Aljazeera hackathon projects that signal future news innovation

On editorial teams that I’ve been a part of, two tasks not core to reporting still take up time that I think could be more automated. Both were attempted to be addressed at Canvas, the first media innovation hackathon organized by Aljazeera in Qatar this weekend.

I am proud to say I was there in Doha this week serving as one of 10 mentors for the 90 participants from 37 countries who were chosen out of 1,600 applicants (40 percent of those chosen were women). The winning projects were chosen out of 19. (Other favorites)

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You can only succeed in building a business if you know what’s success: ‘Like a Boss’

The hard part of entrepreneurship may not be succeeding, as much as it is about deciding what success if for you. That might be the cause of so much argument about this moment of entrepreneurship — should it be wealth, mission, personal satisfaction, longevity, legacy or something else? More likely, it’s a mixture of them all, with your own happiness the leader, and deciding on that balance is part of the process.

But the point here is you can’t ever succeed in anything (including building your business) unless you know what you want to happen. That way you can optimize for whatever you most want.

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Smaller cities can build ‘innovation corridors’: my remarks at Tech2Gether

Innovation hubs are dense collections of knowledge workers developing new methods for old ways. With like-minded members of the creative class can come community, and the retention that comes when we develop networks where we live.

The web has allowed for a more organic, smaller-scale kind of growth that is developing faster vibrancy in urban ways, but it doesn’t only have to happen in big cities, like how I’ve described in my home Philadelphia. Since launching Technical.ly Delaware, I’ve become really excited by how Wilmington could develop an innovation corridor of its own.

At a recent conference called Tech2Gether on that 70,000-person city’s future, I spoke on that very subject. Following an article I wrote, I called those in attendance to see a Delaware pipeline that could result in a celebrated, healthier urban core of Wilmington.

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Beyond Recruiting: I edited and published my first ebook for Technical.ly

I edited, co-wrote and helped publish Beyond Recruiting, a new 8,000-word ebook on creative approaches to the challenging hiring environment for technical and creative talent.

It’s the work of Technical.ly, based on the reporting of many of our lead reporters and contributors, in addition to my own sourcing, and the technical and strategy work of my cofounder Brian Kirk. It’s 45-pages and features nine big ideas based on case studies from nearly two dozen tech companies in the mid-Atlantic.

Download it free here with an email address.

[PDF if that link doesn’t work]

Named ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce named my Technical.ly cofounder Brian Kirk and I the ‘Young Entrepreneurs of the Year’ in their 32nd annual small business excellence awards.

We were proud to get on stage, following another dozen winners in different categories, at the Crystal Tea Room in the old Wannamaker Building in front of past attendees, Chamber members and service providers. I will likely share the recognition for years to come, so I wanted to share some initial thoughts here too. (Find pics of or presentation here)

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Don’t build a company for 60 days. Try 60 years: SAP CEO Bill McDermott

When you run a publicly-traded company with an $80 billion market cap, it’s easy to focus on the short-term. Strained by a year of declining share price, Bill McDermott, the first American CEO of German software giant SAP, says he’s far more focused on making an organization-wide shift that will better suit the company for the future.

“You can’t build a company for 60 days; build for 60 years,” he said.

I interviewed McDermott as a keynote for the IMPACT venture capital conference held by PACT in Center City Philadelphia last week. Find my coverage of our conversation here.