Back in February I gave a lecture at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s ‘Innovation’ lab about trends in ‘startup clusters,’ or the modern, dense collection of next-stage companies.
I first met Miami founder Michael Hall in early 2016 when I reported a feature on and hosted an event with the entrepreneurship community there. Since then, I’ve spent time with him a handful of times, at SXSW, over dinner and during another pair of trips I made to Miami.
He’s a charming and humble explorer in his and other startup communities, friendly enough to share with others what he learns along the way. So I was tickled to join him on the second season of his popular on-going weekly video podcast interview series called 2Techies, in which he interviews others involved in tech communities.
See it here, or watch it below with a few notes from our conversation.
My trip to Spain in July was full of lots of the new, but, as you’d expect, plenty of the old too.
At the most recent Story Shuffle, I told the story of lessons I learned from Running with the Bulls in Pamplona. But I got to do plenty more in little more than a week.
In fact, eight days in the hub of ancient kingdom turned struggling modern Western European stalwart Spain proved to be among the best trips of my life.
In addition to the Running, in Pamplona I saw the first bullfight of my life. I also had suckling pig at the oldest restaurant in the world, saw more Picassas and Dalis than ever before, ordered tapas, sangria and paella in Spanish, swam in the Mediterranean, visited Gaudi and, of course, did so while reading Hemingway’s the Sun Also Rises for the first time. Below are a view videos and takeaways.
This weekend, I spent at least 30 hours in a windowless room of Drexel University for Random Hacks of Kindness Philadelphia, an international globally-minded hackathon brought to Philly by computer science PhD student and West Philly homeowner Mike Brennan.
It was actually a total hoot.
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.
Forty leaders in Philadelphia media were on hand last week for the unveiling of a structure to develop more public affairs journalism in the region, as proposed by a university research center on behalf of the William Penn Foundation.
From 8:30 a.m. to after 2 p.m. on Jan. 7 inside the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission conference room of the American College of Physicians Building in Old City, a series of discussions focused on bolstering the next generation of news gathering in Philadelphia around community-building and replacing competition with collaboration.
Explicit details were left slim to encourage a dialogue, but loosely defined, Jan Schaffer, the executive director of American University-housed J-Lab, recommended an aggregated content hub that could be supplemented by a limited editorial team. The funded sustainability of that recommendation was not detailed, but rather suggested to be put off for three years until an appropriate level of support was developed, she said. Hers were only recommendations for the Penn Foundation. No action was announced, nor taken.
Rather, Schaffer, a former Philadelphia Inquirer business editor and Pulitzer Prize winner, led a fact-finding research project for the better part of 2009 on behalf of the Penn Foundation, which included more than 60 interviews and ran from July to October. The day was her chance to gauge response. She has not yet submitted a formal proposal but, she said, expects to do so this quarter. Last week’s open unveiling and ensuing feedback would inform her final suggestions, she said.
The ramifications of what Schaffer proposes could have a historic impact. That is, if anything happens at all.
Whether Web technology and social media can have a major impact on local politics in a place like Philadelphia or if they remain secondary tools, became the major topic and a divided one at a panel that served as the November Refresh Philly meeting.
The hour-long panel discussion, which I moderated, was entitled the Future of Local Politics and the Web.
- Panel member Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg, a co-founder of progressive policy online forum Young Philly Politics, seemed dogged in his assessment that the Web remains a supplementary tool to traditional campaign field operations.
- Panel member Benjamin Barnett, the micro-blogger for statewide campaign news site pa2010.com spoke about the role the Web could have in boosting the profile and followship of otherwise limited candidates, most notably citywide Republican candidate in heavily Democratic Philadelphia.
- The third panel member Rob Wonderling, the new CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, was careful not to overstate the role the Web can play on a municipal level but split somewhere in the middle by noting its role in championing transparency and responsiveness of government.
While that discussion remained most present during the event, there was plenty more to be had. Below some other take aways, video of the event and questions I didn’t have time to ask.
You missed the national BarCamp for NewsInnovation conference this past Saturday, held at Temple University in North Philadelphia — even though I encouraged you to come.
It seemed to be a personification of online communities and conversations I’ve been following only online — like the value of personal branding, which was the focus of the first hour-long session I attended, how valuable journalism school really is (why it might not be) and why news organizations and journalists need to add value.
I made it to four sessions, spoke at two and helped divvy out the sponsored food during the long day which officially went from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., though I was out of the house before eight a.m. and not home before 11 p.m. (after a bumping after part).
These conferences are structured around creating dialogues and allowing anyone to speak on something important to him, so nobodies like me led sessions next door to ones held by executives, editors and reporters from places like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, GateHouse Media, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com, McClatchy News and, likely more than I don’t know about. I mean, gees, the whole growing crew at Publish2, which develops tools for what it calls collaborative journalism, showed up.
See the complete schedule here.
I learned some things, and I’d like to share them.
I’ve been backpacking Europe.
I returned last week and have been getting out from underneath the transition since then.