15 things I learned three years after launching Technically Philly

First, let’s acknowledge that three years is not a terribly long time.

Still, I’m proud that three years ago last month, Brian James Kirk, Sean Blanda and I launched a blog to cover the technology community of Philadelphia. Three years later, we are full-time employees of a growing business with a good reputation.

In that time, we’ve had some accomplishments that are worth being proud of. It’s been a learning experience to be sure.

First, our organization is changing in lots of ways.

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Philly Daily News List of ‘Rising Power Players’ under 40; I’m on it

The Philadelphia Daily News today ran a cover story celebrating 10 of the city’s ‘rising power players,’ in celebrating the close of this year’s State of Young Philly, and I am proud to say I’ve been included.

Find the story online here, and my section here. Go buy a copy.

I was included for being one of three co-founders of local technology news site Technically Philly and being involved in the development of the city’s startup and hacker communities. I was perhaps most pleased that I have so far survived the Philly.com comments, mostly because I have helped build a small for-profit with three full-time employees.

The automatically-generated plaque that a company offered me by email after this news story ran. Though the $169 price tag was a little more than I thought worth it, I was interested in the process and how the newspaper itself didn't offer this.

While I am certainly proud to be included, I am humbled knowing that there are so many other young Philadelphians making great change. There is no way this list of 10 could do that justice. It’s just a highlight of some of us, and I’m proud to be part of it, but I am more than aware of how many others could have been on this list.

For the record, though, I am only 25, not 27. I should also say that I am certainly nervous about being included because of my relatively small contribution at such a young age. I look forward to being involved in much more in the future.

A PDF of the cover here and the article here.

I should also add that my colleague Sean Blanda was also recently included in a young up-incomers list.

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ONA 2011: conferences are good for more than just their sessions [VIDEO]

My colleagues Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I learned plenty at the 2011 Online News Association conference in Boston, but we also did more touring and connected more with old friends and colleagues than last year. We even sneaked out to use the city's new bicycle sharing program and visit Fenway Park, among other sights. We were in Boston for the conference from Sept. 22-25. Photo by some lady who took the camera from her elderly father.

Sometimes, if not most times, what happens outside of the sessions can be what’s most valuable about a conference.

I learned plenty the traditional way at the 2011 Online News Association national conference, held in Boston this weekend Sept. 22-25, but I surely got more out of reconnecting with friends and colleagues from other markets, even more than I remember doing at past professional events. It also didn’t hurt that I dove more into Boston than I have while visiting elsewhere for work travel.

ONA has been a national convener among news innovation conversations for more than a decade, and more locally, I’ve been involved with reviving the Philadelphia chapter of the group.

Full disclosure: this year, I was able to attend thanks to the very generous support of the Center for Public Interest Journalism at Temple University and the Wyncote Foundation. I was able to attend last year with similar support from the William Penn Foundation, which has additionally funded the Transparencity reporting project I have led.

After a few years co-running a sustainable niche news site, participating in the online discourse around news innovation and attending events like ONA and others from the Aspen Institute, the University of Missouri and, yes, our own BarCamp NewsInnovation, I felt like attending the event was just as important to talk shop with others doing similar work across the country as it was to catch up on a lot of in-session conversations that felt less relevant to where we are professionally.

Tourism and good, smart friends aside, below I share what I learned in a conference’s traditional way.

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Technically Media team head shots by Colin M. Lenton Photography

My Technically Media colleagues Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and I kept running into situations where we needed headshots or team photos.

Even as a startup, for conferences and speaking engagements, we’d send out photos taken by friends or shots that had landed on Facebook and we realized we needed something a bit more formal.

So, as noted last week on our company blog, we worked with Philadelphia Photographer Colin M. Lenton, whom we know from our college newspaper days, at his rental photo studio in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia. We’re really pleased with the results. See the low resolution versions on our company Facebook page here.

(As noted here a couple months ago, we actually had a few fun shots taken by another great Philadelphia photographer, Neal Santos, but that just in preparation for another photo shoot altogether and weren’t formal headshots.)

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Technically Philly team photos by Neal Santos

Technically Media co-founders Sean Blanda, Brian James and Christopher Wink. Photo by Neal Santos

All photos by Neal Santos while preparing for a Technically Philly Technology Leaders Breakfast photo shoot back in March.

See the other team photos here. Below is one of the photos from the next morning’s leaders breakfast, which

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Philly Tech Week Signature event: video of my address and take aways

Standing with my colleague Sean Blanda, City Managing Director Rich Negrin and my colleague Brian James Kirk at Signature Event. Photo by Rachel Playe.

The inaugural Philly Tech Week has passed, and I shared a roundup of the entire week, but I wanted to focus in on one of the larger events.

As I noted, my Technically Philly colleagues and fellow PTW organizers each took hold of a portion of the nine of the week’s 65 events that we organized. Among what I handled was taking the lead on our Friday night Signature Event, featuring a 150-person, catered cocktail reception at WHYY in Old City, featuring keynote speaker Rich Negrin, the City of Philadelphia Managing Director who discussed good government initiatives.

I have some take aways below, which I hope to add to, in addition to the text of the quick address I gave to kick off the evening and video, showing that I’m not very good at actually listening to what I write.

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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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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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Three proposed ONA 2011 panels

The annual national Online News Association conference, to be held this fall in Boston, has launched its 2011 panel picker, in which those interested can vote to support their favorites of a couple hundred suggested sessions.

I am somewhat involved in three. To vote, users just need to sign up with an email. If you’re interested give love to any of these three:

  1. Data Sets You Free — Informed by my Transparencity work, I proposed to lead a session with Robert Cheetham of Azavea and Chris Satullo of WHYY that would focus on the following: “In Philadelphia, a GIS shop, an NPR affiliate, a foundation, an indie news site and a technology community are coming together to organize, catalog, share and use city government data to create applications, stories and coverage that boosts transparency and efficiency. This presentation focuses on what was done, why collaboration was important and lessons on doing the same elsewhere.” Questions: 1. Why is government data so important? 2. What are challenges, obstacles and lessons from an actual example? 3. What can other journalists learn from such a project?
  2. This isn’t a panel: 10 lessons from Technically Philly — “10 actionable lessons derived from what we’ve learned building Technically Philly, a profitable blog that covers technology in Philadelphia. No panel discussion, just 10 takeaways that you can use at your job tomorrow including sources of revenue and editorial philosophies that you didn’t learn in journalism school.”
  3. Making it work with a small staff – Organized by colleague Sean Blanda, “How can you keep the lights on and the posts coming when you have a staff of ten or less? Join us as we discuss the workflow hacks and editorial jujitsu necessary for a first-rate news site.”
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Whiskey Chats: Technically Media talks with Jim Brady

Over at TechnicallyMedia.com, we’re feeling out the editorial strategy of our editorial strategy company’s website.

For now, it’ll have about a post a week, usually focusing on lessons in growing audience and sharing content online, in addition to specific case studies from our work and now, whenever we have the chance to grab someone smart who pops into our new office to talk about journalism, the future of news and the like, we’ll share a new episode in our Whiskey Chats podcast.

We launched the first episode this week when former TBD.com General Manager and WashingtonPost.com executive editor Jim Brady stopped by.

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Thanks to Sean Blanda for editing and naming the product.

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