I don’t believe the estimates for how many people attended your event

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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“How Philly Tech Week Became an Institution” Philadelphia magazine

Christopher Wink isn’t yet on Philly Mag’s list of the city’s most powerful people (check out the newest issue!) but give it time. He’s a young man in a hurry, a co-founder of the Technically Philly website that has grown into a franchise covering the tech scenes in several East Coast cities. That venture gave birth to Philly Tech Week — the fourth edition of which starts today — and which is expected to draw 25,000 people to game-playing, hack-a-thons, seminars on starting up your own tech company, and much more. (And oh, yeah: People will be playing Tetris on the side of the Cira Centre.)

Philly Tech Week: 5 events I’m most proud of happening

Event production is stressful, chaotic and labor-intensive. It is also an act in designed collision. There is a lot of learning to be done in all of these ways.

This Friday will kickoff the fourth annual Philly Tech Week Presented by AT&T, far and away the largest collaborative effort in which I have ever taken part. To track what I’m learning in the process, I pulled five of the more than 130 events happening during the week from which I believe I’m learning the most.

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Baltimore City Council’s first hearing on innovation economy; our role in it

The largest event we helped organize during the second annual Baltimore Innovation Week was our opening party that drew 1,000 people to Penn Station Plaza in partnership with the Gathering food trucks and Station North Arts and Entertainment Inc.

The party activated a public space, as seen in the above photo from the event’s beginning, widened the reach of a narrow technology community and brought about other partnerships. It was fun and exciting and big.

But likely the event with bigger direct impact was the small Baltimore City Council hearing we helped launch with District 7 Councilman Nick Mosby, the first ever city council hearing dedicated to the innovation economy in Baltimore.

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Best of Philly and Best of Baltimore honoree: Technical.ly

Both Technically Philly and Technically Baltimore were honored in the prestigious annual ‘Best of’ lists from their respective city magazines this year. It’s really validating and rewarding to get nods in two different cities from prestigious city magazines.

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Technically Baltimore and Baltimore Innovation Week: we’ve expanded

First shared in April and then announced more fully last month, earlier this summer, I helped soft-launch Technically Baltimore, another local technology news site committed to covering and growing the conversation around technology bettering the region there.

What’s even better is that, with the help of more than a dozen partners, we’re also organizing the inaugural Baltimore Innovation Week the last week of September, featuring more than 20 events.

It’s an entirely new challenge to go to a new city, though we’ve spent at least a year familiarizing ourselves with Charm City and its meaningful, passionate technology community and have hired a full-time reporter there. Our goal is to take what we’ve learned in Philadelphia and do it better in another city we love: connect entrepreneurship, enterprise, digital access, smarter government and creative and artistic communities at their intersection and try to use news as convener and connector to raise awareness and strengthen their impact on Baltimore.

Let me know if you know anyone we should know. It’s a thrilling opportunity.