The fifth annual Philly Tech Week, now presented by Comcast, kicks off later this week. There are more than 150 events on the calendar, two dozen of the largest anchors we at Technical.ly organize. We publish in five markets now and do an array of events but this is easily the largest undertaking of ours each year.
Below find out what you can learn by looking at that calendar.
Five years in, our team already has identified several tweaks we’ll need to make to the structure for the future, and given the subject matter, when an event series like this begins to annualize, it risks getting stale quickly. And unlike other (valuable) STEM-related event series that from institutions to introduce subject matter, we still very much see Philly Tech Week as a community festival.
As I’ve become fond of saying, each PTW calendar aims to be something of a time capsule to better understand the Philly tech community’s interests at that time. So as I’ve done each year, before the week starts, I take a long, hard look at our calendar and see if we’re doing
I’m always stressed going into this week, fearful of disappointing surging expectations, always aware that with so many partners, we always miss subjects and leaders and goals that some have. It’s our goal to accurately represent this big and bold and broad community: can we do it? It’s what gets me worried and excited for most of the first quarter of each year. But like in other years, when we pullback and enter the week, I’m so proud of what our team of 10 has helped put together.
Now I’m getting excited.
So with full respect to the 150 other events, including many of our own events not included here, below I share a dozen trends that I think show how Philly tech should be remembered in 2015:
- Comcast is our title sponsor — I’ve been interested by some of the criticism we’ve gotten this year, as Comcast became our title sponsor. (Previously our great friends in AT&T’s Northeast Regional division were) Because, as one reddit commenter noted, if Comcast, one of the country’s largest tech firms, wasn’t a leader in something like this, the criticism would be on them for not getting involved. This is a meaningful way they’re showing their presence (in addition to supporting many other tech events here and across the country). We also see it as a chance to make Comcast an even better partner — PhillyCAM is hosting an event on Comcast’s upcoming franchising agreement and we can have a meaningful dialogue.
- Make your anchors bigger — We’re kicking off #PTW15 with Arcade at Dilworth, our big outdoor festival of locally-made tech. There will be food, booze and a chance to better feel and touch what the tech scene is at one of the city’s newest urban parks. Then, like last year, we’re closing PTW with what has become one of the East Coast’s largest ticketed tech networking events — 1,500 people at the HQ of Comcast for our Signature Event. Many more people are touching this community and can rally in a big way.
- Impact policy — We’re hosting a packed mayoral forum and intimate city council candidate luncheon. This community surged recently during the Nutter administration’s last eight years, so now it’s time to transition to permanence. There will again be an FCC Commissioner in Philadelphia, this time Jessica Rosenworcel. See also above the franchising agreement event and this net neutrality for people of color discussion. Plus an #opengov hackathon.
- Technologists meet other technologists — This still happens throughout the week with this big grand collision of events and there are prominent examples: like Arcweb hosting Bulogics, whom some found through our reporting, and the Drupal meetup hosting prominent dev Tim Plunkett who is moving to Philly.
- Trending technologies are shown off — In addition to being on display at aforementioned Arcade kickoff and closing Signature Event, there are open 3D printing sessions and emerging robotic music production and littlebits for kids and drones.
- Talking about what goes wrong — We’re hosting our #Failfest and others will share hardware business perils.
- Connect the dots — Everyone wants the community mapped. We’re doing more of that, with another Center City map and tour (and ensuing party) with GM and the first Startup Crawl.
- Other industries are meeting tech via PTW — Other sectors are talking tech like museums and arts institutions and news media groups and collisions of food tech and education tech.
- We talk a lot about access to tech — And that ranges from adult learners to people with various disabilities (built off this hacakthon we hosted) to gender inclusivity and youth robotics.
- Institutions feel comfortable here — We’ve always tried to balance the newest and most organic groups with institutions, like the Art Museum hosting a tech-themed Art After Five or that #opengov hack event organized by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association and Independence Blue Cross hosting a healthcare innovation event.
- Experimental efforts feel comfortable here — I’m so excited that Kensington arts collective little berlin (which Peter Erickson of our team is a curator) has been involved in the last four Philly Tech Weeks and that will continue. I’m also ecstatic that we finally connected with a Fringe Arts performance. And we also have familiar coworking spaces hosting Buddhist meditation events as they push beyond digital culture.
- We’re doing attract and retain — With another year of the Student Startup Summit to connect college students to this conversation and youth media literacy awards.