Those closest to me are familiar with this painfully, long-running inside joke: these elaborate outdoor Philly Tech Week kickoff events I organize always happen with comically poor weather. Philly Tech Week is an annual, open calendar of events on technology, entrepreneurship and innovation that I help curate with my company.
That string of rainouts changed in May 2019, when an afternoon shower gave way to warm sunshine.
A beloved events producer of mine turned to me that afternoon and proclaimed: “We have turned a corner and won’t have any more rained out kickoffs!” Given that that 2019 edition was something of a dry-run for 10th annual Philly Tech Week to take place in May 2020, that seemed like a thrilling prediction. In 2020, we would have the largest, best-planned, most interactive kickoff ever, with the help of perfect weather, as I had always envisioned. This memory made me laugh out loud this week because, last month, I hosted the second consecutive all-virtual Philly Tech Week due to the pandemic. Fatima, you were right, no more rainy outdoor kickoffs!
Continue reading A respite from Philly Tech Week kickoff rainouts
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For the fourth time, I interviewed Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on stage, for the third time during Philly Tech Week, the event series I help organize annually. This took place back in early May: find coverage from Technical.ly Philly here.
It’s a kind of journalism I’m embracing for a community I represent.
Continue reading Full audio from my interview of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney during Philly Tech Week
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After trying last year, with just a week’s notice, we were able to coordinate to add to Philly Tech Week a conversation with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. I interviewed him on-stage.
Continue reading I interviewed Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf during Philly Tech Week 2017
You determine success by what goals you set. The mission of Philly Tech Week from the very start six years ago was to create an entry point for others to discover the community of technologists and entrepreneurs bubbling up in Philadelphia.
So this annual, community-supported calendar of events celebrating technology, entrepreneurship and innovation in Philadelphia will have a role for as long as those subjects warrant local on-boarding. Led by us at local tech news network Technical.ly, some 50 partners put together 150 events during a 10-day period ending this past weekend. And though we’re still collecting survey results and feedback from attendees, organizers and supporters, the early feedback I remains consistent with past years: (a) the collective calendar brings more people out to all our events and (b) the attendees include community-regulars and, just as important, people trying to better understand how to join in.
When that stops, that’s likely when PTW (and events like it) cease to matter. What does change each year is what stands out to me as particularly telling or representative from the calendar. That’s where I’m often most proud.
Continue reading What made me proud about our sixth annual Philly Tech Week
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.
Continue reading What you can learn from the calendar of our fifth annual Philly Tech Week
Ahead of the fifth annual Philly Tech Week, Philadelphia magazine profiled Technical.ly, the local tech news site I cofounded that helps to organize the calendar of more than 150 events.
The piece is fair, largely flattering but challenging, too. It was written by Joel Mathis, whom I’ve come to know some through Philadelphia media circles but got to speak to more at length during the interview process (thanks for the interest Joel). I can admit that I was nervous how the piece would land after I found out the magazine announced plans to launch a vertical focused on “innovation,” but I’ve seen the piece and their plans for Biz Philly appear to be a wider business blog.
It’s still a strange time here for the local news media environment.
Still, though I think Joel did a fine job, I wanted to share a few more background thoughts for those who might be interested. Read the item here, or find a PDF of the article here or buy the mag if you can, then check out below.
(Also, check out this cool blog post of a mutual friend who reached out to make sure the typewriter I’m using in the photo was authentic — it was a gift from my grandfather.)
Continue reading A few additions to Philadelphia magazine’s profile of Technical.ly
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.
Continue reading I don’t believe the estimates for how many people attended your event
Here is the simplest method I know to receive submissions and fairly execute a randomized lottery for a contest.
Twice now, I have operated a lottery for those who wanted to play a video game on a skyscraper in Philadelphia. In 2013, 1,200 people requested to play pong and this April, more than 1,500 people asked to play Tetris. Fewer than 200 people got to play each year.
Continue reading How to do a simple lottery: randomizing entries for a contest
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.
Continue reading Philly Tech Week: 5 events I’m most proud of happening