Weekly reviews of trailer food throughout Austin.
If you’re a bootstrapper, creating a pre-seed or seed-stage company, or thinking about starting something cool, check out Tech Ranch Austin, “a community of vibrant tech start-ups housed under one roof, and surrounded by the people, processes and materials needed to drive business success.”
Kevin Koym and Jonas Lamis have done a lot for our tech community and it’s exciting to see them take the future by the horns. Given their plans for the future this looks like a great opportunity for Austin entrepreneurs and geeks across the board.
This is another powerful example of smart folks coming together to create the next wave of technologies, without the needless walls that so often hamper innovation and energy.
I love this town.
This started as a quick comment on Alex Hillman’s post Creative Agency, which quickly grew so long that I realized that I had begun writing a post of my own, so I’ve shifted it to my site so I don’t hijack Alex’s discussion (plus I don’t post often enough).
Please read Alex’s post prior to reading this one.
So, Alex’s ideas set my mind-gears a’spinnin’. He covers several aspects of building a community that is beneficial to its members but also to its clients, uniting several concepts that drive me personally, and I believe drive communities around the globe.
A couple of coworking initiatives (LaunchPad, Conjunctured) are growing here in Central Texas, which I think will mesh well with our various Web and creative groups like Refresh Austin, which in turn play a large part in sharing knowledge and connecting members of the professional creative and Web communities. That said, we’re a disparate community, which can be both good (an abundance of creativity and different perceptions and solutions of challenges) and bad (harder to spread the word and unify), and often times the individuals, whether they work for themselves or sit amongst hundreds in large enterprises aren’t able to rely on each other to augment their strengths.
Some love design, others front-end development, or back-end coding. Some dig deep into the perfect turn of phrase, while others concentrate on the most effective way to monetize a product or service. Some of us like to translate between the various cultures. We’re different, which is very good. But we could do more to help each other.
Alex highlights some of the most glaring gaps amongst our profession:
- Creatives who don’t take responsibility for “leading the client just as much as we are leading the project and the result that the end user experiences”
- Independent creatives who may not have the business background, the time or the personality to look out for themselves on the business front
These are large gaps, but they are addressable by the right communities, some of which exist, others of which we need to being forming.
So, we need to connect these communities:
- Independents and corporate designers/developers – it’s amazing how different these experiences can be, and both groups will benefit from the sharing of knowledge
- Experienced and new professionals – connect the energy, vigor and will-not-stop drive with experience and knowledge (business, and yes some political). We have to tap into the excited professionals – no cynicism
- Business professionals and creative professionals – business folks would love to tap into the fountain of ideas that make up a creative world and the designers and developers will gain valuable skills from their counterparts making it much easier to navigate the world of contracts, time lines and expectations
- Open source developers/communities and businesses – As Alex notes, “being an open source software developer does not, and should not, condemn ones self to a life of poverty”, which follows up on Whurley’s Opensville post.
Chief among my questions to the community is to learn what are the first steps we should take to move forward building this new creative agency platform and the other pieces required to move our communities forward? CitizenAgency and Indy Hall have an edge as established, physical spaces with strong communities, but I think Austin is an ideal setting for this as well and could quickly contribute.
So where to?
While South by Southwest 2008 continues to rock Austin, the mass influx of geeks have made their way back to their domiciles in cities near and far. The Interactive conference is over, but we made our mark on the city, doubt you not: Tex-Mex and Barbecue were eaten in vast quantities, liquor, beer and wine were ingested in copious quantities and many a breakfast was consumed at the crack of noon.
Yet again, I met some outstanding people and count myself lucky to have participated in amazing conversations.
Our community is vibrant and strong because we have held onto the expectations that we have a world to improve, and that the changes we need to make require the concentrated effort of a diverse and passionate team.
While so many technologies exist to make it easy for us to work together from disparate locations and time zones, South by Southwest 2008 demonstrated yet again that physical presence conjoined with social interaction forms mighty bonds, reenergizes the community and breeds new ideas. I can’t wait to see the projects that launch in the coming months, nor can I wait to interact with and learn from the friends I made at the conference this year as I have with those I met in years past.
Thanks to everyone who came to Austin this year and thanks most especially to those who took the time to strike up a conversation with friends-to-be.
Oh, and yes, my voice is coming back, though I rather like the deeper, Tom Waits-like guttural undertones it picked up in the last few days. It makes me sound ten times cooler than I really am.
Michelle has posted a great wrap up of Tim Westergren’s speech at Pandora’s Get Together here in Austin. Pandora sent me a number of reminders about the event, but I chose not to go, which is a shame because it sounds like it was fun.
Michelle’s post reminds me of the Ultimate Music Recommendation Smackdown panel I attended the last day of SXSWi ’07, which added a lot of interesting pieces to my understanding of music consumption on the Net as well as how the comparisons and matches are made. The most interesting takeaway from that panel was the fact that four of the five services (Pandora, Last.Fm, iLike and I believe Bryght (site may be down)) had to add filters to their systems after discovering that their services were recommending The Beatles and Radiohead for almost every other song or artist. “We see you like Hank Williams, we think you would like Creep from Radiohead”.
That’s pretty damn interesting if you think about it. People are naturally ranking Radiohead at a level of interest as high, or higher as The Beatles by their natural listening habits. Some of this should be attributed to the average age of people using their services, which I assume skews to the younger side, but that’s still a major point when you think about the popularity of the two bands, and the legacy of Radiohead.
The other interesting point I took away from that point of the conversation is the fact that in order for those two connections to be made listeners included the two artists amongst a wide variety of bands and genres. A quick view of my own listening habits and those of many of my friends provides some reinforcement, but I can’t wait to see the types of connections being formed world-wide. It would be amazing to have a “map” or some other form of visual analytics of these musical connections.
Thanks for sharing the experience Michelle!
TechShop, “a fully-equipped open-access workshop and creative environment that lets you drop in any time and work on your own projects at your own pace” is opening 10 new locations in 2008, including an Austin shop! According to their site:
The TechShop workshop provides a wide variety of machinery and tools for the open and unlimited use of its members, including milling machines and lathes, welding stations and plasma cutters, sheet metal working equipment, drill presses and band saws, industrial sewing machines, hand tools, plastic working equipment, electronics design and fabrication facilities, tubing and metal bending machines, electrical supplies and tools, and pretty much everything you’d ever need to make just about anything all by yourself.
How cool is that?! They provide classes around how to use the various tools, which are open to the public as well as members who sign up for one of the gym-like plans (daily, monthly and yearly subscriptions). While Sarah and I would both love to have an amazing workshop, and will likely build one over time, it’s pretty unlikely we could afford, or for that matter, justify some of the tools they will make available.
Man, a laser cutter would be so much fun to play with! Oh, and tinkering with the 3d printer would be a great too.