Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Posts Tagged ‘Events’

Geek Week AZ Recap

As @AbeVigoda would say, “I am alive!”

Somehow, I survived Geek Week AZ. I went to Ignite Phoenix, TEDxPhoenix, Desert Code Camp, SustainaBIL, AZIMA, Developer Ignite, Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference (AZEC), Social Media Club + AZEC Mixer, Phoenix WordCamp, #evfn, and PodCamp AZ. All without taking any time off work. The only events going on during working hours were AZEC & WordCamp, where I co-worked!

The spaghetti is on the wall, and it’s time to see what stuck. The event organizers who banded together to make it happen pulled it off. It was no easy task, because they’ve already got their handful with their own events, but this year, they went above and beyond to create something new. The culmination of 2 years of conversations about making a big splash in the local tech community resulted in a festival of independently organized tech-focused and tech-related events.

Geek Week AZ became what it was because the idea evolved WITH criticism. “You don’t think this will work? Then propose a better way of accomplishing the same goals.” What Geek Week AZ was looks nothing — NOTHING — like what Geek Week AZ initially set out to be.

Now that it has happened, there are new criticisms. It’s very important that this criticism doesn’t fall of deaf or defensive ears.

There are at least a dozen people who have said they are opposed to multi-day events. Perhaps something like Geek Week AZ isn’t for everyone, but the beauty of the model is that most of the events are free and you don’t have to pay for the full event and feel obligated to attend as much as possible. Some people just can’t handle 4 days in a row of learning, networking, and staying out late.

I thought one of the major problems would have been people not knowing what is going on and where to go. That’s why I put together a pocket guide to Geek Week AZ. Either the site solved the problem, or the problem didn’t end up being there to begin with.

There are justifiable concerns about the momentum and energy of attendees who participated in multiple events. It also seems possible that events could have built up more excitement and anticipation if they were standing alone and not a smaller part of a bigger thing.

Does this mean Geek Week AZ shouldn’t exist? No. This means there is valid criticism that should be addressed — not ignored — and addressed in a way that still accomplishes the same goals. What are the goals? I might have posted about them before, but feel free to ask me.

The way you respond to criticism shows your ability to think creatively. You can say, “It doesn’t work like this, so maybe we should go back to the old way of doing it.” Or you can say, “If it doesn’t work like this, what can we do to make it work better so we still go in the same direction: forward.”

Here’s to going forward.

RSVP’d for Ignite Phoenix 3, Submissions Still Open

I just RSVP’d for Ignite Phoenix #3! If you’re in the Phoenix area, you need to go! If you’re not in Phoenix, see if your city has an Ignite event. If not, START ONE! They’re awesome. Look up videos online.

What: Ignite Phoenix #3
Cost: Free
When: Wednesday, February 25th
Time: 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway
RSVP at Upcoming and/or Facebook!

If you want to submit, here is their submission page. The deadline is February 6th!

Videos from previous Ignite Phoenix events!

Geek Week AZ

I had a meeting today with some of the all-stars in the local tech and business event planning community. The foundation is still being laid and nothing is set in stone, but we discussed ways to work together to make all the tech and business events in Phoenix bigger and better.

In Phoenix, we have quite a few great events, and while some are bursting at the seams, they could all use a little more exposure. Ranging from 80-600 attendees, these events have the potential of collectively drawing crowds of 1,000-2,000 people (with 5,000+ in the not-too-distant future) if they strategically work together.

The general concept is to plan the events around each other to make what could be called a festival of conferences. Each participating event would still organize its own content and have its own committees, but there would (ideally) be an umbrella committee that works to line up the venue and festival-wide sponsorships.

Imagine if we could all take a week off and enjoy back-to-back events like PodCampAZ, AZ Entrepreneurship Conference, Ignite Phoenix, BarCampPhoenix, Startup Weekend Phoenix, and even BIL Conference.

This type of event would draw people from all around the Phoenix metropolitan area and even people from out of state.

There is much to be done before anything like this can happen, but the meetings have started and it is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality.

Send Phoenix to South by Southwest! (SXSW)

Please take a moment to support some of our local (Phoenix, AZ) tech heroes and heroine in their effort to become SXSW presenters/panelists. To help out, click the links below and rate them five stars. Registration is required, but it’s quick and painless. Also, if you have a second, leave a comment about any of them you find particularly interesting.

Biray Alsac
Reduce MySpace Between Waist & Thighs So Wiki Live Longer
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/877
When NY Times covered blogger Om Malik’s heart attack, it was a wake-up call to Web 2.0 community about our lifestyle. Is being ‘plugged in’ destroying our health? We beg to differ. Consider using the internet for fitness! This panel will debate which next generation technologies are helpful in ‘exercising the web.’

James Archer
Brand Tribes: The Art of Creating a Community
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/887
Learn how to promote your product or service using the concept of “brand tribes,” which smashes the old “Us vs. Theme” marketing mentality and replaces it with a consumer-driven branding framework. Learn how to create a cult following with specific, real-world examples and hands-on exercises.

James Archer
Out of the Bedroom and Into the Boardroom
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1342
You’ve enjoyed the home office life, but it’s time for your web design business to grow up and get serious. Discover the top ten truths that successful businesses have learned the hard way, including ideas on office space, employees, business partners, cash flow, and staying sane.

Francine Hardaway
Fire Your PR Firm: Brand it Yourself
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1259
Social Media Club interim board members will give advice and anecdotes about how PR and branding have changed because of social media and how, as an entrepreneur, you sre empowered. You can now market your own product or company better than any PR firm. And you should. This is for technical people, to teach them the DIY of social media as a branding tool. You would be surprised how many engineers don’t know this.

Derek Neighbors
Collaborative Development Environments
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/885
The interactive industry has been exploring online/virutal social networks over the past few years, but are just now starting to delve into physical collaborative development environments. We will look at social group dynamics in a number of arenas including open studio space for architects, collaborative class room models, green dev houses, collaboration based musical acts and co-working interactive facilities. We will be inspecting how existing collaboration models can be used to help improve the interactive industry.

Brian Shaler
Distributed Computing: Let the Client do the Work
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1068
Traffic surges on the Internet can topple newly popular web services; it’s a common side-effect of success called “Growing Pains.” Web services can provide more functionality while consuming fewer server resources by distributing the workload to end-users’ computers using desktop applications and browser plug-ins.

Brian Shaler
Future of Video on the Internet: Interactive Experiences
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1065
Networks are getting faster, servers are getting more powerful, software is getting more advanced, digital video production hardware is getting more affordable. In 5-10 years, how will end-users be experiencing video content? The key is interactivity.

Pamela Slim
From Blog to Book Deal: How-To
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/913
Is traditional publishing dead? Apparently not, as many bloggers are landing book deals that extend and enhance their online work. Learn the ins and outs from bloggers who have done it including how to shape a coherent book from tons of posts and involve your readers in your writing.

Joshua Strebel
FAIL As If Your Life Depends On It
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1754
It does. Last year we bankrupted your company on the whim of a Unicorn, this year we show you why failing in your startup/life/project is the first step in truly succeeding. FAIL early- FAIL often. Your success is measured as the sum of recoveries from near disaster.

Joshua Strebel
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/950
You are a nobody – Become a somebody. A strong personal brand can create business opportunities, boost your income, and even make you interweb pseudo-famous. But where do you start? Learn how to cultivate a powerful personal brand online and offline and leverage it for your professional success.

Sally Strebel
5 Common Misperceptions of Technological Creativity
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1000
Drinking the creation koolaid can sometimes be deceiving. It’s like trying to acclimate your taste buds to dog crap. 5 successful panelists share with you the ways to get results rather than reaching into a risky over populated grab bag.

Sally Strebel
Climbing the Corporate Ladder in a Mini Skirt
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/999
Powerful tech women share their secrets regarding kicking ass, moving up the ladder, dealing with jerks, and helping other girls reach the top.

Steve Swedler
How Social Networks Are Killing the Revolution
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1557
Social networking sites today do as much for real world action as paint on the walls does for the structural integrity of your home. Come discuss how we are creating a false majority-view mentality and how to overcome this to achieve large scale change in the world.

Sean Tierney
Miracle Grow for Communities: What Makes Them Thrive?
http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/1161
Why do some groups thrive while others sputter and die? We’ll explore the preconditions and ingredients that contribute to an engaged community, whether online or in person. You’ll learn core strategies and guerilla tactics to turn your anemic group into a flourishing community.

Updates and Excuses…

Recently, I have been making it a point to write more. During the last month, life has been getting in the way of that. Regular posts will resume soon.

During February, I quit my job at Sarkissian|Mason, a New York-based interactive advertising agency with an office in Phoenix. I am now working with BitGravity, a Content Delivery Network based in San Francisco. I will continue to focus primarily on interface development in Flash.

SXSW starts next week (March 7-11). This impacts one’s schedule in several ways. First, I need to invest extra time and energy into my new job, as I will be taking a week off. Second, as someone who wants to have a technology to advocate at the conference, I have an impending deadline for my side project. Third, it’s pretty important to make sure you have travel and lodging arrangements. Oh, that reminds me…. I need to figure out how I’m getting there.

During the last month, I spent 9 days in California, drove the PCH, gave a demo on XID at Refresh Phoenix, gave a presentation on advanced Javascript (Firebug, Greasemonkey, Google Gears, Firefox extension development) at Refactor Phoenix, attended a chess meet-up, gave impromptu demonstrations of HDR photography and general photo retouching at Refocus Phoenix, had dinner in Half Moon Bay, CA with Francine Hardaway, redesigned the BrianShaler.com landing page, and much, much more.