On Tuesday, I headed up to New York to be a part of another of Jeff Pulver's social media breakfasts. This one was at Friend of a Farmer (Gramercy Park area) and featured about 100 of New York's most active social networkers. I had a great time and met a ton of people, some of whom could become potential collaborators.
Jeff's onto something with these breakfasts. It's not rocket science -- it's getting people together who are preselected via a common medium -- but his belief in turning online connections into real human connections is powerful, and it will be the basis of much of how we all do business in the future. The world is re-sorting itself. More on that in a minute.
After the breakfast I headed over to Jeff's offices in Melville, NY to be on Jeff's online TV program, Pulver.TV. I was a featured guest, as was Ann Bernard from whygosolo.com, a new social networking service (and Facebook app) that "makes spontaneous connections happen". More on that in a minute too.
Interview with Dave Troy:
Interview with Ann Bernard:
On Wednesday, I made an important appearance in Annapolis, Maryland at Save Maryland IT Day. For those of you reading this from outside Maryland (I dare say most of you), our state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, has passed a law that imposes a 6% sales tax on all "computer services" -- whatever that means. Anyway, it applies to me and what I do and I have been part of a team of technology business leaders fighting this law. There are several bills pending that would repeal this tax, but it won't be easy to do. We need to get the word out about this to everybody in Maryland. This tax is bad, bad, bad! Learn more at the website for the Maryland Computer Services Association.
I developed a tool to help fight this tax: Call your legislator for free and express your opposition to the tax.
The World is Re-Sorting Itself
I'm active in my local technology business community. I think that's all part of good citizenship, and it's good business and common sense to connect with people who are close-by and like-minded.
But things are changing. The two local technology councils, and the economic development agencies who help to fund them, are primarily geared towards old-school, big-iron economic development. Convince a big company to put a corporate headquarters in your state (or county) and you've got a lot of jobs, tax base, and capital investment for years to come. This is not a criticism; this is naturally what they would want to encourage and it's great as far as it goes.
But that world is slipping away. Today, geography is no longer a primary concern for companies. Small, focused companies can be virtual, or distributed, and this is more functional than it's ever been. I am struck that Maryland wants to push its technology activities outside its borders.
Meanwhile, I am meeting my most valuable collaborators in places like New York, London, or Berlin, and finding that they live all over the world. I am more likely to start a company with people from six states and three countries than I am to start one entirely headquartered in Maryland.
Collaboration of subject-matter experts is what drives excellence in business and we are no longer likely to be able to convince these experts to co-locate near each other for years at a time. People choose where to live for a host of reasons that, ideally, should and can be disconnected from their professions.
Social networking tools now make it possible for us to locate and stay connected to our peers wherever they may be.
Likewise, Ann Bernard's brilliant WhyGoSolo concept helps connect people in an orderly way to share experiences. It's not a dating site; I described it as kind of like couchsurfing.com, only standing up. Meet new people, experience new things, grow your network, push your mind. A lot of people gravitate towards the more libidinous aspects of ideas like this, and hey, what happens between consenting adults is their business.
But again, that's not the point. We've only got about 80 years on the ship here, and life's too short not to use every last minute to its fullest. To the extent that social networking can help us make new connections -- both business and personal -- shouldn't we milk it for everything it's worth?
All these concepts -- Jeff's breakfasts, WhyGoSolo, couchsurfing.com -- help us make connections and maximize our life ROI.
Noel Hidalgo's Trip Around the World: CoWorking
As an experiment, I spent summer 2007 living in Berlin with my family. I got to know several ex-pats who were living there, or just passing through.
Coincidentally, I met up with Noel Hidalgo, whose "Luck of Seven" project was taking him on a trip around the world. Here's video I just found on blip.tv of my interview with Noel in Berlin in July 2007.
Noel did a beautiful job editing this video. The kid with the accordion, the windmills, the street scenes -- he captured the zeitgeist of Berlin, summer 2007 perfectly.
Also with us that day was my friend Travis Todd, who coincidentally (and completely unbeknownst to me before meeting him there that day) is from Annapolis, Maryland and was a customer of mine years ago when I owned an ISP. And his little brother went to pre-school with my son.
See, Maryland? We don't need you. Tax us and we'll move to Berlin.