It’s been awhile since my last tech post, I know. But, in the spirit of starting anew in 2010, I’ve decided to re-engage myself in the tech scene as much as possible (or at least until I pass out from SXSWi).
Last week, Austin celebrated 2010 with its inaugural Ignite Austin event at the Phoenix downtown. Ignite, an O’Reilly sponsored event, was started in Seattle in 2006 to encourage geeky conversations, networking and consumption of alcohol. The very first Ignite gathered over 200 geeks from the Seattle area. Since then, hundreds of five-minute talks have been given at Ignite events across the world.
According to the Ignite Austin site, the goal for the event:
To spark new conversations and collaborations across cultures and disciplines throughout the city of Austin with fast-paced, bite-sized presentations. It’s a great opportunity to meet smart, interesting people (if we do say so ourselves) and maybe even learn something.
With such a lofty mission statement, my expectation was for a riveting, thought provoking and community building event. I walked away underwhelmed and less than excited about the Austin tech scene. Call me a negative Nelly, but as someone else put it, “It was just another Austin Tech Happy Hour.” Lots of marketers, lots of social media kids, lots of enterprise tech, lots of coat-riding Twitter builders.
I do give credit to the organizers and presenters for making the whole event happen in the first place. The turnout was impressive, and the presentations overall were informative. But, it lacked the “ignite” factor.
Based on past Ignite experiences in other cities, I had expected the focus to be more about community building. Perhaps next time, we leave the VIP section at a different event? It makes it look like elitism is a higher priority than connecting. It also pushes the general admission to the very back of the room, causing lots of side conversations and disengagement by the audience. I’m pretty sure I saw more than one person playing Words with Friends on their iPhone.
Overall, the event was a good for Austin and there are several upcoming events that I hope re-ignites what I consider a stalled technology scene. Up next, TEDxAustin.
WATCH: Check out the video below for a look at the scene and a hilarious presentation from Lorin Rivers on how to open a beer in any situation.
COMMENT: Did you go to the event? What did you think?