Update: Voting is now open. I'd appreciate your support.
Update #2: There's video of my platform speech at this month's tech meetup, if you want to see and hear me articulate the ideas below.
This is a bit outside of my usual realm, but I decided to run for the board of the New York Tech Meetup, the monthly event that's home for the tech, startup and innovation communities here in New York City. Since it's not the sort of thing I have done before, I thought I'd explain my reasoning and offer a few reasons why members of the meetup might want to vote for me.
First, I should mention that there are many other excellent candidates running, and I assume we all share the values of loving New York City and the technology community and we all hope for the best for both of those institutions. Several of the other candidates are friends or associates of mine, and overall we are fortunate enough as a community to be blessed with many good candidates. Given those facts, I'm not going to belabor my credentials as a fan of New York City or of technology.
Instead, I'd like to give voice to a few ideas that are essential to the health, growth, and positive impact of the technology community in New York City. The hope is that these will be qualifications for my election, but at the very least I hope they would be considered useful concepts for whomever is elected.
- I have some experience both as a coder and marketer, as both a hacker and a suit, as an entrepreneur and an angel advisor and the founder of a non-profit, as well as having worked in both the tech and media worlds. Having multiple perspectives is key. It's pretty easy for different segments of the tech community to get elbowed aside by other equally-important factions, and one of the best ways to keep things balanced is by having someone who truly identifies with each of these disciplines.
- We have not been ambitious enough in making NYTM truly reflect NYC. I don't just mean our efforts to be more inclusive by gender or ethnicity, though of course we haven't met (or even clearly defined) goals in those regards, either. Rather, we're often still very limited in the kinds of things we aspire to create as a community, and in the audiences we target our efforts toward. If we keep making applications that only work on $600 smart phones, then we should stop pretending to represent New York when only a small fraction of our city's residents can afford to spend that much on gadgets.
- Let's recognize that we are in competition. We are competing with San Francisco for top talent and to attract the attention of creators who make new, innovative ideas and businesses. We are in competition with the financial industry within our own city, that has dominated the market for technology talent without providing commensurate platforms for innovation by others. Let's acknowledge those competitive drivers, and engage with them seriously to make the case for why the New York technology community deserves the time and attention of the world's talents ahead of any other city or industry.
- There's a "Maker Movement" in technology that's much bigger than just web apps or smartphone apps. From biobricks to makerbots to wearable technology and tech-driven art, we should interpret the word "technology" in its broadest meaning when we go looking for participants and presenters at our Meetups. That diversity of ideas and influences will only help inspire more creativity from everyone who attends.
- We must be a community that is able to hold officials accountable. The tech community in New York is as important as every other constituency. When we are ignored or insulted by politicians who don't know or don't care about technology, we should flex our formidable financial and cultural muscles to make sure that elected officials know there are political consequences to ignoring the values of the technology community. Certainly, we're not monolithic in our individual political beliefs, but there are large and pressing issues that affect the technology community which inspire a broad consensus amongst our membership, and those issues should be as important to city (and state, and Federal) officials as any other influential community's goals.
- Let's fix the stupid ticketing system for RSVPing to the Meetup. We can do this.
That's the core of what the New York Tech Meetup community deserves. I can help make these goals happen, because I have the privilege of extraordinary access both within our New York community and in other centers of influence such as San Francisco/Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. I also have been blogging and sharing my ideas long enough that I've earned a bit of a platform for the things that I say, which I would be eagerly motivated to use to serve the New York tech community.
My words here on this site should hopefully also show a track record of having supported all of these goals independently for years before I ever considered running for the NYTM board. If you're hearing my name or reading my words for the first time as a result of this election, you should know that I'm a passionate and unrepentant New Yorker, an advisor to New York-based startups, non-profits and events, and someone who doesn't lightly enter into commitments to a community without knowing that I can do the job well. I am not beholden to any of the large tech companies that dominate our industry, nor am I a member of any political party, and both of those credentials give me the freedom to really say what I mean, when I think it will make a difference.
Everything else you might want to know about me is probably on my about page.
To my fellow New Yorkers in the tech community, thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to talking to you all tomorrow night.