Tech Post: Reaction to "Twin Tech Towns"

Here's Zach Goldfarb's weekly update on the local technology scene.


In last week's Tech Post, I wrote about two technology parties held on the night of June 23. (Video.) I described one party held in McLean by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, a gathering to celebrate the local technology companies generating the most buzz. I observed that many of these technology companies were run by older, more established entrepreneurs and were typical of the Washington economy -- serving businesses and the government. Then I wrote about a social media party at District club MCCXXIII-Spank, a crowd of hundreds in the nascent but growing Web 2.0 scene. Many of these people were much younger; the party evoked the feeling of going out on the bar scene on a Saturday night.

A local social media firm, iStrategy Labs, is now working with the technology council to host a "Twin Tech Party" on July 17 to bring together these two communities. "By mixing together the so called 'new tech' crowd with veterans in the industry, we think sparks will fly: deals will get done, startups will get funded, partners will meet, companies will find talent and our tech ecosystem will become stronger as a result," iStrategy said on its blog. Details of the event are still being worked out, but people can sign up to attend at twintech.eventbrite.com/.

Last week's column elicited also some interesting responses from the social media community. Here are some of them, edited for style, clarity and space.

As one of the organizers of the event, I was glad to have such a diverse crowd pack the house. We had Internet entrepreneurs, social media regulars, Hill staffers, academics and political operatives all in one room. How often does that happen in D.C.?

We made a conscious effort to -combine- those two "scenes" that you tried too hard to separate. I was wearing a suit and tie, having just come from interviewing members of Congress and one Federal Communications Commission commissioner along with Robert Scoble. There were plenty of other "suits" in the crowd. You just didn't bother to look.

What we did was a first for Washington, and we hope it won't be the last time it happens.

-- Andrew Feinberg

I'm flattered that our social media event pulls enough rank to be listed side-by-side with the NVTC, which I've always considered to be a great established organization. The interesting thing isn't that a bunch of social media people threw a party and a lot of people showed up. What I valued about the event is that the social media, politics and policy spaces intersected in so many different ways.

-- Julie Germany

There is strength in numbers; and after being steadily active in D.C.'s social media community for a while, it's a thrill to see D.C.'s social media network continue to emerge with such a collaborative outlook.

More advocacy groups, more nonprofits and more local, let alone national campaigns, are adopting social tech with measurable success. I see clever, team-building uses of social tech by the Red Cross, by Senate campaigns and so much more.

-- Jill Foster

I'm one of the few who on any night of the week could be in either of those crowds, and I'm happy to see that there's beginning to be some overlap.

I think the parties were rooted in very different things -- catching some celebs and politicos versus "celebrating entrepreneurship" -- but that many of the people at the 1223 event could very easily have fit in with shirt and tie at the formal event. What scares me a little is how out of place some of the other folks might have been at 1223 in discussing the current state of the Web.

It will be interesting to see how these two scenes continue to develop in the coming year, as I think they have a lot to gain from one another. There's certainly vitality in both scenes, and talking to one another will really help to foster some good things.

-- Jared Goralnick

As someone who's been in both worlds, I have to say your synopsis is accurate. There's a chasm between the traditional tech types of Northern Virginia -- the integrators, the government contractors, the systems folks vs. the social media and internet application people.

But I think the chasm is beginning to close and it is no longer an intentionally segregated mentality. The older tech crowd is increasingly recognizing the accomplishments and drive of their younger counterparts. Frankly, events like this make it so because they bring more notoriety.

-- Jonathan Trenn

By Zachary Goldfarb  |  July 4, 2008; 1:00 PM ET
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