Silicon Hill

Has been so fun to watch the DC tech community grow.  The excitement is palpable. Check out the article by Raymond Schillinger in the Huffington Post. He calls it Silicon Hill. 🙂

For far too long, the West Coast — primarily Silicon Valley — has held a monopoly on headline-grabbing tech entrepreneurship. The singular reign of the Valley, however, may soon be eroding, thanks to the efforts of a vibrant, young, and visionary coalition of technologists and investors in and around the nation’s capital.

The pace at which Washington, D.C. is evolving into a capital for reasons other than politics is astounding. My own Google Calendar is constantly being populated with new tech happy hours, networking events, developer conferences and incubator pitch sessions. Weeks without at least one major tech-related event are an endangered species.

Digital Capital Week

I’m really excited for Washington DC’s very first Digital Capital Week (DC Week), which kicks off on Friday.  DC Week is “a 10 day festival in Washington DC focused on technology, innovation and all things digital in our nation’s capital.”  It’s being co-produced by Frank & Jen at Shiny Heart Ventures and Peter & the gang at iStrategyLabs.

I remember when the current generation of the DC tech community was just 20 people sitting around a conference table drinking beer.   It’s crazy to think that we now have a world-class 10 day festival.   It’s a community that I’m so proud to be a part of.

I’m doing my best to be at as many of the parties as possible but you’ll also be able find me speaking on some panels. There’s two. One is Tuesday, June 15th, at 6:00 PM at 1410Q (1410 Q St NW ) on “Hacking Social Networks in Real Life.” The second is Friday, June 18, at 1:00 PM at the UMC Conference Facility (900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW) on “When Failure and Criticism Are Public.

If you’re going to be there, come find me and say hello.

Live in DC and Wanna Learn Improv? Take This Class.

Hey guys, a few months ago I had the distinct pleasure of taking an improv class called “In the Moment”, at the Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington DC under a master teacher Oran Sandel.  It was really an amazing experience and it’s something that I highly recommend to anyone.

You come home after class so psyched because you have all this creative energy running through your veins at a level that you probably never have experienced before.   More importantly, you leave the class having a better understanding of how to live “in the moment” as well as more whole understanding of how to communicate with the people you interact with around you.

Well if you live in the DC area, you really need to sign up for his class which is starting June 8th.  Sign up for this Masters Acting Class at the Shakespeare Theater Company RIGHT NOW.

I’m not getting paid by these guys to write this.  I just really really dig the class.

Here’s the summary…

The art of improvisation is one we all practice every day, whether we are doctors, lawyers, artists or businesspeople. This class is offered as a way to add layers of mindfulness and technique to that skill set, thereby increasing confidence and communication skills, as well as enriching the quality of life. Through improvisational theatre experiences for the mind, body and voice, workshop participants will gain a deeper understanding of the role of imagination, playfulness and creativity in daily life. Anyone wishing to pursue improvisation and theatre performance will also find the skills taught in this class invaluable.

Mark Drapeau on “Government 2.0: The Midlife Crisis”

My buddy Mark Drapeau has got a pretty solid article in ReadWrite Web entitled “Government 2.0: The Midlife Crisis.”

Government 2.0 has reached its midlife crisis. Despite some leadership from influential individuals on using social software in government, there is still in many cases a disconnect between authorities issuing directives and ground troops carrying them out. In some corridors of Washington, this impervious middle section of government is jokingly referred to as “the clay layer,” the layer through which no light shall pass. Resistant to change and adhering strictly to doctrine even when nonsensical, people in the clay layer can halt progress. Despite their intentions and being in a strategic position, they often stop the progress being called for.


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Congrats to DC’s Vivek Kundra on Being Named the Federal CIO

Wanted to send a hearty congrats to DC’s very own Vivek Kundra. He’s been named by President Obama to the post of Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO).

He also will be charged with using technology to lower the cost of government operations and making government data more accessible to citizens, two things he championed as the District’s chief technology officer.

Definitely wish him the best of luck!!!!  Hopefully he’ll really be able to cut through the BS and get some stuff done.


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WaPo on Road Bumps for the White House Tech Team

Interesting story yesterday in the Washington Post about some of the road bumps that the White House Tech team was facing…

The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government. WhiteHouse.gov, envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve.

Obama, for example, would like to send out mass e-mail updates on presidential initiatives, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so. The same goes for text messaging, another campaign staple.

Beyond the technological upgrades needed to enable text broadcasts, there are security and privacy rules to sort out involving the collection of cellphone numbers, according to Obama aides, who acknowledge being caught off guard by the strictures of government bureaucracy.


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TransparencyCamp – My Thoughts The Day Before…

So… tomorrow, I’m attending TransparencyCamp here in Washington, DC. It’s going to be a convening of the tribe of people who’re interested in sharing “knowledge on how to use new technologies to make our government transparent and meaningfully accessible to the public.”

Now more then ever our federal government needs Transparency. Yesterday, President Barack Obama presented us with his $3.55 trillion dollar spending plan for 2010. *gulps* That’s a lot of money. Thats an incomprehensible amount of money.

If we’re going to be forced to accept this radical increase in the size of government then bureaucrats need to go out of their way to forge a new relationship of trust with the American people. If they’re going to ask for all this money, they need be reporting back to me on a regular basis about what they’re doing with it and what kind of return we’re getting.

These are the discussions that I’m hoping will be had this weekend at TransparencyCamp. I hope that the organizers are able to attract more then just the advocates and the thought leaders. They need to bring the decision makers to the table. That’s the only way we’re going to get change. Let’s get some people to lay it on the line and start making and announcements and commitments to making this happen, otherwise it’s just an intellectual exercise.

Will you be at TransparencyCamp this weekend? If so, drop me an e-mail. I’d love to meet up. – justin@clearspring.com


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