Philly Tech Week 2016 Retrospective

I’m sure all the organizers of Philly Tech Week events, and the organizing team of the festival itself, are still recovering.

As a community organizer, I have (and have expressed in public) mixed feelings about Philly Tech Week – our vibrant happy tech scene smooshes a pile of events into a 10 day period (dear festival organizers: 10 days is longer than a week!). I can definitely see lots of benefits: I didn’t pay to get into any of the events I went to (the ones that did have paid tickets, I acquired comp tickets). I went to some things I wouldn’t have normally gone to. People who aren’t very into the scene come to PTW events. That said here’s my rant:

You want to get to know the Philly tech scene? Come to a meetup, the same meetup, 3 times in a row over three months, assuming monthly meetings. That’s how you get involved here. This is Philadelphia, that’s how things work: put in the time and the scene will love you back. If that frustrates you, go to a scene that’s more shallow and doesn’t care about knowing actual people [end rant].

I was out of town last PTW, but went to a number of events this year. I’ll share them here with some commentary (yay retrospectives!)

Saturday

PTW16 Kickoff Festival

I spent about 10 minutes at this event. Lots of tables, and there was a good crowd especially considering the event had to be moved by one day and still had some dreary weather. I wouldn’t go back, but I would definitely recommend this event to people outside the tech scene as a way to see lots of projects in one space. I also thought the typewriters were cool!

Monday

Introduction to Embedded

This one was a bit of a coincidence, but it counts! My friend Kelly recommended this meetup a few times and I really enjoyed it! I ended up staying past the end because the organizers and I were whiteboarding about how embedded devices work and explaining things like “What’s an H bridge?” God bless these people. I plan to come back! I picked up a nice looking Hacking Electronics book at the library the next day. Wish me luck!

Tuesday

PromptWorks Senior Leader and Developer Day and The Rad Awards

I reluctantly chose to be responsible and prioritize getting client work in on Tuesday and only attended Senior Leader & Developer Day to present on the panel on pairing.

Lovely discussion with Olivia Haas and Joe Moore, moderated by Jason Garber. My Turing-Incomplete co-host Justin kindly reminded me that I’ve shared negative views on pairing in the past and I think we were able to touch on a lot of the benefits and challenges about pairing during our panel. I am not a 100% all-or-nothing pairing person myself, and I personally think that’s an important perspective in the pairing discussion. People said they enjoyed it, and I heard great things about the rest of the event as well (which was completely free, by the way! wow.).

In the evening I went to the Rad Girls Awards because I’d been nominated for Technologist of the Year. I’m super happy to say that my friend Kara won (the cliché is true: if not me, I’m super glad it was my friend! I could gush about how amazing Kara is, and will if you ask). Yay Kara! (also: your nails look awesome in this photo)

So this happened. #radawards2016

A photo posted by klindstrom (@klindstrom) on

Wednesday

PSL Startup Expo

If you’re looking for a job, I’d recommend this event. I got to run into a few people I was happy to see, but other than that, I would skip this event. The fair set-up makes it intimidating to talk to the booths (my problem, I know), but especially an issue that if you’re an engineer or someone who works at a “tech company,” this is a recruiting event.

Thursday

Hybrid Mobile Apps with Ionic with Chariot Solutions

I woke up and took the regional rail out to Fort Washington to attend this Ionic workshop out at Chariot Solutions. What a fantastic deal: I spent less than $12 getting to this event, which was a great training, and they provided lunch. I’ve been doing some Ionic work lately, love it, and was happy to take a more formal training class in the technology. Thank you so much for hosting this, Chariot!

Friday

I went to an event from the Arts & Business Council (I saw it through the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce) on “Embracing the Entrepreneur in You” but turns out that wasn’t a PTW event! (or not officially, it’s not on the site). It was great though, and if you don’t follow the Chamber’s events, I’d recommend doing so, they bring in great speakers.

This one in particular was interesting because it also had a pitch session with local entrepreneurs. A nice change of pace from the traditional author interview, and the Prince Theater was a great venue for the event.

Saturday

The Hacktory’s Robot Universe Showdown

For me, the big thing of the week was Saturday’s Robot Battle. It was as cool as it sounds and you should be sad if you didn’t go. You might not know that I’m a board member of The Hacktory, a non-profit makerspace in Philadelphia, located in West Philadelphia and focused especially on creative and accessible hacking.

This was the first annual robot battle, and if you’ve ever organized events, you know the first annual anything is ridiculously difficult. Add to that that we were running a competition, which is a more difficult kind of event than a “buy tickets, here’s drinks” fundraiser, and you can bet that the board members of The Hacktory were really busy this past month leading up to the event (because of course, we organized it in about 6 weeks).

Awesome robots today at the #hacktory robot universe showdown #ptw16

A photo posted by @_bulogics on

Something hard about being an event organizer is you generally don’t get to enjoy the event you’re involved in. That said, I had so much fun at Saturday’s event. Even while running around, ordering emergency pizza, emceeing part of the event, the fact that we had lots of people (lots of kids, but also plenty of adults) playing with technology, conversations were interrupted by whirring sounds coming from somewhere and of course, watching robots try and push each other around (and sometimes utterly fail) is ridiculously fun.

How’d you spend your Saturday? I’m at a robot battle with @the_hacktory

A video posted by Pam Selle (@pamelaselle) on

I saw a lot of people taking videos (including The Hacktory), so I’m sure more will come in the next few days, so be sure to check them out, and when the event comes up next year, be sure to compete and if you can, sponsor 🙂

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