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NYT Techie Night Life Reprogrammed 97

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-most-major-cities dept.
securitas writes "Almost a decade after the Internet bubble collapsed, the New York Times reports on the revival of the Silicon Alley technology social scene — with a twist. It's now about substance. Gone are the "glitzy club ... minor celebrities, go-go dancers, an open bar and pricey giveaways" in favor of unconferences, Ignite, Pecha Kucha, ideas and 'a night life that involves actually talking to creative people doing exciting things.' Most major cities have a geek social scene like the NYC Soldering Championship [video link] featured in the article." Not surprisingly (for anyone who reads O'Reilly's Make magazine), Bre Pettis is one of the event organizers mentioned.
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NYT Techie Night Life Reprogrammed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:10PM (#24482495)

    Sounds leaden.

    I'll take the open bar.

    Sometimes balance means shutting off those overly acute powers of perception and going with the animal brain every so often.

    Dropping the bubbly excess sounds great, but everything doesn't need to be turned into a intellectual engineering exercise.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Otter (3800)
      And PowerPoint ("Pecha Kucha") as a recreational after-work activity also sounds awful. Next they'll be having Lotus Notes Night!
    • by Knara (9377) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:26PM (#24482719)

      I dunno. Honestly, I really enjoy decompressing with a couple beers and the whole "upscale strip club with hot women" environment. For me, over the top makes it better.

      But, I agree. Just because one is geeky, doesn't mean one shouldn't stop on a regular basis and just embrace our instinctual urges without analyzing them to death.

    • by ThePeices (635180)

      Who says its just an engineering exercise, in america they dont solder, they 'sodder', so it may excite more than just certain geeks.

  • by krygny (473134) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:14PM (#24482551)

    "Almost a decade after the Internet bubble collapsed, ..."

    The bubble burst in 2001. Internet "decades" are much shorter.

    • Well, it *has* technically been *almost* a decade. It's more than five years later, so I guess it would qualify, without being very informative.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ericspinder (146776)

      The bubble burst in 2001.

      I thought that it burst in 1999, and took about two years to deflate, it's actually really subjective (I was laid off in 1999). However, Wikipedia makes the assertion (right now) that it burst on March 10, 2000 [wikipedia.org] (the NASDAQ peak), so 8 or 9 years is close enough for me to accept 'almost a decade'.

    • by Mr. Punch (58068)

      Yeah, it's like the drive maker's GB.

  • by NothingMore (943591) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:15PM (#24482565)
    What ever happened to the classic drinking contest? Sure you dont learn something useful like you would in a soldering contest but at least at the end all the girls look significantly hotter.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is there any Boston social scene around? I can't really find anything that doesn't require me to go to one of the local universities.

  • Yeah, that's nice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zullnero (833754) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:26PM (#24482725) Homepage
    Yeah, because I work all week with geeks all day long just so I can hang out with them after work on the weekend. Yeah...no.

    Give me the old scene any day of the week. The social scene is about unwinding and meeting interesting people who help you expand your mind, not a bunch of people who think exactly like you and only are willing to challenge you in a game of Warcraft or in a heated discussion about design patterns and antipatterns. If you can't do that at work, then yeah, maybe you need that kind of interaction...but most don't because they get it all day long. Unless you're unemployed, of course.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Your heart must not be truly Klingon.

      • This is funny, but there's a grain of truth too. There's a difference between to-the-bone geeks who live and breathe the culture, and people who just work as one.
    • by that IT girl (864406) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:36PM (#24482919) Journal
      I don't know. I'd much rather chat with intelligent people than the usual idiots I meet. Then again, I find myself attracted to intelligence and wit above anything else, in both types of relationships, platonic and otherwise. At the risk of sounding elitist, I honestly find most people dull. So this type of gathering might be fun.
      • by Knara (9377) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:45PM (#24483081)

        There's a huge difference between chatting with people who are generally intelligent, and people who like to speak about all the same things you do. Besides, this type of gathering sounds much, much too planned. It's like a grown-up kid's birthday party, with a schedule and everything.

        I'd suggest that if you find most people you speak with to be idiots, that you're hanging out in the wrong places. It's fine to sound elitist, but realize that elitism is often just another way of saying "I'm unable to relate to people who aren't exactly like myself."

        Besides, it's healthy to be dumb once in a while and let loose. I'm not sure why the whole "geeks shouldn't get wild" meme persists. Maybe it's a leftover from their highschool days when they didn't get to be wild with all the "Cool Kids" or something?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by exi1ed0ne (647852)

          There's a huge difference between chatting with people who are generally intelligent, and people who like to speak about all the same things you do.

          Meh. I thought the impression of intelligence was directly proportional to discussing things you agree with. This is /. after all!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think it's because a lot of geeks find "getting wild" kind of draining. I've gone through periods where I went clubbing and partying fairly often, and I really like cutting loose and dancing all night, or drinking with less-geeky friends... but perversely it can feel like work.

          Maybe it's different for you, but I never "partied" or drank until I was in my 20s. Hanging out with non-geeks is a social skill I had to actually practice, and until you get reasonably good at it, it's not all that much fun, it's a

        • I'm not saying I can't let loose, I can and do that :) I'm just saying, if I can find a gathering with a group of people more like myself, I can actually relax at the thought of the higher chance I'll be able to have a good conversation with someone. Alas, I doubt I'd be able to find what I'm really looking for, which is someone who cares more about what's in my mind than what's on my chest, but... ;)

          However, I will agree that this particular set of events is awfully structured. Even anime and sci-fi con
          • by Knara (9377)

            Alas, I doubt I'd be able to find what I'm really looking for, which is someone who cares more about what's in my mind than what's on my chest, but... ;)

            Well, right tools for the job and all that. I'd suggest that by and large, finding life-long mates at any given quasi-random social grouping these days is a crap shoot. As much as people demean them, dating websites are much more likely to narrow your options to a few, select individuals with the desired attributes.

          • by yukk (638002)
            Maybe you need to find people with the same hobbies as you have (assuming your hobbies aren't extreme soldering and optimising machine code for obscure CPUs) Or you need to find married geeks. There are plenty of us geeks wearing suicide rings [slashdot.org] out there along with their SOs (who can obviously socialise with geeks) and they're likely to know other people too. So there's a possible start for you :) HTH.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DeadManCoding (961283)
        Most normal people aren't dull, but if you get enough drinks into anyone, that is always fun. Alcohol consumption immediately nullifies intellect, and puts everyone on the same level.

        Besides, you're bound to meet idiots no matter where you go. And you're also going to meet people that are truly elitist. May as well enjoy a few drinks, have some good laughs, and go home happy, if not slightly intoxicated.
        • by e4g4 (533831) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:07PM (#24483403)

          Most normal people aren't dull

          I beg to differ. Most "normal" people (say, average intelligence) have little to no interest in examining/understanding the world, and as a result, aren't terribly interesting to speak with, as they bring no interesting (read: different from mine) viewpoints or insight to a discussion. That's why, I, personally, prefer the company of smart people.

          Alcohol consumption immediately nullifies intellect

          I disagree with this too - intellect nullification doesn't happen until drink #5+ and if there's anything I learned in college, it's that high level intellectual conversations are readily fueled by alcohol (up to a point).

          • by Knara (9377)

            I disagree with this too - intellect nullification doesn't happen until drink #5+ and if there's anything I learned in college, it's that high level intellectual conversations are readily fueled by alcohol (up to a point).

            No, they just *seem* high level at the time you're talking about them.

            Look, yeah, not everyone is a geek. But there's value in learning to interact with people who aren't exactly like you are. Not everything in life is about geeking out constantly.

            • by genner (694963)

              Not everything in life is about geeking out constantly.

              We are sick of your lies sir!

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by e4g4 (533831)

              there's value in learning to interact with people who aren't exactly like you are

              Absolutely - but intelligence does not define who one is. My tendency to select friends who are smart does not inform the type of person I tend to choose as friends. Smart people run the gamut of interests and personality types - I don't have *any* friends who I would say are "exactly like me."

            • by Escogido (884359)

              Look, yeah, not everyone is a geek. But there's value in learning to interact with people who aren't exactly like you are.

              Value, sure. Fun, no way.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by story645 (1278106) *

            Most "normal" people (say, average intelligence) have little to no interest in examining/understanding the world,

            Neither do most smart people, who are just as happy to live in their own bubble as anyone else. Look no further then the slashdot comment and moderation system. People like their beliefs and preaching to the choir and don't venture outside that regardless of intelligence. Intelligence just tends to have a slight effect on the beliefs people tend to congregate around.

            Plus, too many intelligent people think that they're right and everyone else is an idiot, which makes conversing with them slightly less enjoya

            • by e4g4 (533831)

              Plus, too many intelligent people think that they're right and everyone else is an idiot, which makes conversing with them slightly less enjoyable than talking to a wall. (You can at least pound the wall for not being responsive.) I like talking to people who listen, don't really care about how intelligent they are.

              That's quite true - there are a lot of smart people who think far too highly of themselves. I suppose I should have added that "open-minded" is also a quality I find necessary - as I find close-minded, intelligent people are barely distinguishable from stupid people.

              • by e4g4 (533831)
                As an example of someone who is intelligent, but close-minded to the point of appearing like a complete idiot - I give you....Rush Limbaugh.
              • Hence the reason for my first comment. Intelligence isn't everything, and even normal people can give comments that provide for that "open-mindedness". A normal person won't think like me, thereby providing me with a different insight or perspective into world events. It's not all about the brains, but if someone has those brains, it doesn't always mean that the conversations are better.
          • by Thelasko (1196535)

            intellect nullification doesn't happen until drink #5+ and if there's anything I learned in college, it's that high level intellectual conversations are readily fueled by alcohol (up to a point).

            I can vouch for this. I once had an awesome conversation about ceramic engines [wikipedia.org] after 4 beers. The sober people at the party told me it was very enlightening.

          • Thank you, this is what I was trying to say before. You put it much more eloquently than I did.
      • by T.E.D. (34228)

        I don't know. I'd much rather chat with intelligent people than the usual idiots I meet. Then again, I find myself attracted to intelligence and wit above anything else, in both types of relationships, platonic and otherwise. At the risk of sounding elitist, I honestly find most people dull.

        As a married guy I probably have different goals in meeting people than you. However, I have to say that I find most engineers are dumber than a lot of people would think, and my blue-collar (and no collar) friends are a

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:29PM (#24482787)

    And we finally have a definitive answer to the question asked at least since the time of the Roman Republic: how can we segregate those with new wealth but no cultural sophistication away from the rest of society without isolating their money from the larger economy?

    The apparent answer: soldering contests with expensive drinks.

  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:35PM (#24482881) Journal

    I figure just throwing a bunch of nerds and alcohol will produce more "intellectual" stimulating exercises than this whole pre-planning will. I mean, nothing wrong with a soldering contest with beer, but I'll take a bunch of napkins and spur-of-the-moment scribbled ideas after a night of drinking with my fellow guys than attend an organized town-meeting.

    I mean, who HASN'T had a a great/horrible idea when drinking?

  • Techie Night Life? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Here in South Florida we have Night Life, but no Techies. Seriously, there is no social interaction for geeks down here. You find 2 or 3 smart people and hold on to them for dear life. Nobody seems to socialize in a group larger than 5. Part of that may be how freakin huge our state is and how spread out we all are, but there are just no technology meet-ups in south florida of any decent size or regularity.

    • That depends on how geeky you want to be. Though not necessarily tech oriented, you may want to check out the local D&D / LARP crowd. LARP is extremely popular in South Florida, with each major city (except Naples) having a Camarilla [white-wolf.com] presence. Gamer geeks and tech geeks can and do mix, and I've found several tech geeks through gaming. The local gaming shops typically have D&D or miniatures regulars coming in, and if you ask the shop owner of your local store, they might give you a heads up about
    • Meanwhile in North Florida nerds still ingest massive quantities of drugs and party like whores... You know... I was considering moving to South Florida... until I read your comment. Maybe it's just your friends though... :)
  • Sorry guys, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:39PM (#24482971)

    "a night life that involves actually talking to creative people doing exciting things."

    Pretension still doesn't count as "substance."

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @12:40PM (#24482985) Homepage Journal

    'a night life that involves actually talking to creative people doing exciting things.'

    withering away one's life in a dark bar corner with sleazy sluts and calling it fun didnt make much sense ever anyways.

  • Maybe I'm Captain Obvious, but who wouldn't want to talk to creative people doing exciting things?

    • by genner (694963)

      Maybe I'm Captain Obvious, but who wouldn't want to talk to creative people doing exciting things?

      Futurama had it right.

      "Smart thing make people feel dumb, and unexpected things make people feel scared."

      We geeks go against the grain that way.

  • At IgniteNYC, after ... a half-hour of drink-refilling and chatting, 16 speakers made PowerPoint presentations.

    I've been to evening events like that, with presentations by people who want funding. Listening to people present bad business ideas is entertaining maybe twice. Then it gets really boring.

    • by rsmah (518909)
      Ignite wasn't about people pitching their business plans. I was there. Not a single presentation did that. Though one was by a VC/Angel who talked about how to raise money, very few of the talks were about business, per-se.

      Rob

  • You've got to go clear to the east coast flagship New York Times for a report on Silicone Valley? Wtf?? And when has the NYT been right about much of anything in recent years anyway???
  • by east coast (590680) on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:29PM (#24483775)
    *DUCKS*
  • by rsmah (518909) <rmah@p[ ]x.com~ ['obo' in gap]> on Tuesday August 05, 2008 @01:45PM (#24483991)
    I went to this thing. The soldering contest was just the warm up (a friend of mine participated and almost won).

    The event was actually pretty fun. It was in a biggish bar/lounge so there was plenty of booze and it was *packed*. The crowd was a mix of geeks, artsy types and business folks. A bit loud, but hey, it's NYC.

    The main thing was a bunch of 5 minute presentations. They were NOT demos or requests for funding as someone else implied. The talks ranged from funny (how NYPD conducts undercover prostitution busts) to weird (guerilla knitting) to informative (how to raise money from angels) to cool (a prof from NYU's ITP who showed a bunch of new tactile interface ideas) to preachy (helping out in third world countries). Most of the speakers were pretty good. One guy even did his in rap/hip-hop style.

    All in all, it was fun and everyone I know who went was glad they did.

    Rob

  • Much to my surprise, I have found that Los Angeles has a fairly significant geeky underbelly, for example:

    Dorbot SoCal [dorkbot.org]
    Barcamp LA [barcampla.org]
    LA G33k Dinner [g33kd1nner.com]
    Mindshare LA [mindshare.la]
    Machine Project [machineproject.com]

    Here is a calendar [techvenue.com] of LA tech events.

  • ok - so here is something you don't want to hear. Real geeks are not solder monkeys. Nor are they like "Saul Griffith", the guy on the main page of Ignite and who won a genius award. Thats just media driven hype. Tell me one lasting contribution Griffith has made. Now, the real geeks are the people who walk around grocery stores thinking of the problem they want to solve. They build things, and often, it might just be something like a Microscope. Going to solder fests is not being geeky - its being a gee

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