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  • John Erik 9:42 am on August 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Boston Massachusetts, chris messina, , , , jelly, , , , Silicon Valley, South by Southwest, Startup company, Texas,   

    Coworking, Conjunctured, Startup District Q&A 

    Despite being the second largest state, Texas ...Image via Wikipedia

    This Q&A was originally for KXAN when they covered Conjunctured last month. Some events and references have already past.

    Q: What exactly is coworking? And can you tell me a little bit about its history?

    A: Coworking is not a new concept; it’s essentially just people sitting next to each other and working. The new part is the community that’s built around that concept, and that using the word “coworking” suggests a feeling and an action.

    Coworking as we now know it started in San Francisco about 4 years ago. Reaching critical mass around 2000, the number of independent workers (freelancers, web entrepreneurs) increased like crazy. Thus, more and more people were working alone -in their apartment or perhaps in coffee shops, but still alone.

    Saying “I’m coworking” became a way for people to talk to each other at coffee shops. People such as Chris Messina, who co-founded Citizen Space in San Francisco, soon realized that a coffee shop or someone’s home was not going to cut it. And coworking spaces were born.

    Q: How long have you been working towards this goal of creating a coworking space? When did you originally have the idea?

    A: In Austin, the idea for a coworking came out of a “Jelly.” Jelly, a term coined by NYC coworker Amit Gupta in 2006, are weekly coworking sessions. Dusty Reagan (founder of Austin’s Jelly movement), David Walker, and Cesar Torres and I realized after a couple weeks of Jellying that this was something special, and that as independent business owners we could benefit from this type of environment everyday.

    During SXSWi 2008 we solidified our decision to create a coworking space, as we were able to talk to so many other founders of coworking spaces.

    Using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, we went about creating a list of people who liked the idea of having a coworking space in Austin. Over 200 people are on the list. From there, we asked those with the most serious interest to fill out a questionnaire. We asked question like: What part of town? How much would you want to pay? How soon do you need space? Do you want a permanent desk?

    We’ve bootstrapped the coworking space from the very beginning. 50 people filled out this form. With that knowledge, we started the hunt for a space that would appeal to what our community told us they wanted. It turned out to be challenging, because there is such high demand for real estate on the East side right now. We knew if we were going to get a space we would need to have the ability act fast, meaning having the money to put down when we found the perfect location. 6 of the 50 stepped forward and paid our newly formed LLC 1-6 months of the future coworking space’s fees in advance, so that we would have the thousands of dollars necessary to make the deposit, first month’s rent, etc that is required when signing on a commercial lease.

    Q: What are the unique benefits of a coworking space, both for individuals and the community at large?

    A: There are obvious benefits from coworking, such as decreased cost of office space, opportunities for social interaction, and helping independent workers get out of their house and into a community.

    A term that is getting around the coworking community, likely coined by Julie Gomoll of LaunchPad coworking, is accelerated serendipity. It’s about proximity. About critical mass. Coworking brings like-minded people together in a creative and tight-knit environment. All across the country, coworking spaces are beginning to be considered as incubators for startup companies and small businesses.

    Q: Austin is obviously a hotbed of technology, but at the same time it seems like the landscape is changing, away from enterprise and chip companies, and towards developers, designers, and more consumer-oriented technologies and startups. Would you agree with the statement?

    A: Absolutely. This change has been happening quietly on its own in Austin. I see the future of Conjunctured and my own long-term goals as embracing and extending this change. In fact, I think we are leading this change.

    Q: Now that your space is more or less up and running, talk to me a little bit about the longer-terms goals and impacts.

    A: My personal mission is to ensure that Austin is technologically progressive and competitive.

    I foresee that the people who participate in Conjunctured will become leaders in the movement to change Austin into a progressive hub of technology, specifically with regards to developing web technologies such as cloud computing and the semantic web.

    Unite

    While amassing the support necessary to make Conjunctued happen, I realized there was a need to unite Austin’s tech community in more that just one way. Austin has several cutting edge startups. Startups that are working with leading edge technology or creating it themselves. Startups that are changing the way the world interacts with technology.

    These companies thrive on being in the thick of it. Their success depends on it. They also need to be surrounded by other people who are taking a lead. Leadership breeds leadership.

    It was as a result of conversations with the people at the helm of these startups that led to the idea that Austin could benefit from a Startup District. A physical district that exists within the city, a particular part of town where there is a concentration of startup companies. I have been in talks with the Economic Development Department of Austin and members of City Council regarding this.

    In the mean time, we have been supporting local events, many of which are going to be held at Conjunctured, such as StartupCamp on August 2nd, led by Brandon Wiley, and an upcoming iPhone DevCamp, lead by Andrew Donoho.

    Educate

    Austin needs to know what’s going on in Austin. The Austinites I met at SXSW had no idea which startups were in Austin and what they were working on. They were only familiar with Silicon Valley startups because Silicon Valley has an online network of websites and blogs that disseminate news and information.

    Having a stronger Austin presence at SXSW Interactive 2009 is big part of this initiative. I want the Austinites who attend SXSW to be armed with knowledge of Austin companies and what is going on in Austin.

    Invest

    This is not just about creating a fund.

    This is about creating a culture that reinvest in the future. The ideal situation is, companies succeed (with funding or without) and then the people who profit from these companies reinvest in younger companies and people. This is the culture that has helped to keep the Silicon Valley flourishing.

    I’m working to spread the message of what we are doing in Austin around the country. For early stage companies, web companies in particular, it’s not about the money. It’s about the community, it’s about connections, it’s about mentorship.

    Q: I understand you have been out of Austin; what have you been up to?

    A: Since the 13th, I’ve been visiting locales in NY and in Boston such as New Work City, Spark Space, NYC Resistor, and Y-Combinator, because these spaces have become such hotbeds for innovation – with dozens of companies formed and launched within the past couple of years. I want to have the best understanding possible of how communities have rallied together to foster a stronger environment and launchpad for these types of folks.

    I’m learning as much as I can about what others are doing and what is working so I can bring the best of this knowledge back to Austin and we can integrate it into our scene. I’m visiting San Francisco in August.

    Questions I’m answering include: what level and type of economic development have these concentrated communities spurred; how are coworking spaces laid out to best encourage collaboration, creativity, work and happiness; how does geographical location and proximity play a role; what types of funding sources (VC’s, Angels) surround these communities, and why; what are their tenants like in the coworking spaces, and what do they want.

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    • Damon Clinkscales 12:00 pm on August 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice article!

      One idea I had while reading it is to take your Rolodex and start inviting Austin startups to demo at Conjunctured. Do this weekly at the same time each week. Open up Conjunctured to the public to come into these talks. This will serve multiples purposes.

      1. It will shine a light on Austin companies and what they are doing, giving them press and also introducing them to potential hires or consultants.

      2. It will widen the net of people who are interested in working at or at least learning more about Conjunctured.

      3. It will help help establish Conjunctured as a hub for startup activity.

    • Damon Clinkscales 1:00 pm on August 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice article!

      One idea I had while reading it is to take your Rolodex and start inviting Austin startups to demo at Conjunctured. Do this weekly at the same time each week. Open up Conjunctured to the public to come into these talks. This will serve multiples purposes.

      1. It will shine a light on Austin companies and what they are doing, giving them press and also introducing them to potential hires or consultants.

      2. It will widen the net of people who are interested in working at or at least learning more about Conjunctured.

      3. It will help help establish Conjunctured as a hub for startup activity.

    • John Erik 1:18 pm on August 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Damon, that is a very very good idea. thanks so much for sharing that.

      emailing the other guys now.

    • John Erik 2:18 pm on August 14, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Damon, that is a very very good idea. thanks so much for sharing that.

      emailing the other guys now.

    • johnerik 7:44 pm on August 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      thanks Charlie — i'm having trouble finding it. do you happen to know the direct URL?

    • lavannamartin 7:04 pm on October 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I love Conjunctured. I am not techno-savy, or a “millenial”. These guys were instrumental in helping a complete n00b start a blog.

  • John Erik 10:19 pm on August 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chris messina, citizen garden, , , Larry Halff, OpenID, radar.net, , , snaptalent   

    80808 – Podcast with Chris Messina and Larry Halff 

    San Francisco is great so far. It seems like everytime I visity NYC I make a trip to SF soon after — and it reminds me how NYC is fun, but SF is just a little more down to earth, a little more like Austin and thus my second favorite city in the US: Austin, SF, NYC.

    The night before I left I pinged Chris Messina. An hour after I got off the plane, I met up with Chris and Larry Halff of Ma.gnolia and recorded a podcast with them for Citizen Garden.  Here are the goods on the cast:

    We’re joined by John Erik Metcalf for a discussion about identity inside and outside of walled gardens, EAUT, tribalism, the usability of OpenID, and recomposable identity.

    Ready to listen? Click.

    (Yes, we are releasing Episode 8 on 08-08-08!)

    Visit Citizen Garden on Ma.gnolia

    I’m now off to the Snaptalent/DISQUS party with Melissa.

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  • John Erik 10:30 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chris messina, chris saad, dataportability, digital identity, facebook, , , , scoble   

    Facebook owns /me online and I hate it. What can we do? 

    FACEBOOK, I’m sick of the singles ads and I’m sick of you owning my timeline.  I love and appreciate everything that facebook let’s us do. I love being able to stay connected to my friends. I love being able to push content I think is important. I just hate that I’ll prob never be able to get any of this out.

    Why would I create a photo album (an album of my life) if you’re never gonna let me hold it.

    I want to see my domain, not yours. http://think27.com << that’s me.

    NOT:

    … why do you force me to stare at this. YUCK

    In case you’re not instantly grokking what I’m talking about. Let’s think about this. (and this is nothing new that people havn’t been saying for a lone time now) … all the actions you take on facebook – changes to your profile, friends you connect with, messages you send, people you break up with, all those little “stories,” as FB calls them, etc. those are reflections of your life. Shouldn’t YOU own the album?

    When facebook first started, you know back years ago when I was in college, I would always think: you know, facebook should record all these changes we are making to our profiles and all the friends we are making and all the pictures we are uploading and let us print it all out in a book. back then FB was only for college students, and I was expecting to drop it when I graduated, I thought, “this would be killer as a yearbook because gawd knows I’m not gonna by a real year book that includes 20,000 people I dont know.” i even sent zuck a message about this. (if facebook had a way to search my sent messages I’d go find it, but I dont feel like pressing the next button that many times.) i still think this would be a cool idea. print it out. but no worries, i have more.

    ok, here’s another reason why we should stop letting facebook own all our action, specifically our social ones:

    sooner or later we are going to have, as Jonas Lamis of Scivestor has talked about, something like Google Agent. It’s going to better understand what we want done because it will know a ton about us. For instance, and this only scratches the surface (and I’m totally stealing this example), if my anniversary was coming the Agent would know and it would know who my girlfriend was and where I like to take her and what my schedule was like, etc, etc. I would just click and it would take care of all that for me – and perhaps offer a couple choices. The point is. This crazy Agent bot thing has to get to know me and that takes time and data. Right now the place that knows the most about me and has the most data is most definitely facebook and google and I would bet it’s the same for you. I dont want the Agent/bot thing to have to get the data from fb/google, I want it to get it from me.

    Now, I’m not worried about facebook having all this information. kdfakhfph./ well, shit. i kind of am… … it’s just that there is no where else to go with it. i’m not going to be one of those people who doesn’t use facebook because all this, i dont want to miss out on all the fun and all the great things facebook lets me do, i just want an alternative or i want facebook to openup all this data. AND I WANT IT NOW.

    I’m not sure if the standards are in place yet to handle all this kind of openness… but. …That’s a good question. Does anyone know? Could they just use Google’s Opensocial or Friend Connect stuff? Is the DataPortability workgroup there yet?

    How would I propose we move forward with all this? we could start with:

    1.) Opensource or openup Friendfeed

    Friendfeed is great, People like Robert Scoble (Loving my Friendfeed) and Mike Arrington (damnit Friendfeed gets even more useful) talk on and on about it and says we won’t feel how great it is until we join the community, but whatever, it’s just yet anther site that wants me to tell it where I am online and wants to know all about me. And until they open it up, all I really get in return is the ability to participate in threads where Loic or Robert are also chatting. At least there is RSS, but still. I should own all that data. If I want to share it and chat around it, then we can use Disqus. … I think

    (NOTE: USE YAHOO PIPES!! like Zach Klein does for his Universal Feed)

    2.) Make it easier for people to buy vanity domains.

    We need to get people to understand how important it is that they own their identity online. Right now most people (ahem, besides leet ones who use nearlyfreespeach) goto Godaddy because they saw a lame super bowl ad. Have you seen Godaddy.com? Have you registered a domain from there? The site and domain control interfaces suck. For regular people to start doing anything with domains, which is what they need to start owning their identity, there has to be a better registar. One that is simple and doesn’t talk about DNS and or blah or blah. Just make it simple.

    3.) Help people track their actions even better online.

    4.) I love how Tumblr shows you how use a custom domain name. We need more of this.

    I think together these pack a nice 1-2-punch and have been working on rough plans on the side for how all this should/could be implemented.

    When I’m not plugging away and connecting people to the Startup District, what I need to do is get more involved in the DataPortability group (props to Chris Saad) and the DiSo Project (props to Chris Messina). …If you think any of this is cool, you should too.

     
    • Juan Sequeda 11:24 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I bought my last name domain: sequeda.com. So soon I will be

      juan.sequeda.com/facebook
      juan.sequeda.com/twitter
      juan.sequeda.com/linkedin
      juan.sequeda.com/utexas
      ….

      This was your idea… and it’s awesome!!

    • David J. Neff 11:40 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I bought daveiam.com and use that for a ton of stuff. Excellent points. And if you want less single ads try doing this:

      “Rumors of my recent relationship status change have been greatly exaggerated. Facebook doesn’t do very good on the null logic, it just notices something has happened and gets excited. I am curious if I will stop being insulted with ads for HOT CHRISTIAN WOMEN now that my social networking profile is no longer “Single” even if I am. Not that I have anything against hot Christian women, but those ads /are/ somewhat distracting and they make me want to go to church for all the wrong reasons. I am playing it safe and staying home to look at Facebook.”

      • Gregory Foster

      Or maybe you need to pay Facebook dude. They are providing you all this for FREE.

    • Todd Sundsted 11:48 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      John, I think this is exactly the kind of thinking we need. Consider this, in spite of lifelong continued pressure to “keep a journal”, blah blah blah, I’ve never made as complete a record of my life as I have since I started using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Right now, the people using these systems are creating an invaluable record of their life and our time, for their descendants and for the future. But it’s all locked away in Facebook’s database, Twitter’s database, Flickr’s database, Google’s database, etc. At some level this is okay. Google runs a tight IT organization. But what a huge point of failure. And consider the reaction people had toward Flickr/Yahoo when Microsoft started thinking about acquiring. This information needs to be portable, transportable, and in our control. I realize this kind of cuts the nuts off the “competitive/incumbent advantage” of sites like Facebook and many a VCs plans for monetizing social plays like these… but tough!

      • Todd (AKA Bandit)
    • Juan Sequeda 11:24 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I bought my last name domain: sequeda.com. So soon I will be

      juan.sequeda.com/facebook
      juan.sequeda.com/twitter
      juan.sequeda.com/linkedin
      juan.sequeda.com/utexas
      ….

      This was your idea… and it's awesome!!

    • David J. Neff 11:40 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I bought daveiam.com and use that for a ton of stuff. Excellent points. And if you want less single ads try doing this:

      “Rumors of my recent relationship status change have been greatly exaggerated. Facebook doesn't do very good on the null logic, it just notices something has happened and gets excited. I am curious if I will stop being insulted with ads for HOT CHRISTIAN WOMEN now that my social networking profile is no longer “Single” even if I am. Not that I have anything against hot Christian women, but those ads /are/ somewhat distracting and they make me want to go to church for all the wrong reasons. I am playing it safe and staying home to look at Facebook.”

      - Gregory Foster

      Or maybe you need to pay Facebook dude. They are providing you all this for FREE.

    • Todd Sundsted 11:48 am on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      John, I think this is exactly the kind of thinking we need. Consider this, in spite of lifelong continued pressure to “keep a journal”, blah blah blah, I've never made as complete a record of my life as I have since I started using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Right now, the people using these systems are creating an invaluable record of their life and our time, for their descendants and for the future. But it's all locked away in Facebook's database, Twitter's database, Flickr's database, Google's database, etc. At some level this is okay. Google runs a tight IT organization. But what a huge point of failure. And consider the reaction people had toward Flickr/Yahoo when Microsoft started thinking about acquiring. This information needs to be portable, transportable, and in our control. I realize this kind of cuts the nuts off the “competitive/incumbent advantage” of sites like Facebook and many a VCs plans for monetizing social plays like these… but tough!

      - Todd (AKA Bandit)

    • Daniel Hope 12:56 pm on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent point, I was inspired by what Chris St. John was saying the other night about Tessera ( http://tinyurl.com/3sp6pl ) and how it opens things up in SNs the way Facebook won’t.
      It doesn’t give us any control over that Facebook info though.

    • Daniel Hope 12:56 pm on June 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Excellent point, I was inspired by what Chris St. John was saying the other night about Tessera ( http://tinyurl.com/3sp6pl ) and how it opens things up in SNs the way Facebook won't.
      It doesn't give us any control over that Facebook info though.

    • Vincent Gable 1:23 am on June 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Here is a supporting essay, but it deals more with our “data shadow”, and less with our identity:
      http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/05/our_data_oursel.html

    • Vincent Gable 1:23 am on June 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Here is a supporting essay, but it deals more with our “data shadow”, and less with our identity:
      http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/05/o

    • Vladislav Chernyshov 11:26 am on June 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      John! Very nice post! I love your idea about custom domain names. I think I will utilize this in the project I’m working on.

      Your post helped me to make summary of burning problems of social networking. You can read it here on my blog:
      http://tinyurl.com/3me6c3

      Take care,
      Vlad.

    • Vladislav Chernyshov 11:26 am on June 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      John! Very nice post! I love your idea about custom domain names. I think I will utilize this in the project I'm working on.

      Your post helped me to make summary of burning problems of social networking. You can read it here on my blog:
      http://tinyurl.com/3me6c3

      Take care,
      Vlad.

    • gochi 10:49 am on January 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Hi juan launch your all sub domains i will be part of your network too.

      Thanks

    • free satellite 8:58 am on February 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply

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    • Isis 12:22 am on May 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Indeed it's a nice post, I am really very much impressed with the discussion around, I wonder how many people think about the same!

      Rina

    • chiropractors marketing 11:57 am on May 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      facebook is one of the most visited site nowadays for it have so many applications thats why lots of peopl are migrating to facebook

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