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The role of communities in South Florida’s tech future

By December 1, 2009No Comments3 min read

Perhaps this post would have been better titled “The role of groups in South Florida’s tech Community future.”

Much has been said about the tech community down here over the last 12 weeks. I’ve been quite vocal discussing everyone’s roles in what is our nascent community. I’ve also spent a lot of time during this period discussing the state of affairs with a number of people who responded to my various posts or through twitter, meetups, etc. Ultimately though, the fate of our community as a whole is dependent on the fates of the individual groups we are all actively cultivating.

A lot has changed in South Florida in the last 4 years. A lot of new groups have formed, connections made, and new initiatives started, but we are still ways away from having a robust and marketable community. We’ve done a great deal on our own, but there is still a lot left to be done. One of the critical things that we have to wrap our heads around is the fact we need more groups, both large and small to emerge in south florida.

My buddy Craig Agranoff wrote for the Palm Beach New Times recently that we were suffering from an identity crisis of sorts, or a disconnect with our communities down here, and he may have been right. I rarely venture north through Broward or even less frequently Palm Beach county (no one ever invites me up there, plus I thought all they did was play polo and talk about their gulfstream jets), so I can’t really comment on what’s going on up there, but I can expound upon how I see these groups interacting and playing their part in Silicon Beach.

Now, let me make something clear: I love the fact that there are literally dozens and dozens of new groups popping up. I don’t think that its a bad thing that we now have a tweetup for bagels, or a meetup for beers, or a group for enthusiasts of a specific programming methodology(not language, a method). A lot of discussion has been made about the dilution of the community, but in my mind that dilution results in more and more groups being created that target people’s needs more precisely. Running Refresh, I have come to the conclusion that I can never appease everyone, there is no club that everyone will enjoy, no topics universal, so why bother?

There will eventually be a logistics and scheduling catastrophe when you have so many groups popping up, but that is also going to be a blessing in disguise. No one will be able to make it to all the events (I already gave up trying a while back – sorry if I’m not at your events), but if the event organizers film/record/share their events online, people will be able to catch up on the content, even if they end up missing out on the key benefit (the people themselves). With the abundance of easy to use tools for events and group management out there, its going to become easier and easier for each group to communicate with each other group. We’re growing nodes, and these nodes will eventually work to make our community better and more powerful.

We don’t need to mimic Silicon Valley, that’s a futile effort, we need to forge our own distinct version of a tech community. Maybe we aren’t very strong in venture backed companies, but we are strong in internationalization, and access to emerging markets. We are also an area full of hustlers, people out there doing what it takes to make a buck. Hustle folks. Hustle.