Sunday, February 10, 2013

First visit to Geekdom, SA NewTech and San Antonio Make Meetup

Finally after over a year since its creation, last Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit Geekdom for the very first time. If I have to chose just a word to resume how the experience was, I think it would be elated.

I really had a great time, felt a little bit lost at the begging being now a 45,000 square feet facility full of geeks and cool stuff, and with an atmosphere of genius and creativity you can almost breath as soon as you step out of the elevators. I was really, really, impressed, I had somehow a good idea of what Geekdom was and what is going on there, but telling the truth it exceeded all my expectations and changed the wrong preconception I had that it was just another collaborative co-working space.

Geekdom goes way beyond of being just a co-working space, it is as I said before the atmosphere that their principal founders Graham Weston (@gweston) and Nick Longo (@NickLongo) where able to create that sparks innovation in the vibrant and future looking city of San Antonio, which has been recently ranked number three by Forbes on the America's New Tech Hot Spots List.

Geekdom is about community, entrepreneurship, innovation, making great things, exploring new ideas, developing new technologies, empowering creativity, opening young minds and inspire future generations.

Geekdom is like a gym for your brain !

SA New Tech Meetup

Talking about New Tech, that was one of the motives of my visit to Geekdom.

During the last TEDx San Antonio I met Cole Wollak (@cwollak) who is a Geekdom member and the organizer of SA NewTech, a monthly Meetup of people in San Antonio and around, interested and working in new technologies, startups, entrepreneurship, social networking, etc.

Calendar conflicts and other compromises didn't let me make the meeting before, but I was really committed to make it happen last Tuesday.

The meeting is very dynamic, every month three startup companies give a short presentation that gets followed by an open Q&A with the audience, that lets the companies receive feedback about what they are doing and how are they doing it, brainstorm on new ideas and discuss opportunities to help them succeed.

It is also a great opportunity to meet very cool and smart people working on exciting technologies right here in our great City of San Antonio. Thanks for the invite Cole !

San Antonio First Make Meetup

Last but not least, a very important reason while a I went to Geekdom to meet with Cole and briefly with Nick, was to get things moving to have our first Make Meetup in San Antonio.

I have to confess that I don't remember now how I got into this, but I'm very active in several on-line forums discussing electronics research and design, and following up a series of links related to the Raspberry Pi board, I ended getting myself in a page where I took the challenge of organizing the very first Make Meetup in San Antonio.

When I tweeted if Geekdom would be willing to host the event, Nick replied right away !! with the best response somebody like me trying to get things done can ever get, he said "Sure can... Let's do it"

What is the Make Movement ?

Well it took Wired Magazine Editor Chris Anderson an entire book to talk about it, for now let's say that it is driving the New Industrial Revolution, and if you are the type that enjoys inventing and making stuff like electronics, 3D-printing, etc, then you are a Maker and part of the revolution. I'll write more in another article.

In the twitter dialogue with the Geekdom folks, I learned that Mark Barnett (@Maker_Mark) is a Maker and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education specialist in San Antonio, he is also a Geekdom member doing very cool things and is the founder of STEMivate Academy . Unfortunately Mark was out of town when I visited Geekdom but I'm looking forward to meet him very soon and get this Meetup thing rolling.

I'm not stranger about making things happen, my inner geek manifested when I was 10 years old and started tinkering with electronics and taking apart my Mom's appliances. From there my career took me from digital electronics to computer science and large scale networking. I was the culprit of establishing the first international connection for my home country to the Internet, I worked for small and large companies, public and private, well established and startups, government agencies and international organizations such as UNDP and OAS.

In 1991 I was in Denmark for the first Inet meeting where with Vint Cerf and many others we launched the Internet Society, later I was one of the founders and President of its Chapter in Argentina.

I led the Technical Team for the Fifth International Olympiad in Informatics in Mendoza, Argentina, where almost 300 students from over the world competed in Computer Science. I was also involved in the coordination of the first Latin-American Research and Academic Networks forum held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and many other events.

I'm pretty sure this Meetup WILL happen, now thanks to Geekdom we know where, we'll work hard to get to the when, what and who.

I'll leave the "why" for another post.

If you are a Maker, or you are interested in the subject and willing to participate and contribute, please feel free to get in touch with me and join the recently created Make Community in San Antonio, I'll keep you informed on how the planning goes and when the first Meetup will happen.

As always, ideas, suggestions and recommendations are gratefully welcomed.

BTW, my kudos to Graham, Nick, and the rest of the Geekdom staff and members for the great work they do and their constant contribution to our community. If they let me, I'll probably start to hang out very often around there ...