I Live in the Techie Meadows

I have heard some talk around town toying with the idea of being something like the next Silicone Valley. I forget where I read it, but I agree with someone who wrote that would be a bad idea because Silicone Valley ain’t that great. Sure they are the crucible of tech, but they gotta lotta problemas too. We don’t want to be the next anything or even the next thing. We just want to be our own thing.

Reno is a not so well kept secret. It has often been the punchline of bad jokes, but it is also the topic of many inside jokes. With the downfall of gambling in the Biggest Little City, Reno’s small town culture has had an opportunity to grow and blossom into a vibrant scene of art, outdoors, food, drink, events, entertainment, and technology.

Reno has never been a small player in the tech game. IGT and computerized slot machines kept Nevada near the top of the tech industry for over a generation, and the University of Nevada has been pumping out highly educated engineers and scientists for decades. Microsoft Licensing has also been a strong part of the local tech community along with many others. The IBM Smarter Cities team coming to Reno was a hugely significant boost. Apple is on its way. Google would be wise to get here while the gettin’s good! Google Fiber, heya?

The Reno Collective is a modern co-working space that creates a center for tech culture in Reno. The Generator is a great Maker Space in Sparks, there is the C4UBE incubator, and we have a 1 Million Cups in Reno. Paul Kline recently wrote a great article about being a Community of Hackers. We are on the right side of the hill. Hacker Hill is it?

With a recent economic shift and a highly favorable environment for start-ups, Reno is now in a very strong position to become a top spot for tech. Access to open inexpensive land, being in a freeport state with its position on the I-80 corridor, and the recent addition of I-580 gives Reno a unique edge in attracting a new tech generation. A lot of new tech talent would rather avoid Cupertino and Mountain View. San Francisco is way too overcrowded. Portland and Seattle are just too far away from everything, while Denver and Austin are much more expensive than Reno.

I really like the grassroots, organic effort of Startup Row, which is happening downtown on 1st Street. Renovation is a cool term that I’ve heard tossed around, but that is what they called the World Science Fiction Convention that was held here in 2011.

I want another moniker for Reno that can include the entire metro area. Techie Meadows really describes what the Truckee Meadows are on track to become and what many people would like to see happen. I’m inspired by all that’s happening in Reno to create an economy 2.o in Northern Nevada, and I’m working to become a part of it. Techie Meadows is my (our) campaign to create ‘Tech Awareness’ in the Truckee Meadows and reach out as far as the Amazon in Fernley.

Techie Meadows is something that everyone can use, something that can describe the new crowd of people here, and it is something that we can present to the rest of the world. Call it a community tech coalition, a badge for new ideas, or a simple play on words. When I write about Reno, I am going to call it Techie Meadows.


Jobs Movie Review–3 out of 5 Stars

I’ve been wanting to watch the Jobs Movie since I first read the news that they cast Ashton Kutcher for the part. I think he’s a good actor and the resemblance is almost eerie.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars. It was entertaining and captured my emotions, but it wasn’t what I wanted from a movie about Steve Jobs. My rating of the first 90 minutes is a 2 out of 5, but the last 30 minutes is a strong 4.

What I wanted was a historical biography about computers and the greatest visionary of the Information Age. What I got was a drama about karma and corporate greed. I don’t think Steve Jobs was portrayed in a way that did him Justice. They make him look like a crazy person who just got lucky with the Apple I & II.

The movie shows how the board of directors stifles his genius when they should just let him fail and then strive to do better. He hit a home run with the Apple II, but the suits wouldn’t let him finish batting for the Lisa, and they sent in a pinch runner for the Macintosh. He made those projects too bloated and expensive, but he didn’t get to feel the effects of his mistakes because he was too angry over losing control. Just goes to show how boardrooms ruin art!

I was disappointed that Bill Gates was only mentioned once in the film during a meltdown of a phone call. They made no focus on PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), Xerox, or the Graphical User Interface. Microsoft was only a fleeting thought. Towards the end, the film briefly shows NeXT Computers, but made no mention of Pixar–which is my favorite Jobs project.

I did not like how the film strives so hard to portray the standard “Hero’s Journey.” The basic formula of rise, fall, and redemption doesn’t do the man justice because his life was more than that. Even the cinematic lighting made it over obvious. The first 90 minutes were often dark, grungy, and gritty with uncomfortable cramped rooms while the last 30 minutes had a lot of bright ethereal lighting with gardens and open spaces.

I liked how the film focuses on the process of creativity and making art. Apple was different in that they weren’t building computers, they were making art. I like what Steve said to some designers his first day back at Apple when he told them to stop whatever they were working on and, “Create something, something useful, something you care about.”

I would probably watch the movie again, but it really made me want to re-watch Pirates of Silicone Valley.