Sunday, June 17, 2007

Innovation Salons

A powerful convergence of beer, brains, and bytes is a Silicon Valley tradition dating back to the garage innovation days of the 1970s. This kind of informal collaboration continues today, attracting people from all over the United States and around the world:

Hackers hailing from as far as as Dublin, Ireland, plunk their laptops down at DevHouse when they're in town on vacations or business trips. Some of the regulars relocated here from places like Pittsburgh, Penn., and Lexington, Ky.

"I moved down here because of stuff like this," said Matt Rubens, a 25-year-old software engineer who worked at and then established a start-up in Seattle. He ditched that in April for Silicon Valley's scene.

DevHouse has been mimicked in Boston, Mass., Zurich, Switzerland; and Cologne, Germany. Each city hosted its first party in the past six months, but none has offered an encore.

Reproducing the foment of ideas at DevHouse is a difficult prospect. Besides, DevHouse already replicated itself in a virtual environment. In the virtual realm, the right people (critical mass of the like-minded) are more likely to find each other. How bloggers connect is a strong example of the many DevHouses in existence online.

A region is lucky to have one successful innovation salon, a location where disparate expertise can mingle and collaborate. Pittsblog is emerging as that "place." Case and point is the latest Manifesto musing, repurposing the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. An idea is hatched. Then interest is gauged. Finally (hopefully), a game plan is tabled.

All along the way, skeptics weigh in and help to sharpen the innovation. Bloggers are at their best building on the work of each other. I think the blogosphere is a superior way to produce knowledge. What is lacking in the Pittsburgh case is a cause, a problem that Salon Pittsblog might solve. I've suggested taking on the demographic/migration riddle, but I'd love to read about other ideas.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

DevHouse Pittsburgh will take place on November 8th, 2007. More details at