Like much of the rest of the nation, Rochester is seeing a resurgence of young tech-savvy renters repopulating its urban core. Looking around the South Wedge, I wonder what skinny jeans would look like without an iPhone precariously dangling from the back pocket. One of the most interesting subcultures in Rochester is the technology community, who have embraced these lean times, and continued to evolve a myriad of technology events to bring Rochester’s digital community together in a more tangible way. Whether you’re new to the area, a university student passing through, or a long-time resident looking to expand your digital horizons, here is a look at this past year’s numerous tech events, by our new technology events correspondent, Dan Schneiderman. May you enjoy many more in the coming year.
A Year In Review: Tech Events
During the past year, there have been numerous tech events occurring all over the Greater Rochester area. One of the great things about Rochester is that its able to produce tech events for all audiences. Here is just a taste of what has gone on during the past year.
BarCamp Rochester 5 and BarCamp Rochester Fall 2010:
This past year was the first time that there has been two BarCamp Rochester events in one year.
“The event brings together enthusiasts of technology, design, DIY projects, journalism, and other topics on the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Designers, developers, marketing types, engineers, artists, thinkers, tinkerers, and anyone interested in the bleeding edge of modern technology is invited to spend the day.”
Talks ranged from “How Train Signals Work” to “How to Talk to a Reporter” and “IPv6 – What does it mean?”. Several of the local groups had tables set up for hands on demonstrations that anyone could try.
Anyone who is interested is encouraged to sign up ahead of time. Meals, t-shirts, raffle, and entry is all free.
BarCamp Rochester Spring 2011 will be taking place sometime in April. Be sure to check out www.barcamproc.org.
FIRST Finger Lakes Regional:
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a non-profit organization that is meant to inspire students to become interested in science, technology, math, and engineering though robotics. Within FIRST, there is the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), and FIRST Lego League (FLL). For FRC, every year in January a new game is released to teams all over the world followed by a 6 week building period. After the build season is completed, teams compete in regional followed by a Championship with the best of the best teams from around the world.
The local regional takes place usually at the end of February or beginning of March at the RIT Gordon Field House over three days. There are about 20 local teams from around the Rochester and surrounding area and another 20 teams from Canada, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The public is welcomed to join and is highly encouraged to attend. If you have kids, be sure to take them though the pits and ask teams questions about their robots. They will be more than happy to help.
FIRST Lego League (FLL) is for younger students who are interested in robotics. The goal of FLL is to get elementary to middle school students interested in science, engineering, and technology. Due to the large amount of teams within the area, 4 qualifiers take place towards the end of November with the regional occurring early December at the University of Rochester.
The next FRC regional will take place on March 3-5. For more info, check out http://firstrochester.org/.
For all of those twitter addicts, you will want to meet up at Rochester’s Twestival. Twestival™ (or Twitter Festival) is a global event to help fundraise though Twitter towards a social cause. All %100 of the profits go to the global cause of that year. Last year, the Rochester event took place at Lovin’ Cup at Park Point and raised over $4,700.
The event had bands, drinks, raffles and was hosted by Rochester’s own Nick Francesco, Cynthia Benjamn, Rachel Barnhart, and Troy Smith. Throughout the night tweeps from all over Rochester socialized, drank together, and just hung out.
Planning for the next event has already started, so be sure to keep 3.24.2011 open. http://rochester.twestival.com/
Coworking/Interlock Rochester Lightning Talks:
“Lightning Talks are 2-5 minute presentations on any topic the speaker is interested in, ensuring that by the end of the evening participants and listeners have been engaged in a number of new and varied ideas.” (www.interlockroc.org)
Attendees were a mix of people from the Rochester and Buffalo area. Some are students, others programmers and hackers from both small and large companies. Topics included lock-picking, home-brewing, and a discussion about the Rochester tech community.
Some of the talks from the first lightning talk can be found here: http://www.interlockroc.org/2010/05/14/interlock-lightning-talks-at-coworking-rochester-success.
TEDxRochester returned this year for their second annual event.
“At TEDx events, unique talks given by live speakers combine with TEDTalks videos to spark deep conversation and connections. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis” (www.ted.com).
The day was filled with 12 nominated speakers who talked about technology, entertainment, design, or their own innovative ideas to help the community. Breaks occurred during the day, allowing attendees to mingle with a good representation of the Rochester social networking crowd.
At this year’s event, there were some beautiful talks on the Museum of Kids Art (which I had never heard of before in Rochester), a presentation by PUSH Physical Theatre, and a very emotional presentation on problems within the Rochester City School District.
You can watch this year’s talks on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaaJCskWiUc&feature&p=383B467CAB18D6FE&index=0&playnext=1
The next TEDxRochester should take place sometime in November. To find out more information, check out www.tedxrochester.org/ for more information.