As you’ve probably seen, I’m a fan of jam and hackathon-type events and we’ve done and supported quite a few with the New Mexico Technology Council. Since there are three big events coming up soon, I thought I’d share a bit more about them and why I think they’re important.
I became actively involved in community building when I was part of a team at UNM’s Arts Technology Center that put together UNM’s vision for an interdisciplinary media program (which later became ARTS Lab and the Interdisciplinary Film & Digital Media program (IFDM)) as part of New Mexico’s Media Industries Strategy Project (MISP). As we looked at the state’s needs for a robust film and media cluster and UNM’s potential role, we saw a few elements that needed to be strengthened, including a more active startup community and connections between technology developers and others in business and creative media. Among the most interesting and successful programs around at the time was the Duke City Shootout (DCS), the world’s first script to screen filmmaking competition. Taking advantage of the move to digital and increasing democratization of high end equipment, DCS was already putting students and others who aspired to become part of our nascent film industry with experienced pros.
Becoming part of the group that ran post-production for the filmmaking teams, I saw first-hand the value of learning new skills and forging new relationships when working in an intense team project environment where non-delivery was never an option. Even 6-8 years later, I still see people – now professional filmmakers in various roles – whose early careers were kicked off by being part of this experience.
As we continue to grow other facets of our tech business sectors and work with partners to spark a healthier startup community, many of the pieces I saw at DCS and also in various jams, hackathons and sprints are still – perhaps even more – useful to consider. If we agree that one of the elements holding New Mexico back is our lack of interconnectedness (or ‘network density’), there are few better experiences for bringing a range of complementary talents together.
Some folks disparage these events a bit because they don’t really build companies or launch products. And while many do (locally, the Shootout and 48 Hour Film Project have produced dozens of well executed short films, Game Jams have launched several games that are available for download online, and Startup Weekend has produced dozens of real, funded companies and products), that’s only part of the value. The real value I see has been the ongoing collaborations that began when talented people first saw each other’s work in one of these events, the people who’ve been hired, and the way participants eyes have been opened when seeing just how much amazing work can be accomplished when good teams work together in a highly compressed period of time.
As a community-building exercise, these have also been useful in building wider awareness among the larger community. We want local business and government large and small to be more aware of our local talents and capabilities. And we want talent and business communities outside New Mexico to be aware that there are exciting (and fun) things going on here as well. If you, your business or organization and friends and/or colleagues are interested in building your skills, experimenting with new methods, becoming more of local talent, changing our local communities for the better, and/or helping show off NM’s rich talent and capabilities, I hope you’ll consider participating in and supporting New Mexico’s Jam and Hackathon events.
GLOBAL GAME JAM (1/25-27 in Albuquerque & Las Cruces)
Join pros and aspiring game developers for the 5th! Annual Global Game Jam, a 48 hour game-building sprint in concert with dozens and dozens of sites around the globe running Friday, January 25th – Sunday, January 27th at IFDM @ UNM (Main campus, Albuquerque) and NMSU’s Creative Media Institute in Las Cruces. For more information and registration, Click HERE.
ABQ WORDPRESS MEETUP HACKATHON (2/1; 2/2; 2/7 in Albuquerque)
The Hackathon at WordCamp 2012 was a huge hit, so they’re doing it again. Everyone in the Albuquerque WordPress community is invited to participate in their next Hackathon focusing on three hand-selected community projects – and they’re looking for non-commercial clients as well. This is an excellent opportunity to learn and practice with other local WordPress professionals while giving back to the community in a meaningful way. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! Download the signup form here.
STARTUP WEEKEND SANTA FE (3/1-3 in Santa Fe)
Startup Weekend has become a phenomenon, recognized around the world for bringing startup-minded individuals together to develop ideas into functional products and businesses in the course of an intense 54-hour weekend. Adopted by the Kauffman Foundation for its proven ability to spark entrepreneurial interest, build connections and serve as a catalyst to grow startup communities, the NM Technology Council is proud to help bring Startup Weekend to New Mexico. Visit our Facebook page for more info – and please save the date!