Last year it was thrilling enough that we even had this sort of event in Fort Worth; everyone in tech in DFW knows Addison, Irving, Frisco, Plano, Richardson and North Dallas are where you go for software and related events. It’s a circle of cities that has held tightly to this honor for years, and facilitated a self-fulfilling situation. Developers go because that’s where the events are, and the events are held there because developers go. Breaking into that cycle, even for a single occasion, was special in and of itself.
But what made the inaugural CCC event even better was that the organizers put together something that seemed much more polished than a first-time conference. Any hitches were so small that I don’t remember them now. I spent the bulk of that event in a lounge corner with Microsoft’s Ryan Lowdermilk, sharing the gospel of Windows Phone and Nokia devices to anyone interested. This year I’ll be going as an attendee due to loss of my Nokia Ambassador gig, and while I’m not happy about that situation it will be nice to actually catch some talks.
It’s difficult for me to just show up as a passive attendee though, so don’t be surprised if I start promoting Windows Phone, Tarrant Makers, Intel’s Internet-of-Things push or anything else tech-oriented.
And while I’m on the subject, I’m hoping this event demonstrates a decent level of interest for happenings like this in Fort Worth. I don’t think it’s possible or even necessary to break the aforementioned DFW tech hegemony, but I’ve heard plenty of Cowtown techies complain about the difficulty in getting to events in the northeast extremes. They want something held here.
But there are some challenges to address before we can even think of conducting more than one of these events per year:
Establishing a core. How many interested persons do we have to work with here specifically in Tarrant County? Tarrant Makers sports about 190 members, about 30 of which seem actually active and interested in software development. The Fort Worth .NET Users Group claims dozens of members, and this is the main driving force behind Cowtown Code Camp so we can at least count on them. But who else?
- DFW Midcities Programming Meetup (North Richland Hills): 78 total members
- Fort Worth Open Coffee Club: 29 total members
- Windows Phone App Developer Group (Arlington): 216 members
- …anyone I missed?
Identifying sponsors and hosts. Pier One has been gracious to host both the FWDNUG and both Cowtown Code Camps. We’ll need to find out if they would be open to doing the same for more occasions. But we can’t pin our hopes on one provider… what about the TCC downtown campus? I haven’t had any luck yet identifying someone there willing to consider event hosting. Any readers have contacts there? We’ll also need more sponsors. There’s a good chance I could pull in national sponsors like Intel, and even Microsoft might contribute from their Irving campus. What about RadioShack? BNSF? Lockheed Martin? Sabre? Bell Helicopter? American Airlines? Other local heroes?
It’s also likely that Fort Worth events will draw some amount of attendees from outside Tarrant County, but I believe we should strive for 100% local sustainability. Anyone or anything else on top of that is gravy.
Bottom line, we should at least be exploring the possibilities of growing our Tarrant County tech community, and looking for ways to serve their interests. Local meetups, conferences, and hackathons are a perfect start. We may not be able to grab all of the glory from our sister cities, but we can at least do something for developers unable or unwilling to travel very far. Not just for fun, but for professional and local economic growth as well.