Here comes Philly Tech Week [podcast]
We sat down with Christopher Wink, the co-founder of Technically Media and the organizer of Philly Tech Week, to get a sense of what to expect.
Listen to the full conversation above.
The edited transcript is below. (And there's also a cool video from this morning of Pong practice on the Cira Centre.)
Zack Seward: Why should people not in the local tech scene care about Philly Tech Week?
Christopher Wink: Every industry is being touched by technology: fashion, food, music, job creation, economic development, neighborhood revitalization. They all have a technology story that's being told during Philly Tech Week.
ZS: What are some of the goals of the entire week?
CW: Essentially the goal has always been to tell the Philadelphia technology narrative to Philadelphians and to a broader region. We want it to be known around the country, and even here at home, that there are innovative things happening here.
ZS: Are there any events that you're particularly excited about?
CW: There's a couple that tell a few different narratives. Pong on the Cira Centre is the intersection of arts and technology. We have a whole day on Friday, April 26, devoted to the Navy Yard, closing with our signature party at Urban Outfitters. There are so many things happening. We're trying to tell that narrative in event form.
ZS: Describe this Pong thing.
CW: If you were to be driving on 76 around 8–10 p.m. tonight, and you were to look at the lit building by 30th Street Station, and you saw paddles and a ball bouncing around, that is an interactive video game — the world's largest as far as we can tell. And it's meant to be the intersection of arts and technology. It's a project of Drexel's Frank Lee and his Game Design Program.
ZS: This is the third Tech Week, and it seems to be growing pretty quickly. What does that mean for the local tech community?
CW: There are two stories out of Philly Tech Week about a broader community. One, the increase in partners — there's something like 150 involved this year — is coming from the early-stage side. But there's also a lot of existing institutions — the Whartons, the University City Science Centers, the Temples — they're also coming on board.
ZS: When we first talked to you a few years ago about this event, our takeaway then was that Philly was a better tech city than a lot of people give it credit for, but it's not quite in the top tier of San Francisco, Boston or New York. Do you think that has changed since then?
CW: No. Philadelphia is not playing for second place to Silicon Valley. Philadelphia has a strong hub of talent that has every reason to be here. And that's the game we're playing.
I think collectively on the Eastern Seaboard we're part of something that has global impact around innovation. But Philadelphia on its own doesn't want to be — shouldn't be — recognizing itself as the No. 1 technology hub. It's not a reasonable goal. But I think it has become a whole lot easier for a kid coming out of Wharton to see that there's a density of opportunity here and to stay if there's interest.
ZS: Would you say Philly Tech Week is about demonstrating that to that hypothetical kid?
CW: Absolutely. Economic development is about data, but it's also about perception. If you don't believe that you're in a place of relevance, it doesn't matter what the data shows you. You need to feel it. You need to be in a place with other people you respect. And that's what an event does better than any coverage or study could ever do.