This month's NYC Tech Meetup (with 3,000+ members, no less) was the best I've witnessed so far. About 300 gathered in Cooper Union's Great Hall. Three of the six presenting companies stood apart, but as Fortune's Browser reports, there wasn't a weak player in the line-up:
Former MTV Interactive leader Nicholas Butterworth was on hand to talk about his new company, Diversion Media, and its projects. One of them, Snowvision, is well worth getting wowed over. A broadband channel for snowboarders, the site's videos (both professionally and snowboarder-generated) are of extremely high quality. There are cool features like dashboard weather reports from your favored resorts, and a sponsor-the-snowboarder option. The interface is mostly AJAX, and the in-house delivery platform is written in Ruby on Rails. A smart strategy by Diversion was to choose Amazon's S3 to host the videos vs. a big, expensive CDN (content delivery network). Brilliant. As is their business model: stick to the niche.
At a typical NYC Tech Meetup, representatives of startups (most often, founders) try to get through oodles of information and/or to present informative, but short, demos in mere minutes. Only to await the infamous I'm-not-messin'-about-your-time-limit Scott Heiferman stare-down, followed by one tough crowd's worth of questions during Q+A.
And then there's the Universe presentation. The Great Hall, which seats 500+, goes black as the lights have dimmed on request. An image of the Universe, a galaxy of stars, is presented before you. And you hear something like:
As humans, we have a long history of projecting our great stories into the night sky. This leads us to wonder: if we were to make new constellations today, what would they be? If we were to paint new pictures in the sky, what would they depict? These questions form the inspiration for Universe, which explores the notions of modern mythology and contemporary constellations.
Universe is a system that supports the exploration of personal mythology, allowing each of us to find our own constellations, based on our own interests and curiosities. Everyone's path through Universe is different, just as everyone's path through life is different. Using the metaphor of an interactive night sky, Universe presents an immersive environment for navigating the world's contemporary mythology, as found online in global news and information from Daylife.
I'd love to link to a video demo of Universe in action, but creator and artist Jonathan Harris would rather have you "start exploring, get lost, find something amazing, and make your own mythology." Which I highly recommend that you do.
Dr. Augustine Fou developed not only a powerful search engine for the millions of photos on Flickr, but a system in which people can save and share lightboxes, and purchase the photos from their owners. FlickrCash neither hosts nor owns the photos, but retrieves them and facilitates the purchasing process. Think of it like an iStockphoto or Shutterstock, for Flickr. Here's a brief Lifehacker review.
The three other presenters:
- PictureDots: a fun, sharable online connect the dot generator. Their mantra: Make art. Share art. Have fun.
- Veotag: deep tagging which "adds a professional touch to any audio or video file you want your audience to spend time with and enjoy" (note to self: Veotag a Waxxi 'cast)
- Associated Content, aka 'the people's media', is a site that encourages content producers to "share your knowledge and earn extra cash along the way"
During what was a very busy week, in which it was next to impossible to find spare moments, I'm glad that I was able to squeeze in this gathering. Assessment: there are no signs of things quieting down in the NY tech sector, anytime soon.