Internet Week '09
by Jonathan Zeller, 05/18/2009
Tweet all your friends: Internet Week New York is back and better than ever. Some think the West Coast's Silicon Valley is the domain of technology, but NYC is a tech capital, too—often called Silicon Alley. "The Internet and New York share some important qualities," explains Internet Week New York chairman David-Michel Davies—citing openness, diversity and entrepreneurship. "The cultures really match up." Internet Week New York 2008 celebrated that spirit with activities including cocktail parties and a "Wiimbledon" video game tennis tournament.
The 2009 version picks up right where last year's left off, with a bevy of high-tech events in venues citywide June 1–8 (check the official website for dates, times, locations and other details). The week's centerpiece is the Webby Awards, hosted by Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers. Saluting the Web's best, the ceremony caps acceptance and special achievement speeches at five words. Last year, Tribal DDB CEO Paul Gunning said, "We're hiring; send us résumés." In these fiscal times, that speech represents a big Internet upside.
In the online tradition, Internet Week is "open source," and anyone can participate—unless, the site warns, your event is "illegal, obscene or completely embarrassing to everyone else involved." Fortunately, these issues haven't yet surfaced.
Enterprising netizens can stop by Whiskey Trader for the StartupAlpha.com BYOB (business plan) lunch, where $10 (or $5, if you already have an online pitch profile with the website) gets you a beer or soda and unlimited networking (not via router—the in-person kind). The Mediabistro Circus' heftier price tag buys entrance to TheTimesCenter, where you'll receive insight from speakers like The 4-Hour Workweek author Timothy Ferriss and ning.com founder Gina Bianchini. Also pricey but exciting: Silicon Alley Insider's Startup 2009 at New York University's Schimmel Auditorium, where tech up-and-comers compete for $50,000 in cash and services (and official recognition as the next big thing).
Don't yet have your $50,000 idea? Don't sweat it; just head for New World Stages and get some inspiration—quickly—at Ignite NYC. There, speakers share knowledge faster than a speeding cable modem, presenting 20 PowerPoint slides in five minutes (15 seconds each). Past Ignite talks have covered everything from cupcakes to "How to Screw Up Your Reputation or the Reputation of Your Company Online." Plus, it's free.
For fans of NYC dining, shopping and more, Yelp offers weeklong "passports" to Chelsea, good from June 3 to 10, that yield discounts at neighborhood businesses. The June 2 kickoff features tours of the Chelsea Art Museum and performances by the Joyce Theater, and will raise money for charity: water, which brings clean H20 to developing nations. Another big get-together: a Meetup at Webster Hall hosted by content-sharing site Digg. (Who says techies don't get out much?)
At Om Factory, the Net meets the ancient practice of yoga with a vinyasa class on June 6. Contorting oneself into an enlightened pretzel is timeless, but instructor Erica Heinz gives it a modern twist. She founded the website Yogoer, which features a yoga studio map, a teacher directory and a blog.
How does a cohesive week arise from these individual events? "Just like the Internet itself," says Davies, "things that people are attracted to tend to rise to the top. I think there's room for everyone to participate at the bottom, at the top and in between." If you have a great idea that's not on the schedule, you can still add it—last year, participants planned shindigs until a week before the festivities began.
Please note: some events may require RSVPs. For more information, visit internetweekny.com.