I was someone who had switched careers, was working from home freelancing, and all of my interaction was online. I used to joke that I had more friends in the industry overseas than I did in the Bay area. Now that is not the case. Perhaps partly from the proliferation of services like Twitter, but I now know real live human beings living in the Bay area who work with similar technologies as myself. That circle grows larger every time I attend a local event, be it Barcamp or more recently, the local WordPress User Group. I don’t get to hang out with these people as much as I’d like, but that’s the case with my friends not in the industry too. Life just gets in the way.
I do think there is a responsibility for those who want to see a more thriving community locally to as I said, foster the smaller communities and try and bring the Barcamp sharing and nurturing mentality to their smaller circles. Perhaps it’s time someone reaches out to Ryan and the Florida Creatives to start an active, local chapter to help bring the smaller communities together. Maybe there’s another umbrella organization that just hasn’t been started. Are people put off by the term “creative”? I honestly don’t have the answer. I know earlier this year myself and several others discussed what possible umbrella organization could help achieve this, and nothing came of it. Maybe it’s time to revisit the conversation in a broader scope? I was speaking with an organizer of BarCamp Sarasota and they do events year round under the BarCamp moniker. Is BarCamp evolving from the DIY stick-it-to-the-man un-conference into a “brand” that people can associate with and can be that umbrella? Again, I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but certainly would love to see the discussion continue, and will continue to make efforts in my smaller circles to build a local community of web technologist for the Tampa Bay area.