The App Dance

Its a Macs World

Ah, Tech Cocktail, a swarming feeding frenzy of software junkies looking for their next hit. Pun intended. I attended, my first soirée last night at the suggestion of a fellow Hoya Joel Selzer, though we never found eachother. He runs Ozmosis, a sleek site enabling the sharing and discovery of medical knowledge powered through a vast network of white coats around the world. Adams Morgan’s Left Bank hosted the event along with a bunch of emerging platform and software providers, the bar was open, which was sweet, and the people were friendlier than one would think at a techfest like this. I have to give credit to social media gurus, they are social.

I crept in and was greeted warmly by a dude who offered me a nametag complete with a color coded dot sticker system, which you know I loved. I plucked off the colored dots that applied to me and cleverly used one of them as the O in my name. Rather than do my usual nose dive into the grip and grin, I hung my coat up, turned my phone off and headed for the bar. Thats when I remembered I completely forgot my business cards. This is becoming a habit.

As I’ve written before, I’m working on my overreliance of gadgets so while my first instinct was to turn my phone back on (at least to have something to text my contact info) I decided to wing it. If you know me, you’ve seen me work a room, it leaves even me breathless. As it’s the Lenten Season I’ve decided to try to slow my roll and be a magnet rather than a fisherwoman when it comes to this stuff, so I lucked out and found a sleek swivel chair at the bar and ordered myself a Saporo.

A mixed sense of anxiety and intrigue compelled my seemingly disinterested pose at the bar. While folks met and mingled, I sat, sipped and saw. Usually I channel any nervousness into comedic introductions or persistent questioning, but this time I played a card from my sister Val’s book and just chilled and observed. Wow, what a difference.

Now, one can’t be a barflower for long mind you, but it amazed me how little work I had to do to wind up in waist deep conversations about subjects as far reaching as the “symantic web” to the consumer behavior of mom blogs. Sure, did my gender probably help, being that the ratio of girls to guys was 1 to 4 – maybe. But I have to give credit to the orange O dot I placed on my nametag for provoking a curious look from a software developer specializing in the aformentioned “Symantic web”….he looked at the D (sticker) T and chuckled “Is that your company?” To which I responded “Nope, jus’ my name”.

About 30 minutes later I had a bar napkin diagram of a wireframe depicting semantic thinking (which is in essence, digitizing & presenting behavior) and was onto my next Saporo, they’re so yummy. The developer invited me to his meetup group, which I might check out, and introduced me to a crackerjack Italian sales associate who might actually have the “key” to unlocking the full potential of my Mom’s nonprofit KEYS. Which brings me to the subject at hand.

The crackerjack Italian (who no joke went to WT Woodson in good ole’ Fairfax) ended up introducing me to the young buck who initiated Tech Cocktail, Frank Gruber. Now Frank Gruber sounds like the name of a middle aged bureaucrat, not the gorgeous pale eyed wonk that quickly started riffing when the Italian and I explained our sites’ basic functions. While I dismissed him as jailbait, it turns out ole’ Frankie is my age which almost unhinges the point I wanted to make about tech junkies. But not really.

By the power of grayscull

A day doesn’t pass without Apple or Obama talking about the latest app that will transform all of us into information sorcerers. For these folks, a shake of the iPhone or click of the mouse is all it should take for us to become masters of our domain and street savvy consumers who use phone books as door stops or kindling. And thats fine, thats fine, I actually love to get cut off by someone who’s brain is buzzing with what I just said, and don’t mean to hate on “young” Frank’s enthusiastic perspective. But something about the way he gently shrugged as he said “Oh thats easy” with respect to KEYS online challenges had me order a third Saporo.

Now I love me some engineers, LOVE EM. I love how fast their brains work, how quickly their gears turn and the practicality of their ideas is a huge turn on for someone like me who (as I said to my sister) “sees in pictures”. Its no surprise that the grease monkeys of the 50s are now the pixel jockeys of today, both love tools and both were/are cultural icons who set trends for fashion, music and pop culture. “Catch you on the flip” is now “See you online” and while their grandfathers used to hunch under open hoods, these tossle haired hipsters herd around flat screens…both with beer close by. Are connection speeds the new drag races? I dunno, but the resurgence of skinny jeans and plaid flannel has me wondering….

Dare I say Apple uses dance sequences too!

Apple uses dance sequences too

I listened to hottie Frank talk dirty to me and the Italian about “Swarming” data or somethingerother. The Italian jotted down notes and I got lost in Franks eyes as they darted around the room looking for someone cooler to talk to (or its a nervous habit). I think he said something about how the data we are mining and organizing is really easy to prepare for online transactions but the fact that I didnt understand him is really what I’m getting at.

Like the bad boys of the 50s, these guys are impatient rebels with little tolerance for stodgy direction or the persistent questioning of those who “just dont get it”. And why should they? The future to them looks like a hot tub party hosted by the Facebook Frat with high end martinis poured by the boys at Dignation. Its just a matter of time until the dinos spin their last yarn about the 60s and put us all out of our misery right?

The Digg boys love app dances

The Digg boys love app dances

Mark Zuckerberg(left), a togaless Dustin Muskovitz(right) and one of their million minions (middle)

Facebook Founders Mark Zuckerberg(left) and togaless Dustin Muskovitz(right) are ready for Mrs. Wormer.

Negatory.

While the room was also sprinkled with boomers who “get it” my thoughts traced back to my Mom and the vision she has brought to life with KEYS. I’m probably a little more Rizzo to my Mom’s Sandy, but thats why we “go together”. My Mom’s value as a business/non-profit director lies squarely in the sophistication of her gentle etiquette and patient intuition. As with a lot of boomers, shes open minded but weary and mistrustful of the constant barrage of consumer products that come with touchscreen. And it’s not her job to get it, its ours and theres a LOT of business in bridging these gaps (as any defense contractor manager will tell you). My penchant for risk-taking and love of the go-go post-millennial trends makes me a trusted, while frenetic, friend of KEYS with these tech boys as our wrench yielding Leos and Keneckies. These boys can do a lot for us, they shake/mash things up and they move fast, but like Danny they’re chances for scoring could be better.

After Frank murmured something to the Italian about an event he wanted to go to, he was off and the two of us were left to bask in the guru’s reflective glory. The Italian was a flutter with ideas based on Frank’s suggestions while I just sat, and again, sipped. Was it all just “that easy”, was KEYS woefully behind the latest trend or simple software app? Did all KEYS need was a good CTO and a few thousand in tech integration? Had we just worked for nearly a year developing a site that was already useless?

NAWWWWWWW.

Apps face the same problem that high school principles face with a dance. The first challenge is actually getting people to show up (traffic) and the second is getting them to dance (activity). While hottie Frank probably has the right idea about the most effective way to advertise the dance and get people there, the bad boy needs to try a little- letter sweater action in order to get the girl. While his hip moves and sex appeal might win him a dance with Cha-Cha DiGregorio, bagging Sandy takes more work.

While generation app wants to keeping the hot tub whirring and the Grey Goose flowin, last night further reinforced my belief in the need for tech gurus to think past the initial buzz when mashing information. While I don’t want to damper their enthusiasm, slowin it down does two things, iterates the process and helps to people say yes instead of “um”. Folks like my Mom, a mother of six who is just getting around to fulfilling her dream career, have great ideas too but these boys are dancing right past her. Fast girls might catch your eye quicker, but there are some of us that are certainly worth the time.

But this is why I love working with the “Sandys”, why I’ve loved consistently working for “old guys” and what makes me valuable in the process of going digital. As with the Pink Ladies and the T-Birds, both have to give a little in order get together like like rama lama lama and to be remembered for ever like shoo bop shoo wadda wadda yipitty boom de boom.

Sandy loosens up and Danny tones it down

PS The Top Chef junkie in me wants to share that the food at Left Bank is rather salty, but I didn’t mind since my Saporo had made me hungry. And the Italian was buying so I was grateful.

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