Sunday, March 2, 2014

After Digital Jam 3 - Take aways and next steps

Just a few photos from the recent "unofficial" After Digital Jam 3 meetup. This is not meant to be a faithful or exhaustive transcription of the meetup. Funny how this post echoes the idea from 2012 post that discusses how to figure out how we create "Digital Craftsmen".

The "unofficial" After Digital Jam 3 Meetup was small but worthwhile. We were able to put the events of Digital Jam 3 Day 1 into some perspective and discuss how members of the Jamaican developer community could act upon some of the initiatives that were indicated by the various speakers.


We actually spent a lot of time in just introductions around the table. Present at the meetup were:
Rohan Smith a developer who has recently moved to Trindidad and Tobago pitched his new project Rastival, a "hear it later" app (my words), Rastival is a mobile app and chrome extension which will allow users to hear rather than read articles of their choice from around the web. 

Damien Harris - Managing Director at Unique Media Designs, his company is known for for Virtual Mall Jamaica and their online marketing services. They also also develop eCommerce websites for businesses in Jamaica including a payment gateway that works via National Commercial Bank.

Kaiton Williams - Technology Anthropologist, he's interested in understanding how Jamaicans are interacting with technology, previous to this he spent a decade working at Microsoft and has also worked with companies her in Jamaica including Pan Media and Jamaica Online, when it was around. 

Ramon McLaren - Software developer who has worked in media. He's now at the University of the West Indies as the coordinator for final projects in the Computer based management information systems programme (CBMIS) at the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM). While he declares himself to be an "AntiSocial", he doesn't do Facebook or Twitter, he certainly can keep up a conversation.

Allistaire Mclaren - An engineer at CARIMAC and is wrapping up the CBMIS programme, he's working with a team to convert their final project into a software product. 

Daryl Baugh - An entrepreneur who works with web metrics, web design and building internet companies. There is lots more to say about Daryl like his ability to draw on obscure statistics to match every point he makes but we'll stop here for now.

General Discussion

From the days' proceedings I personally singled out a comment by Chris Zacca who pointed out that investors are looking for alternatives to government paper and may be more willing than previously to invest in tech businesses. I think we're all waiting to see what happens with "Startup Jamaica" the incubator that Julian Robinson says will become a reality in the near future.

We spent time listening to Rohan's pitch for his new app which will help you to "hear the internet".

Take Aways

It would be impossible to curtail the discussion to things related to Digital Jam 3, some take aways from the meetup:
  • Persons liked the idea of meetups where we actually get to build stuff (less talk more action), the actual implementation details will need to be decided upon. 
  • There is a need for a more accessible community of coders/mentors. While there are systems, even informal that mentor musicians and athletes but no equivalent at any significant scale exists for up and coming developers. Rohan shared how in his early days he wanted to code but had no idea where to go to or who to speak to.
  • Mobile money could be a good thing but there was a fear of silos, we think that the best possible outcome would be interoperability standards so that you don't get locked into XYZ's mobile cash that can't be exchanged with ABC's own.

Most people at this meetup weren't as impressed with the Crowdflower, crowd working thing. Perhaps we weren't the right audience. The Crowdflower type model does make room for those who may not be higher level information workers to begin to tap into an internet based revenue but it's likely to be dull and repetitive tasks.

Where do we go from here?

Echoing a question that was raised at the Digital Jam 3.0 event, we started to discuss where we might want to take things. In terms of value to the developer community there seem to be two things to deal with:
1. A way for newbies to connect with mentors
2. A community where developers can grow their skills and learn best practices

Kaiton suggested that we look at a simple model where developers meet to code on and learn about interesting problems, similar to Kitchen Table Coders.  I think spaces like what "Startup Jamaica" will hopefully be will help towards this. In the meantime, I'm off to scheme to see how I can begin to contribute to some of this.

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