Category Archives: san francisco

San Francisco event scene – the place to meet everybody who is anybody?

My summer in San Francisco is now over  and it was a blast. Today I want to briefly comment on the events, meetups and other social events that social media and tech geeks organize over there.

Essentially we have a number of different style of events (from largest to smallest): conferences with expo floors, conferences, massive parties/launch events, networking/pitching events, unconference style events or hack days, evening hack meetups, talks and finally lunches and dinners that were loosely organized over Twitter.

There is nothing inherently special about these events, besides the fact that there are so many of them, happening all the time and that you can easilly bump into people that are very passionate about their subjects and that they’ve often also invented the field or at least made buzzwords in it stick.

The good: conversations, brain-stormings and presentations are more often than not incredibly inspiring, thought provoking and a pure joy to experience. Throw a bit of drinks into it, a pizza or Thai restaurant and it’s a great geek night that fully challenges you beliefs and makes you back to the drawing board and build even greater things.

The bad: there are just too many events and people to meet. Once you extend this to the whole Valley and also throw in all of the less official events, it just gets crazy. On top of that, there’s always a large local community that you don’t know and don’t have shared history with. It gets easier after the third monthly meetup but you need to give a few months and relationships usually can’t be rushed.

The ugly: you’re nobody and there are plenty of people around that talk buzzwords or just leech on the difference communities, without contributing anything back. Unless you have something to contribute on the topic, the community don’t really take you too seriously.

To be honest, the only real way to get noticed is to be involved with one of the hot startups, either as a founder, founding engineer or their advisor. The only alternative is to be a one of those people, that always seems to speak or organize events, knows everyone and is connecting people together.

Lessons learnt

You have to specialize. This way you can present on the subject, help drafting standards and not just lurk everywhere.

It helps to have a startup/company behind you. At that point you’re not really presenting yourself but the whole team and people judge you (in the beginning), mostly on the public perception of your company/product.

Know what you want and what you’re doing. While social events are great learning opportunity, it’s only really rewarding when you have a goal that everyone helps you achieve.

It also means that you have to stop wandering around different events and invest your evenings into building cool things to show off at those few events that actually matter.

In short: community really rewards and helps bold people that go out and ask the world for impossible, but you have to know what you want and you have to be able to demonstrate that you deserve it.

Hello, my name is …

Hello, my name is ...

Different city, different rules for vandalism (or self expression), this time using the classical “Hello, my name is..” stickers that are so very popular in the States, but you hardly see them in Europe. I love the way they’ve made effort to stay within the boundaries of the stickers.

Photo taken on a night bus in San Francisco.

Tortoise

More great fun a few days ago when a failed coffee attempt turned into opportunity to go to a concert of a group called Tortoise. Powered with only Wikipedia infobox, I decided to give it a try and see how I like them. I liked them a lot and based on my latest last.fm scrobbles, they have a new fan.

To get a feel for them, check Tortoise on YouTube:

There was another surprising thing with the whole event. The crowd was really, really nice to the degree it was almost unreal zombie experience. Everyone stood nicely in front of band, gave lots of personal space to everyone and besides a bit of headbanging of a few, didn’t do much. Just stood there like in a trance. Everyone had one beer and that was it. How very unusual.

Thanks goes to K. for the tip :)

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Silent Film – The Fall of the House of Usher

Best tips for things you have to see in a foreign city are always given at 2 AM in the morning in another far away city, this one came from @emmapersky and @emp one rainy night in London, that there is a film theater in San Francisco that plays silent movies with live background music.

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Image by Gandalfar via Flickr

I totally forgot about this until I noticed posters for The San Francisco Silent Film festival across the city, with a bit of good luck I then managed to go and see a show – The Fall of the House of Usher, directed by Jean Epstein and based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

I don’t know much about surrealism and the movies of the time, but I truly enjoyed the whole experience around the movie. Castro Theater is a beautiful old theater that makes the whole experience very authentic. In addition to that, lots of people in the audience dressed-up in the clothes from the era making it even more magical.

The film was accompanied by by a pianist, who made such a good effort that it felt like it was a really well produced soundtrack that was part of the movie. Additional narration and translation of subtitles into English (they were in French) made it also very unique.

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Image by Gandalfar via Flickr

I still haven’t found the original Silent theater location, but this was close enough. Go see a silent movie next time a festival is in town, it’s magical.

Shabu-shabu

San Francisco is one of those cities that restaurants with cousine from all over the world and also have enough people from that area living here that they have to make sure it’s good and authentic.Shabu-Shabu

My current travel/summer plans include a dinner or two each week, trying new foods and restaurants as recommended by locals on Yelp, and to also blog about a few of them.

The pick of this week was Happy Shabu-Shabu that serves Shabu-Shabu :) Wikipedia describes the dish (more the whole experience of eating as):

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces. However, it is starkly different in taste; shabu-shabu is more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki. It is considered a winter dish but is eaten year-round.

Shabu-shabu
Image via Wikipedia

Source

In the beginning the experience is a bit funny. It’s one of those more involved dishes where you have to actively work during the meal in order to have food. In this case, it involves quickly cooking different vegetables and meats in the pot, that you add extra spices and sauces for the taste. After it’s cooked, which usually takes less than a minute, you can dip it in on of the additional dipping sauces.

A great experience overall and something to keep coming back to in San Francisco.