SoCon07, Day 0.5

Atlanta’s social media (un)conference, , got underway this evening with the networking dinner and reception. I sat at one of the 4(!) tables centered around digital serial entrepreneurs, where the topics ranged from social networking, a couple of startups launching this weekend, appropriate technology stacks for web 2.0 startups, the funding landscape here versus California, and a tangent on the ethics of using real money to get ahead in MMORPGs. Great turnout, great event.

The evening was refreshing in the way it was intended to be, I think. How refreshing to sit and talk startup and new media with other intelligent local technologists and new media advocates! These conversations can be had around the office, but there are few occasions in Atlanta where such folks encounter each other randomly outside the office and talk shop. Though most of my friends are in technology, few of them would feel at home in these conversations – much of Atlanta’s techology community is in IT, consulting, branches of national/global companies, and the companies that succeeded from the bubble era.

As much as it was refreshing, there were also indications of how much work remains to be done in building a cohesive community. There are several “families” of startups in Atlanta – I’ve worked in companies in several of these families, and known or know of executives, management, and leaders in a lot of the related companies. Yet from that large pool of folks that would add a great deal to this conversation, I saw only a few of them. My first take on it is that our community isn’t connected enough yet, that lots of these folks didn’t hear about the event, and that we can do even better next year, especially building on the success of this year. Other explanations are possible – are our technology leaders looking to safer pastures for their next job? Are our startups more focused on the pragmatic, “solve the problems of a particular vertical market” companies that Georgia Tech grads seem disposed to conceiving?

Any of these issues can be solved as we start having these conversations and increasing the opportunities and connectedness in Atlanta. I’m definitely looking forward to the full day of sessions tomorrow!