NY Tech MeetUp: Gravitas

September 2009 NY Tech MeetUp

The September 2009 NY Tech MeetUp was really something. You had some NYU and Columbia folks demonstrate some cutting edge stuff - taking image and video search to a whole new level - and you had the inventor of the spreadsheet show up: Dan Bricklin.

Dan BricklinImage via Wikipedia

Dan was introduced by Anil Dash. Anil is a Desi like me. He has been blogging for 10 years now. He started blogging when the word blog did not exist yet, and is friends with the guy who coined the term: blog.

I shared a small anxiety with Anil: [WordPress #336657]: Not Being Able To Leave Comments.

Anil Dash On Google Wave

I showed up half an hour early and saw the point in showing up early. I bumped into Mark Peter Davis on the way up. We briefly chatted about our mutual friend Adam Carson. Adam and I met first through the NYTM mailing list.

As I walked into the hall, Nate Westheimer walked up and out.

"Is there an early bird special?" I teased him. He laughed.

Showing up early meant I got to chit chat with Anil Dash, then Dan Bricklin, and Bricklin's son in law who I sat next to the entire show.

Nate: Why Tomorrow Night's NYTM Is So Important

I lingered afterwards until they kicked us out. Then I got to hang out with two members from ScienceHouse on the sidewalk. Gabi was officially the last person to vacate the premises an

Anil DashImage via Wikipedia

d has a picture to prove it.

I guess they did not announce a bar for the after party for this one. Usually they do.

It was a relief to experience a long presentation by Bricklin. Usually the demo people get five minutes. Next you know Nate is breathing down your neck. I guess that is how he creates spots for many presenters.

Towards the end I met a Desi, a Pakistani, who had moved from Dubai only a week or so ago: Adnan Rafik. He claimed to have visited my blog. He recognized me from my picture. "Robert De Niro has only one of these!" It helped that I left a comment on the NYTM page of MeetUp that had my blog's web address.

If you have a startup, you likely have a small team. You need to show up once a month for the tech meetup to imbibe the energy of the hundreds in attendance.

I had the honor of asking the first question to Bricklin. MeetUp CEO, Founder Scott asked the second. This was my first question ever at a tech meetup. It helped that I had got to know Anil right before the show started. He spotted me and handed me the mic.

"With HTML 5 and beyond, do you think the online spreadsheets will end up with much richer functionalities and features than the desktop versions?"

He said they already have. People get to collaborate online. Many people can be working on the same spreadsheet.

"Hi, I am Paramendra with JyotiConnect Incorporated," I began.

For me personally the most touching part of Bricklin's presentation was when someone from the audience asked him if because of the One Laptop Per Child people are getting smarter everywhere.

"People are smart everywhere before the laptop," he said. "They are human." This was the utter, matter of fact non-racism of an extraordinary mind.

Before the show began, and I positioned myself behind Anil's seat and did not realize I was sitting only two seats from Bricklin - at one point I was about to ask him, excuse me, but are you someone famous - and I got into small talk with Bricklin and realized here was a guy who knew Bill Gates and Bill Gates knew before Bill Gates became Bill Gates.

"What was he like?" I asked.

"Oh. He was and is the same guy you see on Charlie Rose," he said.

I found the answer so very disarming. Bill Gates is just human.


Dan Bricklin CNet Video

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