ICYMI, last week was Digital Capital Week, one of the most prominent new digital conferences, taking place annually in Washington, DC. Now, certainly Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley seem to get a bit more of the spotlight but don’t front on DC. The seat of where policy that affecting the tech world is played out, DC has a vibrant tech community that is energized and innovative. Only in its third year Digital Capital Week is making waves and attracting the digerati from a number of states. Presented by Ford, this year’s conference featured a mash up of events all providing education, networking opportunities and, of course, a few complimentary evening cocktails along the way.
A flurry of activity for a full-on week at locations all over our nation’s capital, I spoke this year about the trends I’m seeing as a “socio-economic digitalist.” (Among them a rise in a new movement I’m calling SmartPower — a new sentiment where people are looking to be more self-determinant, are more socially conscious and use tech platforms to change the cultural dynamics between us worldwide.) If you’re a frequent conference goer, this is one that should be on your radar. A quick look back should illustrate why.
For the second time, the event included a Hackathon, which awarded GoDC.me the top prize. When it’s fully up and running, this app will give users all sorts of DC information, including local transportation.
There was also an Africa Gathering panel, which sought to dispel images of Africa as simply conflict-ridden but rather as the emerging global center for tech entrepreneurship and innovation that it is.
Also on tap was the “Gaming and Mobile Tech in Developing Worlds” talk that centered around a project by Rachel Cook, who created a global exploration of the impact of microloans on women. Shot on four continents, the film premiered as the Feature Presentation at the Chicago International Film Festival.
As usual, there were not too many African Americans in attendance and certainly not many African-American women. There is a continuous discussion regarding how to diversify. It’s not for lack of trying from the DC Week organizers, who created panel topics of interest and included speakers of color. There could be some strategic partnerships in the future to help get the word out to digital entrepreneurial circles of color, and having a consultant on board to help with that would be beneficial. That’s a win for everyone.
For now, the takeaway is that there is much opportunity, many areas and many questions still remaining in the tech space. Coming together at these events, we are able to look up from our keypads and screens to share and inquire in real-time with new people and new solutions.