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Lee Brandt's Blog You're only as smart as your last line of code

I LOVE being a .NET User Group Member, but I was raised by a hippie mother who believed in activism. She believed in getting involved. I guess a bit of that rubbed off on me. I wanted to get more involved in the .NET community this year, and I am having a blast doing it. One thing still rubs me the wrong way about the .Net community and the IT industry in general: they don't consider Kansas City a player in the IT world.

I've blogged about this before. I see conference after conference being held in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Florida. Lately, I hear a lot about Austin, TX. There are a lot of really great programmers in Austin. I think there are a lot of great programmers in Kansas City as well. But we never see conferences come here. You'd be hard pressed to find a major event here.

I want to change that. I want to organize (or help organize) some major IT events here in Kansas City. Maybe if we start to organize our own events and people start to travel here for those events and begin to love this city the way we do, they'll start planning their OWN events here. Once they've visited The Country KCKYLINEClub Plaza, Westport, 18th & Vine or even Shawnee Mission Park, they'll start to WANT to have their events here. This is, after all, the middle of the country. Halfway between EVERYTHING! Why WOULDN'T you want to have your event in Kansas City? Why have your event in New York and make people have to shell out $500/night for hotel rooms? Why make people in L.A. travel that far? Why have you event in San Francisco (same problem)?  I think KC is a PERFECT place to have an event. Hotels are (relatively) inexpensive, there are lots of good venues, and we have an EXCELLENT community of developers who are just DYING to go to some of these things, but can't convince their company that it's worth $5000/person, once all is paid for.

This will take your help Kansas City. I want to hear from you about what you'd LIKE to see in a conference. What kind of speakers would you like to see? What kind of topics? Workshops? Fishbowls? Panel discussions? I'm not saying this is going to be easy. We probably won't even be able to put something like this together before the end of the year, but we should start planning now. Most great speakers don't have anything on their calendar for next spring, and spring is an AWESOME time to come see KC, when the fountains are getting going and it hasn't hit the hottest part of the summer yet.

So send me your ideas. Start blogging about it. Start bringing it up at the User Group meetings. Where should we have it? What should it be about? This could be something as simple as an Open Spaces type thing. Just something to get the tech community to realize that there is a thriving geek community here in Kansas City.


Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:16 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Kansas City Here We Come

# re: Kansas City Here We Come
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I arrived here via a @MossLover tweet and am really glad to see your post.

I spoke with a couple people here in KC yesterday over lunch, Dan Melton and Jon Crawford, on this very topic, and some things are under way though of course I agree KC could "do" a lot more:

A decent synopsis of some things that have managed to take place recently is here, though I'm sure it's missing a lot:

Consider me on board. I've only been (back) in town a few months but did manage to make it to BarCampKC, one KCJava, and one KCRUG.

Yes, we need more/better conferences in KC but I think Dan Melton hit a/the nail on the head when he framed the deficiency for me in terms of KC really just needing to evolve its technology ecosystem.

Anyway, thanks again for the post.

Left by Pete Thomas on Jul 03, 2008 4:54 PM

# re: Kansas City Here We Come
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Hey Pete:

Thanks for the comment! And for the link. Definitely gonna try and make a BarCampKC.

Left by Lee Brandt on Jul 03, 2008 5:30 PM

# re: Kansas City Here We Come
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I've been in web tech for over 15 years now and most of that time has been spent working in the KC area. There are a few reasons that this city, a city with an amazing amount of talent, has had such a hard time getting noticed on a national scale. The start of the blame belongs to Sprint. From late 98 (ION days) to the fall of Esrey that place took the best and brightest talent in the city and put them on ridiculous vacuous projects that only cost and never produced. When released (usually via a 'reduction in force') those consultants scrambled to make the same kind of money they were making at Sprint and quickly realized the only way to do that was to start their own company. Now there are hundreds of small shops around the city all of which end up bidding on the same projects whether they are qualified or not just because they need work to keep the lights on.

Problem is; not all business is good business to have.

If we could, from a groundswell, start to reset that mentality and create more partnerships between these highly talented shops to share the right work with the right place we could become another bright light on the tech map. There are some awesome software companies in this city but half of them act like bitter kids when it comes to recognizing their peers.

I've got a ton of experience organizing events so if there is anything you need me to do just ask. I also have a network of a few thousand people in this area, most of which have a vested interest in seeing KC evolve to the next level.

Doug Richards
Left by Doug Richards on Jul 07, 2008 3:58 PM

# re: Kansas City Here We Come
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I totally hear you on the many small companies and bad business to have. I've seen and worked for) companies that took jobs "to keep the lights on" that ended up COSTING them money in the long run. I think, like you said, that if we could create that groundswell that would make companies AND customers understand the value of good work and good business, then we'd have a lot better time convincing the rest of the country that we have great IT talent here.

I also agree that Sprint is a large part of the problem.I can't remember a year since I moved here (in 1997) that I haven't heard of a Sprint layoff. That sends a VERY bad message to the rest of the country about the technology scene here in KC.

Thanks for your comments!
Left by Lee Brandt on Jul 07, 2008 4:23 PM

# re: Kansas City Here We Come
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I totally agree that KC is definitely in the shadows of other cities. I don't know much about technology but I would love to take ownership/teamworking with others in facilitating an onsite KC "Here We Come" conference meetings and social events. Please let me know how I can help.
Left by Carletha Burns on Aug 01, 2008 9:17 AM

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