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Coworking: What a Difference a Year Can Make

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About a year ago (February 26th, 2008), Gavin, Chad, Chris, Phil and myself were hanging out at CopyNight Orlando, and we got to talking about Coworking. This is when we came up with Coworking Tuesdays. Gavin and I stayed at Stardust long after closing, and I decided to shoot some video. A year later, it still says something:

Look at how far we've come since then:
wiki.coworking.info/CoworkingOrlando
groups.google.com/group/coworking-orlando (98 members)
colaborlando.com
apartmente.com/KEY/OFFICE%20MAIN.htm
floridacreatives.com/group/coworking (46 members)
facebook.com/group.php?gid=46816242912 (211 members)

The coworking movement in Orlando started at the first BlogOrlando almost 3 years ago when I first met Alex Rudloff and scores of other local geeks interested in building a community, and eventually having a physical location for that community to call home. Lots of other folks have gotten involved since then, and we have a lot to show for it now. Coworking Fridays at Panera became Coworking Fridays at B&S, and a year ago that became Coworking Tuesdays at Stardust. A few months ago, the owner of an old hotel (now office building) in Downtown Orlando opened up a whole floor of his building to us to try and build a coworking space. It's called CoLab Orlando, and we are taking it over as our community clubhouse.

There is a meeting of the CoLab membership tonight at 6pm (March 25th). It's for members only, which is as it should be. If you're not a member yet, I'm sure you can still go, but do plan on becoming a member at some level. The pricing and policies for CoLab will be changing next month as the group becomes separate from the building. CoLab will continue to exist in the Angebilt building on Orange Ave for now, but John Hussey and RealTrend will start to have less direct influence over the space. This space is genuinely becoming the community owned-and-operated effort we have been working toward, so keep your fingers on the pulse of this one by getting involved as soon as you can.

Props and kudos to John Todero, Eric Marden, Alex Rudloff, Alex Hillman, Fredda, the above mentioned folks, anyone who's been coming to Coworking Tuesdays at Stardust, all the members of the mentioned groups and mailing lists, anyone who's edited the wiki, attended Free Fridays, all the kids who went to every coworking meetup in Austin during SXSW, and anyone who has voiced a valid, intelligent concern about how this is going to work. That's hundreds of people by my count, and it would be hard to thank them all by name.

Congratulations to the Coworking Tuesdays group for their one year anniversary, and the CoLab group for their zero year anniversary - this time next year we'll be celebrating again, and I can't wait to see what that blog post looks like!

Groups:

6 comments

 
loopy wrote 8 years 2 weeks ago

Well, I have to say that

Well, I have to say that there is one other benefit that the coworking movement in Orlando has accomplished - and that is to inspire and showcase the possibilities for the many, many surrounding smaller communities.

This is something I would definitely like to try in Brevard at some point, but I'm sure there are others even in Lake Mary, Daytona, Kissimmee, Lake Wales, et. al., that might be following and/or thinking about the things ya'll have accomplished in the past three years.

So many congratulations to you all. Despite the economic downturn, despite some of you losing steady employment, despite the fast-changing technologies, despite all of it, somehow you've managed to piece together the right people and really make this happen.

And while not wanting to sound anti-corporate, I think it's important that we have a bunch of geeks/artists, etc., that have found their way to do this on their own without the shadow of a big company driving the initiative, However, it's even more important that we have people meeting and sharing ideas and even (now) working side-by-side in our culture.

Any of those who might have read the book "Bowling Alone" know that the lack of face-to-face interaction is a leading contributing factor to the decline of the great culture America once had prior to WWII. It has gotten massively and progressively worse since the advent of the Internet - people substituting MySpace and YouTube time with "real time". So, if the architects of the internet are somewhat responsible for the loneliness and isolation that is sweeping our country, it seems only fitting that the next generation of webheads (along with our brothers and sisters in the creative arts) be the flashpoint for re-enabling community and socializing - not just for the sake of a party at a club, but for the purpose of accomplishing things, for sharing, for co-existing as fellow human beings.

I've been equally impressed that many of you have extremely diverse backgrounds in other areas (religion, politics, etc) but have put those aside to build something greater than your singular work could establish on its own. You've given all of us a model to follow.

Now that I've heaped my praises, I do have a few questions - coming from someone like me who has *never* coworked. On your Tuesday meetings, do you find that you are more productive, less productive, etc? I'm asking because while I think it would be great to hang out with people who actually know the difference between FTP and CSS on occasion - and for them to be able to share their knowledge when I get stuck - I still wonder how it works in practice.

Obviously, there are days and times when we just have to put our heads down and "process" (my word for boring code work or site setups, etc) and distractions could put us behind. On such a day are you more inclined to go to CoLab - or less?

What happens if you have a question (i.e. "Why the @#!! isn't Magento allowing me to login on my Vista local installation?"), what do you do? Do you just blurt out things like "Anyone here know anything about jQuery"??? Do you just send out a CoLab wide IM? Is there even such a thing?

I'm asking because I wonder if anyone had these concerns prior to coworking or if you find people not coming because of concerns they wouldn't get enough work done. Sometimes when I work remote, I like to work through a tutorial (going through Victor Kane's Leveraging Drupal right now - that guy is a serious old-school dev guy, but he's got some interesting stuff in here), but is that considered "hip" in the Cowork world? Or is everyone just supposed to be trash-talking clients and doing 'paid-for' work?

Okay, the real point here was to congratulate you all on your three years of community building (just like Obama! I kid.). My questions ran a bit long, but thought a few of you might be able to shed some light on them based on your perspectives of being involved for so long. But thanks for the great example for us all.

 
John Muller wrote 8 years 2 weeks ago

Isalberg - come on out to

Isalberg - come on out to Stardust some Tuesday .. it is a great experience .. real work gets done .. but I am more productive at home

great video! keep the co-working movement alive in Orlando... it has been a while since I have been to Stardust .. and will be out of town next week .. but you will see me there soon :-) .. I have also had a couple of co-working meetings in south Orlando at Bad Ass Coffee on John Young Parkway ... hopefully that will continue to grow. CU on http://groups.google.com/group/coworking-orlando and in the real world, John Muller

gilcreque's picture
gilcreque wrote 8 years 2 weeks ago

I found this article on

I found this article on Lifehacker today about the pros and cons of co-working. I thought it may be of interest.

http://lifehacker.com/5191974/the-pros-and-cons-of-coworking

xentek's picture
xentek wrote 8 years 2 weeks ago

I left a comment on that

I left a comment on that blog about my experiences with coworking... all pros, but I get alot out of the practice.

--
Eric Marden
http://xentek.net
http://twitter.com/xentek

 
loopy wrote 8 years 2 weeks ago

Thanks for this Gil... I

Thanks for this Gil... I actually happened to have seen the WWD post as I read that blog regularly and *assume* that everyone on FloridaCreative does as well. Everyone does, right? Right?

Anyway, I hadn't seen the LH snake of WWD's blog-juice since I can't keep up with LifeHacker unless I give up sleep and eating, so thanks for that. And Eric's comment, once I wrangled through 20 other useless comments, was helpful. I especially like his endorsement: "Even when it gets chatty at the space, the hours that you spend focused on your work is done at such an increased velocity that your productivity soars.". Very simple, but a huge mitigation of my concerns above without the specifics us geeks desire.

His second best point? "To quote a friend of mine, trust isn't built on facebook, its built in the bar. That is, if you aren't out there in the world mingling with your colleagues, it will be hard to make new connections, meet new collaborators, and establish new friendships." True dat, Eric!

Which is why I'm thinking hard about some ideas for CWing here in Brevard. Some kind of humble start, some kind of pattern. Much like Brevard Creatives itself, I can't promise long-term over-riding leadership on this - I hope some far more capable, with greater connections, greater powers, and greater people skills will eventually morph into such roles. Mike Anello has done a great job of leading us Brevardians and after finally meeting him last week, I'm convinced he's the right combination to grow and expand Brevard Creatives into a powerhouse of energy, a powerhouse of love. (Okay, Howard Jones reference there for you HoJo fans).

So, let's start brainstorming and sharing ideas about potential quasi-coworking ideas for us here in Brevard. I realize it may be eons before we have the kind of sweetheart setup that CoLabOrlando is for our BigCity brothers and sisters. To that end, I've started a basic discussion on the forums (that'd be over here, folks: http://floridacreatives.com/forum/general-discussion/2009/brevard-coworking-discussion) so we can discuss options for those who are interested in looking into this.

Might seem a bit zealous of me since we just had our first 'big' meeting, but I think there are lots of folks lurking who want to participate more but might not be able to make the monthly meetings all the time, but could find there way to joinup with some coworkers - at least just to see what the fuss is all about.

xentek's picture
xentek wrote 8 years 1 week ago

If you take Orlando's lead,

If you take Orlando's lead, then start a google group, and find a friendly wifi spot that has enough room to get everyone sitting together. Then pick a day to get together, Tuesday happened to work for our group.

It will start small but the more you evangelize the concept and the list, especially to the budding Brevard Creatives group, the stronger the group will form. Once the support is there, and the interest of having a more dedicated space has grown, then someone from the group (or maybe outside it) will want to start one.

CoLab sprung up because one of the landlord's tenants suggested it be a good use for a space he wasn't getting any bites on. However, this is antithetical to how most coworking spaces start. Its usually a community effort.

Glad you got something out of my comment. I really didn't see a lot 'cons' in both the LH or WWD articles though... weird.

--
Eric Marden
http://xentek.net
http://twitter.com/xentek

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