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On Feb 19th my GUI — that’s digiterati for “graphic user interface” — blew out. The blow out was not on the part of that big HP screen at my desk.  It had to do with the enormous headache and frayed nerves triggered by a tsunami of SPAM and God knows what other malicious code I could not see, firing at minigun speed in the aftermath of changing from one ISP to another, making concentration on any one topic emotionally impossible!kingston-meetup-2

Let’s just say that by the time I arrived at The Beahive, kind of an open-source workspace operated by Chronogram in Kingston, N.Y., I was reverberating from an afternoon of swatting at spam like you’d flail at yellowjackets at a summer picnic.  Adding to the static, as I approached I was pleading with customer support to see if they could do something to jump start stalled Internet service on my iPhone.

“Okay, now just take a deep breath,” consoled Ric Dragon, one of the event organizers, a partner in our Web 2.0 initiatives at JMC , and a good friend.  Did that.  Once calmed, I found myself in what a chamber of commerce would call a ‘mixer,’  ready for diving into an evening of cyber-meetup disinhibition.  And from this time my  gratuitous observations follow.

–  People are social. There wasn’t much Web jargon among these digital cowboys and cowgirls.  Mostly it was a pleasant social meetup, providing  great opportunities to  catch up and meet new people.  If these attendees are at all representative of the ’social’ in the Social Web, then we’re in for more enrichment of the notion of community, especially when we get the opportunity to gather in person. Natural law: you cannot take people out of “social.”

–  When today’s business people gather you hear a Clinton-era redux, “It’s the economy!”  At least in the conversational circles I wove into and out of that was the case. Most participants were small business owners or independent contractors and consultants. While to a person, each represented a significant unique value proposition, the conversations frequently turned on the theme of the general economy.kingston-meetup

–  The notion of pricing pressure — downward — cuts across the professional disciplines. Clients are refusing to accept even the prices of the recent past.  They want them lowered and we’re doing that!   Personally, I hope this is not a theme suggesting that we are on the economic path of disinflation that has affected Japan for the past two decades. Alas, the lag on inflation (meaning inability of companies to get prices up) is a major theme in the current “Weekend Wall Street Journal.”  And it’s further expounded upon in a review of general economic and policy scenarios in “SuperCycles:  The New Economic Force Transforming Global Markets and Investment Strategy,” a book just out written by former Citi economist Arun Motianey.

–  Fixed office space is an endangered species. Witness those attending the meetup who are making Chronogram’s Beahive  their business base as a validation of this tenet. In the not too distant past, moving into business  entailed a search for an affordable office  with a respectable address. That seems to have given way to the challenge of finding a shared, though still respectable, home-base location, which is one step beyond the home office and one step below having significant overhead of, say, a leased space in the Acme Building. What we are seeing, and I sense at a more and more rapid clip, is the assembly of service groups comprising independent contractors, consultants, and contract employees.  Heck, we’re just providing professional service firm expertise on a formula that now represents a quarter of the American workforce — 26 percent of workers in non-standard jobs.

Themes aside, I enjoyed the people the most.  I also enjoyed the fried green beans with dipping sauce hors d’oeuvres, which was contributed by the husband of Claudia D’Arcy,  director of social media for Dragon Search, a top-drawer photographer finding success in covering events including weddings in New York City.  A mystery delivery of a great pie from Vincenzo Pizzeria & Restaurant across the street, added warmth. K.J. McIntyre,  the most charming, dedicated and committed professional in the area, was busy linking the unconnected with the connected. Chad Gomes from Port Ewen appeared, freshly emancipated, as a ready, willing and able entrepreneur.  Friend, former JMC team member and colleague Roger Rosenbaum was recounting tales about his great-looking son, smart as a whip, and ready for kindergarten next fall.kingston-meetup-3

Others appeared as well, all of them with Twitter handles:

@RicDragon, @McIntyreKJ, @DragonSearch, @Beahive , @FauxClaud, @designicu @SleepJunky, @theasphere, @jmcopenmic , @AmeriBag , @KJMRealtor, @sDialogue, @Etela, @b2engt , @McIntyreOn, @kpsourcerqueen, @JohnnyKickall, @bluehwyflaneur, @UlsterMadness, @digsart, @jenwdragon, @tomhoffay, @ivanlajara, @Ingwaem, @uccomptroller , @mediaman1, @MountainSean, @jenwdragon

And our very own hashtag: #HVMavens.

Oh, and as to the curse of the spam — I am assured the solution will be dropping Microsoft Exchange and migrating to Google. Google?  Yes, Google. Well if they are going to copy all the literature on earth, what’s to say they can’t keep all the spammers on earth at bay? Maybe Google can fix the economy too?

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