The State of Tech Culture in Iowa

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On my recent trip home to Iowa, I was able to meet up with several business and personal friends at a Des Moines Tweet-Up. We discussed RSS Feeds and how Twitter has replaced them for me. Nathan played “interviewer” on this video with me.

Back in ‘the day’, we used to have to visit web pages to get our information. Those pages didn’t tell us when they updated, so we had to find out manually. Then, along came RSS. The idea was you could subscribe to something, and it would tell you when there was a new update. Now comes Twitter, with its flood of information that allows me to spot trends in general. Twitter has supplanted the information I used to receive in my news aggregator. I don’t follow many websites anymore, and don’t really ‘subscribe’ to anything. For me, if something is going to be relevant, I’m going to read about it on Twitter. With Twitter, I’m able to follow people much easier. As disorganized as it is, it’s easier for me to learn about personalities. You can understand thoughts and feelings much easier than you could with a simple RSS feed.

Nathan then brings up my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa. He wonders what sorts of things does Des Moines have to do to attract and retain a creative class of people? My answer is simple… imports. The chief export of the Midwest is people. The problem is that as much as you could hope to attract people with the similar mindset, to change the culture is nearly impossible. The path of least resistance is to find your way to groups, such as physical meet-ups like this one. You want to look for forward thinkers, people who have new ideas and aren’t afraid to put them into action.

Back in 1992 when I was in college, the Internet was just starting to really get off the ground, and was being offered to students. When I was ready to start having a presence on the Internet, people in Des Moines looked at me like I was a crazy man. They just weren’t ready for it. It’s the culture, and it’s not that there’s anything ‘wrong’ with it. It’s just the way it is. People have to be shown that technology isn’t a thing to be feared… it should be embraced. Iowa’s infrastructure is there, but the mind structure isn’t.

I love that I’m no longer the “ugly duckling” when I return home to Iowa. There are more and more people like me! We’re a group, and I love it! The only way to change that culture is to teach that culture. Don’t keep it inside an echo chamber. Make it real. Make connections with people online and offline. Educate them. You’ll find then that your treasures will come pouring in.


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