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A Memorable Manoa Geeks
Last night brought a Manoa Geeks milestone. A bittersweet evening, to be sure. It was certainly yet another fantastic meetup of over 50 webheads, techies, and entrepreneurs, hosted once again by the innovative Oceanit company. There were demos and geeky debates, old friends and new faces, free pizza and free-flowing conversations.
But the evening was also a fond "Aloha Means Goodbye" sendoff for founder Aaron Dragushan (who is following his wife to Washington, D.C.) and behind-the-scenes guru Kara Baker (who is returning to Chicago).
The first "Geeks in Manoa" (the "working title") was, I think, a gathering of five or six people at the Starbucks in Manoa on March 27, 2007. Each month, the event has grown, quickly outgrowing coffee shops and very nearly outgrowing every venue that's hosted it since. Manoa Geeks has fostered an incredible sense of community among brilliant minds, many of whom previously felt lost and disconnected in Honolulu. The friendships and partnerships forged at these meetups can't be quantified, but are absolutely invaluable, and a wonderful testament to Hawaii's oft-overlooked geeky energy and creativity.
Opportunity is taking Aaron out of Hawaii, but he's certainly not leaving the community. In addition to regular visits back, Aaron notes that he'll continue to be connected via Twitter and Facebook and Flickr and live video streaming. As far as keeping the flame burning here at home, I'm honored to be taking over local coordination of "Manoa Geeks" meetups. It's a daunting responsibility, but fortunately, the greater "Manoa Geeks" community is what matters most. As one attendee aptly put it, I'll just be "the guy who sends out the e-mails."
(That said, if you work with or know of a local company that's looking to network with and raise its profile among the growing and vibrant "Web 2.0" crowd, please contact me. Hosting Manoa Geeks is a unique and fun opportunity that benefits everyone involved.)
So apart from everything, what happened last night? Patrick Kelly showed off ride4all.com, a carpooling site built on the Google Apps Engine. Seth Ladd showed off his simple and swift decision making tool, Whatever Is Fine With Me. Curtis Kropar of HawaiianHope.org demonstrated his ASP application that tracks tenants at Honolulu homeless shelters. Aaron updated everyone on his polling site, Ask500People (I've jumped aboard as its community person). Burt Lum talked about "Bytemarks Cafe," his new tech show on Hawaii Public Radio (I'll be the Ed McMahon to his Johnny Carson). And Roxanne Darling convened an ad hoc PodCamp Hawaii exploratory meeting. Apple's upcoming World-Wide Developers Conference and "iPhone 2.0" were discussed, as was Twitter and its future.
Someone asked, "What's Twitter?" That prompted a brief demo, and Kara started compiling a list of everyone's Twitter accounts. Here's the list, with a couple of additions:
Kari Unebasami (attended via video)
Neenz (via video)
Ryan L. (via video)
Ryan Suenaga (via video)
Ryan Kawailani Ozawa (me!)
Scott Belford (via video)
In addition to following everyone above, other good ways to keep up with the "Manoa Geeks" zeitgeist is to join the Manoa Geeks Facebook Group, and the Manoa Geeks Ning site. You can watch video of most of last night's event at Ustream.TV (courtesy host Ian Kitajima).