Defrag Blog

Breaking the Echo Chamber

by Eric Norlin on Oct.29, 2010, under Uncategorized

I’m writing this morning in a text editor, as I wait for internet to be restored at my house. And I’m suddenly thinking that I’ve got to get a 3G iPad or a mifi device (or an HTC Evo), because MAN do I feel cut-off from the rest of the world. ;-)

All of that got me thinking about how easy it is for communities to become insular.

The “echo chamber” phenomenon is an easy one to fall into, incredibly hard to recognize when you’re in it, and can happen regardless of the size of the community. Sections of the valley’s “community” falls into echo chambers all of the time (where they’re talk to the same people, hear only the same feedback, and thing all of the same thoughts), but so do the communities in Boulder, the Twin Cities, everywhere. At some level, I think it’s a cyclical phenomenon that occurs as communities morph and grow.

One of the reasons that I love having Defrag in Colorado is that it breaks that echo chamber — in two ways:

1. If you’re from Colorado, it’s not that you don’t have great events there (Ignite, BDNT meetup, etc). And it’s not that you don’t have a great community (you do). It’s that the community can still get a little insular. 70% of Defrag’s attendees are from outside of the state of Colorado. That’s a huge percentage. Now, would I like to see more participation from local Colorado tech folks? Of course, I would. But, in some ways, NOT having Defrag be a “colorado event” (ie, where 90% of the attendees are from CO) is really *good* for the Colorado folks that do attend. It means the get to step outside of the echo chamber without having to travel to California or the East Coast.

2. If you’re not from Colorado, coming to Defrag removes you from your normal surroundings. Defrag attendees are pretty evenly distributed geographically. Folks come CA, IL, FL, VA, MA, ME, TX, UT, TN - hell, even China, New Zealand and Australia. In short, Defrag gathers a group of people from ALL over. Echo chamber broken.

The point is: No matter where you’re coming from, Defrag offers you a way to unstick some stuck thinking, to step outside of a mental comfort zone, and the get those wheels turning at a fast pace. Join us.

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