Open House Success!

Wow! The January Open House was a great time!  Thanks to everyone who stopped by.  It was great to see everyone and catch up.happy

For those of you who missed out, I understand the weather was rather terrible that evening.  But, you missed out on some pretty spectacular fun.  Josh, from Bluebird Ice Cream, scooped out some incredible ice cream for everyone to try.  He very quickly ran out of the vegan coconut mint chocolate chip and there was a good reason why.  I had no idea vegan ice cream could be so fantastic!  The Stumptown ice cream and the snickerdoodle were also really delicious and it was all finished off by the time the night came to a close.    Mychal Richardson’s photography was a great conversation piece and had many people quietly going from one photo to the next reading about how each individual pictured fought for their rights.  I think we all came away inspired.  See more of his work on his website or stop by and check them out!

A big thanks must also go to Andy Aupperlee of Explosion 5000.  He took over the Green Room and shot portraits of our Open House attendees and their New Years Resolutions.  The results are rather amazing and you should make sure to read about it on his website and look at his Flickr page.

A big thanks to all of you who could come out.  Hopefully see you all at our next Open House!

Thanks to Flickr user Sukanto Debnath for use of the above photo through the Creative Commons License

Coworking CoCollage

No magnets needed

No magnets needed

What the heck is that? Good question. It is a CoCollage screen and it is the newest addition to the Office Nomads space. A CoCollage is a basically a virtual refrigerator door. A local company puts a large flat-panel screen in community gathering spots such as ours visitors (or residents) a place to post, well virtual detritus of the sort that, if it were real, you’d stick on a refrgerator door with a magnet. According to the company, they want to help people mix their virtual and “real” worlds. They were pretty excited to hang it here since all their other installations are in coffee shops. This is the first one with a stable, recurring user base.

To be honest, it’s kind of strange right now, but I think that’s because it’s so new and we’re all not really sure what to put up there. During the testing/seeding phase, Jacob put a bunch of pictures up there from his house remodel and Susan added shots of our last Open House. Ol’ #2 (Tim) loves to send cranky quotes to the screen and Suzi is putting up some of the more interesting science pictures she has in her store. Tim also likes to mess with people who walk by his desk on the way to the kitchen where the screen is. The other day I passed him only to be ordered back to work by the screen. Creepy.

Anyway, we’re definitely guinea pigs for this new company so the sky’s the limit with what can be put up there and how we use it. All CoCollage wants back is our feedback and you can be a part of it by checking out and adding to the stream from the office or online. So if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for some place to display your latest macaroni art or witty thought, stop by and log on! Actually, you don’t even have to be here to add our ongoing mash-up. Just create an account and start uploading (though, your stuff shows up faster and more often if you’re actually in the space).

We ain’t afraid of no recession

While the rest of the world quivers in fear of our shared economic doom, a stalwart group of entreprenurs the world over is quivering a bit less. Coworkers are less fearful of the recession because recessions can be powerful incubators for innovativon. As more and more people lose their jobs, more finally try out the unique ideas they’ve been baking in their heads for years. In this scenario, not only does innovation (and innovators) thrive, but so do coworking spaces. It’s a concept I’ve written about before here (thanks to a post I read on the Launchpad Cowworking blog). Now that idea is starting to gain currency in the mainstream media too.

Yesterday, Reuters ran a piece called “Co-working [sic] has a wider appeal in recession.” The thesis is that people are flocking to coworking spaces (note the lack of a hyphen in “coworking” Reuters!) as they lose their jobs in search of community.

But the recession has made the idea of working amongst strangers appealing to a broader range of people, from those that recently lost their jobs to consultants eager to stay in the loop.

Sound familiar? Anyway, it’s a good piece and worth a read in these bleak economic times. If nothing else, it’ll help ease

the mind of anyone who might be thinking of launching their own space in these strange times.

Oh, and it mentions our Pink Slip Special at the very end, so there’s that too!

I couldn’t help re-use this image I originally found when searching Flickr for “Looking Up.” Orange kitties just rock. Thanks to Flickr user ex.libris for putting it there under the Creative Commons license.

You know you’re part of a community when…

The view off the back porch where I'm stuck today.

The view off the back porch where I'm stuck today.

Seattle rarely gets snow and when we do, it’s usually a dusting or a quick dump and then a just-as-quick melt. So when we get an actual, real live snowstorm–as we are right this very second–it’s a big deal. Because snow is rare here, even when there’s just a chance of it, the city shuts down. There’s 2-3 inches even in the low-lying parts of Seattle today, so going anywhere further than a walk is nigh on impossible.

In other words, snow in seattle is a capital-E Event. It’s one you really want to talk about because it is such an Event, so this morning, I naturally wanted to talk snow. But because it’s snowing and I do not live within walking distance of Office Nomads, so I’m working at home today, all alone. I’m left with no one to talk to about the snow, or call to the window when some crazy-ass driver in an “all-wheel drive” car skids down the hill. It made me realize again how lonely it is to work at home.


A sparsely populated ON waves hi to me. Not a replacement for live interaction, but cute.

When big Events happen in life, whether they are snow storms, weddings, new jobs or whatever, you want to share them with the people who make up your community. In this culture where we work as hard and as many hours as we do, the office is a prime source of community and the loss of it–even for a day–is visceral. I really miss Office Nomads and all the people there today so we could share this event together. Communicating online, while fun, just isn’t cutting it. I wish I could talk to them, stare out the window at the pretty snow with them, and slack off with hot buttered rum and watch Hulu with them.

Office Nomads is my community and I feel like I should be there for this. I miss you guys!

Awww. I miss you too desk.

Awww. I miss you too desk.

Does Coworking Have a Hyphen?

It may seem silly to you, but for some of us the question “Does coworking have a hyphen?” is a big deal.  When I first came into Office Nomads and began writing for them, it was something we discussed for a long time. We ended up saying no to the hyphen. Although my initial instincts were for the hyphen, I now like it without. Independents Hall’s Alex Hillman is firm in his stance that coworking does not have a hyphen while most media outlets (especially the older, mainstream ones) are in the it-has-a-hyphen camp (read: co-working).

But I have to admit that I still feel a bit of ambiguity about the issue. I thought it worth sharing since Alex is initiating another push on the issue and it seems like the good thing to do to make sure everyone is aware of the battle they’re entering.

My understanding comes from the fact that I work as a journalist for a living and as such, I can tell you exactly why coworking appears and will continue to appear as “co-working” in most publications.

It’s the fault of the Associated Press Style Guide which is pretty much the base of every newspaper and magazine style guide out there. It has rules for just about anything from how to refer to Ford Motor Co. on the second reference (“Ford” not “FMC”) to when and how what state names should be abbreviated (There are eight that are not abbreviated: the five with five or less letters and the two that are not on the continent) to punctuation rules.

The copy editor who follows AP (and most of them follow some form of it) is going to default to a hyphen because AP says to:

co- Retain the hyphen when forming nouns, adjectives and verb that indicate occupation or status: co-worker

Like it or not, any copy editor who sees that is going to change a reference to coworking to co-working. There’s even a note that many of the “co-” words that are listed in AP are in the dictionary without a hyphen, but are given one by AP in the “interest of consistency.” So even changing the dictionary won’t help, as Alex suggested. We’ve got to get the AP to notice. And they’ve got their hands full with a failing business model to manage and a world of news to cover so it may be a long road.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and this one can be no exception. If coworking becomes well known enough by the public as opposed to co-working, media will have to change. But for now, big, old media is going to hyphenate and the smartest course of action may be to try and educate the smaller, online, and less formal media covering us.

One last word, then I’ll get off my geeky punctuation soapbox: It’s important to note that most likely, it is not the reporter’s fault if there is a hyphen. A reporter might write it without a hyphen and may even note that the word is spelled without a hyphen according to the industry, but if the copy editor decided that a hyphen is warranted, then there is nothing a beat or features reporter can do. (If someone like Thomas Friedman writes about coworking (And he should. It’s right up his alley.), he can put up a good fight with his copy editor and might get a change, so someone should pitch him on the idea.)

I took the image from a really interesting post by Jason Kintzler on about the relevance of AP in the new-media/Web 2.0 world. It’s worth the read.

Coworking Meetup @SxSW

Many of the big names in coworking descended on Austin for the SxSW conference this week.  To kick everything off, we all met up at Hotel San Jose to put some faces to names and talk about what we are doing.  The whole thing was arranged by Julie Gomoll and the people working to open Austin’s first coworking space LaunchPad.  Alex Hillman from IndyHall in Philadelphia was there as was Tara Hunt from Citizen Space in San Francisco.  Marcus Nelson from Citizen Desk came all the way from Wausau but he was bested by Patrick Tanguay and Daniel Mireault from Station-C who came in from Montrea.  But the furthest fliers were the guys from La Cantine in Paris.  Louis Montagne even complemented me on my outrageous French accent.  I got to meet Todd and Andrew from NonAnMBA who are in an ongoing coworking blog frenzy. I spent a good portion of the day yesterday with Marcus Nelson, Hillary Hartly (Citizen Space), and William Lawrence (Santa Cruz) and today I’m off to my first BarCamp event.  First I need to find coffee, something they don’t seem to worship here as much as we do in Seattle.