Goodbye Beltway, Hello Silicon Welly
As some of you will already know, I've finished my time in the public sector, and I start full-time on Monday with ProjectX, creators of the ZoomIn mapping site. Those of you who've read my blog for a while will be familiar with ZoomIn, given the number of times I've written about the site or used their maps in my posts. Some of you may even be starting to suspect me of being a paid shill for the company, but no: I've been enthusiastic about their technology since it first appeared in 2005, and finally got cheeky enough to ask them for a job. Those of you who've wondered what on earth I do for a day job can read my introductory post on the ProjectX blog.
While it'll be good to get back to the private sector, I've learned a lot in the last three years working for the government. Among other things, I've learned that the grey cardigan and walkshorts image is now (mostly) a myth. I've speculated before that Wellington's surge in the 20-24 year-old cohort over the last five years may have something to do with the growth of the core public service, and I'd speculate further that the influx of bright and idealistic young graduates has helped fuel the creative energy of the city. Today's civil servants no longer take the 5:05 to Waterloo to tend their rhododenrons and wash their long socks: they're hanging out at Sweet Mother's Kitchen or Mighty Mighty, writing film scripts, making crafts, planning an exhibition, working on their next blog post or discussing their latest gig.
Nevertheless, Wellington's economy needs to be based on more than the government sector and indie crochet, which is why the emergence of "Silicon Welly" is so welcome. The phrase got a bit of a boost thanks to an article in Idealog last October, though I'm not sure who first coined it or when: the first reference I can find is in a post by Nat Torkington last May. The name may seem a bit silly (is it more or less cringeworthy than "Wellywood"?), and there's some scepticism from Aucklanders (natch), but there really does seem to be a cluster of new tech businesses in downtown Wellington, and a post-Trade Me sense of possibility.
ProjectX is based at the Creative HQ in Marion St, so this is goodbye to the Lambton Quarter, at least as part of the daily grind. And speaking of grind, I'll miss the good folks at Magnetix and their excellent coffee. I suppose I'll just have to put up with Floriditas and Scopa as my local hangouts. It's a tough life.