Try Out Technology. You Might Like it!

By Jeremy Schneider

I’m the Chief Technology Officer at the Downtown Alliance. Thankfully for the staff of the Alliance, I’m not a technobabble techie. But when I talk to my wife about my job, she always says the same thing to me:

“Maraschino cherries.”

That’s when I know I’ve said too much, and she is no longer able to understand what I’m talking about. But, as we both recently discovered, technology does not have to be off-putting — even for someone not regularly immersed in it.

Over the last few weeks, we went to three presentations that were part of the “Big Ideas for Smart Cities” series. Put on by LaunchLM, the Downtown Alliance’s initiative to support Lower Manhattan’s technology community, these illuminating events are held at the South Street Seaport (at Fulton and Front Streets) and feature discussions on a variety of technology issues. The goal is to help the Alliance create a “digital roadmap” for Lower Manhattan.

One panel discussion a few weeks ago focused on how technology can improve energy efficiency. I was worried my wife would be bored. But, to my surprise, she was anything but. She kept whispering reactions and ideas in my ear during the entire event.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough for me, she agreed to join me at a “BigApps Block Party,” part of the NYC Economic Development Corporation’s Big Apps Competition. I was lucky enough to be an evaluator of some of the teams who had pitched ideas and apps. At one point, we saw an interesting app and started talking to its creators. My wife remembered something she heard at the “Big Ideas” event and asked about unintended consequences of creating an app and the impact it might have on a community. Before I knew it, my wife — Ms. “Maraschino Cherries” — was in a riveting dialogue with the app’s co-founder.

The next (and last) “Big Ideas” event is on August 19 and will focus on infrastructure. It will be curated by Case. Go here to find out more.

Are you old enough to remember those old Life commercials from back in the day? If Ms. “Maraschino Cherries” enjoyed the “Big Ideas” panels, you probably will, too.