Where does the project-schizophrenic entrepreneur of the 21st-century network?...not at the yacht club.
The age of the garage-tinkerers turned Silicon Valley CEOs vaulted a generation of unsophisticated minds to the top rung of the social ladder. Their art is not the opera house, it is Super Mario; their sweat does not drip on the deck of a yacht, but on a Frisbee, rockwall, or skateboard. Unlike previous generations, the new business elite are not begging for an invitation into the old-boys club.
So, where do these unabashed cultural boobs network with other like minds? At places like Mindshare. Mindshare is a monthly social-networking event where Generation-Yers can schmooze over inexpensive wine while listening to an eclectic array of tech-oriented lectures. In a single day, I can watch a self-made scientist show pictures of the modified SUV he created to reduce transportation costs to the South Pole, talk to a Myspace computer scientist mulling over his new startup, and play with an artificially intelligent teddy bear built by a statuesque MIT-trained engineer who is dressed in a silky red skirt. Mindshare is as fun as it is unpredictable. It works because its infused with the psychological elements of the new generation:
Attention Deficit: Mindshare talks are 10 minutes. In little over an hour and a half, I've heard everything from a Caltech professor philosophize over machine consciousness to the director of Google's x-prize expound on competition-incentivized innovation for commercial space travel. This keeps presentations short, sweet, and entertaining. And, if I want to learn more, I can do so on my own time on the Internet.
Fidgety: At Mindshare, everything can be interactive—even the walls. For instance, in one corner of the building, a display of swirled color interacts with the shadows of people dancing in between the projector and the wall. On the other end of the hall, I see two girls kick off their high-heels so they can play a virtual reality game that projects their body movement onto a screen as they physically duck and jump over digital obstacles. I never grew out playing with toys. I love that Mindshare embraces the 26-year old child in me.
Participatory: Anyone with a good idea can speak at Mindshare. Not everyone is a professor. Some are grad students, lawyers, military personnel, or tinkerers.
Mindshare is a far cry from the champagne halls of aristocratic ghosts. Its ballooning popularity is emblematic of a generation steeped in chaos and an unabashed need for personal fulfillment. If you ever come to LA, come to Mindshare. We'll have some drinks, make friends, play video games, and find you a business partner,