Blue Sky innovation; work for Chicago Tribune

Take note: graph the number of tech startups in Chicago the past five years and you’ll very nearly get a parabolic function. (No, this isn’t an actual graph of it, but it does closely represent the data.)

Most startups employ just one or two people full-time. Maybe the more-developed ones have a third person part-time. But it’s still a mind-blowing statistic. It means a good many people are cultivating business ideas, and they’re finding it easy enough to give those ideas a go.

If you ‘re in the tech sector, or you live in Chicago and care about its economy, you should check in with Blue Sky Chicago every once in a while. A project by the Tribune, it’s trying to cover the local innovation space much like the Atlantic, or the Verge, covers the national space. I expect great things.

Not the least of which because they commissioned a piece from me. It’s about Starter School, the new outgrowth of The Starter League that adds business training to the mix of coding and app design.

Don’t you think it’s a chicken-and-egg question? Obviously if people are doing cool things, decent local media will find and cover it. But if local media starts covering a topic really well, more people will learn of it, learn the basics from the reports, and put their hats in the ring. Thanks, Tribune, for helping usher in the next wave of Chicago startups.

Industry turmoil

The Chicago Tribune sports the largest newsroom in the midwest, according to its advertising campaign. I chuckle at that choice. I wonder how many other journalists do, too. (CC Flickr photo from Alex Barth)

When I turned to the journalism field for my career, the thought that most plagued me was this: generally, to make any money, one must join a very large corporation—likely a conglomerate with lots of power.

That just never sat right with me. With lots of power comes lots of responsibility, which isn’t usually handled properly. Not that I could do better. Just that I know people are human like me.

But in the past couple years and months, the larger news corporations have fared much worse than smaller ones. …Am I the only one who’s happy about this?

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First Daily Blank piece

vendetta masks

Masks that supposedly resemble the visage of Guy Fawkes, make popular in the movie V for Vendetta. (Photo from The Daily Blank)

Today I was published at The Daily Blank, Chicago’s only satire site that focuses on local issues.

For your enjoyment I’ll paste the entire article below, because their licensing allows it. Enjoy! …And I have one more piece in the queue, so look out.

Daley to ‘pull an Obama’ to fund CPS

In two about-face moves Tuesday, Chicagoans banded together to stand up to the Daley administration, and the Mayor decided to listen to the majority voice of the people.

Following a protest, Mayor Richard M. Daley issued an edict that every corporate executive who had received preferential treatment under the TIF program would voluntarily cut his or her income by 90 percent.

The mayor did not say what the consequences would be if said executives disobeyed, except that “the shit will hit the fan,” he told the throngs of cheering lower-middle-class people before him.

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Clout City


Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley speaks at a celebration for a building’s LEED certification. (Creative Commons-licensed photo from the Flickr account of the Center for Neighborhood Technology)

Move over, Tribune, there’s another watchdog in town. No one seems to follow the mayor’s corruption (yes, I said it) more intently than Mick Dumke of the Reader.

If you haven’t already read the cover story he wrote with Ben Joravsky, Chicagoans, it’ll blow your mind. And get you hooked on Dumke’s blog. And give you a reason to object when your friends say “I vote for Daley ’cause I don’t know why I wouldn’t…”

I wish I had done work like this at the two papers I’ve written for in years past. No regrets, though. After reading this article and archives of the blog “Clout City,” I’ve armed myself for next time: with source gumption and due persistence.

Maybe someday I’ll do my part to help edge representative democracy back into Chicago.