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.

Serious work a-brewing

You heard it here first: a new journalism outlet in Chicago, in collaboration with…


CivicLab is a new-ish space in the West Loop for folks who want to innovate in the public sphere–their tagline was recently changed to “Making Democracy.” As I understand it—and this is a gross over-simplification—they’re piggy-backing on the makerspace/hackerspace movement to do some good in the body politic.

At any rate, as their first resident reporter, I’ll be host and editor of a new audio show we’re calling “Some Assembly Required.” A show about civics. Broad enough to generate awesome content for years to come. Focused enough to not be a cop-out.

Just don’t call it a “podcast.” We’re having fun, but we’re doing serious work.

More to come.