Thursday, October 23, 2008

I tried coworking

Today was a bike-to-coworking-or-wear-green free coworking day at Conjunctured. This means you got to cowork for free if you fullfilled one of those two conditions. There is no way I could bike all the way from Northwest Austin to Conjunctured without getting killed on a highway, so I dressed in green. Plenty of green from head to toe. Many other folks at Conjunctured embraced that approach as well, so the place looked a bit like St. Patrick's day.

Coworking has been a much written about trend lately. It means strangers working in the same building on their individual (or joint) projects. Conjunctured is an Austin company that rents space for coworking. But it's a lot more than that -- it's a community as well. It's used primarily by freelancers and owners of small businesses that do business mostly over the web (hence, can work from anywhere). Unlike conventional entrepreneurs, these people did not keep their business ideas secret, but chatted freely about their projects, exchanging advice.

The most frequently overheard word today was launch. As in, many of those people were going to launch their web applications some time soon. I was sitting in what appeared to be a less geeky corner, next to two women, Lavanna and Lisa, who were working on their web sites, and The latter is scheduled to launch tomorrow. Lavanna has an interesting take on coworking. She sits in coffeeshops and paints pictures of strangers without them knowing. Usually they never catch on. So coworking is not just for geeks -- it's for artists too.

Geeks were plentiful too, working on their startups, trading snippets of advice such as "why don't you use the AJAX'y thingy". It was from one of them that I got this unusual question: what would be women's equivalent of a little black book, like guys have (or used to have before the days of PDAs and smartphones)? Is women's version pink, or what? Unfortunately, I couldn't answer: I never had so many dates as to need a book to keep track of them. The question was posed by two guys brainstorming possible iPhone applications for women. Or so I figured from their conversation.

To sum it up, coworking at a dedicated place like Conjunctured is like working at the coffeeshop, only you don't have to take your laptop with you to the bathroom. And you don't have to play musical chairs with electric outlets -- they are plentiful. And coffee is free (OK, donation-supported). And strangers won't mind if you chat them up -- it's expected. A very nice mixture of solitude and community.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Coworking is a great option for anyone working at home. I was pleased to find out that Conjunctured welcomes & embraces everyone --not just techies and 22 yr old's. I've met some wonderful people, it keeps me focused and gets my creative juices flowing!

Nice working next to you Elze!