Big existential questions: No. 1 #dctech trend of 2016 - Technical.ly DC

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Big existential questions: No. 1 #dctech trend of 2016

What is #dctech, anyway?

Washington, D.C.

(Photo by Flickr user Pedro Szekely, used under a Creative Commons license)

As the year draws to a close we’re looking back at all that has happened in #dctech — this post is part of our 2016 year in review series. See the full list here.


After an entire week spent out here in the Technical.ly 2016 archives it comes down to this. The number one #dctech trend of the year is … soul-searching! That’s right, we’re essentially giving the top spot to a question: What is #dctech, anyway?

It sounds simple but it’s really not, and we’ve been lucky to be privy to many conversations this year that circled this question of identity in both a realistic and aspirational sense.

At Technical.ly’s July stakeholders meeting, and again at the final Gensler Ambassadors event of this fall, conversation swirled around #dctech’s niche, its calling-card as a sought-after tech city. We asked, what does D.C. want to be known for?

This is a sort of aspirational identity question, but others from this year were more rooted in defining existing component parts of the ecosystem. Turns out, that’s not so easy to do either.

In March, TandemNSI founder Jonathan Aberman wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post based on conversations he’d had with local entrepreneurs in which he asked them to define #dctech. At the time, Aberman wrote that everyone seems to define #dctech differently, with themselves and their connections at the center, to the exclusion of others.

Interestingly, this is precisely the theme that came up in Technical.ly’s most recent stakeholder meeting, where attendees worried that the local tech ecosystem is too siloed.

We’re sure 2017 will be filled with many more existential questions. But we might also start to get some answers: Results from Fosterly’s first annual startup census will introduce a bunch of first-of-its-kind data on the local startup ecosystem. We’re pretty excited.

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