PechaKucha launches in Brooklyn

PechaKucha took over a space in Dumbo last week, adding Brooklyn to the very long list of cities with regular iterations of the 11-year-old talk event.

Tiffany Lentz of ThoughtWorks at PechaKucha Brooklyn. (Photo by Brady Dale)

PechaKucha started in Tokyo eleven years ago and has spread to 774 cities. Usually, there are more than 100 events each month. A new branch just opened up in Dumbo at the Galapagos Art Space last Thursday, though there has been a branch in Manhattan for a while. (This wasn’t quite Brooklyn’s first such event, but it was the first official event, with more to follow. NYCrafted hosted an event in October, at the Duggal Greenhouse.)

PechaKucha was created by two architects in Tokyo. The word is the Japanese equivalent of “chit chat.” The event is geared toward designers but the format also works for other kinds of presentations. The key is keeping things short. Speakers each get 20 slides, each one appearing on screen for just 20 seconds. Each presentation lasts roughly seven minutes.

This first event in Brooklyn was travel themed, so the tech content was a bit light, but here’s a few takeaways that did stand out for our readers:

  • Zach Lieberman spoke of founding the School for Poetic Computation. He described himself as an artist who worked with code. One of the projects he showed was The Insecurity Cam. It’s a camera that looks away if you look at it.
  • Tiffany Lentz of ThoughtWorks gave a talk on the power of saying yes. For non-technical people out there who are interested in taking part in the tech community, her story was a strong example of the role non-engineers can play in making a difference.
  • Nate Cooper told his story of working as a “hustler” (business development) on a StartupBus, after getting pushed to take part by Mike Caprio. He said: “People have this assumption that there is a left brain and a right brain, that you can be technical or creative. I haven’t found that. A bigger divide is the people who talk about something and the ones who go out there and do it.” Cooper has a collaboration coming out with Kim Gee in September, a comic book on making websites.

ThoughtWorks, a giant technology agency with a Chicago HQ, sponsored last week’s PechaKucha. Gary DeGregorio, a vice president with the company, told us that as ThoughtWorks established its offices in New York City, Busboys and Poets began to spread and the Occupy movement was going strong. They saw supporting events like this one as creating “a safe space for people with a progressive background, interested in the arts and technology,” he said.

The company does lots of work in the social sector as well as the corporate sector, DeGregorio explained.

Jared Hatch, who works out of ThoughtWorks’ New York office, was one of the event’s four organizers. He told us, “We want to involve more communities, because technology touches everyone.”

Series: Brooklyn

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