Tech Jam – A party w/ a purpose, but no soul

Last night was the was sixth TBTF Tech Jam that I have attended since I moved to Tampa and while I thoroughly enjoyed the first three, I can safely say that each of the last three years have progressively gotten more disappointing. Let me say first that I have nothing but the greatest respect for the TBTF Foundation, I appreciate and support the great work it has done in providing opportunities, equipment and scholarships to local youth in need. Unfortunately, the desire to make the event exponentially bigger and better is killing the community’s interest and the personal involvement that made this annual fundraiser matter.

TJ, which was an event that brought us together to celebrate music, community involvement and camaraderie has been replaced by mega-hype and glitz. The silent auction that was once made up of generous donations from individuals and local businesses has been overshadowed by professional auction merchandise in an expensive venue with flashy sponsorships.

A lot of people volunteer their time and professional talents to making TJ happen every year and I can sense their disappointment as they have seen this event lose it soul and become more like a corporate Superbowl party and less like a gathering of caring professionals coming together to do the right thing. Last night’s diminished attendance and empty bidding sheets said it all, people have lost interest in supporting this overpriced, over-hyped, can’t hear myself think, sterilized corporate promo-fest.

Let’s get back to the core of what made this event great and made Tampa Bay’s technology professionals feel like willing participants and not obligated corporate sponsors. Next year let’s meet back on the sweaty crowded porch at Stumps with the local bands, cheap beer and an autographed baseball signed by Andy that we will gladly overbid on for the competitive fun of the auction and the feeling that we are all part of something that is a genuine community event.