In the tech world at large, Gawker Media video producer Richard Blakeley is better known for getting kicked out of events than organizing them himself--he's the guy who was served a lifetime ban from the Consumer Electronics Show after running around shutting off displays.
Around New York, however, people tend to regard Blakeley as a good-natured Randy Quaid lookalike rather than a controversial hardware prankster. So when he announced that he was kick-starting a series of monthly get-togethers called "Media Meshing," people jumped on the bandwagon. The inaugural event was held on Thursday night at a bar in the Nolita neighborhood (that refers to North of Little Italy, the boutique-and-wine-bar-saturated enclave sandwiched between SoHo and the Lower East Side) called Sweet and Vicious, just a few blocks from Gawker's new headquarters on Elizabeth Street.
"Tech people really only hang out with other tech people," Blakeley related to me on Friday when I asked him why he started Media Meshing, "and that's a shame because the male-to-female ratio on that is totally wacky." Whether or not his assertion about the insideriness of the city's Web 2.0 set was accurate, Blakeley decided to do something about it: throw a party, invite his friends from tech and media, whether they knew each other or not, and put up an open invitation on Facebook.
"I sent an invite to nearly all of my 150 (Facebook) friends. About 20-30 replied and I thought, 'Awesome, cool.' But then something happened," Blakeley continued. "It started popping up in people's News Feeds and then each day, 10 people would sign up... (Each time) I saw that fewer and fewer people had any common Facebook friends with me. That turned out to be the best thing. What I feared would be a bunch of PR d***wads crashing my party was actually bringing old media and new media together."
The end result was that dozens of folks from every clique of New York's tech and media community showed up, from newspapers to blogs to tech start-ups. That basically means that there was an extremely high concentration in the room of Tumblr bloggers, Muxtape listeners, and people who know what Hell Square is. (Here's Dan Frommer's take from the Silicon Alley Insider.)
Indeed, one of the most prolific discussion topics of the evening was something entirely too insidery for its own good: the identity of the blogger behind Nick Denton's Brain Droppings (warning: content probably not work-safe), an anonymous Tumblr blog purporting to be written by the Gawker Media czar. Unlike his predecessor Fake Steve Jobs, Fake Nick doesn't write about celebrities. He writes both made-up and probably-not-made-up stuff (almost all of it extremely crass) about mundane Gawker employees and other New York bloggers, implying that the writer behind Fake Nick is extremely familiar with the intricacies of the local new-media culture, perhaps a little too much so. From what it seems like, more than a few people might be uncomfortable with just how much the guy knows and how much he'd be willing to say about, oh, extramarital affairs.
The funny thing is that, considering the odds, Fake Nick Denton was likely in the room. Real Nick Denton actually was. I have a theory that they're one and the same.
The evening also spawned a new blogging endeavor, hatched by Katie Baker and launched by Blakeley: the White People Trying To Look Serious photo blog. A takeoff on the wildly popular Stuff White People Like ("white people" is a moniker for Gen-X-and-Y yuppies who worship Target and microbrews, not the Caucasian race), the blog promises to showcase plenty of photos of pasty urbanites giving the camera their best Blue Steel.
Lolcats were getting old, anyway.