On this week’s edition of District of Corruption Geoff and Aaron discussed AOL’s closing it’s Virginia HQ and Sprint moving to Kansas City. They thought these were not good signs for the local tech scene and indeed it is very bad news.
However, in my view the Potomac area’s role in tech has never lied with the business side of technology and never will. Too often we forget that is was the Dept. of Census that funded the development of the first Univac computer. The miniaturization necessary for all current electronics came out of the space program and the Internet grew out of the Dept. of Defense Arpanet. Advanced technology is inherently buggy and there are very few customers who can cope with the problems of implementing early stage technology. The federal government is one of the very few that is willing to do so. The most advanced leaders in technology are not working for our largest companies, neither are they teaching at our universities, rather they hold obscure positions within the federal civil service, where they work on projects so advanced that it is difficult to explain them to the general public.
The Potomac area also leads in standards development and process improvement. Because of the colossal influence of the federal market, the Federal Enterprise Architecture Data Reference Model is the de facto industry standard.
The largest chapters of AIIM and the Software Process Improvement Network are located in our area. The work of these organizations shapes the entire tech industry. I have tried, with only limited success, to interest the local press in the unique role our area plays in technology.