I'm spending this week in San Francisco, networking with some technologists and entrepreneurs active in the Silicon Valley scene. It's inspiring to see so much development happening near the Potrero neighborhood, where many upstart Web 2.0 companies have set up their offices. What was once an industrial wasteland is seeing an explosion of construction and growth.
At a coffee shop here, thinkers and developers get together and work on ideas. If you need someone to step in and add some AJAX to your project this afternoon, you can just call out and, chances are, someone at a table nearby will be able to help out.
There's also shared workspace for rent. If you just want to come in and grab whatever desk is available, it's free. If you want to reserve a desk, it's a few bucks. If you want to reserve a specific desk for the month, it's a bit more. When you work with other folks, there is a tendency to talk about your work and get serendipitous input from others that may lead to new understandings of the potential of your idea or solutions to your problems.
This kind of cooperation and cohabitation has been the catalyst to success for many ideas here in Silicon Valley. Back in the Mahoning Valley, the Youngstown Business Incubator is working on such a space. The YBI will have space available for people to come and work in cohabited space. I hope that some new ideas will come from the effort, and we'll continue to see new, vital companies emerging from the Incubator.