GEARHEAD: if you have a burning need to share your obsessive gadget knowledge with the world, Peter Rojas has a Web site for you.
Strange to think back on it now: when Peter Rojas first launched Gizmodo in 2002, the iPod was only six months old. The BlackBerry was still a pager. Gadget blogs were scarce back then, but these days, you can’t swing a dead LOLcat without hitting one — and Rojas and his bloggy fecundity are partly to blame.
But now, Rojas — who went on to found Engadget and Joystiq — is looking to turn the reins of gadgetry know-how over to you, the readers. His newest venture, GDGT (“gee-dee-gee-tee”) is an online tech forum in which consumers can participate in threads relating to thousands of different pieces of technology, both bleeding-edge and vintage. The site is all about “connecting people to products, and connecting people through products,” says Rojas.
To put his ideas into action, he’s taking GDGT on the road.
The GDGT live tech showcase has toured five cities already and hits Boston’s Royale on September 22, bringing with it two dozen companies showing off their latest gear. That includes new offerings from TiVo, Lenovo, and TomTom, as well as local companies like Cambridge’s location-gaming upstart SCVNGR, the Concord-based Isabella Products, and gadget-recycling site Gazelle.
“We wanted people to be able to acknowledge that there’s a lot of cool technology stuff happening outside of New York and Silicon Valley,” says Rojas. “You get to play with a lot of stuff that you normally wouldn’t be able to.”
Rojas hopes the live showcase is a way to make the online experience of GDGT tangible: “Our goal with the event and our goal with the site are kind of the same: to recognize that it’s the users that are the experts now,” he says.
More surprisingly, these users might not even flame you for your Linux fanboy tendencies.
“If you go to some of the tech blogs that I’ve started, the comments are going to be really vitriolic — really nasty. And then you pick a discussion on our site, and people ... are actually helping each other and answering each other’s questions,” says Rojas. What gives? “I think once you start layering in people’s identity, like we have, when you say, ‘Hey, here’s a place where you’re creating a home,’ people don’t tend to piss in their own living room.”
So Rojas is trying to invent a way to keep squabbly tech nerds from being jerks on the Internet? We wish him the best of luck.