Quiddities – The Softer Side of Tech

One of my very favorite designers is Amie Forest at Quiddites.  Amie, a NextSpace colleague (@aforest, @quiddities), gets it when I walk in wearing certain colors, combos of colors, and certain jewelry (** See bottom of post).  This is not a girl-thing, this is a color-thing.  I’m delighted to see Quiddities get some great press today in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. See full article below.

Santa Cruz tech company thrives on collaboration

By Chris Watson
According to the dictionary, quiddities are those qualities that define the essence of a thing. The qualities that define Quiddities, a Web development business in downtown Santa Cruz, can also be found in the four women at the company’s core, according to founder and chief strategist Margaret Rosas. Creative Director Amie Forest dreams, thinks and processes information in color and design. Mindi Lawrence is a compassionate and patient trainer. Desiree Cox, a so-called digital native i.e., born after 1980, has an ability to navigate the arena of social networking, an essential tool of the company. And Rosas, the last of the Q-mamas, loves to challenge ideas and make sense out of chaos. Incorporated in 2003, the company creates digital solutions for business and nonprofit ventures. “A Web site,” Rosas believes, “should not be just an accessory. It should meet the goals and objectives of your business.” While the economic downturn has been tough on the company, Rosas says the past two years also have been transformational. “The transformation began in the fall of 2007 when many of us in Santa Cruz were wondering where the local tech presence was and who was doing innovative stuff. There was just no scene.” Slowly, with the help of Quiddities and like-minded entrepreneurs, collaborative ventures began to take shape — like the monthly Geek Dinners where the idea for 12secondstv.com was brainstormed and informal co-working gatherings, where mash-ups of ideas, platforms and people were fostered and grown. Last October, Rosas met economic innovator Jeremy Neuner and moved her company into NextSpace, his downtown co-working space. “The greatest innovations and synergies,” Rosas said, “come when people work in their passion place and promote their own causes.” Rosas’ “passion place” is community-building — bringing people together online as well as offline. Central to that mission is using social networking media, an important element of the RadioEngage Web platform that Quiddities is developing for public radio stations. Seeded by a $327,000 Knight grant in 2008, RadioEngage is currently being tested atbeta.kusp.org. The biggest issue with the old Web site, Rosas said, was that the podcasts and archives were hard to find. RadioEngage solutions include attaching sharp metafiles to each audiofile and streamlining archives to make RSS feeds quick and easy. “What’s important for these new interfaces is that data is stored well so that it can be manipulated.” She adds: “We all want to be connected in this world, but for a long time the computer has been in the way. With recent innovations, that barrier is going away. Human-to-human contact is fundamental and technology can help us get there.” Quiddities, along with the rest of the Web 2.0 universe, operates under the assumption that today’s digital space must be developed for and by users. Everyone can be their own media today, Rosas said, pointing to the locally grown Cournalist.com as an example as well as local tweeters like the gang at santacruztweets. In fact, Rosas admits to usingsearch.twitter.com more often than the Google search engine because, she says, “Google tells me what it thinks, but I want to see what real people think.” Geek may be chic, but the Q-mamas believe that collaboration is key for future innovation. “For so long, competition has kept us apart. Aren’t we smarter than that?” High on Rosas’s wish-list of projects is an online rebranding of Santa Cruz. “We need to develop a global marketplace for our talent-rich community. 2009 will, I think, be the year of the local.” Quiddities is at 101 Cooper St., Suite 216. For more information, call 466-0110 or visit them online at quiddities.com. ==== (**) April 9, 2009: Here’s how Amie and I, without talking to each other in advance, dressed today:
Twins for the day!