Rapid Recap: 2014 Digital Rochester GREAT Awards

Tonight, some Rochester tech entrepreneurs are feeling really great.

The 2014 GREAT Awards just let out, and what an honor it was to attend, to be surrounded and inspired by successful entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and rising stars. Digital Rochester, a non profit that brings “technology professionals together within the community,” hosts this swanky event every year. Here’s a succinct vision from the GREAT website:

To recognize and celebrate the Greater Rochester community’s entrepreneurial spirit in technological achievement for advancing commerce and resource conservation.


The official program began with one of the more entertaining (if not best) opening videos I’ve ever seen for a stuffy, prima facie, awards ceremony, “The Fresh Prince to the Future of Technology.”

After some comical chatter, delicious dinner, and tasty tweets (eating and tweeting), the awards ceremony kicked off. There were eight award categories and twenty-four finalists in all.

Here’s a quick list of those who won: 


My Name is Kevin and I’m a Phone Addict

I have a love/hate relationship with my iPhone: I love it and I hate that I love it. In other words, I’m completely addicted. My life, my eyes, my attention—this little gadget has taken it all.

I used to make fun of phone drones, before my iPhone, that is. It was a pastime. The human race was declining, absorbing into their phones, but not me; I felt pretty good about myself. A distant judgement, sure, most likely rooted in bitterness since, well… my phone could barely turn on, let alone surf.

Here’s a handy, step-by-step guide I created for phone dependency:

The Phone Drone Fun Chart

1: Moderate. They take pictures or check e-mail. Causal tweeting exists here. Maybe they’re old and just don’t care.

2: Gateway. Instagram is new and they fight the urge to continually check it. Angry Birds exists here. Flirting with addiction is, potentially, the game.

3: Junkie. They check Facebook (or Instagram, or Twitter) once an hour to hold off diarrhea. They do it to feel “normal.”

4: Clueless. Reality, and the world around them, is gone. You’ve enjoyed waving your hand in front of their face at dinner.

5: The Walking Dead. These people run into telephone poles on the sidewalk. They also drool in waiting rooms.

My iPhone arrived last Christmas morning. Like any new toy under the tree, I ripped open the package and played for hours. Then for days. And days. Then six months went by and I’m playing with it still. You could say, my iPhone was probably the most successful Christmas present of all time.

My addiction level recently jumped up notch. Shortly after arriving at the Grand Canyon last week, my phone died. Within hours I began scratching my skin.

The cold-turkey technique, though effective and great for addiction diagnostics, is terrible for skin.

At the Canyon, there was only one place to charge my phone—the campground bathroom. So yes, I took my phone into the smelly Grand Canyon campground bathroom so Mother Electricity could do her thing. Fearing a stolen phone, I stood by the sink to watch it charge. Every few minutes someone would fart and I’d look towards the ceiling. It was awkward and weird.

This has got to be a sign. (fart) I’ve got to get out of here.

Here were the two lies I was telling myself:

1. I needed my phone to feel normal

2. I needed to share the experience to make it worth it

In other words, I had to brag to feel normal. This is big time Level 3 stuff; I’m totally a phone junkie. DANNGGG IT. Worst yet, I wasn’t present for my wife and my friend when I should’ve been. I let them down and disappointed myself.

I hear Step One is admitting the problem; so, this blog is my confession. I should probably set some boundaries before I run into a telephone pole.

What’s your level of phone dependency? Any tips on detoxing? Any feedback is greatly appreciated!