Legacy and documenting the past

Wendy g said it best.

The problem is the next generation seem to think they are tackling new problems.

Next year is the 10th anniversary of the open rights group, something I’m proud to say I was at and supported from the conception. Its also 8 years and a couple months since BarCampLondon1. The Geeks of London did something special to say thank you to everybody who attended over the 8 years.
Its also coming up on 10 years since I ran London geek dinners and although gone the legacy lives on through Girl geekdinners, tuttleclub, social media cafe (come back to this in a moment) and geekup to name just a few I know.

Here’s all the geekdinners I remember running or being a part of…

  • 7th July 2005 – Robert Scoble – Texas Embassy, 1 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DL
  • 11th July 2005  Seth Godin
  • 22nd July 2005  Jeremy Zawodny
  • 13th October 2005  Tim Oreilly  – Hogs Head, 11 Dering Street, Westminster, London
  • 24th November 2005  Molly Holzschlag  – Hogs Head, 11 Dering Street, Westminster, London
  • 10th December 2005  Robert Scoble  – Texas Embassy, 1 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DL
  • 23rd January 2006  Dave Shea  – The Crown and Anchor, 22 Neal St, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9PS
  • 23rd Febuary 2006  Paul Boag  – The Polar Bear, 30 Lisle Street, Westminster, London WC2H 7BA
  • 5th April 2006  David Teten  – The Polar Bear, 30 Lisle Street, Westminster, London WC2H 7BA
  • 1st May 2006  Marc Canter  – The Polar Bear, 30 Lisle Street, Westminster, London WC2H 7BA
  • 17th June 2006  @media  conference social with Geekdinner – The Livery, 130 Wood Street, London, EC2V 6DL
  • 7th July 2006  Chris Anderson  Geekdinner – The Bottlescrue, 53 – 60 Holburn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FD
  • 1st Sept 2006  Ben Metcalfe  – The Bottlescrue, 53 – 60 Holburn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FD
  • 22nd Sept 2006  Howard Rheingold  – The Thai Terrace Restaurant, 14 Wrights Lane, W8 6TF
  • 20th October 2006  Molly Holzschlag  – The Bottlescrue, 53 – 60 Holburn Viaduct, London, EC1A 2FD
  • 9th December 2006, BBC Backstage Christmas Special – The Cuban bar, City Point, Ropemaker Street, London EC2Y 9AW
  • 26th January 2007  Molly Holzschlag  – City Spice 138 Brick Lane, E1 6RU
  • 21st Febuary 2007  Tara Hunt  and  Chris Messina  of Citizen Agency – The Bear, 2 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4DE
  • 17th April 2007  Paul Boag  – The Thai Terrace Restaurant, 14 Wrights Lane, W8 6TF
  • 3rd May 2007  Mike Culver  – The Bear, 2 St John’s Square, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4DE
  • 30th May 2007  Becky Hogge  – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  • 12th June 2007  Jyri Engeström  – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  • 26th June 2007  Julie Howell  – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  • 16th July 2007  Brady Forrest  – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  • 14th August 2007  Eric Meyer  – The Thai Terrace Restaurant, 14 Wrights Lane, W8 6TF
  • 1st November 2007  Stowe Boyd  – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  • 13th March 2008 Holmes Wilson – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  •  7th of April 2008 David Terrar – Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, EC4Y 1AA
  • 29th May 2008 Moo! -Thai Smile Restaurant, The Ivy House  8-10 Southampton Row, London WC1B 4AE
  • Joint London Girl Geek/Geek dinner with Dr. Sophie Kain –  Horse Bar, 124 Westminster Bridge Road, Waterloo, London SE1 7XG

This is about the point of when I moved to Manchester and the Geeks of London took over. I tried to document a part of it on this blog post and many others throughout the blog, but it doesn’t feel like nearly enough. I tried to add it to wikipedia but it was rejected and deleted multiple times.

I won’t lie I’m also one of those people who thinks there striking new ground everytime but I would be foolish to not think about the legacy of these things. But where should such history live? So others can be inspired or learn from the mistakes I made?

Where would you put this information? Maybe something which can aggregate blog posts together in someway?

The drinking society of the geeks

Moët Dom (DOM?) Perignon

Who could forget the night during the end of the @media social in 2006. To cover the bar minimum we had to drink £1300 of champagne in 90mins! That night was messy and will go down in geek history forever


In the blog “how to be a right old plonker”. I put the hammer down on the notion that being a man, should be defined by the drinking your doing.

Be a regular at more than one bar and A glass of wine or two with lunch will not ruin your day

So I wrote…

Please! Come on, being a man shouldn’t centre around drinking

Then @jmurphyuk wrote in reply to me…

“Please! Come on, being a man shouldn’t centre around drinking” unfortunately for MOST in this country… It does

Slightly chilling thoughts from Jmurphyuk i think. You only have to watch a episode of 24hours in A&E to get a glimpse of the problem at large. But most of those people are drinking for escapism, its sometimes what they look forward to (not my words some once said that on 24hours in A&E)

So whats the modern geek’s excuse for the drinking? This is something which hasn’t been missed by others. Does Our Industry Have a Drinking Problem? by Rachel Andrew on alistapart really brings home the problem in our industry and geek culture.

At a conference recently, I had to leave for part of the afternoon to take care of some technical support for our product. When I returned to the venue, at about half-past five in the afternoon, everyone was holding plastic glasses of whiskey and cups of wine or beer.

At an event where I spoke earlier this year, some wondered whether one of the other speakers would be able to make their talk after having drunk so much the night before.

Almost every conference’s second day opens with attendees being asked how their hangovers are. Second day early-slot speakers joke that no one will turn up anyway, or they’ll all just be staring into their coffee. It has become normal, in fact expected, that drinking and staying out late is what we do while at conferences.

And Rachel is right… it is slightly worrying how this is the norm of the conferences.

I originally thought it was just the UK and maybe parts of western Europe but that certainly seems untrue.

The alcohol-fueled nature of our industry events therefore raises an issue. As a speaker, I want to be available to people who have bought tickets and attended the event I’m speaking at, and if the parties are the place to do so, then I need to be at the parties. For me this doesn’t raise any moral or personal quandary, although I’d sometimes rather be in bed so I can go for an early run before day two begins. Some speakers or participants, however, may find it hard to attend social events where alcohol is the main theme. Of course it’s possible to attend these events and not drink, but being the sober person at a party gets tiresome.

Yes its a dilemma because you do want to socialize and also be fresh for your talk on the next day. There have been a couple of times when not so much the drink has caused me to wake up slightly unprepared, but rather being up chatting over late drinks in the hotel bar. The Mal in Newcastle, Encore in Gateshead, Holiday Inn and in Greenwich, London are included in my list of late night minimum sleep. Great times but boy oh boy could I have done with some sleep instead of debating the ins and outs of Perceptive Media.

Drinking is part of our culture/society like it or not. But I got to say the last paragraph does sum it up.

Meeting up in pubs and attending conference parties will always be part of our industry, and an enjoyable part for many of us at one time or another. If the conference you attend is your only one that year, then having the chance to let your hair down with peers you rarely meet in person is not a bad thing at all. However, I’d like for drinking not to be what defines these events and those of us who attend them. We become more inclusive the less we look like only a certain type of person is part of “us.”
Well said Rachel

Does Manchester need a tech night?

Geek Graffiti

My friend Chris has something which has been bugging him. He told me while we had a late breakfast in VividLounge.

There’s something that’s bugged me about events in Manchester’s tech scene for a while. There are a lot of great specialist events, and a lot of networking events, but there appears to be little in between, ones that cross knowledge sharing with networking, other than the now-defunct Social Media Cafe, the Northern Digitals BLAB Talks, and ThoughtWorks’Manchester Geek Nights. However, BLAB Talks are geared more towards the creative side of the industry, rather than the technical side and Manchester Geek Nights speakers appear to be limited to ThoughtWorks.

The specialist events are great, but there’s just so many of them, that it’s impossible to attend even just the ones that are interesting to you, and the networking events tend to be heavily geared around alcohol and drinking, which in itself is problematic and can be exclusionary.

When I lived in Oxford there was a great event I attended frequently, Oxford Geek Nights, which basically has a format that fills a gap that I think Manchester now has, so I’d like to start running a monthly series of nights in this format, and hopefully some other people think this is a good idea too.

When I was in London during the first dot com era, I was also going to many specialist events. Most were around startups and money. When that all fell apart the events dried up or became even more specialised. So London geekdinners was started following some loose events in America by the same name. I’ve already mentioned how much of success the girl geekdinners have and are. Funny enough (I believe) the Oxford geek nights were setup following Nat and Simon (founders of Lanyrd) after they enjoyed going to the London Geekdinner and wanted to bring a slice to Oxford. Similarly Geekup and London Tuttle club (forerunner for Social Media Cafe Manchester)

The main reason why I bring up the past again is because there seems to be a cycle. The cycle seems to be flick between general and specific events. Theres certainly a need for both, but sometimes there feels like theres many more of one that the other. Both type of events are tricky to keep going and seem to

Its great Chris feels the need to setup another event, I think it will go down well. I can help with advice on the venue side, but I honestly think a venue won’t be too much of a problem and I certainly would love to talk at one of the events soon.

Make it so, Chris!

I on the other hand won’t be setting up any other events. Between BarCampEdu, 300 Seconds, Quantified Self and a possible next season of Relationships 2.0 (previously called geeks talk sexy). I have little spare time, plus its great when someone else stands up and does something rather than waiting for others.

Although I’ve been thinking about geekdinners 3.0 (maybe to replace relationships 2.0). The tag would be the geeky side of everything… Maybe next year. Rather than people you expect, we would have people from different areas who talk about the geeky side. For example a chef to explain all those different knives, a street artist to explain the world of street art. I tried to do this with geekdinners before but didn’t push beyond the industry much. Maybe now’s the time…?

Make it do, Ian! Maybe I will…

Geeks of London takes over from London Geekdinners

london geekdinner logo medium

Sad moment to see the London Geekdinners are no more. As the Formerly organized of Geek Dinners its wasn’t really a surprise. Cristiano Betta and Melinda Seckington took over the running of the events back over a year and half ago when I left London for Manchester. And last year spoke to me about the possibility of changing the direction of geekdinners into something else.

Its been amazing over the years, some of the guests we’ve had include, Stowe Boyd, Tim Oreilly, Adrian and Dan Hon, Brady Forrest, Jen Pahlka, Jyri Engeström, Julie Howell, Chris Messina, Tara Hunt, Chris Anderson, Kevin Marks, Dave Winer, Betsy Weber, Molly Holzschlag, Robert Scoble, Jeff Keni Pulver, Mozilia Labs, Ben Metcalfe, Marc Carter, Dr Sophie Kain, Jeremy Zawodny Howard Rheingold, Holmes Wilson, Dean Jansen, Moo.com, Paul Boag, Dave Shea, Eric Meyers, Mike Culver, Dave Crossland, BBC iplayer team, Ryan Carson, Paul Jones, Richard Clayton, Becky Hogge, David Terrar, myself and many many more…. (sorry if I didnt remember your name).

Our biggest geekdinner by its self was with Chris Anderson of Wired magazine, although the joint girl geekdinner with Scoble have been huge in the past too. The biggest so called geekdinner was the backstage p. arty/geekdinner/community party which took place in the Cuban Bar back in Christmas of 2006. Over 200 people attended that event and who could forget the massive trustedplaces.com cake. The most dinners we have done for one single person has got to be for Molly Holzschlag who will remain in our hearts as the Geekdinner queen with 3 geekdinners.

Geekdinner.co.uk had a bumpy time. The domain name is still owned by Nick Swan and the original server which the blog use to sit on has never been recovered. So if you go back in time on geekdinner.co.uk (the current server which Cristiano owns) you get to a point where there is no more blog entries. Archive.org has most of the old stuff thankfully. One of the best things which came out of geekdinners has to be the girl geekdinners which was the idea of Sarah Blow (not of my ex-wife, as I once heard recently). Sarah and the girlygeekdom have done a great job growing the event and looking back done exactly what maybe geekdinners should have done ages ago. I guess by the time we should have got serious, we were already on to running barcamps. Its great what Sarah Blow has done and I wish her good luck into the future.

We certainly moved around in venues for geekdinners. We started off in the cellar of a bar (bonds) just on Derring Street near Bond Street tube, tried a few places including the crown and anchor. Settled on the Polar Bear just behind Leicester Square before it got shut down (as we found out one day after BarCampLondon1). Tried a few more places and settled again at a very quiet place (The Bottlescrue) in the Holborn Viaduct area. It was summertime and we use to take over the whole bar including the outside seating for our geekdinners. This was also the bar we used for the biggest geekdinner with Chris Anderson. But it wasn’t to last, the reason why? Well it was in area of the city where people don’t hang around after 6pm. The bar closed its doors for good after a few months. After a little more bar shuffling including to the bear in trendy clerkenwell, we ended up at the Ye Olde Cock Taven which is still open and sits in Fleet street. We had that for quite a while before the owner drove me nuts and we moved elsewhere. This is about the time I left for Manchester and Cristiano took over. The venue he seemed to use the most was Hummus Bros in Holborn.

So as they say in the Matrix Revolutions, everything that has a beginning has an end. Geekdinners have been an amazing part of my life and I kept considering doing something like Geekdinners in Manchester. But its time to move on. I met some amazing geeks over the time of running the dinners. Some of them I’m still good friends with even now. Flicking through some of the photos, has had me thinking wow so many people, such good times. Geeks of London could be a interesting framework for other smaller events which fell in the shadow of geekdinners. Things like Bowling, Karaoke, heck even Roller Coaster riding might be your thing and there’s always usually another 4-10 people (at least) who also would go if theres interest shown. Who knows maybe there will be a geeks of Manchester one day…

Data Portability for Educators

This is the slides I used for the Educational Jisc event. The event went really well and although there are over 80 slides, I managed to wiz through them in about 30mins, leaving plenty of time for questions. Someone commented they were pretty blown away and would need to review the slides again because there was just so much information to take in. Another lecturer, commented that she will spend more time in the future looking at eula's and data portability features before recommending them to students. So a good result all round.

Yes there was a geekdinner about Dataportability which I was part of. Imp has put up a complete video of the night which I'm not going to watch ever (hate watching myself on video). Enjoy.

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Whats happened to the London Geekdinners?


Well the site went down a few months ago and it never came back up. Why? Well the geekdinner site was hosted by one person and the domain owned by someone else. This has always been a issue but I had never got round to moving the whole thing to my own server simply because of time and I blog using Blojsom not WordPress. Anyway, it turns out that the server the wordpress install was sitting on was not owned by one person, instead it was owned by a 3rd person. I'm trying to get the archives from that person but its taking very long (if you knew who he was you'd know why).

In the meantime I've been very busy with many things and wanted to get some help running geekdinners. So Cristiano and Mel have offered and to their credit started planning events. This is great news because the dutch couple are really passionate about it and will inject some more life into it. This also means we can spend more time setting up a mailing list and other things which I had talked about in the past.

So what events?
Well the first one is Werewolf which hasn't been played since the Backstage Christmas party in 2007. If you've never played werewolf before, this is a great time to learn it. Its not a board game and its only slightly geeky. In actual fact its more about social engineering and trickery that anything else. The game can accomodate between 6-26 people, so feel free to bring your friends along, it costs nothing and it takes place in a pub anyway. So you have no excuses!

Pause for breath on Wednesday, then we have the 2nd geekdinner for 2008 on the Thursday. This time the guest is Dr. Richard Clayton from the University of Cambridge. He's going to talk about Evil ways to make money on the Internet. I'm saying no more, but it promises to be pretty awesome. This will cost 5 pounds for food which is a bargin for good food while enjoying the talk. Hope to see you all there.

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Booktour.com and geekdinners

Book Tour. Where authors and audiences meet

I was listening to Technation on ITconverations today and Moira Gunn was talking to the guys behind booktour.com. It sounds fantastic, and really useful for getting guest for future geekdinners. But what suprised me was the fact Chris Anderson was behind it too. Hummm, I wonder if his experience of selling the Long Tail around the world might have convinced him that this would be a good idea? Also I wonder if last year when we had that geekdinner for him (within 7 days of him saying yes by the way) could still be good memory for him? That night we had about 140 people turn up and Chris was really looking forward to chilling out with Geeks after a quite aggressive book tour. He stayed pretty much till the end and signed books with a huge smile on his face.

Who knows maybe one day we will get the likes of Steven Levitt, Malcolm Gladwell, Stowe Boyd and Joi ito

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London Geekdinner with Julie Howell

This time a local superstar. Julie Howell from Fortune cookie previously with RNIB. The geekdinner started off slowly, I was a little upset that the bar upstairs wasn't to be opened with our favorite barmaid Henryetta. Most people turned up around 7:40pm and Julie turned up about the same. Unfortually due to all the flooding in the midlands, Julie was deeply worried about her house and her trip home, so said she would leave pretty soon after speaking.

When the food came out which just on a side point was enough to feed everyone including vegans and people with dangerous allergies (see I do care and ask about you guys). i gave a brief introduction to Julie and off she went.

I don't know how she did it but she managed to cover not only her past but accessibility now and in the future. See I told you she was good. There were plenty of questions afterwards about a whole host of things to do with Julie and her job. I think we over ran by about 10mins, so I had to cut it short knowing Julie had a long trip a head of her. Actually she emailed me the next day and said she never got home till after 1am!

So it was great to hear Julie talk again, she really held the geeks attention with the highs and lows of her life. Julie also attracted a quite a diverse crowd of geeks which was great again. Even the female Aral (marion)  turned up for he first London social event. After the event a couple of the guys went out drinking to really end the evening, I made my excuses but I did hear it was a good end to the night.

I thank everyone who turned up and made Julie welcome and look forward to hearing how Brighton Girl Geekdinners goes for Julie. I was actually going to recommend Julie to Sarah Blow of the London girl geekdinners.

I'm looking to run another werewolf night in July and maybe have a special geekdinner with another out of towner in July. Details as I get them, but yes you can also join the London Geekdinner Facebook group, but for some reason its not working as expected.

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London Geekdinner with Jyri from Jaiku

I made the mistake once again of not actually taking any stickers for my laptop. Damm it! Its also worth mentioning Guy West has put the video of Jyri's talk up here and Improbulus has a much deeper review of the night that I ever could write. I don't know how she does it but honestly when Improbulus covers something she does it so deep you feel the burn marks on the event or gadget.

So generally the event was boosted when Jason Canacus decided to come along too. Luckly he didn't steal the limelight from our guest Jyri. Actually to be honest Jyri was flipping awesome. He really controlled the room well, I hardly had to step into the conversation and there were some real strong personalities in the room.

We had about 50 people turn up for this geekdinner in our new home for geekdinners the Ye Olde Cock Tavern on Fleet Street. The venue worked well but the heat level in room was pretty high, so thats something to remember for next time. The microphone worked really well but there was a jazz playing upstairs which was strange and somewhat entertaining.

I did get around to seeing almost everyone including Dan Gilmor who I missed earlier that day due to hackday meetings. Jason is one of those people I kind of don't mind. Ok don't take this the wrong way but Ben Metcafe, Jason and a few other out-spoken people I know are quite simlar and I don't mind them while others hate them for there outspokeness. Funny enough the same group of people (not mentioning any names).I don't mind them because Jason seems to be the kind of person who would call bullshit if he saw it. I know this puts people backs up, but generally I think you need people like this otherwise you get people like Mena talking at Le Web 2.0. Enough said really.

Anyway the event went really well and we had quite a different group of people turn up, this was good because even Hugh McCloud seemed to be enjoying the geekdinner. Sucessful geekdinner with some high profile people. Thanks Jyri for agreeing to do the dinner and standing up giving us a free preview of whats was to come at the NMK forum the next day. Oh thanks to Ian from NMK for everything he did.

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Events next week

Quick reminder for everyone, its going to be a busy week.

I hear Molly is in town, so hopefully she can make the Geekdinner with Julie or even the Werewolf night.

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London Geek Dinner with Citizen Agency

Tara takes a picture

I was reading the London Girl GeekDinner 10 roundup by Sarah Blow and thought how simlar our nights sounded.

Wednesday night was a mad night. I was late again, because I had to scoot from Kensington to Clerkenwell in rush hour traffic. I forgot my camera batteries and charger, so had to scoot back from Victoria. I also completely forgot about the stickers and pens earlier in the day. So when I finally got to the bear bar, I had to go to Sarahs work place in Holborn and get a load of stickers. I was honestly very suprised how quickly people got from High street Kensington to Farringdon. By the time I got back, it was filling up nicely.

Tara and Chris had arrived and were enjoying chatting to people. After making an announcement on the PA system and sorting out stickers (big thanks to Sarah Forrester and Sheila for going around and collecting money instead of me by myself). Before you know it the food came out and like Sarah Blow we need to make it clear that a dinner isn't really a dinner. More a finger buffet. Quoting from Sarah Blow,

As you have probably gathered to do a proper sit down meal for 80 people at £15.00 per head which is about the minimum you could do it for in London would come to around £1500 plus wine… there aren't all that many companies that would be willing to do that which is why we try to keep the cost down to something sensible to make it accessible to companies and people. That way everyone benefits from it. Apologies to those people who thought that they were going to get a complete full blown meal for nothing! We really can't afford to do that! I'll remember to put up the proviso on the details about the event regarding food etc.

The reason beind the name London Girl Geek Dinners was all because it started off as sit down meals and people paid their own way for dinner, but as the events have got larger it's virtually impossible to do that without mammoth organisation!

I think the problem we had this time around was that we had lots of new people from the Future of webapps. So a lot of people expected a full meal or something for 5 pounds! Like Sarah said, not in London you don't. On the other hand some people commented to Sarah (my wife) that if they knew it was like this aka pub meetup with social geeks. They would have come ages ago. So yes, some about information about geekdinners is certainly needed, along with some eventwax intergreation?

Once we got to actual talk which agreed was later that expected due to myself trying to sort out the food. Tara was great, I did record it (part 1 and 2) using my Sanyo (Kosso recorded it with his own special equipment) but its so dark and I really should find a open/free video editor to clean it up a little. Although, we did have a full Dj rig complete with Microphone, the levels were messed up and it came out a little distorted. What didn't help was the chatter in the background from people who didnt realise they should be quiet while Tara and Chris talked. Sarah once again was very good at telling people to be quiet but in the end as the questions started, we were really fighting to hear Tara. Its a shame because Taras talk was very interesting specially in the light of the whole Mike Arrington outburst earlier in the day. I also wanted to ask Chris and Tara if they would ever move to Europe? But it wasn't to be.

The rest of the night flew by and I was actually very impressed with the new venue. I'm sure Geekdinners will be back there again. Yes the toilets could be better and we could do with some more chairs or sofas but with a capacity of 120+ its not bad at all. They serve all types of beer and even let us stay quite late without pushing us out the door. Its not wheelchair accessible I'm sorry to say Sarah Blow, otherwise I would have recommended it. Once your upstairs its all flat, so with some help you could carry someone upstairs first.

Huge thanks to Chris Messina and Tara Hunt for talking and making the night ever-so enjoyable. I'm also very pleased to have met you guys and I look forward to spending some more time with you guys in San Francisco in early April.

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My thoughts on the 4 event clash on the 21st Feb

Yes I've seen it too.

Now I can shout and rave about how crazy it is having 4 london events on the same night (i did this before), but I'm also one of the guilty event organizers. So I should try and set the record a little straight, because people do seem to think we don't talk to each other.

Me and Sarah Blow from the girl geekdinner's did speak to see if we could avoid clashing on the same day. Now to be fair Sarah had the day first and I was planning the geekdinner for Monday 19th March (I have emails to citizen agency to prove it) but due to the Future of Webapps conference I needed to change the day.

Conferences like Fowa and @Media do have a odd relationship with the smaller events in London. On one hand small events like Geekdinners could be seen as nicking the best speakers from the conference holders, who to be fair have paid for the speakers to be in town that week. It could also be seen as taking people away from the main conference. This is something a lot more real, when you run a BarCamp next to a large conference. On the other hand (the hand I prefer) the smaller events can increase the amount of
people from out of town who come who go to a conference. For example I just booked flights to San Diego for Etech 2007 and left a good 2 days around the start and end to make way for smaller events. I see Etech as the main reason for going but the smaller events where I can actually talk with people and share ideas. If your a conference organizer, this is a bonus because you can keep both eyes on the conference and rely on a trusted small event organizer to do the social event for you. Even better is when the
conference and small event have some kind of cross linking. This was true of the @media social and now the fowa conference. So the point I'm getting at is, I respect the work which goes into fowa and they are happy to recommend geekdinner for the social event. You could say they are sponsoring the event, but I see more like supporting the event.

So with that support, it makes a lot of sense to have the social event on the last day of the conference (21st Feb).

Some would say, hey why don't you merge or partner for the 21st? Well this is difficult because of a number of reasons

  1. Girl Geekdinners and WikiWed have rules, which I would never want to break
  2. There just different kind of events. There's just different vibes and crowds
  3. Girl Geekdinner has sponsorship and we have different support. It wouldn't be fair on the sponsors to mess them around
  4. WikiWed is trying to get off the ground again, it would be unfair to try and partner on there first event for ages
  5. Difference in payment, Geekdinners costs, Girl geekdinners is sponsored. WikiWed I'm unsure about. It couldn't work without screwing someone
  6. Large venues costs a lot of money and time. Enough said really

So we're all in agreement that clashes like this will happen (much that I wanted to go to both Girl Geekdinners and WikiWed).

So the question is how do we try and stop this happening in the future?

Well last time I did propose a Google Calendar. Sarah Blow has been great using the calendar, I've not been so good. Others who I've invited have been simply rubbish. But I'm starting to wonder if a google calendar is the right way to deal with this problem? See the one place everyone uses now is Upcoming.org. I preferred Eventful.com but Upcoming is what everyone uses in London. So your at least guaranteed that event organizers will place there events up there. Maybe my biggest problem with upcoming is the lack
of a actually calendar. It was always hard to see what was on a certain day and if it was relevant enough to worry about.
Now I'm using Outlook 2007, this isn't such a problem but I'm only subscribed to the my events and my friends events. This keeps most of the crap out of my calendar but its not perfect. I'm still relying on one of my friends adding a event which I'm not aware of. Lucky I have a lot of friends on Upcoming so I can get a real idea of whats going on. But others are not so lucky,

Groups on Upcoming.org are reasonable and maybe one way forward. Although right now there not very used. But back to the main point, the fact upcoming is event driven not date driven (you can't click on a calendar anywhere and you can't navigate by dates) is a big problem when trying to pick dates for a small or large event.

So I'm now done.

Does anyone have something I've forgotten or is simply a unsolvable problem?

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London Girl Geekdinner number 9

Good night last night at the Girl Geekdinner. I got talking to a woman from Amnesity International and shared some stories about working at the BBC World Service and how it makes you much more aware of the freedoms and restrictions we live with everyday online. Anyway she was very interesting and Sheila had a good chat too. The speakers for the night were varied, Mary Sharpe started badly putting most of the girls to sleep or getting peoples backs up but then she started to get it together again. She was a interesting speaker which I filmed and stuck on Blip.tv. I wish I'd got a chance to ask her some more questions one on one but left soon after the speeches. Nicolas was the 2nd speaker and was very nervous, and it ended up being like a product pitch for 10mins. So I ended up deleting that video. The 3rd and last was Maryam Scoble (yes Robert Scoble's partner) who kept it nice and sweet. Good speaker and her speech was well recieved by the crowd as you can see by the video. Most of the questions were also aimed at Maryam afterwards but Mary also got a few. So all in all, good night and happy birthday Sarah Blow.

One thing is bugging me, is Mary Sharpe also the same person here and here? I don't think so, but you can never tell. I get very skeptical when people run these self improvement and mentoring type services.

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What next for London geekdinners?

Geek girl

I was reading Sarah Blow's summary of the girl geekdinner which happened on the same day as the first werewolf night (shame on you Sarah). Anyway, a quick quote from her entry

If anyone has feedback on the event who turned up then please feel free to give feedback here or on the wiki pages: http://londongirlgeekdinner.pbwiki.com/Ideas
If you would like to suggest a speaker, subject etc then feel free to do so here: http://londongirlgeekdinner.pbwiki.com/SpeakerRequests

I've been meaning to do a simular thing for quite some time to geekdinners. People do suggest guests to me and to be fair I'm not very good at following up. This is usually the case when I don't know the guest well. But that level of tranparency would allow the geekdinner community to take things upon themsleves. I see this as a good thing.

Now I don't know what Sarah said in her speech but I'm guessing she may have mentioned turing london girl geekdinners into a charity? If not, I'm sorry Sarah. But we did talk about it a while ago and I'm sure she won't mind me mentioning it now (i hope).

Why would girl geekdinners and geekdinners benefit from being a charity or non-profit? Well I think it makes perfect sense. At the moment its the work of Sarah Blow on the girl side and myself on the other side. This means it relies on the time and effort of one person. This is cool, but what happens if that one person is too busy, on holiday or I hope not dies. This could mean geekdinners would die or slowly die. Someone might pick it up, like I did with geekdinners but should things be left to chance? Specially with the traction it might have already?

From another point of view what if the person who runs the geekdinner starts to abuse the name? spoils it for the community and other geekdinners? Yes you don't have to be a non-profit or charity to deal with this problem but its at the core of geekdinners is something which I and Sarah think is important. What that is, is difficult to put in words. I guess but its something to do with the next generation and geek culture.

Sarah in her entry titled Techcrunch launch and Girlgeekdinners said this…

The idea of the girl geek dinners was to get the girls/ women feeling happier in a social tech environment and not worry about being the only female there… I was also hoping that by providing a way of getting people to meet each other that they would arrange to meet at such events having been to a girl geek dinner. I hope that this trend continues and that it really does help to bring more females into the industry and for those in the industry to not feel like they are the only ones out there!

So I would say the geekdinners are about self described geeks sharing there passion for what they love in a social environment without the worry of having to tone down their passion.

I heard this great little piece from Alex Lindsey on This week in media recently (had to link to mp3 because flash player doesn't like the sampling rate). The point of the quote is that I never mention geek being linked to technology. Geeks are people who are really into what there into, know the subject/item/thing inside out and would happily talk about it. Geek culture is on the rise and I personally believe this is a good thing.

Geekdinner embodies this rise and says, hey – its all good, go out and socialise too. There should be geekdinners appearing all over the country. Yes Meetup.com is a perfect example. Everyday across the world there is knitting, design, cooking, drinking, etc meetups. But Meetup.com is a commercial company and they want everything to happen on there domain. Geekdinner should or could be the open source version of Meetup.com. Technically how that would happen I have some thoughts but generally yes meetup.com is certainly a good level to aim for. And you know what its not going to get there with a few people doing it off there own back. It needs to be self-supporting. I think thats the key thing about it being the status of charity or non-profit foundation.

More people and companies will feel comfitable helping out knowing its money, time, hard work is going to something bigger than one person. For example, being a non-profit we could finally sort out a wiki. Mayeb have one which everyone could use without the fear of it being owned by one person. Domain names could be paid for owned by the geekdinner charity instead of one person who could sell the domain on for tons of money once it gets big. Not that Nick would do that of course. But you know what I mean. I've also had plenty of offers to help out with geekdinners and this is great but if it was a charity, people could really help out

Anyway, as I said before, it looks like Geekdinners will follow London girl geekdinners into this one if Sarah chooses to go that way.

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