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?

Geek history worth keeping

Early in the evening

While talking to Martin, Sam, Chris and others over the last few weeks. I have been thinking how things have been forgotten.

The history of geek culture seems to get forgotten too often. Recently a discussion about the tech community in Manchester with Martin raised a bunch of questions in my mind.

How much of geek history is still available now? What do I mean?

Great people have said….

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

And to be honest I’m seeing the same thing over and over again in the limited time I’ve been around the geek scene. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this… But no one seems to be documenting the past… Which seems crazy with the amount of social media or in the past user generated content created. But the issue seems to be putting it all together. For example if you search geekdinners on my blog, theres quite a few posts. But its a mishmash of stuff. Look for the same on Flickr (assuming you knew flickr was where most geeks uploaded stuff in the past and flickr had not gone dark) and you get a mishmash again. If your smart you might try the clusters and find the London geekdinners.

Geekdinners.com is actual up for sale at $2.5k. But this isn’t so much my point. In the past we would write blog posts about events (don’t get me started on the blogging) but this is a bit like throwing a pound in a tip jar. Whats need is something to aggregate the blogs, tweets, photos, videos, etc together. Tell the whole story in long form. This is what me and Martin were discussing, and the natural place seems to be wikipedia and archive.org.

I had a discussion recently with Tom Morris who is very knowledgeable about wikipedia. I was discussing the recent addition of a page about myself. But it got me thinking Wikipedia is a great place for the type of thing I was hinting at before.

So I’m going to start filling in pages on Geekdinner, LondonGeekdinners, BarCampLondon, BarCampManchester, Geekup and Over the Air. Hopefully people who go on to write pages about Technights, Social Media Cafe, Tuttleclub, etc will link and reference. Then we can start to trace back events and community efforts. Give attribution where its well deserved and encourage more people to get more involved in shaping the future of geek culture.

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

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…

Whats happened to the London Geekdinners?

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.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

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.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

Videos from the @media Social now online

At the @media Social, there were some talks given by some of the speakers of the @media conference. And I managed to stick slightly smaller versions on my server. There in Mpeg4 format because thats what my new Sanyo shoots in and VLC compresses nicely into. I've tested them with Quicktime and VLC but nothing much else sorry. I may try compressing to Xvid at some point in the future if people ask for it. Enjoy… and I'm sorry the Javascript one is slightly cut, my camera battery died near the end.

CSS get together

Molly quizes Andy about moving on the CSS discussion
With Molly Holzschlag and Andy Clarke

Have I got Accessbility for you?

Have I got accessbility for you
With Andy Clarke, Patrick Lauke and others

Javascript get together

Javascript get together
With Jeremy Keith, Dean Edwards, PPK and Chris Heilmann

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]

London geekdinner’s the most popular geekdinners?

London geekdinner top of flickr clusters

I spent a lot of time on Flickr this week, something to do with our BBC awayday presentation. Anyway I was amazed at the quality and quantity of photos. The longtail effect can easily be witnessed on Flickr. But something struck me while looking for pictures of geeks. First if you do search for the tag geek in the cluster format, you will notice Londongeekdinner is 3rd on the right and theres a selection of pictures from the last few dinners. But also if you search for geekdinner, London is 1st. So if you do the maths, according to Flickr's engine. London has the most popular geekdinners in the world?

Looking at Google, the same is also the case. Amsterdam gets a mention at 3rd spot and Denmark gets 5th place. Although Google still thinks I'm searching for gardiner. Google's blog search for geekdinner echo's pretty much what the regular search has. Theres actually quite a few pointers to this blog in the top 10 list. What I find funny at the moment is the lack of American geekdinners, so I thought I'd try searching in Technorati. And believe it or not, only a single geekdinner from north america came up in the top 20 results. The Sussex geekdinner came up first with talk about Amsterdam and other European countries not far behind that. Singapore was also mentioned a few times, which is great to see.

So it looks like London is the popular geekdinner destination right now. I'm expecting this will contuine with some of the great events being aranged in June by myself and July/August by Sarah Blow of Girlgeekdinners. Oh on a side point if you try searching for girl geekdinner in anything, you always find links back to the London Girl geekdinners. There doesn't seem to be any other part of the world doing girl geekdinners.

Talking about Geekdinners the interviews from the last geekdinner are now up on Archive.org. There all in Xvid format for now, but licenced under a share-a-like licence so your welcome to re-encode them.

Comments [Comments]
Trackbacks [0]