Monthly Archives: April 2006

Innovation: unfairness and snails

There's something in the air today. Beers & Innovation is on tonight and UK folks  are scratching their innovation itch elsewhere in public too…

In Private cash should follow the BBC's lead, Vic Keegan in The Guardian today takes to task the idea that licence fee-funded innovation is anti-competitive, gives the BBC unfair advantage and distorts the market.

In the article, he states:

"The BBC's controversial bid this week to capture the attention of the iPod generation by attracting more "user-generated" content from its own viewers is one of the boldest moves the corporation has made for years."

The resulting services will enable the BBC to compete directly with other social media propositions like Flickr, MySpace and Bebo. But the cry as ever goes up – unfair!

UK media and digital businesses should stop complaining, Vic reckons, and get on with some innovation then – as they have patently failed to do with any great gusto so far, hence the UK's dismal performance in the Web 2.0 stakes… Now, what do businesses say to that? Lots of different things probably.

Something for a future B&I night… possibly. Or a question to lob into Content 2.0 on 6th June. Hmmm.

Animal magic

Meawhile Tom Coates is exasperated by all the talk of the sudden or accelerating pace of change and asks – Is the pace of change really such a shock?

Of the changes everyone is pressing their panic buttons about, Tom comments:

"My sense of these media organisations that use this argument of incredibly rapid technology change is that they're screaming that they're being pursued by a snail and yet they cannot get away! 'The snail! The snail!', they cry. 'How can we possibly escape!?. The problem being that the snail's been moving closer for the last twenty years one way or another and they just weren't paying attention."

Perhaps the snail just seems speedy because it came up under the radar?


Beers & Innovation 3 sold out

This Thursday's Beers & Innovation on Mash Ups & Web Services is now sold out.

The venue is the Pitcher & Piano (upstairs main room), 69 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3SD. Please note the room opens for drinks for delegates at 6pm and the discussion starts at 6.30pm sharp.

We will be holding a very special Beers & Innovation on the evening of June 6th in connection with our conference Content 2.0 – more details of which will be announced soon. Entry to that is limted to conference delegates.

So if you want to find out more, the Content 2.0 daytime conference programme is confirmed and details of the day's schedule and all the speakers – including Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo!, Jamie Kantrowitz from MySpace, Microsoft's Alex Barnett and many more – plus blogs and rolling news updates – are available at

BTW, we're still looking for a podcaster for this Thursday so drop me a line (listed under Editor here) if you're interested.

Can you podcast Beers & Innovation?

As you might have guessed by now, we're lightweight tech-wise at NMK. Oh the irony…

So do you fancy podcasting this Thursday's Beers & Innovation on Web Services & Mash Ups?

What are we offering in return? Well, as it's a trial, we're offering free admission to the event and free beers afterwards. Not bad when you think of the fab speakers we've got, and the 38 totally fab people who've booked so far!

NMK is a not-for-profit enterprise and doesn't make any money from the Beers & Innovation nights – the cover price covers the cost of complimentary drinks on the night.

So if you're a podcaster who's up for an interesting evening, drop me a line (listed under Editor here). Thanks in advance!

NMK website glitch

The NMK website took absence without leave from around 7pm this Wednesday evening 😦

If you want to book for Beers & Innovation 3: Web Services & Mash Ups next Thursday 27th April – major apologies.

I’ll post as soon as soon as it’s been resurrected, which should be tomorrow (oh, is it past midnight already? well today then).

In the meantime – if you just can’t supress the urge to contact me – my email is still working fine. I can be reached at deirdre.molloy (AT) or of course in the comments below.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks to the mightly WordPress for this chance to keep the channels open!

[UPDATE] The NMK site is back online and bookings for Beers & innovation on Thurdsay 27th April can be made there.

Plus you’ll find more information on the speakers Yahoo!’s Simon Willison, BBC New Media’s Tom Loosemore and chair Greg Tallent of LSBU.

Numbers are limited so book now to guarantee a place.

[UPDATE 2: Sunday 23 April] Glitchy-time! A couple of people have dropped me a line to say they’ve had probs booking for B&I this Thursday on the NMK website.

We are looking into it right now and the situation seems to have been resolved. However, if you have experienced a problem, please drop me a line (my details are listed under Editor here). There are still places left and we will give priority to anyone who has experienced difficulties. Thanks!

BBC Backstage – public media mash up

Bringing the long tail of publicly-funded content into play for others to use and build-upon for non-commercial purposes is part of the long-term rationale of the BBC's Backstage Project.

Launched in May 2005, BBC Backstage opens up BBC content for the developer network – in order to encourage innovation and support new talent. Their blog can be found here.

Tom Loosemore, Head of Strategic Innovation at BBC New Media, will be talking about the BBC Backstage project and community building more generally – and taking your questions – at the next NMK Beers & Innovation night on Thurdsay 27th April.

He may also be joined by an external developer who has created an interesting prototype by mashing-up BBC content with external content. We'll keep you updated on that front…

Tickets For Beers & Innovation 3: Web Services & Mash-Ups can be booked here.

Web 2.0 marketing = Pinko Marketing?

Tara Hunt – marketing/community gal at Riya – is giving a talk on 'Pinko Marketing' [evolving here] to an audience of not-for-profit organisations this evening at Net Tuesdays.

Wish I could go, but Net Tuesdays is held in San Francisco 😦

The night is run by Net Squared, who I first encountered at SXSW Interactive last month when I ran into Billy Bicket, their Knowledge Services Director of Strategic Development at the Odeo/AdaptivePath/Consumating party.

We got chatting and I was rather excited when Billy explained what Net Squared do – they use Web 2.0 technologies to empower the growth and impact of non-profits.

Their slogan is: "remixing the web for social change". Nifty.

How can UK not-for-profits synch with Web 2.0?

Five minutes into our confab, I was quite literally drooling and trying to not to yell loudly across the ocean "come on, can I get me some of that already, oh pretty please??"

Why? Because NMK is a not-for-profit case in point. Our website was developed externally some time ago, and we have limited budget (and time) to augment it. But we exist purely as a resource for the broad digital community, so we can't rest on dated laurels.

Hence (partly) this free blog (thanks Matt!). And hence having to have a seperate website for our upcoming conference – Content 2.0 – so we could incorprate blogs, RSS and podcasting.

We have no technical person on the team, so it's left to yours truly to patch over the cracks, handle the multiple sites and blogs and do a lot of apologetic explaining.

Don't keep it all to yourself now…

But plenty more not-for-profits need next-generation technology tools and support way more than we do, and far more urgently.

Anyone out there heard of anything like this in UK or Europe, or have any useful thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or even resources and a will to make something happen?

[NB. NetSquared are also holding a big conference in San Jose from 30-31 May – worth keeping an eye on.]

Bootstrapping the semantic web

'Sussing out the Semantic web' festered in the inbox for quite a while last year.

Some enlightenment finally came in December, and I've just posted a report on a British Comupter Society event I attended then on the mothership website. [ A PDF download is also available]

The night intrigued me a lot. And not just becuse I'm largely clueless in the technical domain [why else d'ya think this blog is so widget/everything-unfriendly?].

Turns out the crowd was pretty homogenous – very academic and computer-sciencey – largely due to their marketing methods, I guess. Which is fine in its way, but I know a lot of folks who would have lapped-up this kind of thing, and asked some more pertinent questions.

I did however bump into regular Geek Dinner compatriot BBC developer Ian Forrester, and he was enthusing me with his ideas for a Geek Camp.

Apart from that, the night's main point of interest was the questions raised by the semantic web project both by the speaker, Professor Ian Horrocks of Manchester University, and by one person in the audience.

Here comes Microformats…

The headwrecker in question was – will commercial companies pay for the collossal amount of ontological annotation that needs to be done for the semantic web to become widespread? Moreover, will commercial companies – and other backers – want all their information to be available on the open web and to be mashable with web services?

Despite Horrocks' hopeful response, the feeling I was left with was that the Semantic Web is still some way off in the future. But then, a month later, I started hearing about microformats and then I bumped into a few folks in March at SXSW Interactive… hmmm.

To a non-geek like me, is this the sound of dots joining? Can't tell for sure just yet, but it's definitely the sound of microformats landing in my inbox 🙂