The Belfast Open Coffee Club met tonight and managed to pull in more people than ever – twenty or so – and I was both pleased and disappointed that there are just too many smart, interesting people in the room and not enough time to talk to them all. If I didn’t say hello to you directly, then I apologise. There were some people I wanted to grill mercilessly but I didn’t even get a chance to say Hello. You know who you are.
16:30 – Co-Working Belfast
A 20 minute walkaround the site puts some reality on the bones of what we’ve been thinking about. I’m liking what I saw in our review of the site (and I’ll post the recording video of our walkaround if people want to see it to get a feel for the site – it’s a 5 minute 58 MB .mp4 file and I’ve added a Youtube embed below which will give you a BlairWitch-esque view of the building). I’m pleased that we’ve got enough people to actually make this a going concern but the serious questions about what kind of support we will get from Belfast City Council and InvestNI are still unanswered.
5 minute YouTube video
The site itself needs a lot of work but it’s big enough for the purposes. There’s work that needs done ‘structurally’ in terms of the removal of a stud wall and the creation of some partition and there’s going to need to be significant investment in terms of equipment – desks, chairs, locks – never mind computing infrastructure. But, in the end, I like it.
That said – it’s not a site like some of the others we’ve seen – which have artistic ceilings and look more like art studios than workplaces. It’s going to be grassroots, it’s basic but it’s sustainable and provides what I’d consider to be a basis for future movement.
19:00 – OpenCoffee Club
There were too may clusters of people talking to allow me to cover them all here but the ones which I witnessed were:
- Will King, Darryl Collins and David Braziel – talking about the integration of location-significant data. I saw some demos showing heatmaps of Flickr pics over Northern Ireland, crime statistics, wifi points and some neat ‘cluster’ widgets which allowed information to be collected in easily understood ways.
- I spoke perhaps at length (and with a bit of spittle) about the purpose of the Belfast OpenCoffeeClub in the formation of Northern Ireland’s future progress in technology. I was, of course, preaching to the converted so I have to apologise to Russell and Lee who had to listen to me rant about what the future might hold and how it was vitally important for the grassroots organisations to present themselves sensibly and with direction to government in order to achieve change. The people in that room were , in effect, the Digital Circle. We had application designers for desktop, mobile and web, GIS specialists, creatives, movie makers, animators, musicians, wireless enthusiasts and, last and least, me.
- Andy and I spoke for a few minutes about Co-Working Belfast and I do feel a little guilty about stealing the spotlight at times and speaking too much. It’s an area I’m incredibly passionate about and sometimes that enthusiasm is a little hard to contain. We received some encouraging remarks but I think there’s some more marketing and work required before we can say that CoWorking Belfast will be filled to capacity.
- The subject of the OpenCoffeeClub BBQ was also discussed. Philip will be driving a 7 seater people carrier down and we have half a dozen people to go in it. Some people need to be back earlier than others but we shall work through that – the plan at the moment is to drive down on the Tuesday afternoon, stay over, attend the BBQ, then stay over again and leave first thing in the morning in order to get back for a decent hour (lunchtime). I’ll be organising accommodation tomorrow. Confirmed names for the car are: Philip, Matt, Andy, Damien, Stuart and Mairin. Will is also going down separately.
- There were other discussions of potential TechLudd, CreativeCamp and other copies of events happening around the world. I think it’s great but it would also be nice to do something original. More on those as we get more information.
As 21:00 came, I had to leave due to family commitments but it was extremely encouraging to see so many people there and I’m sure that if circumstances has been different, we’d have seen half a dozen more.
Roll on next time!