TechCamp 0 comments

I spent yesterday at and had a fabulous time. I have had a chest infection all week that has prevented me from getting much sleep, and had to take advantage of Saturday morning to get a few extra hours in , sadly missing the first few hours of the day as a result. The rest the the day was very worthwhile in its own right though.

Joe Drumgoole gave an interesting talk on setting up an R&D Organization. In particular he gave a nice overview of the kind of R&D operations different companies run, why deliberate R&D is always important, and how to sustain it once your company gets past the start up stage and has real customers and other demands on your time.

John Breslin of Boards.ie fame gave an great presentation on social software and the semantic web. In particular SIOC (Semantically Interlinked Online Communities) looks like it could be the next big thing on the web. The ability to follow threads of conversation across different blogs, wikis, forums and other online communities would be a n incredibly powerful tool. It makes trackbacks and pingbacks look woefully inadequate.

Eyal Oren, John Breslin's colleague from DERI then gave us a demonstration of SemperWiki, a Semantic personal desktop wiki for Gnome. Its a very promising app, but I'm not sure its ready for non technical users yet.

Darren Barefoot then proceeded to enlighten us on (Un)marketing and the Web 2.0 company. He had a lot of thought provoking ideas. His claim that "Good marketing, bad product beats bad marketing, good product" is no longer true" seems a bit too good to be true. I have seen to many small companies with a good product and a "build it and they will come" attitude go under to really believe this on a gut level. On the other hand it is certainly far more true than it used to be.

His points on building "word of mouse" (Online buzz) , traditional advertising no longer working for software companies and the need to hand control over to your customers all hit home soundly.

The day wrapped up with Gavin Byrne showing us Near Fm's podcasting setup (Gavin recorded podcasts of some of the Techcamp talks which should be available online at some point). They are using Loudblog to manage their podcasts and it seems to be a very slick piece of software.

He also gave us an overview of the Community Media Further Education project's mobile unit.

This impressive piece of hardware is capable of providing broadband access to any location with about 3-4km of their base. They simple drive up, use that massive antenna to connect back to base and then a shorter range wifi antenna to provide access. They have a cart loaded with laptops in the van which they then distribute to users on the day. The van regularly visits senior citizens in Sheltered housing projects in the area. Gavin was kind enough to have the van set up in the car park at TechCamp (it provided our wireless access all day) and to give us a close up look at the equipment.

Gavin Byrne and the Community Media Further Education Projects Mobile Unit

Afterwards the attendees decamped to the Porterhouse in Dublin's Temple Bar to sample the German Beers available as part of their Ocktoberfest promotion. I found the massive steins of Dunkel to be particularly to my taste.

As to be expected at an event like this, the conversation only got better as the night went on and I am looking forward to the next TechCamp event. A big thank you to the organizers and to all those who attended.

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