THE BATMOBILE ENJOYED A breathy run down newly-completed Irish motorway segments between Cashel and Cork tonight, landing next to the Schweizer glider at the Cork Airport Hotel for the TechLudd meet-up that Anton Mannering arranged there. Nialler9's latest podcast (episode 18) is just long enough to cover up the wind blast from motorway speeds between Tipperary and Cork. And FIR on my Nokia E90 filled the time on the way back to Cashel. A planning pop-up meant I spent less time in Cork's trendy airport deco hotel than I spent behind the wheel but that's part of the risk you take when you juggle too many things in tight spots on calendars. Nonetheless, the short 45 minutes I spent with the group of 20 attending TechLudd in Cork made the evening worthwhile. I can see why Damien Mulley likes training people at the airport (that's his session on the flat screen at left) and from cross-talk, I know hundreds of happy faces will enjoy the Irish Blog Awards in the Cork Airport Hotel in February 2009.
The Cork Entrepreneurial Spirit. As John Collins spotlights in tomorrow's Irish Times , there's a healthy start-up spirit bubbling in Cork. People like Pat Phelan, Conor O'Neill, and Walter Higgins have spent a lot of personal energy and equity in the development of things that help people work smarter. Both Pat and Walter attended TechLudd tonight. Like Conor (on holiday), they give back to the start-up ecosystem and I'll drive to support them for that. I know TechLudd fills a gap in the market--a gap filled with conversation and demonstration--but I have to wonder why county enterprise boards don't row in behind these important events. My tax money pays for CEBs to act smart and my expectation is that they deliver good value for money. There's excellent value in TechLudd and there should be more institutional involvement, such as that shown by Gráinne Lennon and Intertrade Ireland.
The Tech Pipeline is Sputtering. Based on what I see coming through the doors of third level science and technology courses, the current crop of tech-based start-ups might represent the peak of the curve for another decade. As the Irish Times points out , we're getting a declining number of students willing to commit to four years of study leading to a degree in software development or computing. It's much the same at other Irish universities. So when high achiever John Collison shows at TechLudd to mingle with other start-ups, it's a special moment. John hasn't started college but he's already sold a technology business. It will be difficult for others to follow in his footsteps because technology millionaires are rare in Ireland. However, we need to make the appeal of technology, computing, maths and engineering into talking points for Irish teenagers. We're talking about how to do this during Podcamp Ireland in Kilkenny. Participants include Ewan McIntosh from Channel 4 television, Jonathan Sanderson of Sci-Cast, John Handelaar of Edinburgh Festival Radio and a dozen second level teachers who lead in their enthusiastic teaching of maths, science and technology.
Real Social Networks Count. One of the side conversations of this evening with Walter Higgins concerned how to integrate technology into traditional businesses. Walter is looking at integrating his Snap Scribe software into the print industry. He has uncovered a very vibrant social network for print shop owners and as he described it to me, I realised that I would not have heard his story unless I had actually followed his reminder to attend TechLudd. I'm glad I talked with him because I think I can bring social networking to a local printer and perhaps integrate Snap Scribe's functionality to their business process.
Now I'm looking at ways of calendaring Cork Open Coffee to my life, to stay in touch with a wonderfully energetic group of people who met up at TechLudd tonight.
1. John Collins -- "Cork tech group develops statistics service for Twitter" in Business Technology section of The Irish Times, 29 August 2008.
2. Sean Flynn -- "Fear of fees prompts rapid take-up of college places" on the front page of The Irish Times, 29 August 2008.