I attended my first UK Geek Dinner last night after FoWA. Guests of honour were Tara Hunt and Chris Messina. I only chatted to Chris for a short while towards the end of the night and the bulk of the conversation was about BarCamp. I told him how important I thought BarCamps have been for the creation of a vibrant tech community in Ireland. I also wanted to thank him and Tantek and the others for starting something that I think is a true revolution. Who would have thought last summer that we would have two under our belts with three future ones decided. Chris was very happy to hear about EduCamp too.
I also finally got to say hello to Jeremy Keith, a Cobh man, now based in Brighton. I got all the way to dConstruct and back last year without managing to even shake his hand.
Later in the tube station, Chris brought up something I had only heard about for the first time earlier that day; CoWorking. To quote the wiki:
I really liked the sound of this but pointed out to Chris that many start-ups in Ireland are run out of people’s houses (or sheds). He didn’t see a problem. Why not go to different houses on different days? Not just for basic human interaction but also to have people to bounce ideas off or have them suggest ideas to you. Helping each other basically.
I’ve been thinking about it since last night and there is great scope to do something really special here. Sure we have the government funded incubation centres and some of the commercial hot-desk providers around the country but to my mind, it is the social aspect that is so important. Look at the FoWA conference - sure I could have read transcripts or listened to podcasts but I don’t think I would have been as enthused as I am now about some of the areas covered. Ditto the BarCamps and the Geek Dinners - they have great importance but can only be intermittent.
There could be wonderful opportunities for people to help each other in a Coworking environment. I wonder are there any tech companies in Ireland who would be willing to put aside an area for Coworking? I doubt someone like Google would but there must be others who might be more open.
Maybe when the Rubicon Centre in Cork is moving out the next set of companies who have made it they could use some of that space as a co-working facility. I know I’d be happy to go in once or twice a week. I’m guessing they won’t go with the healing therapists they have in San Fran ;-)
Alternatively, considering how empty Webworks is in Cork City, there is an ideal opportunity for a forward thinking property developer to open up part of that wonderful building for Coworking. I think it could have a strong halo effect and help attract the paying tenants they are seeking for the rest of the building.
At the other end of the scale, are there any home-based entrepreneurs who would be willing to try a day here and there in each others houses? Surely a chair, part of a table, wifi, a kettle and some biccies are the only requirements?
I’m going to drill into this more. If anyone else local (Bandon or Cork or Ireland) has any thoughts, post them here. Or if anyone who is already successfully doing it has any advice, I’d love to hear it.