Category Archives: open coffee

Social Media Café

RFH Cafe SocietyI just want first to distinguish this from the events that Chris has facilitated through Social Media Club. I am involved with Social Media Club in London, and what I’m talking about might well be a place to host Social Media Club (or even Social Media Cafés!) and I love both concepts – but neither are what I want to talk about here – I’m talking about a place, not an event.

Phew! Perhaps I’d better start again…

This comes from a number of conversations I’ve had with people in London about having a place to meet, hook up, get groups together, socialise, train people, co-work etc. I blogged about something in a slightly different context about 3 years ago and the idea has been frothing in my head for a long time. I’m thinking of a confluence of the creative, tech and entrepreneurial tribes who are currently gathering around social media and online social networking. I’m talking about the kinds of people who are regulars at Coffee Mornings, Open Coffee, Social Media Club, Chinwag Live.

So far it’s as concrete and as fluid as this:

We (whoever we are – the united socialmediatistas of hereabouts) acquire a space that we can use for the above-mentioned types of activities. It might be laid out as follows (though do not get hung up about physical orientation, upstairs/downstairs front/back doesn’t matter as much as the ideas of separate spaces for different activities).

Ground floor is open to the public, a café style space with good coffee, tea, snacks, fussball, space invaders and the like – maybe the odd plate of eggs bacon chips and beans. Plasma screen shows a rolling twitter timeline from all our mates. An alternative to constantly having to find somewhere to meet up and have coffee and a place where people love you using the wifi.

First floor (don’t get hung up on the physical orientation, just a separate space) is for members & guests. Not a posh exclusive (male) type of private members club (you know where I mean), but something softer, gentler, more suited to creative & geeky types than just to the thrusting entrepreneur. Facilities are flexible meeting rooms, desks and co-working spaces and more exclusive lounging, chatting space with coffee & tea. It’s a bit quieter up here.

Second floor (again really just another separate space) is for media production – podcasting & video-blogging equipment for hire – soundproofed studios, maybe some helpful techies to guide the uninitiated.

Questions:

Why? Why not take an existing institution and warp it into what we want? Now that we are, just, starting to see that there’s a group of us interested in the same things, I think it would be good to have a place of our own.

When? I may be biased by the number of people I mix with who don’t keep normal office hours but I think this is an all-day & evening thing, though possibly not at weekends?

Where? London, I’m pretty certain, but where is our spiritual home? Soho, Shoreditch, South Bank? Somewhere that doesn’t start with ‘S’?

Who? Who will come, who will be members, who will use which facilities? I’m starting a group in Facebook to guage interest and carry the conversation forward. Also what kinds of people do we need to make it happen – property development, deal-makers, investors, staff as well as potential members and customers.

What? Salons, open spaces, meeting (verb), meetings (noun), training, improvising, podcasting, eating, talking, working, collaborating, farting about, other activities with no predefined or explicit purpose, interesting pursuits. What else?

How? Yes.

More questions please – and answers if you have them.

[UPDATE: If you want to help, there's now a wiki for you to scribble on and a Facebook group to join.]

More time at Open Coffee

I was very impressed by Open Coffee last week as you may have noticed, so I went back with more time to spend chatting to VCs, recruiters and entrepreneurs than before.

At the end I was really pleased to get to talk on camera to Sam Sethi of Vecosys and Paul Youlten of Yellowikis about what they’re finding exciting in this whole crazy web scene at the moment.

Good to see John Hornbaker again, not least because it gives me the opportunity to apologise for not linking to him before.

I also talked to:

Rupesh Chatwani of Lonsdale Capital about how the rest of the world is catching up with social media and that humanisation is the next big thing.

Brett Putter of Forsyth Group was he scouting for talent or clients or both? And how about Bright Young Things Clare Johnston and Agnes Greaves? I suspect I’m neither bright enough or young enough to qualify, but we talked a lot about using social media to engage with customers.

Ed Hodges of Voible (formerly blackfin.co.uk) – cool flash conferencing and some other smart applications for mobile, launching sometime in the next 6-8 weeks.

Alastair Mitchell & Andy McLoughlin of the online document management/groupware 2.0 (“like basecamp only more around documents and including workflow” – and British) solution huddle

Briefly at the end Ryan Gallagher and Paul Maitland of ConnectMeAnywhere.com who Sam speaks highly of above and nice to bump into Paul Miller again who is now doing School of Everything as namechecked in the Paul Youlten video.

My most excitable moment was meeting Jamie Wallace of walkit.com – I just love it, love it, love it and it’s so nice when you meet the faces behind great applications, particularly when they’re so self-effacingly surprised to meet a raving fan like me :D

Blimey! I’m out of Moo Cards.

[update: gaaaah! also had a fantastic chat with Ian Forrester (such. a. nice. man.) from bbc backstage and he indulged my ranting and raving about theatre blogging - forgotten in the first draft because we didn't swap business cards - Oli Barrett, Paul Birch and Steve Moore also fall into this category - phew!]

Open Coffee

open coffeeI could only make half an hour at Saul Klein’s Open Coffee yesterday but managed to talk to John Hornbaker, Nic Brisbourne, a guy looking for investors for his food social network and Euan before striding off north-eastwards to see a prospect. It was a really buzzing affair – I’m definitely going again next week with more time to spare – it still is bizarre to walk through the practically empty shop up to the Starbucks upstairs which was packed full of blue jeans & blazers and a smattering of black t-shirts. A great example of the power of face to face that Kathy Sierra’s talking about today.