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Had a little wander around a little bit of Soho on Wednesday to see what I could see that might be of use to someone thinking about a London Social Media Café. I only covered Brewer St, Wardour St, Dean St & Berwick St and the thoroughfares in between (you know the places you’re most likely to trip over Charles Frith at 5am… allegedly)
I took some pics of the ad boards from commercial property agents. Lots of upstairs offices. One or two boarded up or broken down café type spaces including one with a To Let sign in the window.
Left me wondering whether LSMC could operate in what is existing office space. Obviously you’d lose the passing trade, non-social-media traffic but still not sure how much that would be anyway. Also, don’t know if that sort of thing means a change of use and therefore requires some government interference, or looking at it in a more practical way, what you can get away with without upsetting Westminster CC.
Bonus pic: Before I got that far, I went and snapped the New Piccadilly which is now closed and boarded up. Anyone (Russell?)have any pointers to stories or info on whether the signage or any innards have been preserved?
One of Dave Winer‘s best bits of advice is “zag to their zig” and that’s what I’m trying to do with the Café. Just when it seems that *everyone* in the entire world is getting into online social networking, I want to open a coffee shop and help people meet each other face to face.
There have been suggestions that we use another space to get started. I don’t understand the reasoning for this, so can someone please explain? The space is more important to me (at the moment) than the group. We have loads of ways of meeting up already – I’m talking about meeting the needs of that group in a novel way rather than extending the group, although I’m sure that better facilities will draw new people in.
Thanks everybody for your thoughts on the Communal Vision – do carry it on, but let’s also start talking about how much it will cost.
I’ll be writing on the wiki later but I’ve got to go out now to report on a drop-in centre for young people for the Surrey PCT blog
Lloyd’s of London – someone pointed out to me the interestingness of someone with my name thinking about opening a coffee shop in this town. (groan)
What it’s not – Some folk have zoomed in on co-working, shared workspaces for freelancers, hotdesking etc. Others have latched onto the club angle. Neither are wholly what I’m after though let’s see what we can do to help both. My motivation is to provide a space for things that are already going on or which would be happening more frequently if there was a cheap(er) easy alternative to an endless round of nero/starbucks/republic. Play and chat comes first, work will be an add-on. I want to write about this more later.
More Yin – talking (with Jason Bates) about why not just join an existing private members club – they’re too yang – sharp, cutting, thrusting, hot, male – I’m after a more fertile, supportive, soft, creative, female space – stop that sniggering at the back!
I’m really pleased to see that people have mentioned things that they’d be willing to pay for other than coffee and the sheer joy of each other’s company
Photo credit: Uploaded by TheLawleys on 14 Mar 05, 3.15AM BST.
I 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.
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?
More questions please – and answers if you have them.