I should be in bed, but no, I’m sitting up, singing and playing my ukulele like a fool.
My flat has lately become a meeting place for the above mentioned society. I don’t really know what to do except to let them out the window when I see them alive and collect and photograph them for posterity when I find them dead.
I suspect though that it’s the toasty warm of central heating that’s keeping them going and once they get outside they freeze and perish anyway.
At least it’s not cockroaches.
They are lovely. I wish there was one in the West End as expansive as this one in Spitalfields. I tried the new one in (upper) Regent Street today and it was lovely with predictably lovely staff but I really wanted to spread out a bit and stretch my legs
The tight conditions though did have a good effect. I had to share a table with (gasp) a stranger and because I was in Leon and everybody’s so happy and friendly, we couldn’t help just talking as though we weren’t hardened London sociophobes after all. Y’know small talk about what a nice place it is and how good and healthy the food feels, nothing too deep, but a very odd experience for me in that part of W1.
At our first prototype meeting, I perceived a tension between the people who were interested in making a profitable business and those whose interest was solely in the community possibilities and opportunities for collaboration. I came away unsure of what legal structure would work best – a traditional shareholder-owned limited company or a non-profit company limited by guarantee. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since then.
On the same occasion I said something along the lines of: “What I want to create is a platform that enables people to create value for themselves.”
The inspiration for this comes from the tech world – CP/M & MS-DOS, the IBM PC, the Internet, the Web, Amazon Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook – what they all have in common is that no matter how they get paid for or how they’re organised, or whether or not they make money for their inventors, they have also given other people the opportunity to create new relationships, markets and businesses that weren’t possible before (btw, I use big examples so that people will recognise what I’m talking not because I think our little project will be on that scale.)
I want everything we do to in some way support people doing cool stuff on their own. I don’t think we have to own *every*thing and I certainly don’t want to create a walled garden. We’ll get a lot more done by creating the conditions for people to
So turning back to the legal structure, the choice seems to come down to a limited company (or a partnership) which exists to create value for it’s shareholders (or partners) or a company limited by guarantee which exists to… well do whatever we decide it should do – I think it should serve the needs of people interested in Social Media in London – if that’s not too wooly (or too specific) – but I’m open to suggestion. There was broad agreement that limited by guarantee was the right route for us but the aim and purpose does need to be boiled down to something that expresses what we want and allows us (as a group) to do as much good as possible.
So if that is sorted, my mind then turns to the structure of this business. I’ve always talked about the three bits – café, learning, working. But that might not be all we want to do together – other ideas for services have come up in meetings too. Can we make the Tuttle Club our base platform? With no direct services except to facilitate cool stuff happening. Then the first cool thing it does (quickly) is to set up a Social Media Café or perhaps the café space, a learning space and a workspace could each be individual, but co-located businesses. And then it can do other things too as they arise. Or am I making it too complicated?
Our first little flashmob was quite a success in my view. It certainly showed me that there were people ready to turn up and talk about stuff. It also suggested to me that we need to follow a two-track approach for now.
I’m going to continue to write (as and when I have the space and time) a formal business plan to help communicate more clearly and completely what it is we are doing and to help people understand why they might want to put money into it. I want to get as much feedback and input from others into that as possible so I’ll be blogging about it more regularly from now on as well as organising face to face sessions.
In addition, I think it’s worth trying to keep prototyping and move slowly from the dormobile model towards the travelling circus model. For those who haven’t seen my presentation on this, I characterised the first phase of prototyping as a VW camper van where we just hang out essentially wherever we can find somewhere to park for the afternoon. The travelling circus is a bit more formal – it’s where we would have a venue that remained the same for a period, perhaps up to a month, before we moved on. So how might we do that? From the start people have been suggesting that we should just find somewhere to “squat” but ideas for actual places to do this have been thin on the ground.
Now, though, courtesy of the sterling persistence of Lee Thomas (londonfilmgeek) we’ve got a couple of initial sessions booked in the upstairs dining-room at (Norman’s) Coach and Horses in Greek Street (corner of Romilly St, opposite Kettners). To say the least, the place does have some media history. Far less significantly it was where we had the recent Seesmic Dinner.
We’ll be there from 10.00 to 13.00 on Friday 1st February though the landlord would no doubt welcome you staying on for a later lunch and drinking in the bar for the rest of the afternoon if you really can’t tear yourselves away :)
I’ve put a simple page on the wiki for sign-ups – just so that people know who else is coming.
Right, so I’m now on the look out for more places like this and I thought I’d blog the requirements and what’s in it for the venue and see who out there might have have somewhere we can use or at least see whether you can come up with suggestions of places to approach.
What the venue gets – people, punters, customers, you know, dosh-givers – especially at those times that are usually a bit slow. More people drinking coffee and eating cakes, sandwiches and other geek comestibles (erm… I suppose I mean beer here, especially on a Friday lunchtime). Moreover the people it brings in are well-connected and quite influential in their own circles. And we’re generous – if you give us nice things like wifi and electrickery, we will say nice things about you. Don’t forget that when we say nice things, we say them quite loudly on the internet (a global network of interconnected computing devices), where they stick around forever getting clumped together with other nice things and thus bringing you warm fuzzy goodness – the kind of warm fuzzy goodness that encourages cash out of people’s wallets and into your till.
Our requirements – we’d like a space please that we can, however temporarily, call our own. It’s great if it can be demarcated in some way (a separate room, those three tables, etc.) and we need free open wifi (if you don’t have this, we can talk about how we can help you set it up) and access to electricity points. Errr.. that’s about it, really. Anything else, I think we can work around.
Know anywhere like this? Own anywhere like this. Let me know – my contact details are up at the top of this page.
blogging about tech, blogging about social media, blogging about big ideas in mass collaboration, blogging about new ways of marketing your yada yada yada.
I went to the absolutely packed to the gills, no room to swing a copy of Campaign or whatever these folk read, Coffee Morning at Breakfast Club Soho on Friday. A cracking hour and a half, not too long; plenty of opportunities for me to ponce about being a social media tart – explaining that this means I wander around Soho trying to make old men very happy – charming everyone with my moo cards and meeting a whole bunch of lovely people. I’m sure, in his self-effacing way, he frowns upon people calling it Russell Davies’s Coffee Morning, but it is very definitely his. Next one’s on 30th March at the same venue.
Note that you can tell it’s for advertising planners as they serve Fruit & Fib.
So after Open Coffee and a meeting up in Islington, I took a stroll and rambled on to myself into my recorder about what a busy and exciting day I was having – I touch on Open Coffee, Theatre Blogging, Social Media Club and the Nomads, all this while navigating the wilds of N1 (it really is grim up north london)