Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Indistinguishable from magic

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Think it, and the iPhone probably can do it. Using the gyro in an iPhone to make the phone turn by itself when standing. Video and below that the video of what it sees:

Ones to watch in 2013

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Here are my 2012 Ones to Watch.

Play and read, if you want, this is from the film Holy Motors:

2012 was European Year of Older People telling younger people to cop themselves on, or something like that.

2013 is going to be the year of the younger person. Well, this list is certainly suggesting this. Oh yes, the new phrase is “younger person” as marketing people have redefined youth to be anyone 35 and younger. Technology has enabled ubiquitous communications, we’ve heard this for a decade now but in 2012 we really saw/heard the voice of younger people push the older (mostly male) grey haired “authorities” to the side. 2012 saw dealmaking in music for Soak, a wee teenager from Derry and a deal for The Strypes, the youngfellas from Cavan and they have a good few years before school ends. Another Irish “Stripe” is the Collison-fueled payments startup in San Francisco that already seems to be David to Paypal’s Goliath.

Technology has made geography easier, we can work from home when home can be a boat on a different continent. So many people not at home for Christmas checked into home with Skype and Facetime video calls. Technology allows time-shifting so we can watch TV and consume media whenever we want. While I watched The Late Late Toy Show live from a laptop in Cardigan, Wales, many in America just watched it on Saturday morning (their time) thanks to RTÉ player. Technology can break down class barriers and allow anyone to play with the big boys if they have talent.

Technology now is making age less of an issue, whether it’s older people logging on to Facebook encouraging their grandkids to give cheek to parents and playing good cop to their bad cop, or younger people taking part in events and building companies. Online has broken down the ringfences around demographics. Now 70 year olds can talk about crocheting with 18 year olds on the other side of the planet or turn up to tweet ups. I’m biased and bearish on this of course but the inter-democratic and inter-generational data that’s being exchanged enriches our society. 20 year olds are hanging with 50 year olds and they’re learning from each other. I love how Zuckerberg has absolute control of his public company thanks to older experienced people (and not yes-men) giving his advice. More of this.

Yet 2012 saw vulnerable people, many of them teens not have their voice heard or have someone let them know it’s ok to tell people if they’re feeling vulnerable. In this world of inter-connectedness and oversharing (personally think this is bullshit), people still meet barriers to check in with those that could be of help. There are still obstacles but things are getting better, the more we communicate. Anyway, shutting up and getting to the list:

Vincent Lyons and Ian Connolly
Them and Enda Crowley (who appeared before in this area) have been running Dubstarts in Dublin bringing tech people and tech companies together. Vincent is around 23 and Ian is 20 (awww). Networking events are crucial for any startup ecosystem to grow and flourish. Agenda fueled networking events won’t get the fun people, the creative people, the people who can make an impact. Dubstarts meets these criteria and helps companies hire in Dublin which for tech is a very aggressive hiring location.

Lyra Mckee
Lyra is 22 and properly causing a fuss in Northern Ireland with her tenacious, dogged, investigative journalism. When your supporters are pressured to shun you, you’re winning. Lyra is winning. What I like too is Lyra is blogging and tweeting as she goes, warts and all about her experiences. Won’t get that on a journalism course…

Conor Clinch
Conor has a lovely eye for detail. Thus why his photography skills are sought by many agencies and why he is now flying all over the shop to attend fashion shows. He built on his reputation in 2012 and I have a feeling that 2013 is going to be more of the same, except more. Impressive as it stands, even more so for the guy that’s only 17 a few days.

James Eggers
Sure didn’t James win a Web Award and before that a few Young Scientist Awards? James builds things and builds them well. is a lovely site that makes it much easier for students to find exam papers and the marking schemes for them. James likes to work with tech around big data, the current over-abused tech term by Government, like cloud before it but the actual applications for this are vastly important and it’s good to see people working on it. James and real-coders of his kind that can code at a professional level from a young age will impact on Ireland, whether the education system supports them or not. The Collisons below are such an example.

Marie Duffy
Now I’m biased as I’m on the board of Spunout and Marie was previously on the board and now works there. She’s a great communicator, has done wonders since she took over as Editor for Spunout and is creating a valued resource on all things young people related for Spunout. She was also in the States later in 2011 representing Irish people and hearing Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan talk away. Marie has always has strong interests in mental health issues for younger people and as Spunout comes out of their shell again after being in a cocoon for so long, her influence and work will make a great impact. Marie is 28.

The Collisons, all of them.
Again. Sure it’s not a list without them. All three this time. Patrick and John are about to flip the world of online payments upside down and deservedly featured on that Forbes under 30 list. What they do in Stripe is very real and is impacting on the world daily. Now we have Tommy (also mentioned before) finishing school and maybe heading to the States for college next year. Oh and at 18 has already self-published two books. They’re not over-achievers in my view, they’re just expanding out to use 100% of their talents.

Stephanie Francis
Actually Steph already announced she was leaving X Communications earlier in December. This post was in draft since November and she was on the list, I swear! Steph organises Crafthouse, worked in the talented X-Comms and did trojan work on the Book of Kells app. I expect her influence will be a very positive one for the Engine Yard team in 2013.

Token older person: Sean Blanchfield
He’s not old or really that older but compared to the quite young people on the list, he possibly could be classed as that. Seán has been supporting people and events including Dubstarts in the background for the past few years, being a very positive influence without seeking the attention and glory for it. There are lots of reasons why Dublin very much is a tech startup hub now and Seán is one.

Token older person and annual listee: Pat Phelan
See what I said for SB above. Pat is up to something, I can feel it in my bones. Plus he always makes this list and not adding him is bad luck. So what will Pat bring us in 2013?

Non-tech people:
Jack O’Keeffe and the other Young Chef’s. Coming to running a kitchen near you.

How Buildings Learn – Complete series online

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Stewart Brand put his whole series online, for free and encourages people to remix it. Wiki page about it. Amazon book link.

Music by Brian Eno.

The series was based on my 1994 book, HOW BUILDINGS LEARN: What Happens After They’re Built. The book is still selling well and is used as a text in some college courses. Most of the 27 reviews on Amazon treat it as a book about system and software design, which tells me that architects are not as alert as computer people. But I knew that; that’s part of why I wrote the book.

Anybody is welcome to use anything from this series in any way they like. Please don’t bug me with requests for permission. Hack away. Do credit the BBC, who put considerable time and talent into the project.

State Agencies give €250k+ to F.ounders, Dublin Web Summit

Friday, May 4th, 2012

I recently asked Enterprise Ireland and the IDA about their financial and otherwise involvement with the F.ounders and Dublin Web Summit events in the past few years. F.ounders brings all the tech boys to the yard and they’re like: it’s better than (London, Berlin, elsewhere). Davos for geeks is right.

I really like the idea of F.ounders, bringing a buzz to Ireland and hopefully getting some of those tech boys setting up shop. It’s a juggernaut of tech meetings. It’s a private affair though. Dublin Web Summit then commercialises this very well by introducing the F.ounders types to the public. Is it value for money? F.ounders, I think is. Getting some of the most brilliant people in tech together in Dublin for any event is worth a lot. What happens though when these leads are generated and delivered? Who converts them?

So what did EI and IDA give to the F.ounders and Dublin Web Summit events over the past while?

F.ounders 2010
IDA gave €30,000
Enterprise Ireland gave €10,000

F.ounders 2011
In 2011 a consortium of Irish state agencies gave €170,000 to F.ounders/Dublin Web Summit
Enterprise Ireland gave €50,000
IDA gave €60,000
Other agencies contributed the rest.

EI’s Cloud sub-event
However they also gave money towards Enterprise Ireland’s “Beyond the Cloud” event as part of Dublin Web Summit 2011.

€54,450 was paid to Dublin Web Summit Ltd. by the state agencies
IDA gave €10,000
Science Foundation Ireland gave €10,000
Enterprise Ireland gave €34.450

London Web Summit 2012
Enterprise Ireland gave £10,000 to the event (Press Room Sponsorship)

Here are the original emails from EI and IDA on this (names removed)



Further to your recent query, in 2010 IDA sponsored the F.Ounders part of the event to the amount of €30,000 following an approach by Paddy Cosgrave.

IDA sponsored the F.Ounders event again in 2011 as part of the Ireland team overall sponsorship package. IDA invested €60,000 in the event in 2011. In addition, IDA contributed €10,000 towards the running of the Beyond the Cloud event at the Dublin Web Summit in 2011, in conjunction with EI and SFI.

IDA Ireland can confirm that at no time was it asked by the Department of An Taoiseach or any other Government Department to support these events.


Dear Damien,
In response to your recent FOI request, I have gathered the following information.

Enterprise Ireland provided €10,000 in sponsorship for the Founders event in 2010 following an approach by Paddy Cosgrave.

Enterprise Ireland decided to sponsor the event as it represented an unprecedented opportunity for positive global publicity for Ireland as a top business location.

On foot of the success of the 2010 event, and a sponsorship request by Paddy Cosgrave, Enterprise Ireland in partnership with other relevant stage agencies negotiated a joint inter-agency sponsorship package for Founders and Dublin Web Summit in 2011. The agencies jointly provided a package of €170,000 in sponsorship of which Enterprise Ireland provided €50,000.

In addition, Enterprise Ireland ran the “Beyond the Cloud” event as part of Dublin Web Summit. This event cost approximately €74,500 of which €54,450 was paid to Dublin Web Summit Ltd. IDA and SFI each contributed €10,000 towards the total cost of this event. The rest was covered by Enterprise Ireland.

In 2012, Enterprise Ireland, through its London office, provided £10,000 (Sterling) of sponsorship for the London Web Summit.

Enterprise Ireland can confirm that at no time was it asked by the Department of an Taoiseach or any other Government Department to support these events.

I trust this covers your information requirements,

The new oil

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Is information/data the new oil?

Those that own the rights to extract it and sell it can be worth dynasty-like fortunes. Those that are employed to drill or extract it can make huge money. Those that can predict or find a new source of information with their technology. Those that can build services or products that use this information (think cars or plastics). Those that can improve on those products. Those that lobby legislatures to ensure their safety tech must be used when these products are built, too can make money.

Facebook is the most public owner of rich data with lots of people exploiting and using it. The clubcard companies, the postal services. All data rich “fields”. Oil is made from rotting carbon entities. Data is made from our own usage patterns which we hand over in full knowledge or in full ignorance. Is data a natural resource?

Collusion. Firefox plugin allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web.

Using data to spot when the iPad 3 lands. Literally.

Seems that second sentence was in a draft post since October so pushing it live now.

And now for something completely…

See William Gibson on data and even rumour and the value of it:

The future and being here

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed said William Gibson. He said it in the past. Saying that, even if he said it right now by the time it hit our ears, was processed in our brain and understood by us, here would already have changed and become a past event.

Something already here that is the future is 3D printing. The idea behind it is not new. Design something on a computer, carve it out using a machine. Fran already does this with foam and lasers for making blocks and shapes. Now however we have 3D printers costing less than $999 that can create small plastic devices. Think of the ability to print the toy part of a kinder egg. Print or create the parts from plastic and then assemble them. All at home.

So the future as I see it is we use a design program to create a 3D model and then we print it off. Plastic, paper, carbon fibre or metal. Kodak is dead and many print companies are dying off, I’m surprised nobody started pushing their companies into 3D printing.

There’s going to be massive issues with piracy too or will it even be piracy? A camera phone will easily see all the dimensions of a product, import it into your modeling software and you press copy. Go to the and download designs of products and away you go. There is no doubt that movies and music are going to be the minor categories on a future PirateBay. As I said, will it be piracy though?

Look at the ideas behind Open Street Map where organisations map locations and share the data for free. Maybe people will give away their own designs of products for free and route around copyrighted goods? Who’ll be the Napster of 3D printing? Once Napster was out there, it changed everything and this too shall happen for 3D Printing.

The clever companies will have stores where you can buy and look at their products and sites where you go online and buy the design for the product where you print it off at home and of course customise it too. Every pair of shoes customised. Imagine Tumblr or Pinterest and all the amazing styles on that and then crossed with the Pirate Bay. Maybe Etsy will turn into a site that highlights great designs and you press the print button next to them to get a copy?

This post here from Jonathan Macdonald goes through all the possiblities and the disruption 3D printing will cause. Think of all the new supporting industries though. The raw ink or whatever going into them will be as big a utility as water or gas. The printer manufacturers will be like fridge makers today.

I’m just thinking about all the lawsuits right now in the mobile industry and the value of patents. Google bought Motorola for billions and patents was one reason they did this. Old telecoms companies, long since dead are influencing the mobile market now because of patents they created. Imagine patenting not just 3D designs but the processes and tech to create 3D designs. I think you might be able to buy your own bank from that. I’d rather people gave away this IP though. A wise person would look into current patents and see who owns them. You can be there are longterm thinkers already bankrolling R+D in this area.

Robots are coming too. The future today sees us having Robot Pebbles too. But that’s for another day…

Ones to watch in 2012

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Here’s the ones to watch in 2011 list. Not bad a list, right?

The usual excuse I’m using in recent years gets another outing. i just don’t have the time to meet as many people and read and keep up with what people are doing. So this list is, like others before it, one done with a very blinkered take as only what I see, can I view.

Des Traynor
Des of Contrast and has over the space of the past few years gone from the amazing user interface expert everyone was advised to talk to, to the guy that shares so much about building amazing web products. Des has a quiet confidence when sharing knowledge that’s sustained through the years and has now turned into wisdom, something that only time can do. Given the rapid appreciation of by people, it’s only a matter of time before investing in Des will give you a nice return on that investment.

Martha Rotter and Stewart Curry
Martha and Stewart are working on Idea magazine at the moment and I expect 2012 to see them fleshing their work on this out to more places. The idea of write only once, publishing to lots of places is ancient in terms of the web but the actualisation of this idea isn’t properly happening yet. Hopefully their collaborations on this will bring this more to life in 2012. Martha also featured before.

Dylan Collins
I know Dylan Collins a few years at this stage and he’s someone I respect and admire. Actually, a line like that is normally an excuse to initiate a personal attack on someone. When you talk to Dylan or just listen to him talk you realise that he has a way of viewing things that allows him to see patterns and movements in things that if he gets involved he can change and accentuate. A fascinating quality and one that has allowed him to have an obscenely successful track record. Dylan has been working with other companies in 2011 but for someone with his personality structure he’ll need to be working on his own projects in 2012.

Enda Crowley
I know Enda since he was a kid. So that’s like 3 months or something. 🙂 Enda has wanted to be in a start-up for a long while like so many others but changing colleges, working with some gifted people and persistance might see 2012 being a good year for him and his very bright co-workers. There are plenty of people circling around young programmers hoping they can feed off them but if they keep their heads down, don’t resort to doing press to talk about how awesome they are and release a product, there’s great potential. Then they can do the celebrity young tech startup media circuit…

Willie White
I know Willie White via Project Arts. You need to sit down and have a cigarette after talking to Willie. Multi-layered, full deep conversations are the norm. A whole history of art and creativity in each sentence. With Alexia and Willie, we worked on the Dublin Tweasure Hunt which was a nice bit of fun. Willie is now the big kahuna burger for the Dublin Threatre Festival so I expect he’ll have even more people to reply to my emails with “As per the court order Mr. Mulley”. If the work he and his crew did to help new artists is anything to go by then the 2012 Theatre festival will be great. More tech involvement Willie!

Adrian Weckler
Adrian is now Digital Editor/Assistant Editor in the Sunday Business Post and piloted the new website, paywall and lots of digital conversion work in the past few months for the Business Post. The Sunday Business Post may well be the first Sunday to go digital-only if the rumours are to be believed. Adrian is going to be the head man for this change given he’s Mr. Internet in there. Maybe this is why he’s rocking a rockstar haircut these days? 🙂

Gina Bowes
I first met Gina via her work in eircom in the social media team there. In a world of corporate bullshit it was refreshing to hear someone directly call something bullshit and lots of other reality based words. Gina is already a star, a clever and hard worker who has moved on now to help other brands in the area of social media. 2012 should definitely be her year and let’s see what she can blow up/change.

David Scanlon
I could link to all the posts that show I’m not a fan of Enterprise Ireland but I’m sure we’re all sick of that bleating. EI has changed quite a bit in the past few years from the way they communicate to the way they are changing to what marketplaces want. The change from middleware or bust to cloud and games was in fact a screeching lurch more than a glacial pace but changes finally happened and lots of changes are still to come. EI are now actually a model for semi-state usage of social media and even they can whack their client companies on the head as they are walking the walk. One of the people in there doing this is David Scanlon and David and his colleagues are bringing people together, external and internal people and showing the positive outcomes of using online media. 2011 has been a year where EI got deserved attention for their work and i would think the efforts in 2011 will pay off even more in 2012.


Sunday, October 30th, 2011

The Dublin Web Summit was on last week and a huge amount of people went to see it. A great networking event from what I’ve heard. I’ve heard complaints too from those that do conferences in the tech scene that the conference somehow steals the lunch of other organisations. When is time, not effort, a right to maintain a monopoly? Jack Murray from Media Contact has started running social media conferences and digital conferences in the past while. “Pivoting” an existing business that was about a printed database being posted to people twice a year into using that database to bring people together and extracting more value from it. If it wasn’t for the Dublin Web Summit and the various Media Contact conferences in the past few years we’d just have the same ole same ole with pretty much the same Irish speakers on rotation. New blood, new talent, new takes on things. It’s good to see conferences becoming more competitive and new conferences taking over. In time they too will be usurped.

The Journal won at the Web Awards last week. I saw one person asking was it the “Best Copy and Paste” Award they won at the Webs. Humour that has truth to it is a great weapon. The Journal is about a year old and is the most disruptive thing in the Irish Web right now. Have a look on Google Trends for a rough idea how they are dominating breaking news. It’s fascinating how this product launched with momentum and is still gaining it. There are plenty of critics of it and plenty of internal chatter from organisations with even legal people consulted about the way they work. The Journal though is a web service run by a new generation, totally immersed in web culture and the new way information moves. The stature of the Irish Times, RTÉ and other media organisations in a way is their detriment and I can’t see how they can successfully react to this without first pretty much destroying their own organisations. What The Journal will do though is get these organisations to either take risks or do really silly things which will do more harm. Such is the cycle of things though.

Enterprise Ireland announced a fund this week to encourage startups to move to Ireland and people were complaining about the money not being spent nurturing local talent. There are plenty of social welfare for startup funds out there if people looked though. Bringing startups in to Ireland is a very good idea once they are a benefit locally. Experience and even philosophies being brought in to disrupt an existing industry is a very good thing. Dublin Web Summits bring wisdom to people for a few hours, this EI fund will bring new ideas for a much longer time. It might bring enough people that a creative hub establishes which will bring more people along too. The gravity from these centre of talents isn’t strong enough just yet. I think Malcolm Gladwell pointed out that when Tiger came along, the game of golf adapted and everyone got better to match him. Maybe we’ll get the same with this fund?

Eugene from Tweekaboo (a client) went off to Silicon Valley and got inspired. I met up with him this week and a short visit over there left an impact. It made me think of when we organised Paddy’s Valley and of course vowing to never do it again. Myself and others kept telling Eugene he needs to get over there and see how the tech and investment world works there. Getting talent to inspire you locally is good, bringing long-term talent to Ireland is also a very good thing, bringing new blood into a stagnant industry is a good thing but also going to where there’s an ocean of talent (and money) is an important thing. There are some tech tours (UK Centric) that go over to the Valley now and then and it’s worth sending people over once they meet and greet and don’t shy away from networking and feeding on the brains of wonderful tech people. Though Zuckerberg seems to think Boston is it.

And cross-pollination is great and is important but a worry is that you are still only learning from a subset of clever and engaging people. Why not leave art and culture inspire you too? Cross training in sport works. I recall my idea of trying to intern in some companies before to gain experience. Maybe some of those tech hubs should have artists around too to hang around with.

Black sun

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

via BBC’s The Code

Starlings create these amazing patterns when flying together. It seems they follow three simple rules and if you recreate them as a software model, you can get the same patterns. Fly at the same speed, always stay the same distance between you and your neighbours and if you see a predator, leg it.

Meanwhile a 13 year old uses the Fibonacci sequence to redesign solar panels to be more like trees and so more efficient.


Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Jim Carroll’s post on Quality v Quantity in the music business where you now have only a few months to break on through (it seems) due to easy findability of every band on the planet, kind of links into this piece quoting Ian Rogers on how it’s easy to create and distribute music nowadays but again because of easy discoverability, you have to market harder/smarter to get yourself noticed, so more resources are going in to marketing/pr/promotion.

That to me says there are opportunities as well as suggesting maybe with all this connectedness it could bring the quality way up for bands but they still need that 10k hours idea Gladwell came up with. Wait til they get the tech right for people to jam with each other properly around the world in real time. No more ‘bassist wanted’ flyers in guitar shops. It worked with Internet dating!

This of course ties into everything else not just music. When the web first came about, search engines allowed us to find/discover textual information and it worked well. The amount of information then for the basic web was tiny compared to now. With these more complicated media, more tech and more opportunities to sort out information were born. Now with the web we have services like (liked this song, others who did liked this one), Netflix for movies, Amazon recommendation services (bit rough) and sites using your social media footprints are now aiding us into finding new things we might like. Counter to that though is the idea we are having too much hidden from us due to what we soley like. Serendipity gets stomped on. There’s a whole TED video on filters and this:

Anyway, Dylan Collins did a blog post on what people (I was included too) thought were opportunities for startups. A good range of people and a load of good ideas are over there. Importantly for me and maybe you is that these quick bursts of ideas get you to think and come up with other ideas and opportunities based on them. Even reading them and saying “this is bullshit because…” gets you to be creative and analytical and maybe share ideas and potential opportunities.

So loads of new ideas for everyone around the world that can be inspired by blog posts and what not. More ways to be inspired, cheaper tech and infrastructure to build your ideas and faster turnaround for the ideas. Increase in quantity, increase in quality too but also a lot of noise. Geography won’t matter as much (we’ll have no Valley is better than Roundabout stuff in the comments please) so an Irish startup could compete with a German one for example. Creativity and skill not previous history of the area become stronger factors for startups.

Is the startup world following what is happening in music? If yes, will the issues with the music industry become a lesson to be learned by startups too? So a bit like Inception, there seem to be opportunities inside opportunities as the opportunity to have an opportunity becomes easier.

Inspiration is just a matter of slowing things down and observing: