When Irish spleens are venting

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Have a great night

Normally this is the time for peace on earth and good will to all people. But not over at the blog belonging to Segala, a Dublin-based company offering “Web accessibility and Mobile Web standards compliance.” Its CEO Paul Walsh (who describes himself as an “Irish Opportunist” on his Twitter page) is a prominent networker in the London and Irish Internet scene, and an often controversial blogger. His latest target is the launch of a new Irish networking group called TechLudd, which was inspired by a recent trip to Silicon Valley by some Irish startups, an initiative dubbed Paddy’s Valley.

There are way many sides to this story, but these are the basics: TechLudd plans to run a regular, possibly monthly meetup. But Walsh argues in a post titled “Why TechLudd should stop before it starts” that another networking group is going to fragment the growing Irish startup and internet sector too much (he calls the idea “half-baked”). He and others (53 comments and counting) argue that Web2Ireland should be the place where the industry hangs out, online and off. However, various voices are either objecting or assenting to being brought into this argument, depending on their perspective.

I don’t have a strong view either way on this fight. But to me an “eco-system” which supports startups usually benefits from diversity and heterogeneity. A homogeneous environment, where there is only one place to network, one event to go to etc, does not seem quite as healthy. On the other hand, if you are in a relatively smaller market like Ireland (in comparison to, say, Silicon Valley), is it too confusing and fragmenting to have lots many organisations trying to run initiatives? And how many is too many? Can only 15 people decide this, as Walsh now proposes? This story appears set to run and run…

  • http://segala.com/blog Paul Walsh

    Mike – that’s 15 of the most widely networked people in Ireland. The outcome could be that the idea is silly. I think we could stretch it to 30 as that seemed ok for the Curry 2.0 dinner that I hosted. 15 was plucked from the air.

    I was being polite when I suggested that the TechLudd idea was ‘half baked’. Without securing a keynote speaker, pitching startups, content, or even a venue, the people behind it sent out invitations to people such as Loic Le Meure.

    There are very few people in Ireland in a position to run great events, so why not work together. It’s not about one place to do the networking. It’s about proposing a group of people to *build* an ecosystem in Ireland as there is little to nothing at present.

    Perhaps TechCrunch could play an integral part – I purposely didn’t mention Web2Ireland in my last post as I didn’t want to make any more assumptions.

    Thanks a million for raising this here. You’ve just demonstrated that TechCrunch could in fact be UK & Ireland and not just another version of Fish ‘n Chips :-)

  • http://www.loudervoice.com/ Conor O'Neill

    Mike, most people involved in that discussion are not saying “Web2Ireland should run everything”, they are just making the point that if a group of people are creating an organisation/event dedicated to networking then they should actually do some networking outside of their group and find out what is happening around them. I think that point has been taken on board by the organisers of TechLudd.

    Off the top of my head in the Cork region we have it@cork, SohoSolo, CorkBIC, Cork OpenCoffee, some Web2Ireland people, BarCamp organisers and the Irish Blog awards organiser (and for a short while, BN). We all try to help and support each other and work in complementary ways. So it is heterogeneous but not fragmented or factionalised. I’ve heard of a few other professional organisations down here recently and I’ll be reaching out to them via OpenCoffee to strengthen the “meta-network” even more.

  • http://www.antonmannering.com Anton Mannering

    Mike – As I have said elsewhere. This is just a regular meetup for people in the web communtiy here. It’s not “LeWeb”.
    The idea is simple and amusingly, quite similar to Pauls lunch to discuss the setup of an industry association. The idea is start with a working name, and suggested agenda and allow those who are interested decide what they want, and invite who they want, from speakers to venue to format. The theory being that the community can build an event for itself better than an expert can, and isn’t that the power of social networks and social media, a truly web2.0 event…

    If the problem is that people outside the country have been invited then perhaps Paul should have enquired as to the type of invite sent. There is a huge difference between “come speak at this event” and “if you happen to be in Dublin we’re starting this, pop in if you like”.
    I think it is hugely unfortunate that Paul, feeling so strongly about this as he appears to, couldn’t just have made contact and asked a few questions. He has instead assumed a whole lot of things without enquiring. And we all know what that does…
    I think Pauls contribution though has been fantastic. I love when people speak passionately about what they believe. In fact it is what this idea is all about. I think though he has missed the point.
    If an event such as this were to organise all of this in advance it would have run completely against the grain of the idea.
    I don’t know what is needed by the community here but the communtiy do. This meetup will reflect that.

  • http://segala.com/blog Paul Walsh

    @Anton – ““if you happen to be in Dublin we’re starting this, pop in if you like”” – This is one of my main concerns.

    Sending this to seasoned entrepreneurs who live outside of Ireland when you have
    – no venue
    – no keynote speaker
    – no panelists and
    – no content

    looks very unprofessional.

    Only extremely well respected event organisers can get away with this, as it’s their reputation and people they’re likely to attract that’s being rated.

    If this was under your name, I wouldn’t have had an issue. But, because it was pitched as an Irish Community initiative, thereby giving the impression that seasoned Irish event organisers were involved, it’s confusing. I didn’t make any assumptions. Everything I said in my original post hold true today.

  • http://blog.whoisireland.com John McCormac

    The problem with Ireland is that while it might appear to be a small market, it is very geographically diverse. A lot of the internet startup/networking concentration tends to be in Dublin at the expense of the rest of Ireland. For many entrepreneurs the idea of wasting two working days from a week to attend an evening event in Dublin is ridiculous. That’s why the networking opportunities tend to be spread too thinly. Some single network is required that can coordinate things.

  • http://handelaar.org John Handelaar

    “A lot of the internet startup/networking concentration tends to be in Dublin”

    …despite almost none of the interesting companies being based there.

  • rc

    dublin is a center of tech

    rc

    trading tennis blog

  • http://kitchentwo.com/ Gary Reid

    I think it’s a great idea, fragmentation is good, diversity is good, but most of all some of the clique’s that have formed aren’t the sort of clubs some people want to join.

    Fresh ideas, fresh faces and fresh places are always good and if it’s a bad idea it will fail, if it’s a good idea it will take off, I really don’t think we need people stomping on ideas that people are prepared to run with, otherwise we’ll have committee’s running everything.

    One of the factors in SV’s success is running with ideas that many think are bad.

    I would advise the TechLudd guys to carry on regardless, it may be something fresh and interesting that changes the way the current thinking.

  • http://www.choosecontrast.com Eoghan McCabe

    People interested in this discussion should read these three strong, parallel points:

    1. Comment by Gary Reid (above): http://uk.techcrunch.com/2007/12/24/when-irish-spleens-are-vented/#comment-87968
    2. Comment by Niall Larkin: http://eirepreneur.blogs.com/eirepreneur/2007/12/techludd-web2ir.html#c94685790
    3. Post by Robin Blandford: http://www.bytesurgery.com/blog/2007/12/24/let-100-flowers-bloom/#comment-20412

  • Richard Hearne

    If this was under your name, I wouldn’t have had an issue. But, because it was pitched as an Irish Community initiative, thereby giving the impression that seasoned Irish event organisers were involved, it’s confusing.

    You really have a way with words Paul.

    So seasoned Irish event organisers ‘own’ the right to pitch as the ‘Irish Community’ then? Again, it reads more like you don’t like someone pissing on your patch than a real concern the ‘Irish Community’ will suffer negatively from this initiative.

    Of course I speak as a humble outsider in these matters :)

  • http://segala.com/blog Paul Walsh

    @Richard – I don’t run events in Ireland so it’s certainly not my patch and I don’t have any personal interest other than to see it work. There appears to be two sides to this debate: those who agree with me (i.e. those who have lots of experience running, hosting or talking and whom are very open and transparent) and then those who disagree (mostly people who have absolutely no experience and whom have never demonstrated an interest to help others).

    So, I’m an outsider like you ;-)

  • http://www.critir.com/ Paul J

    This whole debacle is typically Irish. Speaking as an Irishman, I can say that we have a rich and colourful track record of in-fighting taking the focus off a common goal, it’s in our genetic make-up…

  • http://pix.ie Marcus Mac Innes

    @PaulWalsh

    those who agree with me (i.e. those who have lots of experience running, hosting or talking and whom are very open and transparent) and then those who disagree (mostly people who have absolutely no experience and whom have never demonstrated an interest to help others)

    Rather than comment directly on your insulting and disrespectful tone I am simply going to reiterate my original tweet to you which sparked this entire debate in the first place: http://twitter.com/marcusmacinnes/statuses/523656672

  • Paul O'Grady

    Paul get over yourself, we all have! You think you are soooo important but no one cares about you here in Ireland. We want to organise our own events without your facile input.

    You and your fat drunk pointless friend Robert Loch couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

    Focus on Segala, try and raise some VC money IF you can to prove you are not just a “top c*nt”.

    Paul, you and Robert are legends only in your own lunchtime.

  • http://www.spymac.com/details/?2321924 Patricio Albasete
  • http://blog.whoisireland.com John McCormac

    @Paul O’Grady: Wow! That’s some put down for Paul Walsh and Robert Loch.

    Admittedly, the Irish internet community is rather small and many of us never heard of Paul Walsh and Segala until quite recently due to blog activity.

    There is no national web entrepreneur network in Ireland and everything generally ends up stultified in Dublin while the rest of Ireland ignores it. Even the IIA was, until a few years ago, Yet Another Dublin Association. However it has expanded and now has a more widespread coverage. It may be better to use such an existing network to help develop some kind of national web entrepreneur network. The best thing is to get some kind of ecology going rather than a pissing contest between egos.

  • D

    @Paul O’Grady
    Your comment is uncalled for. With that sort of attitude, I personally don’t want you attending any tech event.
    Paul Walsh is doing a lot of work for Irish startups organising several meetings and dinners.

  • http://dansullivan.blogspot.com Dan Sullivan

    Brendan Behan it was that suggested that whenever Irish republicans met, the first issue on the agenda was “the split”. Seems the tech industry has moved that on to organising the split before the meeting happens.

  • http://uk.techcrunch.com/2008/01/28/techludd-not-so-luddite-after-all/ TechCrunch UK » Blog Archive » TechLudd - not so luddite after all

    […] being branded an event which could “do more harm than good” and was poised to “damage the Ireland Inc brand“, TechLudd, a first-time event in Dublin last week for the tech startup community, is now […]

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