It’s Wednesday night and somehow I’ve gone from being embarrassingly punctual to the late side of fashionable. No one will care particularly – once again I am off to a London tech meetup to, well, meet a whole host of complete strangers – however I am a bit ashamed of the fact that I’ve managed to get lost in the most central part of London less than three blocks away from the bar I’m trying to find. But, I’m a girl so I’m prepared. My A-Z is in my bag. And I am not ashamed to ask for directions from my coworker, Alice, who wrongly assumed I knew where we were going. Being prepared, willing to ask for help and female are traits I will share with those I am about to meet and finally the bar is in sight. Silicon Stilettos, here I come.
Silicon Stilettos, organised by Zuzanna of Huddle.net, is a chance for techie women of London to gather, sip some sponsored drinks (in the case of tonight’s event, the beverages are being provided by Sun Startup Essentials and the few men in attendance are for the most part responsible for the plentiful food and drink so we don’t give them too hard a time), chat about business and technology and meet share ideas.
There are a number of brilliant women in attendance, but one of the entrepreneurs in attendance whose company really caught my attention was Anna of CompletelyNovel. CompletelyNovel is an online platform for writers to publish their stories and readers to find new online reading material. While using the web as a way to share creative writing is nothing new, CompletelyNovel offers ways for writers to manage their fan base and articulate readership to partner publishing houses, basically making a case for their book’s success before the publishing houses take the risk and expense of publishing the story. As CompletelyNovel puts it, “would a band be signed to a record label without fans, record sales and a tour?” Now, authors have the opportunity to prove they will be a success and increase their chances of getting picked up by a publisher. Additionally, readers get the chance to access all sorts of brilliant fiction in one online library for free, and support their favourite authors.
Anna and CompletelyNovel represents just one of the many interesting stories I hear at Silicon Stilettos and anyone who thinks that women are not a driving force in technology would be forced to reevaluate in the presence of the strong, entrepreneurial women I meet tonight. Thank you so much to Zuzanna for organising the event and Sun Startup for sponsoring the night. I look forward to future Silicon Stiletto events.
It also seems fitting that my recap of an evening with this wonderful group of women marks the 200th post here at The Top Floor Flat. I’d like to thank friends and family who have been reading since my fateful flight from JFK to Heathrow. To be in the company of these women is just one small indication of how far I’ve come. Thank you for reading, commenting and being a part of my adventure!
A few weeks back, I described a brilliant food-related event and brainchild of the wonderful Kate Matlock and her classmates. They are pleased to announce that “Feed Your Imagination,” presented by Evocative Foods with chef Numo Mendes and food futurologist Dr. Morgaine Gaye will take place on June 4, 2009 at The Loft Kitchen, Hackney.
The Evocative Foods concept was developed by eight MA Design Studies students from Central Saint Martins and features a tasting menu, developed by Chef Mendes with ingredients identified by Dr. Gaye as providing a more emotional connection to food.
Gaye, whose book The Non-Cook Book: Super Health for Busy People is coming out in June said, “The students’ work is ingenious and is a totally new way to present concepts around food and sensation. It’s an exciting collaboration and an event not to be missed.”
Chef Mendes, who currently hosts intimate tasting events in preparation for the opening of his new restaurant Viajante in 2010, was chosen by Evocative Foods for his creative menus and experimental uses of texture and temperature in his cooking.
The exhibition-style tasting event uses foods with natural mood enhancing properties combined with art and music to evoke a mood of vibrancy. This event features food that Dr. Gaye has identified as “vibrant,” and turned into edible works of art by chef Mendes. Kate has given me a sneak preview of the menu which will include English spring peas on the half shell with liquid gel and flowers.
Tickets and more information are available via the Evocative Foods website at http://www.evocativefoods.com/ but spaces are limited so be sure you book early. If the initial hype is anything to go by, this event will sell out fast. And everyone can use a little more vibrancy in their lives.
It’s become increasingly popular to “donate your facebook status” to various charities and causes. And overall, it’s a great idea – you show your support, you can quickly raise awareness amongst all of your friends and you get that warm fuzzy feeling of having done something good. Karma points all around. But amidst the general chatter and noise of Facebook, a status update for charity is, literally, the least you can do. So what’s the next step?
Lovebox, a new London startup and brainchild of The House London, thinks they’ve hit on a new way to spread the word about charities and show some internet love for various causes all through a little pink box. In their own words,
Lovebox is a digital wristband to help raise money and awareness for different charities around the world via the web. Each month we add another good cause and featured charity for you to support…. Social networks and the internet help us share information quickly. Lovebox is a simple but effective way for you to show your support for charities.
Imagine checking out your favourite social network and all you see is Lovebox! Swap your profle pic for a Lovebox avatar.
As Lovebox is still in Beta stage at the moment, their features are pretty limited. All that is currently available is the downloadable Lovebox image – for ease of use when you’re ready to swap it in place of your current profile pic on various social networks, and their current charity of choice, Cancer Research UK.
There are a couple of issues with the service that hopefully will be addressed as the site grows. The selection of only one charity per month as the Lovebox supported cause is slightly problematic as not all charities appeal to all supporters. Also, convincing us self-involved web users to change our digital signature, that is, our ever-present profile picture, might not be quite as easy as convincing us to change our profile statuses. Also problematic is the fact that profile pictures are not clickable links so a sea of Loveboxes is all well and good, but if others don’t know what they mean and have no way of finding out, it can be a bit of a challenge to get the word out.
Yet issues and growing pains aside, Lovebox certainly has a lovely vision: a sea of pink hearts, Loveboxes, covering the face of social networks across the planet. From Twitter to Facebook, MySpace to Bebo, Hi5 to IMVU, a Lovebox just might become the universal sign of giving and charitable donations if the Lovebox team has anything to say about it. And the appearance of one box can cause hundreds of others on the network to sit up, take notice and consider supporting a charity themselves.
So what are you waiting for? Download your very own Lovebox and start showing a little love today.
While both the areas of music information sites and apps and twitter apps are full of heavy competition, my neighbour in the so-called London Silicon Roundabout MusicMetric has created an interesting service called @MuZoid to bridge the gap between music info and Twitter.
On their main page, MusicMetric claims to “distil raw data into knowledge about the music business” which sounds a bit like a cross between a brewery and a record label but has led to a site full of micro-features on a large number of individual artists and bands. Where things get interesting is how they have decided to disseminate these pages and decide which pages to add next. Smart script (and, according to creators, female gendered script) MuZoid is a Twitter application that allows any user to send an a message to @MuZoid with the name of an artist of interest. If MusicMetric already has a page for that artist, MuZoid replies instantly with the link, providing a list of albums, upcoming gigs and similar artists. If the artist hasn’t been profiled, MuZoid tracks down the information, creates the page and as soon as it’s complete, responds to the original comment.
In theory, this service is useful as it provides information about bands and related music suggestions much more rapidly than a web search on the topic and the system works exactly as advertised with surprising speed, catering well to a “need it now” mentality. It will be interesting, however, to see if there are more practical applications for this tool. The MusicMetric page provides genre, album and similar artist information – all features that are already available from most streaming music applications and websites which would be the places one would be most likely to find an artist to learn more about. The gig listings are much more useful (although, again, often already listed in the places where one might discover a new artist) but more often than not, no gigs are listed and there is no way to limit gigs by location.
One additional part of the MusicMetric pages which I would love to see translated into more features for MuZoid is the ‘Similar Gigs” section which searches for gigs by similar artists to the one queried. Additionally this bit does seem to be at least moderately related to location (I was only receiving listings from the UK and Ireland). I’m sure the very clever people at MusicMetric have many plans for MuZoid and it’ll be interesting to see how the combination of instant communication through Twitter and a giant database of music knowledge will combine to save me from feeling so out of the loop when my coworkers talk about new music.
One of the things I like about Twitter is that I can choose to follow and read the updates of people with similar interests that I might otherwise never come across. When they make updates, sharing ideas, news and links, sometimes I find incredibly valuable information for myself. This happened today when one of my Twitter friends posted a link to a young entrepreneur’s scholarship hosted by the blog I Will Teach You to be Rich. The scholarship is decribed:
The I Will Teach You To Be Rich Scholarship for Social Innovation is an annual $2,500 award for anyone in their twenties who has demonstrated entrepreneurial excellence and is planning a socially innovative project. The award can be used for a special project, service initiative, founding a company, creating a community organization, or any other entrepreneurial venture that scales to help others.
I’ve decided to apply even though I’m sure there will be some stiff competition given the buzz I’ve heard about the scholarship. The application is due in a few days and it’s been interesting to consider my answers to the questions “what are your milestones for success” and “how will you get others interested in your business”. This is also an excellent opportunity for me to spend some more time developing an idea I had during the holidays for a new company based upon a number of my interests and that I think might appeal to the nature of the scholarship. Wish me luck, the semi-finalists are announced Feb 2nd so I’ll keep you updated.