A Consuming Experience

Blogging, internet, software, mobile, telecomms, gadgets, technology, media and digital rights from the perspective of a consumer / user, including reviews, rants and random thoughts. Aimed at intelligent non-geeks, who are all too often unnecessarily disenfranchised by excessive use of tech jargon, this blog aims to be informative and practical without being patronising. With guides, tutorials, tips - and the occasional ever so slightly naughty observation.

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Minibar London

Friday, December 01, 2006
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I went to Minibar 1 and all I got was this XL Google T-shirt... (me = NOT extra large!):

Well actually I was late and the smaller sizes must have all gone, so I just grabbed what there was - unless Google assumed all London geeks are extra large and only provided T-shirts in that one size, that is.

(I'm late in doing this write-up too, obviously, as it took place on Friday 17 November 2006 at the Old Truman Brewery. I seem to be eternally trying to catch up, at the moment - hope 2007 won't be as bad!).

I spent ages wandering down the back streets of Spitalfields in the pouring rain, and I wasn't the only one - I bumped into a Drupal developer also trying to find the venue (didn't get his name but I'm guessing it was Robert Castelo from the pic! someone correct me if I got it wrong). I wish I'd known there were two "Corbet Place" streets (it's actually some kind of square) . Obviously I'd gone down the wrong one to start with. Man, some alleys can be dark!

When I finally got there, John Buckman of Magnatune and BookMooch had already given half his presentation, but what I heard was interesting. I'm a Creative Commons fan and knew about those sites anyway, so I hope I didn't miss too much. Worse, some may say, was that I was too late for the free beer.

There's an official report on Openbusiness.cc, who co-sponsored the event (and yep that first pic on that post is indeed of me, though I'm somewhat surprised to see it in the post! I'd missed the "social tagging" at the start but after the presentation I found a table with labels to tag yourself with, so I grabbed the most suitable and Jo the official photographer took a pic of m'tags as I was leaving (there's more of her Minibar pics on Flickr). The eagle-eyed may wonder at the "Promiscuous", which label in fact more than one person at the event said they'd wished they'd nabbed too. Let's say I took that as meaning "Open to all (good) job offers". Ahem.

I did manage to chat with a few people, but I hadn't realised that the event was mixed - a lot of people weren't there for Minibar, but just hanging out at their local. Oddly they were the ones who tended to try to strike up conversations with me; mostly the "real" Minibar attendees didn't, unless I talked to them first. Maybe I don't look geeky enough?

Apart from my fellow seeker of the Minibar, I chatted with:
  • only briefly, John Buckman himself, someone from Spreadshirt and others who'll have to forgive me for not noting their names
  • someone from Ofcom who was there with a colleague, I regret forgetting her name - I sounded off a bit about the TV Without Frontiers Directive and how vloggers shouldn't be treated as TV broadcasters, and in fact they agree. It's good to see a regulator putting itself about and listening to people, yay to Ofcom!
  • a couple of people from Excite, based in Italy, who didn't travel to London especially for the event but happened to be here at the right time. We had a good discussion. Amanda Lorenzani writes the Excite blog, Web Twitcher (love the name!). They're trying to build up the Excite Mix personalised homepage, which I've not had a chance to look at properly yet myself. Their aim is to make it easily usable by ordinary people, not just geeks, which is always a good thing in my book as readers of this blog will know - I feel very strongly that things which could be made much more user-friendly and intuitive with just a little bit more thought and effort, should be; and similarly that things which could be explained intelligibly and without exclusivist jargon should be
  • not forgetting Jo, official photographer extraordinaire!
It was fun, and to me worth braving the autumnal London downpours to make it there.

The next Minibar is on Friday 8 December, and again there's free beer. . Do sign up to go if you're going to be in London. Would like to go but I've got a prior commitment (though I'm going to the Firefox party tonight). Maybe the next one - I hope they become regular events.

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