Thankful for 2016 as 2017 dawns

Thankful for 2016 as 2017 dawns

In 2016… I started a new role and helped fund some great companies. Worked with some great founders and some really amazing colleagues. Spent time with people. Some of whom I met through Twitter and met physically for the first time in 2016. Spent time in Hay on Wye in the glorious sunshine with some good friends. Helped a smart man run a Coder Dojo program. Spoke at some conferences Úll and Predict and went back to Congregation. Read some books but not enough. Learned much. Ran too little. Talked to a robot. Buried a Guinea Pig. Explored. Pushed boundaries. Waded a bog. Drank tea with many good people. And realised I need to drink tea with many more. Warned people about a vampire. Fought battles. Won most. Ate breakfast overlooking the sea in Baltimore. Walked where the Tuatha De Danann fought. Played board games with some wonderful people. Broke bread with others. Watched the sun come up and go down in Dublin and Wicklow and Kerry and Cork and Mayo and Galway and Tipperary. I said goodbye to some people. None of whom was famous but some of whom had a very big impact on me personally. Walked with my children as they grew and flourished, saw them learn and sail, and shout and smile and cry and grow. Loved my wife and realised how lucky I am. Here’s to 2017 To more running, more friends and more family memories, To hopefully fewer guinea pig funerals, and fewer other funerals, And to breaking bread, and a chat and a cup of tea with... read more

Note to self

I’ve just taken up a role as Venture Leader in NDRC. My 11yo describes it as “being a talent scout for technology” and a friend called it “being a matchmaker”.  I think the combined description is a good start. As a note to self I’ll remind myself of something I borrowed from Rowan Manahan and quoted first 6 year ago. Still true. Still part of the plan Follow your passion Find playmates smarter than you are Solve important problems Share your toys Build tools Make... read more

Sometime more than 140 characters are needed

Sometimes you can say a lot in 140 characters. Sometimes you can’t. There were two tweets on Friday night. Close to each other tied to the attacks in Paris. I tweeted These are the days I don’t miss Storyful. — Dermot Casey (@dermotcasey) November 14, 2015 And my friend and former Storyful colleague Paul tweeted Moments like this I wish I still worked for @Storyful. Hard to beat a purpose. — Paul Watson (@paulmwatson) November 14, 2015 The contrast caught some people by surprise. So I thought I’d expand on my thoughts. Sometimes more than 140 characters are needed. I love Twitter. It is possibly my favourite piece of technology and I say that as someone who has lived, eaten and breathed technology for more than 20 years. It can be a glorious human sensor network reflecting the pulse of the planet. A learning library, a pub conversation a place of humour or enlightenment. And a wonderful feeding point for information junkies. I was having a quick flick through my timeline on Friday night when I saw news of what was happening in Paris starting to emerge. And then I tweeted that thought. And then I turned twitter off. I turned it off because I have no one close in Paris. There is no information I needed. Nothing I can do to add to or help anyone in Paris and nothing I can add to the story.  There is a small irony as I the first defining moment for me on Twitter was the Mumbai bombings in 2008. Up until then it was an interesting chat room that competed with Jaiku for attention.  Mumbai... read more
10 Ways that the Websummit is like Disneyland

10 Ways that the Websummit is like Disneyland

I took the kids to Disneyland last year. I was reminded of that experience today. (I skipped that last few Websummits and it’s grown a wee bit since the first one in Bewley’s Hotel in Oct 2009 and the ones in 2010/2011). More or less tongue in cheek Lots of money spent on AI and figuring out how to manage queues still means “there are lots of queues.” The food is overpriced. (Websummit have better overpriced food but it’s still well overpriced). Like Disney bring in your own food (especially if you’re a struggling startup) or go outside for food. Base Pizza will run you €11.50 for best pizza in Dublin and a drink. Or soup in Insomnia even cheaper. You’ll spend a lot of time on your feet walking from attraction to attraction. Its not quite Walt Disney Studios / Disneyland back and forth but its not far off.  The good talks/rides are too short.  You’re just starting to enjoy them when they’re over……. Three days is enough. There’s only so much you can take. While it can be great fun eventually you’re in need of something more substantial. And the same goes for Websummit. The best map of the venue is on paper. You need to pace yourself. It goes from pre-summit breakfast events, through the summit itself to lots and lots of parties. In Disney it was get in early, take a break in the middle of the day and come back refreshed. Some variation of this is probably a good summit plan too. Mickey Mouse makes an appearance. OK no Mouse there was someone with... read more

Thriving in turbulent (Digital) times

These are a few of the slogans flowing around Digital and Business Transformation and my reply in brackets. Digital is eating the world (Yes) The World is being disrupted (So what?) The future is too hard to predict (Not really) The overspill of digital technology is impacting every business. Scare stories abound and they don’t offer much of a solution. The reality is the internet has changed how you do your job. And it is going to continue to change how you do your job. If you don’t change someone who will change will put you out of business, or make your organisation seem too inefficient by comparison. Copying the work of the kid at the next desk doesn’t work. Learning together, open conversation and preparing and adapting to change does work. It is not the strongest businesses, nor the smartest, nor the one with the most money (though that helps) that succeeds. It is the ones that adapt to change fast enough. We’re running a workshop on this topic in a few weeks. If you’re interested in this you can find out more... read more

Digital Age Orientation Day

If you have two and a half minutes take a look at the video below on Bronze Age Orientation day. It’s short, it’s funny and it’s true. It underlines that the concept of change is not unique to the our digital age. No Company ever likes to transform itself (if the caterpillar had a choice, would it become a butterfly?) but in most cases they have learned to accept the fact that they have to. Companies have been dealing with mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, restructuring, de-localisations, re-localisations for a long time. If you’ve been through it you’ll know this sort of radical transformation is slow and painful: the all-or-nothing approach forcefully pushed by many consultants is not popular and also falls flat a lot of the time. The Digital Age is here. It’s been coming for twenty years and to succeed in this environment every business needs to be a Digital Business. We’ll be running a daylong course at the end of the month on Digital Change and how to manage it in your organisation. Our approach is gradual, offers numerous intermediate steps, defines clear deliverables and measurements and ties companies to their specific context. It’s Digital Transformation tempered by Change Management methods and experience You can find out... read more

Candid: Mary Carty From Curiosity to Creativity

This was the fourth in our series of #Candid talks with the wonderful Mary Carty on the 22nd of October. Rowan Manahan who was in the audience kindly did this guest post for us. The Craft of Creation – Mary Carty A #Candid talk on by the ever-candid, crafty and bogglingly creative Mary Carty quickly evolved into a high-energy dialogue about curiosity. Mary pivoted the talk early onto that subject and immediately challenged the room to think about genuine curiosity and to ask ourselves why aren’t certain questions being asked in our world. She shared with us the question that she and Anne-Marie Imafidon asked themselves last year – “Why are there so few women in tech?” More importantly, they asked themselves, “What are we going to do about it?” And thus Outbox Incubator was born. That story of 115 young double-X chromosome geniuses coming through one big house in London is familiar enough to those who followed the rise of the Outbox Executives last summer. Mary took us behind the scenes into the world of “Fun. Free. Food” – which were the pillars on which Outbox was built. Suffice to say to ensure the smooth running of any future enterprise involving young women from the ages of 11 to 22, always ensure that there is a quiet, get-away-from-it-all staircase and a bounteous stash of hot chocolate and Mars Bars. Some of Mary’s other notable questions: “Have you ever seen a panel of VCs all smiling, all at once, all day?” “Why don’t we push against or find answers to the known unknowns?” “Why don’t you give yourself permission to be curious, really curious?” Take it from a woman who has... read more
Infovore

Infovore

A friend once described me as an “Eater of Books” in the rate at which I consumed them… Mitch Joel has the right of it when talking about Infovores,  which is another way I’d describe myself The good Personally, I have a hard time watching a dance competition on TV knowing full-well that iTunes U is stuffed to the digital rafters with audio and video Podcasts from some of the leading universities and given by the best professors… and that’s just one, small channel. And the less good The other side of the challenge is that there is simply not enough time to follow, consume and deeply ingest everything. You will never be able to read every e-newsletter, Blog post, tweet or listen/watch every Podcast or interesting YouTube video. As an Infovore, I’ve become quite comfortable with a diet that consists of both grazing and then taking the time to really enjoy a full and hearty meal (I tried to read one book every week). The mightiest of Infovore’s embrace the “mark all as read” button and take refuge in knowing that it’s not about consuming everything.... read more

Algorithms : prose written by people

As the ACLU highlights the problem of Algorithms that discriminate we need to remember that Algorithms are only as good as the assumptions that they’re based on. In reality we’d be better off if we replaced the idea of Algorithms as “clean unbiased maths” with “prose instructions written by fallible people.” But alongside the potential for bringing about social progress, the Internet also holds the possibility of contributing to unlawful discrimination. An example of this potential negative impact is a patent recently acquired by Facebook that could conceivably permit loan servicers to gain access to the credit ratings of a loan applicant’s social network and then use that information to determine whether the applicant qualifies for a loan. The patent combines the possibility of serious invasions of privacy with the realistic prospect of illegal lending discrimination. More here.  The Guardian also had a piece on some of these problems two years ago. Image of Justice via... read more
Yes to equality.

Yes to equality.

On Friday the Near Future principals Keith and Dermot will be voting yes to equality and we’re encouraging everyone do do the same. We believe this is a matter of human rights, and that it should be the case that”“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” It is a simple as that. The Irish Times summed it up well when saying We devalue many lives by confining them to second class status. We tell children of “irregular unions” they are worth less, and young people struggling with sexual identity that some choices are less valid, trapping many in secret, painful worlds of denial. We tell couples their commitment to each other can never be as deep or valid as the relationships their brothers, sisters, or parents have been committed to. And that the State will not offer them the same protection, the same honour. That is not who we are as a people. We are generous and open, inclusive and non-judgmental. And we are committed to strengthening the institution of marriage. That is why we will vote Yes.... read more